It has been a while since I last posted on this blog but it does not mean that I have not been busy. Since January 2018, I have been studying for a Masters by Research at Leeds Beckett University - I handed it in last month (fingers crossed for a good mark!). The research was a critical reflection on my transition from a full-time primary school teacher to independent teaching consultant in July 2014. It looks at how that transition has changed the way I feel about being a teacher.
I’ll spare you the full 15,000 words, but it is enough to say that this study helped me, for the first time, to begin to untangle some of the complex and difficult feelings I have about my time as a full-time teacher. For a long time I have tried to present that transition as a choice, as a promotion almost whereby I put aside my work to follow a specialist interest in creative writing. A noble cause. While there are elements of truth in this, it is far from the whole story.
If I am honest, I found it difficult to face up to the feeling that I had left teaching because I had failed to cut it. I couldn’t manage the workload, I felt uncertain around my colleagues and I felt that my expectations of what I’d hoped to achieve in teaching were fading away, buried under piles of books, planning and anxiety. So, becoming a freelancer was more of a managed exit from teaching rather than the fabled noble cause that I presented it as on this blog.
Although the Masters helped me tell my story as a teacher, I began to release that I am just one character in a much larger story and there are many teachers who have the same disquiet as I do about a profession we were drawn to. And there is the realisation: I didn’t fall off the wagon as a teacher – it was teaching that pushed me out of the moving truck.
So back to the blog. Of course, none of these doubts made it to the pages of this blog but now I have come to realise that using this space as a place for glossy adverts helps nobody. There are deep, serious flaws with our education system: problems with what and how we expect children to learn, problems with how the structures of education treat the professionals who work in it.
I plan to use this blog to comment on these problems, to address the challenges and suggest how it might all be very different.
I invite you all to join in the conversation!
Keywords: teacher, teaching, primary school, teacher identity, performativity, autoethnography, Stefan Kucharczyk