school

"Continuously feel like a failure": I'm an overworked teacher with no time to teach.

This might be a complete coincidence, but since becoming a teacher, I have also become an avid meditator (as well as a wine drinker and coffee addict – neither of which I indulged in before.)

Every morning, I sit in my Zen Den to quieten my never-ending mind chatter.

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Some days are more successful than others.

"Ommmmmm... breathe... Ooommm... Are my kids ready for their assessment today? Shut-up brain, I'm being zen... Back on the breath... Ommmmmmmm – Sh*t! Did I forget my carpark duty after school yesterday?"

At the risk of sounding completely Eat, Pray, Love – meditation has changed my life, and I have since become obsessed not only with the idea of making it cool amongst teenagers, but with observing my own thoughts with delightful curiosity. 

Unfortunately, this curiosity has resulted in some alarming realisations reflecting the dysfunctional and paradoxical state of the current 'education' environment, which is in desperate need of an overhaul. 

Here’s just a few of the lovely thoughts that I observe on a regular week:

"For feck’s sake, why won’t these kids just shut up so I can get some work done?"

"I spent all night writing reports; I didn’t actually consider WTF I’m teaching today."

"Should I pretend I didn’t see/hear that so I don’t create more work following it up?"

"Sh*t. They haven't grasped this at all. Oh, well... assessments and curriculum stop for no one!"

Please trust me when I tell you that none of the above thoughts come without a heavy sense of shame and sadness. 

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It is heartbreaking and soul-destroying as an educator to feel like your students, the reason you do this, are getting in the way of a mountain load of 'work.'

It is infuriating that we cannot just get on and do our job. Pardon me for pointing out the flipping obvious, but a teacher’s job... is to teach. Crazy, I know.

Teaching is what we hoped for when we came out of university, excited to inspire young minds and create meaningful, lasting, educational lessons.

Teaching is what happens when your class has your full, undivided attention and they surprise you by just how amazing their ideas can be.

Teaching is a profession and vocation which influences how you conduct yourself, the way your brain is wired, and the identity you uphold which permeates your whole life.

Sadly, teaching is also a profession which is becoming more and more like a factory-line every day – pumping out teachers who fulfil quotas, statistics and assessment criteria; often at the cost of human connection and quality education.

And it is not due to poor time management or an inability to deal with stress. Trust me when I tell you: teachers are time-efficient MACHINES. We know how to cross off the (never-ending) to-do lists like no one else. 

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It is simply the reality of the current system. 

It's a sad realisation to discover that teaching actually makes up such a small part of your job that you are often left wondering what the hell you signed up for. 

What’s even sadder is that the people we care for the most – the students – are the victims of this system.

Learning is supposed to be fun.

Learning is supposed to be dynamic, spontaneous, exciting.

Real learning – the type of learning that gets kids active and engaged – is the result of a burning curiosity, which can only be ignited in an environment which allows a spark of interest, discussion, spontaneity... and a teacher who gives them their full, undivided attention.

Students do not deserve to feel like a burden when they ask their stressed-out, hot mess of a teacher a question. 

Students do not deserve to be told 'no time for questions.'

Students do not deserve to be flicked another worksheet to do quietly so their teacher can get 'work' done.

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What’s more, their hot mess of a teacher does not deserve to continuously feel like a failure, or ashamed of these thoughts which are inevitable in a system of unrealistic and unnecessary expectation.

When did this happen? When did teaching become something that you can do as a bonus – if and when you complete all your work?

To say the education system is faulty would be an understatement at best. The system is broken.

Teachers claim more stress leave than any other profession, our students' literacy and numeracy results are going backwards and don't even get me started on their mental health. That's for another article.

Something needs to change. For the teachers, and for those we do it all for: our students.

Miss Mindset (Breanna May) is a writer, motivational speaker and mindset coach with a background in law and high school education. When she's not diving into all things psychology, personal development and philosophy, you will find her in the gym, or at the pub – because, balance. Follow her on  Instagram and Facebook.

Feature Image: Instagram.

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