Thought Piece: “A ‘Good’ Teacher is a ‘Self-Abuser’ Teacher”

I recently read this article on a blog site about a ‘good’ teacher being a ‘self-abuser’ teacher. It obviously caught my attention and really got me thinking about myself as well as my colleagues as my point of reference, comparison, and source of inspiration. Yes, I measure myself and some of my progress against people that I immediately work with. Nope, that doesn’t make me competitive, I just benchmark that way sometimes for personal growth.

There is a meme that says that “teaching is the only profession where you have to work, before work, to have work to do at work but at work you can’t work to get the work done at work” [paraphrased]. So yes, teachers, by default, are putting in 110% into everything, especially NQTs (in my opinion) because you go in with limited resources, even of your school provides you with resources, they aren’t your own, meaning your flavour, your style, your personality coming out into your work. It makes you work harder, in the sense that you are having to decipher to make sense of it, deconstruct and reconstruct so that you come across as natural (can’t let them see you down).

I was interested to read that “lazy, burned out teacher would not be taking the time to read this [article].” I laughed a little, I could lowkey picture a few people, but that’s not the point. I’ve been told that I either work too much or I’m always busy. Some say ‘overachiever.’ Other than the fact that my very FIRST StrengthsFinder (if you know what that is) is Achiever, I guess that’s who I am. Also, why should it sound so negative all the time? I like achieving new heights and new goals. I like being an example to others (now, especially my learners) that it is possible to get that thing that you want even with multiple failures in between. Burnout is real, but I can’t say I’m self-abusing at this point, not by default at least. It is inherently who I am and I know I’m not the only one. Hence I have read the article.

Sometimes I do take on too much responsibility. Yes, I have spoken to some close colleagues on learning how to delegate. It is super easy to delegate to my learners (sounds like I boss them around, not true). It’s just that I recognise my position of authority in my classroom. I sometimes struggle to acknowledge my position of authority in the “staffroom,” so to speak. There are many underlying factors as to why. This is where I probably do “self-abuse” because I know I will get the thing done on my time with the help of the very few that self-abuse with me.

I will admit that I need to not take responsibility for other people’s failures even if I was there to see them fail. I taught close to 100 learners last year, many passed the grade that they were in, but when you looks closely you find that many did not truly pass (condonation due to varying reasons), even in my own subject I have learners fail. I won’t lie, that is heartbreaking. However, I know I created an environment for them to learn, to study. I availed myself to learners after and during break. I did all the revisions, all the weekend classes. Even after all of that, I still find fault in me. I was inconsistent here, I lazy there, I trusted when they said, “Yes, we understand,” or “Yes, we studied, did homework ect.” And actually, I shouldn’t bear that burden, but I’ve got nobody else to put it on. They still failed or didn’t do well. That’s self-abuse that I can pinpoint 📌 . Learners and the schooling system will do that to you right?

For 2023, I’m probably still going to self-abuse here and there because in my achiever mode, I can’t not improve, I must be better. And humanly so, I’m going to kick myself when things don’t change for the better. I’m that teacher that read the entire article (multiple times) enough to have thoughts on my own experiences.

With all that being said. Remember to practice self care, just throwing that in there.

Thank you for the time. Much love and light!

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