Am I cut out for the job? 

the-modern-school-teacherTeaching at times is a thankless job. It can make or break a person and many good teachers leave the profession due to the never-ending torrent of stress that comes their way. The system will chew you up and spit you out and another will take your place. Here is a personal story from a guest blogger, that maybe you can relate to.

“Let’s focus on the story now, Sophie, and we’ll talk about your new toy once we finish this text,” I said, but I couldn’t help but feel my body aging at that precise moment, as if an invisible force had been tearing the skin of my forehead and shaping new wrinkles on the sides of my lips.

I often wonder if there are any people who enjoy their job. Is there anyone out there who wakes up in a jolly mood and looks forward to start work or is work a daily nightmare, one none of us can escape from no matter how much we try to fool ourselves with happy thoughts and summer-vacation plans? Is it just me, or is it the concept of work itself that deprives us of any pleasure and satisfaction while we practice what we love – or are supposed to love, for that matter?

A quick search on Google reveals a vast number of quizzes and articles offering career advice. All highlight skills and preferences. So, based on those, we should be able to choose our ideal career right before we blow the candles of our 18th birthday cake, and should, by no means, regret our decision. Upon graduating from college, it’s a done deal.  But what is it that helps us define our ideal job in the first place?

I’m a huge fan of mulling things over, so I made a fairly decent plan based on all the aspects that should be considered before deciding on a career path. I call my plan ‘How do I know I like this career’ and, in my case, this career is teaching. So, it goes:

  1. Childhood dreams. I was one of those students who’d pester their parents about a blackboard, and who’d spend all afternoon teaching stuffed animals about the Civil War and the American Revolution.
  2. Suitability. I’m good at my job – at least I am not bad at it. All my skills and personality traits are textbook qualities of a teacher.
  3. Interest in studying and training in the field. I couldn’t wait to become an undergraduate student and study all about English Literature, Linguistics and Teaching. By the time I graduated, I had already saved up some extra cash to attend any workshops I would come across.

Criteria checked. Bummer.

I started asking around and, to my surprise, there are many people who love their job! There is an abundance of English teachers raring to see their students and feel at home in the classroom. Yet both groups of experienced and inexperienced educators whose eyes sparkled when I asked them whether they like their job included some who admitted they are utterly dissatisfied with work conditions and pay, and that they would give up their job if something better came along.

I often find myself puzzling over all those motivational quotes for teachers:

“Teachers may not make money, but they make a difference”.

“Teachers don’t care about money; they care about students.”

and all those other stickers and Instagram images that twist and turn all the pitfalls of teaching into motivation. After skimming through a couple of these on my Facebook wall, I often wonder if I am the only one who does care about the money and does want to make a career out of teaching.

Truth be told, I have found great opportunities and have been strolling along a path that leads to better payment and more chances for development.

Yet, despite all that, I still feel drained every night and contemplate all my life decisions that lead to my staying awake till late and dreading the next morning. Then I argue with my thoughts and curse my ungrateful, arrogant self who should be looking forward to making a difference and changing students’ lives.

Just then, on the verge of a burnout, I remember that I can’t really afford one; and that I also can’t afford to visit the doctor for a prescription for my migraine, as my insurance won’t cover the cost; and that I have to get back to cleaning my fridge, as once I get that done with, I have four tests to prepare, some extra activities for that one student who has been having trouble remembering all the new vocabulary, and reschedule some classes for that other one who canceled class the other day.

Oh, right! There’s also that project and all those opportunities for development I am pursuing. So, I will probably have loads of work to do till midnight, only to wake up to another pile of terrifying tasks in the morning – that is, of course, after I have classes which I am actually getting paid for (compared to all the extras of unpaid work).

So, maybe I am just not cut out for the job. But the job is also not cut out for me, either.  

F. M.

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Author: Teaching in Spain

Two teachers who like to write about travelling, and you guessed it, teaching. One of us is from England and one of us from Greece. If you like what we write then subscribe and enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Am I cut out for the job? ”

  1. I’d say in the short term, Guest Poster might do well to focus on the paid work and chill out about the fringe stuff. It’s easier said than done, though. If you find out about different ways of teaching it can make you feel like you’re in less of a rut. At least that’s what happened to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is a pay issue in (EFL) teaching, and it is not helped by the self-sycophantic teachers who are
    I. Happy to call themselves leader, edutainer, facilitator, creator of dreams, builder of futures, anything, it seems, except ‘teacher’.
    II. Don’t seem to realise that ridiculous levels of passion and commitment do not an outstanding teacher make.
    Your guest poster would do well not to compare themself with others, step back and have a think how much work do they actually need to do to do their job, and what support could they get to do it effectively, without burning out?
    Teachers need to feel that they’re part of a reliable support network, not that all eyes are on them to lead the way forward.

    Like

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