Becoming a teacher takes 4 years of hard work and dedication. Time spent learning about your specialist subject, followed by hours looking over textbooks and journals, studying how to be the best teacher ever.
Most people go into teaching to inspire children, or because they have been inspired by a teacher themselves. Others may go into teaching to share their passion of their subject. The question is though, would anyone want to go into teaching if they knew, realistically, that life as they know it was about to change?
Becoming a teacher is a little bit like losing your social life. Yes, it’s a given that there are long working hours, meetings most days after school, and stuffy staff rooms where you are forced to make polite conversation, even when you are SHATTERED.
But what might not be expected, is that your life outside of school changes as well. Particularly your life in terms of social media. Because apparently, teachers are NOT ALLOWED to use social media. Not now, not ever.
Early on in my own teaching career, I was confronted by an older member of staff who pointedly told me that I need to make sure I’m using social media sensibly.
‘Don’t go posting about who you’re sleeping with!’
Seriously? How patronising! I actually sat stunned for a few moments, whilst he guffawed and left the words hanging in the air between us.
I left it at that, but was raging inside. How could somebody, who had seen me progress over the past 18 months, really believe I was that stupid? The words stung, and I wondered whether he’d said it to me because I was young, and if so, why was that acceptable?
Later in the year, time had passed between the dickish comment and the assumption that I wouldn’t be intelligent enough to handle my own social media. But again I was confronted by more unfair and badly-handled comments.
Now, before I continue, let me explain my views here. I’m a social media addict. We all are really, aren’t we? I use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Just like my friends – both teachers and ‘normal’ people. Life is ruled by social media, whether you want to admit it or not. Actors, musicians, politicians, THE ROYAL FAMILY; they’re all on social media – so why are teachers not supposed to use it?
When I decided to branch out and use an online dating-app, I was appalled at the feedback from my colleagues.
As a body of teachers, I always imagined that we’d have one another’s backs, especially when people were challenging our choices.
After around a month on the dating app, I was aggressively pulled aside by a female member of staff and told that a student had found me on the app. My inner self got fired up: WHY WERE THEY USING IT? HOW COULD THEY SEE MY PROFILE? THEY WEREN’T OLD ENOUGH TO BE ON IT!
But more than anything, I felt completely ashamed. Dirty, like I’d done something completely wrong. I was so embarrassed, that I told my colleague I would immediately delate the app.
Good. **** and I were talking about it earlier, you really should get off of it.
I felt sick. It turned out, two of my colleagues had not only allowed the students to show them proof of my being on the app, but had then discussed it like a game of Chinese Whispers. And then to call me out on it in the middle of a training session? I was mortified and felt betrayed by my colleagues – why were they not outraged that these kids were using sites too old for them? Why were they angry at me?
They made me feel like I was a stupid kid.
Around a year after this incident, I thought ‘fuck it’ and signed back up for this app. Who gives a shit if someone finds me on it? Why should I be embarrassed? All my friends use it, and just because I chose a profession such as teaching, why should my life go on hold because of it?
My biggest dilemma with being a teacher is the fact that I’m meant to be a role model, but a completely fake role model. Someone who doesn’t drink, smoke, have relationships, use social media etc.
- Why should we be embarrassed about doing things that everyone else we know does?
- Why should teachers be scared of getting caught out in their hometown having a drink with friends?
- How dare we have lives, post photos to Instagram and enjoy a world of social media which we, like everyone else, has grown into?
I’m not saying I’m going to un-privatise my accounts, or be outrageously stupid online – I’ve just decided it’s time I stopped feeling ashamed of having (and enjoying) a life outside of teaching.
And just to let you all know, I still can’t look at those colleagues without feeling a bit pissed off.