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Teacher resignations – I didn’t want to quit after 22 years, but I had to

Teaching remains the best job in the world, maintains The Fake Headteacher – one they didn't wish to resign from, but felt compelled to. Here's why...

  • Teacher resignations – I didn’t want to quit after 22 years, but I had to


  • The reality of teaching in the late 90s compared to now
  • How workload expectations have changed over time
  • The factors contributing to the author’s wish to leave the profession
Read in 2.5 minutes…

I started teaching in 1997. I worked in a challenging area with amazing teachers who cared passionately about their job and the welfare and academic progress of the children. I stayed there for five years. They were the best five years of my teaching career.

I have just resigned from teaching after 22 years in the classroom. I didn’t want to leave the best job in the world, but I had to. So what has changed since 1997? 

There was still planning to be done, meetings to attend, clubs to run, displays to put up, marking to complete, concerts and shows to organise, and so on. But that’s what I do now. So, what’s changed?

There was no official performance management back then. Well, there was. It was a very informal chat with the headteacher about how my year had gone.

It was heavily focused on my relationship with the class. He told me what he was pleased with and suggested some areas I might want to develop. It lasted 20 minutes over a nice cup of tea.

Now, performance management means: data, targets, pay review, progress and subject leadership among other things. I dread them.

There’s rarely a mention of the relationships I have worked so hard to form with my class and a lack of appreciation of the extra hours I put in at home to satisfy my workload. Perhaps it’s this that’s changed?

Back then, staff weren’t observed formally. You were just left to it but had the support and challenge from your peers.

The head would pop in now and again but often just to give you a message. He would smile and pick up on something positive the class were doing. He certainly didn’t bring a notepad and make detailed notes on what I was doing or saying.

Learning walks. What were they? They didn’t exist.

I didn’t realise at the time, but I was being left to teach without criticism or judgement. It was lovely.

Now, I expect to endure 12 learning walks a year – each with written feedback. The feedback will focus what non-negotiables or whole school targets I had missed, or that my displays weren’t quite right, or that my teaching slides weren’t the correct colour.

I am held accountable for anything that’s not quite right. There is little trust and it’s all about conformance, not autonomy.

All my enthusiasm and decision making about how I want to deliver lessons has gone. I am a robot, and I must do what I am told. Perhaps it’s this that’s changed?

When I started teaching, I was young; in my early 20s. I could go out (yes, on a school night), and still have enough energy, enthusiasm and humour to deliver a great day for my class.

I remember going to the pub with friends every night one week. I was young. It was great. I didn’t have children of my own and regularly played sport.

Now, I have a family and going out every night is a distant memory. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I am tired! I am older. I don’t have the same energy levels and enthusiasm for late nights.

It doesn’t seem to matter how early I go to bed or how many green teas I consume after midday, I am still tired (especially after lunch) and stare at envy at the teacher about to have their PPA.

My energy levels are just not the same and when you are managing 30 primary children all day, this is not ideal. Perhaps it’s this that’s changed?

My first teaching job was just this. It was my first proper job. Everything was an attack on the senses. It was brilliant and I felt very proud to be a teacher. I remember telling my parents how much I loved my job.

But of course, that was 22 years ago. Maybe this is it. Maybe I need a new challenge. I have seen fads come and go. I have seen teaching ideas come full circle.

What was once frowned upon is now very cool. What is now frowned upon used to be very cool. Maybe I am just bored. Perhaps it’s this that’s changed?

Whatever it is, I no longer have the desire to stay in teaching any more. The passion has gone. I think I might be burnt out but I don’t really know for sure. All I know is how anxious and stressed I have become in recent years.

Teaching has changed.

The Fake Headteacher has taught in five schools across a 20 year career. Find them at headteacher-newsletter.com and follow on Twitter at @fakeheadteacher.

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