Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Is teaching for me?

I am off work sick today. I woke up feeling nauseous. I'm actually feeling a bit better now, although I have developed a headache (I'm pretty sure I need glasses but I'm scared to go get tested, so it might be due to that).

I've been feeling absolutely exhausted this week. My lessons have lacked enthusiasm, and I'm not interested in what I'm teaching. I've done over a year of teaching now, and I'm starting to think: Is it the subject that's wrong for me, or the profession?

I'm incredibly bored with Functional Skills. As the course is tested by an exam at the end, it's hard to motivate students throughout a whole year. The massive issue in each lesson is that the term 'differentiation' has been completely abused. Differentiation should be about teaching learners a certain level, and challenging learners to stretch themselves as much as possible. It should not be about teaching Entry level, level 1 and level 2 maths in the same lesson for a whole year. The different levels need to know different information. This means my day-to-day teaching and planning is extremely challenging. Plus, 1.5 hour lessons are far too long for learners with short attention spans.

GCSE is better. However there are huge flaws here as well. We are teaching a GCSE in one and a half hours a week, and are expected that learners will improve by one grade. Even the learners are saying "if we had 4 hours a week at school and got a D, what hope have we got with 1.5 hours a week?". Already managers are attempting to blame the teachers if we don't allow all students to get a C this year. 

So perhaps it is the timing and management decisions that are making my life so difficult. When I taught adults last year, for 2 hour sessions, which were appropriate for them, I loved teaching. I'd leave lessons feeling energised, and the adult learners achieved. 

I think I need to continue to strive for my dream job: teaching English and Psychology to adults. Either English and Psychology as separate subjects, or some combination of the two: looking at the psychological aspects of fairy tales for instance. Even teaching A level: a higher level than I am currently teaching I think would suit me better. I enjoy breaking ideas down to make them understandable, but I don't enjoy teaching the very basics of English and maths to people who have failed to grasp the topic for 9 years. Particularly as we all end up teaching people to pass an exam. I'm not sure who would enjoy that.

So I guess I need to persevere with the psychology course. I just can't handle the thought of doing this job for 3 more years until I qualify in psychology. There are also very few A level teaching jobs around, particularly in colleges as all the schools are keeping on the best students. I guess I will have to persevere in my present situation, assured that the horrors I am going through currently will make me a better teacher in the future. I can always hope that managers will eventually listen to teachers, or logic and adapt the lesson times.

Do you enjoy your job? Do you sometimes get down about the things you do day-to-day?

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