‘Who is a teacher?’
In the good old-fashioned days when we used to meet face to face for Leading Ladies in Business networking, I was always struck by the regular show of hands when someone asked this question. It would always evoke a strong emotional reaction. Month after month I would see lots of wonderfully creative business women, raising their hands with a guilty giggle. Lots of these women were striving to leave the classroom, not because they didn’t like or enjoy working with children, but because they couldn’t deal with school life any longer. I lost count of the conversations where we would share horror tales of being burned out, fed up, demoralised and ‘done’ with school. I know, I was one of them.
What is it about the teaching profession has us leaving in droves?
For me, it was the relentless pressure of meeting increasingly challenging targets; scrutiny both of my leadership and the level of scrutiny I had to subject my teaching team to; and the lack of trust in us as professionals. As teachers we were being bombarded with new initiatives, made to rewrite schemes of learning including the latest educational jingo cooked up by the government and subject to ridiculous amounts of scrutiny. I remember teaching over 525 children a week, and feeling utterly devastated when one work scrutiny revealed one child had not handed their book in for marking, and getting told my marking was therefore at fault. Ofsted felt like a threatening omni-present theme, with Senior Leaders as frightened as the rest of the staff. Every night I would sit up planning and marking, rarely finishing before 11pm, I didn’t get a weekend to relax, as Sunday was always for planning and preparing for the next week. Looking back now, I was completely institutionalised.
I remember the day I left school, crying because I going to miss my students. The worst part was leaving my year 11 form group, who I had worked with for 5 years, seeing them go from tiddly year 7s to confident self-assured year 11s, their whole future ahead of them. We’d shared a lot of laughs and fun along the way. I remember delivering sex education with the boys in my form, with one mum reporting her son had called her from the bathroom to let her know he thinks he had a ‘public hair’ that Miss was on about. I remember dissolving into complete hysterics with my Teaching Assistant when I shared a picture of Martin Luther King and a child put their hand up to identify him as ‘that bloke that said that funky music white boy’.
I enjoyed teaching, I just didn’t enjoy school any more. Sound familiar?
Despite leaving school, my vocation has never left me. I still want to help children reach their full potential, to support them on their way, and to rise and shine when meeting the challenges of examinations. I started to think, could I do it in a different way? And that’s where the idea of Think Tuition came from. We provide personalised one to one tuition at home. (On line at the moment, but we’re eager to get back when it is safe to do so.)
I’m now very privileged to work with a talented bunch of teachers with fantastic expertise and experience. There is no Ofsted on ‘planet Think Tuition’, I trust my teachers to apply their professionalism and teach children in the way that works for them, and they see fit. They get to enjoy honing their skills to identify any gaps in learning and really push their students as far as they can. And you know what? It works. Our students did exceptionally well last year, and I can confidently say we get results.
And our team get to do what they do best, teach.
In these uncertain times, with all the insecurity we are experiencing, , I’m offering a rallying call to all teachers. We need you, come and join us. We’re going to be very busy when we return to normal, and I am going to need help to meet demand. Consider working with us, I treat you as the professional you are and will value your experience and expertise. It’s amazingly rewarding work, and you and your skills would be most welcome.
Love Helen xx
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