'The problem is the level of bureaucracy involved in teaching'
TBH: A TEACHER WRITESI am 48 years of age, and I have been teaching for two decades. When I started out I really loved my job and felt that I couldn’t have made a better career choice for me.
However, over the years the nature of the job has changed, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to motivate myself. The problem is the level of bureaucracy involved in teaching.
I don’t think most people realise how much paperwork is presented for processing in the average working week. Much of it is very necessary, but there is a significant amount of pointless red tape coming from the Department of Education.
So much form filling and external planning falls to me now because the principal is too busy, because posts of special responsibility are gone and because the number of SNAs and resource teachers in the school is falling. For example, the resource team used to plan out all the schedules and objectives for children with special learning needs, and consult with us in the process. Now that team in our school has reduced, and the task falls back to me.
New reporting systems, new circulars on welfare, new rules on health and safety – every time the department or one of its semi-State partners makes a decision, another round of paperwork lands on my desk.
Decisions made at Croke Park mean that all sorts of new planning is required, and my day is spent organising meetings and writing up minutes and generally doing anything other than planning lessons and teaching children, which is what I was trained to do, what I’m paid to do and what I love to do.
I know that people get fed up hearing teachers talk about how hard they work. Everyone thinks we have an easy time of it, and they will read this and say I should just get on with it – sure don’t I finish work at 3pm?
Sure I do, but then I spend two to three hours correcting homework and planning the next day’s lessons. All this planning and paperwork not only cuts into my personal time (which I could handle) but interferes significantly with my job as a teacher as well.
With 10 years or more of teaching to go, I am starting to dread going to work in the morning, as I have so much to juggle in order to stay on top of a job that I never signed up for. I always thought I’d get better at my job rather than worse, but the goalposts keep moving. I just want to go back to being a teacher.
This column is designed to give a voice to those within the education system who wish to speak out anonymously. Contributions are welcome; email firstname.lastname@example.org