Teaching; what a beautiful bitch.

Since the age of 20 I have been surrounded by other people’s children on a weekly basis.

When I was 28 I realised most people who have children will have mostly never been around children on a consistent basis, until they have had their own.

At 28 my mind was blown.

“From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents, it’s the person standing at the front of the classroom...” - Barack Obama

Here I am on a dress down for work day. Just like in the offices.

Here I am on a dress down for work day. Just like in the offices.

And yet why do we treat our teachers with such disregard?

I love teaching. It has always been part of my make-up. From when I was 12 in my childhood home making a “summer holiday school” and creating worksheets and homework, which I gleefully set to the children who lived on my street. I know what you’re thinking. How can a 12 year old be SO MUCH FUN (being fun since 1998). I relished in the marking, and the power of knowing more, but also the development of other children’s knowledge.

I wish i’d spent my summers chasing boys.

Today most of my working week is made up of teaching people from the age of 4 all the way into adulthood. I’ve taught many varied groups of students in terms of their social makeup, from refugees, minority groups, to very privileged fee paying white students. It is now I am making some harsh realisations about teaching which I can’t figure out if it is our ever evolving society, or just right now, in this very moment; I’m running on zero. They can be summarised as:

  1. You may know the most, but the minute you walk into a classroom, you matter the least.

  2. A parent may not be there, but no matter what the age of the child. They are always right. The customer is always right.

  3. Your life before, after or during the classroom is mostly inconsequential.

  4. Teaching can be a lonely existence.

  5. You deal with a lot of shit. I mean A HELLUVA A LOT OF SHIT.

I wanted to put in some official supporting research and did a quick google. Don’t worry, it hardly took a lady Sherlock to find articles entitled “shortfall in teacher numbers” or “number of teachers in state schools declines…” or “How to fix the staggering decline in teacher trainees”.


THEN I realised. Screw the research. I AM the research. A teacher of 12 years and these things that I feel and see is enough. It is enough.

Here is the list of things I love as a teacher:

  1. You can make a difference.

  2. Every day is different.

  3. At times, you can change a persons world.

  4. You are growing something. It is organic and fresh and new and reaching for air.

  5. When you teach, you learn.

There will be some people who have found institutions or classes that treat the good teachers with the acclaim they deserve. Cherishing them like gods and goddesses, praising the ground they walk on and ensuring they always have a freakin’ cup of tea. But for the most I ask - who is looking after the teachers? Who is giving them a dose of un-waivering passion and relentless energy to ensure their classes are dynamic and engaging? Oh no one?

Yeah. No one.

Next time you see your classroom teacher, or after school club teacher, just ask them “how are YOU today”. See them almost faint and then frantically piece together a sentence because THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY TO THIS BRAND NEW QUESTION. It’s really quite a sight! Or next time a teacher needs to bring something to your attention, shut up and listen. They are the experts and as you wouldn’t come out of surgery and respond to any complication with “it wasn’t Isabella’s fault, I think Olivia was distracting her which is why she had an aortic rupture”, you need to start trusting your professionals or go somewhere else.


Buy them alcohol at Christmas, not chocolates.

We have your children for more waking hours than you do.

Claire StainerComment