Saturday, March 12, 2011

A profession that consumes the individual

One of the things to consider as a teacher is how isolating the career can be. As someone responsible for 100 students and their individual well being, it can be easy to fall into the trap of allowing the job to consume all of your available time to effectively respond to their needs.

The better a teacher you become, the more you realise you can do. The more pressure there is to perform.

Focusing on one class leads to deficits in other classes. These deficits are then questioned and you start to doubt your ability and there starts a downward spiral difficult to arrest on your own.

Then there are personal considerations when faced with students that relate directly to your life story. The child that is facing issues that you faced as a child and believe you can make a difference to their lives. A laptop computer given on loan, buying a student text, giving a few minutes extra tuition, making sure they have enough money for an excursion, advocating for a student - I know teachers regularly do these things. Knowing that it would be difficult to enjoy your weekend and satisfy your conscience if you didn't act when you had the opportunity.

Another trap is allowing a deficit of time to let you lose your support network. Being consumed by teaching can lead to a one dimensional person, having only one interest and thus having limited interest to others. This can make it a lonely profession especially when the majority of conversation you have is with minors.

It doesn't just affect you, it affects those around you. Supporting a teacher is a full time occupation. You come home tired and spent. Events of the day can overwhelm you. It can be a real pressure cooker at times, especially around TEE and reports or when the playground is on fire.

Somebody told me about the monkey analogy and how if someone passed you the monkey - it was important to pass the monkey to another (yes it was an admin person). As a metaphor for problems I think as a teacher, the tribe of monkeys needs a support network capable of dealing with them. Admin sometimes needs to remember this.

Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned. Maybe I have to look at it a bit more like a job and less like an opportunity to make a difference. I wonder if I would be able to do it anymore if I thought about it that way.

It's no wonder many teachers are a little bit more than strange.

A bigger worry is that you fail to notice it after a while :-)

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