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  • Writer's pictureBethan & Jon Speirs-Davies

Teaching. A Downer Post

Trigger warning: intrusive thoughts, suicide

This one isn't a particularly upbeat one. Some days are highs and teacher life feels great. The children are responding, progress is great, morale is high. Today it was the opposite and I left the classroom needing 5 minutes to cry before heading back into my class of 9 children with very differing, high needs.

What had led to it? I am not really sure. Perhaps the constant triggering screams from one child when they find something exciting... or perhaps walking into parents talking on facebook about how terrible the communication is - despite a letter and reminder message. Perhaps the ten emails waiting in my inbox with an extra 15 hours of work 'to be completed as and when you have time.' The slow wearing down of reserves through the day working with three children with PDA, who despite caring for dearly, leave me feeling depleted. Today I found it hard to rally and remind myself of their exceptional progress and their Covid childhood and the opportunity to change their future I provide, or the magic of teaching someone to read and write for the first time. Tomorrow perhaps I will find the sparkle again. Today I was burnt out, exhausted and pouring from an empty cup.

Its a rare thing for me to need to take 5. In fact in ten years I think it has happened twice. Interestingly it seemed I was not the only one. At lunchtime a few staff were chatting. We all spoke about intrusive thoughts in response to work stresses. General consensus was that in the recent past all of the staff sitting there had considered crashing on the way home - just enough to need a stay in hospital and not be able to go to work for a few weeks. We laughed, but on the drive home I pondered the stark and horrendous reality that those teachers were admitting too. Being seriously injured would be better than coming to work in this situation. It sat heavy particularly because the inquiry into the death of Ruth Perry was concluded this week. A tragic suicide which Ofsted contributed to.

Education has got to change. Teachers are criticised on all fronts yet carry the brunt of poor funding to social care, SEND provision, outside support agencies, parent's needs, children's mental health needs, government initiatives, academisation. They are an easy scapegoat for societal issues. They are leaving and I don't think they want to. I think they realise they have to protect their mental health.

If you are a parent, please be kind. If you are a teacher and are struggling, please seek expert support. We need each other for the sake of future generations.

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