In April 2021, I decided to stop being a teacher at a secondary school in London. I left with the intention of leaving the teaching profession once and for all. No tutoring on the side and no involvement with a teaching-based role even if it wasn’t a school. I had enough – but it wasn’t because of the students, the workload that most teachers or staff complain about, school politics or the external policies or rules coming from major stakeholders like Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE).  

There were too many things that took place in my classroom and in the school that made me feel that I was not a good teacher. I was barely meeting the ‘pass’ grade after my first year as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT). It was classroom management that I was failing in; behaviour levels in my classroom were among the worst in the school. I left the school feeling distraught about my abilities and I also felt that I had somehow wasted my time. I had not excelled in this professional pursuit and I therefore felt that I was a failure.  So, I decided to leave the school quietly with the intention of finding a regular job where I could make use of my skills and previous experience.  

What were my next steps? 

I am currently a supply teacher. It is strange that after I had washed my hands of teaching, I am back here again. If I can be honest, finding a regular job proved a challenge as expected; especially within a pandemic. Where there are less opportunities, I had to go to the one place where there will always be opportunities; that is teaching.  

I decided to become a supply teacher because I told myself that it will only be one day-at-a-time so I cannot take things too personal and take disruptive behaviour or upsetting events home with me.  

Why I decided to go back into teaching 

I went back into schools with two intentions: I wanted to find out what students really wanted from school; that is with regards to knowledge, their teachers and within the school environment. Another intention was to change my belief that I was an awful teacher.  

These were my two intentions because I wanted to know the purpose of education; both from the students’ perspective and the teaching staff perspective. I say teaching staff to include all staff in a school: school administrator, teaching assistants, learning support, behaviour for learning leads, safeguarding officers, principals and the teachers. Ultimately, I wanted to see if the student body and teaching body were working towards a common goal. 

Click here to read part 2, where I will share what lessons I have learnt as a supply teacher. 

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