I like the teachers at my PRU. I get on better with them than I have done at any other school I have worked in. I am the youngest teacher by far- in fact all of the teachers, except one, are old enough to be my parents. Yet I am closer to them than the teachers who were my own age at my last school.
There are only six teachers, which is great as it means we are extremely close. I trust them implicitly and we have daily meetings where we discuss what is going on in the school and how best to improve things. We also counsel each other, which is much needed in this job. I can air any concerns or off load any issues with them and know that they have my back. They are great. Apart from one thing. They are extremely negative.
I have only ever worked in mainstream schools before, challenging mainstream schools. I know what kind of pressures teachers are under. I had a class of 30, 27 of whom were EAL. I was under so much subconscious stress that I had an eczema flare up so bad that I couldn’t show my arms or legs for six months. I couldn’t sleep at night because the open sores from scratching used to weep onto my pyjama pants and stick to my legs. I will spare you the rest of the gory details. I found it difficult to sleep at night as I was constantly thinking about my never ending to do list, I had up to 90 books to mark on a daily basis, I had medium term planning to complete half termly. This planning would be heavily scrutinised and I would have to re do it or ‘improve’ on it. I had lesson observations on a monthly basis, these were classed as ‘teacher drop ins’ from SLT but the feedback was always crushing and soul destroying. I was constantly told my class were not making progress and what was I going to do about it. No matter how hard I worked I felt that I was always drowning. I never felt good enough. Ever.
I am fresh out of mainstream so I know how truly blessed I am to be working in an educational setting that finishes at 3pm, that only has 6 pupils in a class, no pressure on testing and false data. The problem is that all of the teachers have been teaching in the PRU for so long that they are taking things for granted. And they are very, very negative about their job, which is sometimes hard to cope with. They are outraged when they have to stay until 3.30pm for a meeting- I used to regularly stay at my last school until 5.30pm, sometimes even 6pm. They flat out refuse to do work at home, stating that their hours do not cover extra work. Refusing to work at home?! There isn’t any option in mainstream. You have to work at home, or nothing would get done. They are constantly saying that deadlines are not long enough when we are given two weeks to write 6-10 children’s reports. In mainstream you don’t have a choice. You are given a deadline and you stay up until 11pm every night until it’s done if needs be. Deadlines have to be met. Not these teachers.
I have to constantly pull myself back when I feel that I am getting into their mindset. I remind myself that for the first time in 4years I don’t think twice about wearing a skirt or showing my arms. I can fall asleep easily at night, I am getting paid more than I was in mainstream, there are great career prospects and my job satisfaction is at an all time high. I know that the problem is that these teachers are not moving with the times, they roll their eyes at the new online data system, complaining that it takes them ages to log data- I find it great that I can log things online in a matter of minutes, they don’t understand the fast pace in which education now runs and they really don’t know how fortunate they are.
For now, I will continue to support my colleagues but I will no longer allow them to drag me down and make me feel depressed, which I sometimes felt after having meetings with them. I know how lucky I am and I am positive about my job so that’s all that matters.