An open letter to teachers . . .
July. Exercise books have been filled, the hurdles of exams vaulted, and school jumpers discarded until September, when they will begrudgingly again be pulled on despite now being three sizes too small. The twilight of the academic year is upon us.
But what actually gets done at this time of year? Not much, you might think. Surely teachers just put on another film tenuously linked to the Geography course, while students kick back and daydream in an Attenborough-induced coma. Mrs Jones can’t have the energy to still be teaching decent lessons this late in the term, can she?
You’d be right.
She does, though.
Our teachers have been sprinting solidly for 10 months now, every second of every lesson planned with inhuman accuracy. Every eventuality thought through meticulously. All the time keeping to the syllabus and making sure each child is on track and reaching their target. Pretty tough work, I’d say.
And if your idea of a teacher’s weekend is swanning about the town, sneering and laughing at people working on a Saturday before going home and sitting vegetative before prime-time TV, you’re very, very wrong.
Sure, just like you, they enjoy a glass of wine on a Friday night. But that half term holiday that you might be jealous of teachers for taking is spent working.
It’s spent tailoring algebra so that it fits your son’s brain perfectly. Figuring out how to inject some panache into your daughter’s poetry analysis. And maybe, if they somehow stumble across an hour unfilled by planning or marking, relaxing.
Then there’s exams. Kryptonite to the superhuman power of childhood.
Teachers run extra sessions (in their own time) to push your children that extra little bit further. They spend their lunch hour honing students’ science answers still whilst thinking through the year 9 class they have to teach next lesson. Collecting and collating exam questions; setting up hoops for their students to jump through so we can advance in life.
Time consuming? Yes.
Boring? Beyond belief.
Every year the same monotone exam questions are churned out by the dark, corporate spectre of the exam boards. But teachers diligently carry on. Working tirelessly to make your children’s lives better.
And we’ve not even come to the hardest part yet. Which is when the lesson plan doesn’t work, the class won’t engage, and when students just don’t want to learn.
It can be soul destroying.
Teachers don’t hate the ones that actively try and disrupt their work. They want them to succeed just like all the kids they teach.
So thank you, teachers. You’ve worked tirelessly for our benefit for months and years and we’ve hardly given you any gratitude.
The marathon is almost over now, and you can enjoy that extra glass of wine when you’re done.
You deserve it, trust me.
-- Will Allsopp is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds