This week has seen the 2014 TeachFirst cohort return to Leeds to deliver our final presentations and pass our pearls of wisdom onto the (exhausted) 2015s.
Hearing the journeys my peers have made at their schools has been my favourite part. The passion, the sharing of strengths, the development of weaknesses and the celebration of successes has been heartwarming and I feel proud to be a part of such a wonderful team of new teachers.
I could talk about how brilliantly everyone has done in their own individual ways but the one thing that has stood out for myself and fellow participants is the way the year is sold to you is largely false. Flashback a year and I remember at this point being so tired and so saturated with knowledge that I felt like I couldn’t possibly take in any more teaching nuggets. I also felt that I couldn’t hear just how rubbish this year was going to be and, more importantly, how rubbish I was going to be at the start.
Who starts a job being told that its going to be horrible? Or that you will suck at it?
It’s worrying the amount of people who genuinely believe at this moment in time that they are about to embark on a sad, joyless, uphill struggle where you have chairs thrown at you every day and are the only one fighting for equality in education. It’s simply not the case!
“You will cry at school.” That is a pearl of wisdom that is passed onto the new teachers. You will break down and cry in your workplace. Imagine in your job training being told that you will burst into tears? Sadly, it probably is the case! I have been in tears lots of times over this year through frustration and fatigue. However, there is no pearl of wisdom that says that the reason you may cry is because you are bursting with pride at what a pupil has achieved (year 9 presentation this summer term). Or that in fact you laugh until your stomach hurts on ten more occasions for every tear you shed .
I have been exceedingly lucky to be placed in a glorious school. The staff are incredibly supportive and the pupils make me proud on a daily basis. That isn’t to say it has been smiles and rainbows all year, of course not! But I fear that the way “year one” is portrayed is at risk of overshadowing the glorious snippets that happen daily. There has not been a single day where I haven’t smiled at something during the school day. This is also the case for my peers who have been placed in exceedingly challenging schools. Yes lessons go to pot sometimes, yes pupils say mean things, yes you teach topics completely wrong and have to apologise to the students for the last week of learning (whoops) but those things rarely ever happen all in the same day! It depends on you as a person as to how you decide to feel about a day. Do you dwell on the negatives? Or do you realise the good you are doing just by being a welcoming face in your classroom?
I think what I’m trying to say is that if it was as bad as everyone says it is then there wouldn’t be thousands of teachers in Leeds right now. If the whole year was horrendous and all you are is a hinderance then TeachFirst as a movement would not be expanding at the rate that it is. You will have ups and downs and you will make mistakes but you will not make that same mistake twice! You are never failing, you are always learning and that learning curve is so steep and you will push yourself to be the best you can be in your own personal pathway through year one. What is absolutely the case is that this year will be the making of you. You will laugh, you will cry but every single day, along with all of the other teachers on the programme and all teachers across the country, you WILL be making a positive difference to your pupils’ lives.