Definitely Drowning

It turns out teaching is a bit like parenting, once you make your announcement, people can’t wait to tell you how dreadful it will be.

Only whereas, as a not-yet-parent, I could dismiss all the scaremongering and doomsaying, now I know better. Parenting has taken me to edges I didn’t know were there and left me drained, frightened and unsure of everything.

Not a great position from which to make a great leap forward.

Yesterday I had my compulsory ‘Safeguarding Children’ training that I need as an invigilator. Only this time I listened with increasing horror as teachers swapped stories about neglect and abuse. One or two ‘examples’ of neglect – such as letting a child watch videos late at night – made me question my own parenting.

And then the lovely teacher delivering the training explained that, as adults working with children, we can be held personally liable for a failure to report or disclose a concern. Suddenly I felt like I was standing on a sea wall facing a tsunami.

But I know my anxious brain magnifies worries and turns everything into the monster under the bed. So I went to talk to the charismatic teacher, who clearly loved his job, despite everything he’d been sharing. Tell me about teaching, I pleaded, everything I’ve read and heard makes it sound terrifying. And he said it was rewarding, and gruelling and disheartening and very hard work.

And then he said, ‘As long as you can engage with the students, you’re fine.’

I’m screwed.

I’m the least-engaging person I know. People confuse me, and I spend most of my time trying to second-guess what they’re thinking and feeling. Which I don’t even get right with my family most of the time, so goodness knows how I’ll manage with hormonal teenagers.

My husband’s very pragmatic – take it one day at a time, it’ll be fine. But so far I dipped my toe in the idea of teaching and got swept out to sea. And you have to ask, if they’re so desperate to drag you in with mentors and bursaries and personal plans, what are they not telling you?

Working as a train driver is starting to sound appealing.

2 thoughts on “Definitely Drowning

  1. Working as a train driver is brilliant, as is driving a bus or a coach, but so is teaching, and all those jobs require similar things; patience, empathy, kindness, the ability to deal with humanity at its worst, seemingly unfazed and a fairly broad back. Sometimes, finding those things hard, yourself, can make you more patient with others. It’s amazing how it works. On the other hand, when you do any job that involves interfacing with the British public at its worst – which is pretty much any job that involves interfacing with the public – you may well find that you experience a feeling of togetherness and support among your colleagues that you didn’t think possible. I say this as a teacher’s daughter who worked for a bus company.

    Who knows, you may find that although it sounds scary, actually doing it comes naturally. It also depends, a lot, on what you would like to teach. If you don’t try, though, you may always wonder … what if? If it doesn’t work out, what have you lost? Nothing. And if you do try and it does work out maybe you will find confidence you never knew you possessed.

    Best of luck, whatever you decided to do.



  2. Thank you for being the only person with anything positive to say about teaching! I’m going to see how I feel in the new year. There’s quite a financial commitment to training, as well as family impact, so lots to consider.
    From everything you’ve written about them, your parents are the kind of amazing people who make me want to be a teacher but also who make me sure I’d never be a great one. Mediocre maybe, but not inspirational!

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