As a mentor and coach for newly qualified teachers, I have had the privilege of working with teachers as they begin their career. They can start off nervous and quiet or bursting with confidence and idealism. As they grow during their induction year, their innate creativity, talents and skills shine through. However, for some, the lustre soon begins to erode as their passion and enthusiasm is swamped by waves of monotony and relentless pressure.
A recent headline in The Guardian read
“Fifth of teachers plan to leave the profession within two years.”
The National Union of Teachers warns that the exodus in caused by excessive workload. A poll for the National Education Union found that more than a quarter of recently qualified teachers with less than five years experience plan to quit teaching by 2024. These are just a couple of the headlines and statistics that can be found about the problem in education that never seems to be solved. So many teachers are leaving, or are thinking about leaving, the profession after a few years of teaching. The reasons are similar in many instances.
- Work – life balance has deteriorated
- Their health has suffered
- Teaching is having a negative effect on family life
- Their professional life has swamped their personal life
Teachers have identified that they are spending too much time on producing data when they would rather spend time focusing on the needs of children. Undoubtedly, children need teachers who can create memorable learning experiences. 11 year old Sadia wrote a note to her teacher as she she left primary school.
“Thank you for all of the projects and all of the fun in year 4 and year 6.
Some teachers are boring and some teachers are fun but you’re the brilliant one!”
Children need brilliant teachers!
I believe that it is possible to to build a long lasting teaching career. Ultimately, it’s about self-care and I help teachers learn how to manage stress; develop the systems that bring work-life balance and use time efficiently.
1. Set boundaries to ensure that work doesn’t creep into your personal life. Be vigilant and ruthless. Not everything is urgent.
2. Learn to say NO! School life is packed and you do not need to participate in every initiative, function or event.
3. Plan your rest time. Take regular breaks and make sure your holidays are fun and rejuvenating.
4. Ask for support. Identify those who can support you emotionally and/or professionally and plan regular times to meet or speak.
5. Develop the habits of an athlete. Teaching is marathon, not a sprint. Good nutrition, regular exercise and healthy sleep patterns are essential elements for any teacher who aims to have a long career.
6. Choose to enjoy the journey. Children are amazing and teaching has untold rewards which is great motivation during the difficult times.