Why I Left Teaching

To my friends still working in education, this is certainly not a knock on you. All of you have been my support through out my 4 years in teaching. I thank you again. 

I’ve never got around to typing this post, but a friend of mine and a former co-worker notified me that someone we knew had left education. This person was quite high up the chain and it was quite a shock to hear that they left. It’s representative of the state of the education system. We’re pressured over so many things happening at the same time. NAPLAN, data, results…it just goes on. Here are my reasons for leaving teaching.

The Classroom

Teaching, for me, started to become less fun when the system started to be more data focused. I understand the use for data, and how helpful it is to the development of the child, but we were doing too much of data collection. It was like every day I had to collect data, which detracted from my real job, which was to teach the children. I know many of my friends who are excellent in balancing the curricular needs of the children, and that data needs of the higher-ups. I admire them so much in that regard. But for me, it was too much.

The Curriculum

Let’s see the subjects I had to teach in 1 week in my class at my last site:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • The Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Dance, Drama)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Physical Education

English, Maths and Science had to take priority so 3.5 hours of our 5 hours was dedicated to those three subjects. Which didn’t leave much time for the others. In addition, the content of the curriculum sometimes left me wondering if what our kids are teaching is relevant to them. Units were 5 weeks in length. That may be a long time for some people, but once ‘real life’ happens, you fall behind quickly. I personally believe we’re teaching them too much in too little time. 1 term units used to be the standard years ago, and allowed ample time for children to let the knowledge settle in. Plus, I am a firm believer of the basics, which I believe the curriculum does not cover sufficiently. It’s up to the school to enforce it. If children don’t know basic English and Maths, they can’t be expected to learn anything else unless they master those.

The Work

Never say to me ‘Teaching? That’s only a 9-3 job with plenty of holidays!’ because I would seriously consider physical assault on your face. Teaching is more than 9-3pm. It’s a lifestyle. Taking work home to make sure your students don’t fall behind. Marking work at home. Buying utensils outside of the school budget so the student who doesn’t have anything has at least something. Nights spent in front of the television laminating classroom materials. On some days, I’d do that work on site at school and stay till 5pm or later if need be. Report card time was the most stressful time, which means even longer time spent on school work. I rarely took the time to relax, because I feared if I do relax, I’d be behind even further. I could not cope with this lifestyle.

What Do I Miss

In saying that, there are do things I miss. One of them was the unexpected events that happen in a school day that make you feel proud. Students getting work, one student improving day by day, some with leaps and bounds. That’s a feeling that made me keep going despite all the problems encountered. In addition, the supportive staff rooms. I’ve made so many friends with teachers and admin staff that I still keep in contact to this day. Of course, I will openly admit, the pay was good too. However, it was an easy decision to leave a well-paying job to pursue my dream.

There’s one legacy of teaching that still stands with me – my handwriting. Still looks like school handwriting.

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If you’re reading this as an education student, don’t let my post dissuade you from your studies. You’ll never know if it’s right for you unless you spend 1 year in the classroom. If you’re reading this as a teacher, this is my personal experience so don’t take this to heart.

I’m happy studying journalism. That was my dream as a child and I’m so grateful to have the chance to pursue it now.

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