Motivation despite the gloom…

Teacher morale is at rock bottom. There’s no denying that. Whether you read the mainstream media, social media or the blogosphere there are endless examples of teachers highlighting the follies inherent in current education policies, despairing at the impact this is having on the pupils they teach or reaching the sad and distressing conclusion that teaching is no longer for them. 

The imposition of initiatives, whether broad in scope and deep in impact or comparatively minor in the level of disruption caused, can irritate, undermine and demoralise. When you’re in the job, actually doing the task of teaching young people to the best of your ability under often challenging circumstances, some policies can seem disturbing, if not bewildering.

Take the SPaG objectives in primary schools as an example. No-one is suggesting that children shouldn’t be taught to high and exacting standards, but few professionals can understand the purpose of the stress induced by the current situation. Regardless of the outcome of the row, it’s hard to find a teacher that isn’t either incensed by its handling or deeply concerned by the apparent lack of relevance to the young people affected by it. Fronted adverbial, determiners and conjunctions are causing many to ask why, why, WHY?

Then there is the talk of forcibly academising all schools. Despite fierce opposition to the idea, ministers appear to be marching ahead with commitment. As a policy it’s plagued with difficulties. Many teaching staff, too, have shared grave concerns. Working conditions for some are changing and improvements in standards are certainly not a foregone conclusion.

It’s little surprise, then, that teachers are expressing their extreme dislike of current education policy and other aspects of the job. For some, resignation is the only option, while others implore the powers that be to review policy and work with teachers to find a path forwards. There are discussions on social media of fight backs and of the need to return to the essence of schooling, stripping away everything that doesn’t add to raising standards and enjoyment in our schools.

With so much being written about education in articles, news reports, media releases, not to mention blogs by teachers themselves, it can be hard to keep up, but it can also be hard to switch off in the face of news and comment that might depress us. Opinions abound and while the force of an argument is no indicator of its quality, it can be hard to take a step back and remember why we entered the profession, what we love about it and why we spend so much of our lives devoted to it.

Because no matter how dark the news, how bitter the social media squabbling, how ill-informed the latest policy idea and how weary we are from it all, teaching remains a rewarding job if we remember why we’re here, and what it feels like when relationships are built and children learn. We need to remember the sense of achievement we get from progress being made, from aha moments, from skills being developed and from interests being forged. We need also to remember the career satisfaction to be derived from our continued professional and personal learning through great quality CPD and the boost to motivation that can ensue.

In addition to reflecting on what originally motivated us to teach, an attitude of gratitude can help us to navigate the gloom and boost motivation. Research has shown that writing down just three things we are grateful for each day can be beneficial. That has to be worth a try.

Have a fulfilling week! :-)

6 thoughts on “Motivation despite the gloom…

  1. As an education support worker I am horrified to see we have gone backwards! Expecting SEN students to access one exam paper is cruel and heart breaking for those of us who know they will fail, no matter how many times they resit their exams.
    The Government have done nothing except stamp on these fragile children with “you will learn another language; you will do maths, english, a science subject and a humanities subject” Our precious children struggle with their first language without having to learn a new one!
    Many years ago this was me! I am not an academic, I am what they call now, a kinesthetic learner. The option was I took CSE’s – our children, right now have no other options, GCSE’s are what the Government are putting every child into ‘one size fits all’ boxes; it’s wrong!!

  2. Wow! What a lot of doom and gloom from eteach blogger! It makes you want to slash your wrists! And my apologies about using exclamation marks in ways which do not conform to some recent guidance!

    There are, however, some positive aspects to recent reforms of secondary education. There has been a massive reduction in my workload and that of my students because of the ending of coursework, which also provided a licence to cheat by students, parents and teachers. The ending of pre-seen case studies has also made a big difference, as I don’t have to spend time trying to second guess the questions and read the very lengthy analyses which commercial organisations provide at a price. The ending of resits and modularising exams has also reduced my workload and that of my students, whilst enabling us to use our time more effectively. Meanwhile the exams officer is positively ecstatic! Also the quality control of exam boards has ended the race to the bottom, where exam boards sometimes vied to produce the easiest exams.

    So perhaps one cheer for Gove or does, “the evil that men do live after them (whilst) the good is often interred with their bones.”?

  3. Primary schools are in the midst of what can only be described as a train wreck. Before anyone says OH it’s just another teacher whining I would like to say that I have been doing the job for over 20 years and I have NEVER seen Morale at such an all time low! I love interacting with my class and despite the “creative curriculum” we are now meant to have — it’s all about preparing them for tests. I spend my day talking about what to extract from a text in order to answer questions — I was taught grammar growing up and I fully support its introduction — but not in the all encompassing form that it is now.

    Academies whilst they might work in some schools — why does it have to be a one model for all schools! All we are asking for is someone to listen to those in the profession — Unfortunately Ms Morgan today showed exactly why speaking and listening skills have been downplayed in the new curriculum — She values speaking but certainly not listening!

  4. I am learning to study this topic in depth as I am suffering from teacher burn out. I worked hard tried to be positive but for every 3 positive things the one negative was louder and stronger. I asked for help from colleagues on how to deal with the situation, some said forget about it, some said don’t care some said report it….where do you go for help when everyone knows what’s going but they aren’t experiencing the same thing. Teachers should inspire you to be a better person, not necessarily smarter but understand the difference been good behaviour and bad behaviour, know that by insulting you are hurting and that words hurt. Since I have been studying this in depth, I have l also come across the “”Hidden Curriculum”. I think that we have an obligation as teachers to maker learners understand that our job is important too, that we do as much as we can to help the learner pass the exam, understand the basics and simply be better… I was bullied on the internet…and it just destroyed my well being. I had great friends who were trying to get me through it, but now matter what they said the loud one always has the last word…and when you use slander because you are more powerful than me…than that’s not the way the world works, or at least my world. So I quit. Now I am looking into ways to help other teachers. If we don’t stand up together than they will always win.

  5. We have all loved teaching over the past decades we’ve been in the job and we joined it as a vocation……it’s is now a hellhole, no exaggeration! people outside schools do not believe the stories we take home every day! It’s so terrible they don’t and can’t understand! Parents are unaware of the treatment of their children’s teachers on a daily basis the stress and bullying teachers face everyday! There are no options for redress here either, unions aren’t interested as they are mostly controlled by their government, not working for teachers but for the government’s latest agenda! Teachers resigning in the profession every 6 weeks! Teachers crying in schools or at home every night ‘due to workload and bullying by management! Teachers barely able to pay their bills due to non existent pay rises and the performance related pay which makes it easy for heads to refuse and conspire to ensure teachers never make their performance and save the school money! Which of course is now the whole point of education in this country! Why would any person put their health, physical financial and emotional health at risk like teachers are expected to do everyday! Moving schools now is a limited option, with staff shortages heads are giving increasing numbers of bad references to ensure they cannot be hired by other schools! Heads know that their fellow heads do this but if you get a bad reference then no one can hire you with this in your paper trail! A headteacher can ensure you cannot get another job and can have you sacked under incompetence in 6 weeks! They have teachers caught over a barrel, blackmailed to work as they want, the hours they want, under the threats they make! All under the umbrella of the government is making me do this to you……..sounds like another horrific regime last century! You don’t take responsibility for your actions becuase you blame Simone else for your actions! Education should be ashamed of what it has created and continues to promote in the name of children’s welfare! We need to look to other countries most have better education systems than us! No wonder more teachers are leaving to be happy in teaching again! It’s just not in England!

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