Why do I teach? It's not for the faint-hearted

Last updated 12:00 04/02/2013

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Teaching is a challenging career. It is not for the faint-hearted. The heavy work-load, demands and expectations from the government, constant observations and checks on your progress, and interaction with a range of students, parents and colleagues throughout the day mean that the glass of wine we teachers are known for in the evening is well and truly deserved.

You can spend hours planning and marking each evening in preparation for the next day, but the truth is most of the time you will need to think on your feet. You don't always get the outcome you expect and there may be interruptions, complications and difficulties out of your control.

Students work and learn at different rates and in one classroom, you may have 30 students all working at different levels and paces. Creating a collaborative, positive and engaging environment is really hard. It is also an amazing thing when you achieve it.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I'm an English teacher. If I was going to be self-indulgent, I would tell them that I get to discuss and explore a subject I have adored since I was four years old every day. I watch a range of new reactions to a text I might have read hundreds of times. I hear new, exciting interpretations which have never occurred to me before. I talk to hundreds of people every day. I laugh. I am touched by the effort, enthusiasm and intelligence of young people and by the end of the day I either feel a real sense of achievement or I tell myself I will do better the next day. Either way, I deserve that glass of wine.

I am currently unemployed as a result of a frustrating situation. I have five years of teaching experience from the UK and nine months of experience in New Zealand. I was really impressed with the approach to education here and the mature, positive behaviour of the young people I met and taught. Unfortunately, the teachers' council here won't accept my UK qualification. The students, staff and parents at the school I taught at here were extremely disappointed at my necessary departure. They too were bewildered by this meaningless bureaucracy.

I approach this new school year with feelings of uncertainty and frustration. I hope that other teachers can enjoy that fresh, exciting atmosphere I used to relish. Education shouldn't be about redfaces, red crosses or red tape. It should be about creating, exploring and ultimately, smiling.

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