Saturday, 19 December 2015

When is a job not a job?

Last week I was sitting on a tree stump in the fire circle waiting for some (imaginary) hot chocolate that one child was preparing on our outdoor fire, I had around 6 children all around me and then one little boy asked me "Do you have to go to work some days?" After smiling, I explained that as his teacher that was my work. He then had a discussion about how his mummy and auntie go to work and he wondered out loud whether everyone had to go to work. Some of the other children piped up to explain that their mummy worked at home minding the baby & one girl told him that her mummy worked inside the house but daddy worked outside the house! 
My colleagues and I laughed at this question later on & I joked about whether I should be insulted or complimented, we decided it was a huge compliment and I was reminded of the saying that if you find a job you love you'll never work a day in your life.
Getting to sing around a fire - can this be described as work?
Teaching is a weird job to describe, it it often referred to as a profession, yet you train to be a teacher as opposed to study. We are also paid a lot less than other professional and are actively encouraged to be union members, so again more like a trade than a profession. Outsiders criticise teachers for working short hours, Monday to Friday and only 10 months a year and they always harp on about the paid holidays. I don't know any teacher who works 9-3, my day is usually 8-5 and we have many extra evening events throughout the year to attend with no overtime, flexitime or bonuses in sight. BUT and it is a major but, I wouldn't do any other job, teaching is a true vocation and the majority are doing their job because they feel passionate about working with young people and not because of the holidays or pay. I am doing a steps into leadership course this year and was paired up with a secondary teacher in a coaching session to talk about our jobs and what we love about them. I loved listening to my colleague talk about her pupils and job with such enthusiasm as sometimes secondary teachers can be very jaded and cynical. I could see her passion for her job shining through and it reminded me of why so many of us get into teaching; to help make a difference in the lives of others, to inspire others to become life long learners, to be a steady constant in some chaotic young lives and to help ensure the next generation is equipped with skills to be active members of society. Teaching should not be merely about stuffing knowledge into pupils or reaching attainment levels, yes we have a responsibility to make sure our pupils acquire skills and knowledge but we also have to make sure we are educating rounded human beings. Paperwork is certainly becoming more and more of an issue but teachers need to never lose sight of the pupils in front of them each day.
I have always said that even if I won the lottery I'd still keep on teaching and I mean it, I love being a nursery teacher and working with the youngest members of our school system. I am surrounded by 26 optimists 5 days a week, why would I walk away from that! 


  1. Very interesting points about how we arrive at teaching. Plus, I love it that your children asked if you go to work! His day and your day are so perfectly shaped in normalcy and routine, yet there you are sitting around campfire AT school! THAT is how the fabric of the day SHOULD be! Play as routine, you and the children and where they are so perfectly interwoven.

  2. How lovely coming from a child. I get that alot from adults as well about not believing this is my job. I think teaching and working outside with children allows you to really get to know them on a very different level. They also see you as ana dult in a very different light as well. I can't see myself doing anything else.