We asked the head of department at a fairly tough state school in London whether teaching is like the movies. Unsurprisingly, it’s not. Here are the main differences between Hollywood Teaching and Actual Real Life (IRL) Teaching… 

You develop a touching, emotional friendship with the underdog in your class 

You can’t develop friendships. It’s not appropriate

“There was one boy – rude, kept getting arrested but very bright – who started coming to see me about extra revision, which I had to do with the door open as well as making sure there was a teacher in the classroom opposite.”

The kids teach you just as much as you teach them 

You teach the kids, because you are the teacher

“It’s cool to see them talk about stuff they’ve never thought about before, but I have a degree in this so have to remind myself to give them credit for these ideas, rather than thinking that they’re bloody obvious ideas that people have been having for years.” 

The English teacher is really cute 


The English teacher is not really cute

“The male one is about 50, chain smokes and likes to talk about David Foster Wallace. No lusty thoughts so far. But I wouldn’t mind having a pop at the art technician…”

Kids stand on chairs and pour out their emotions


Kids sometimes stand on chairs and pour out their (not that positive) emotions 

“Many students stand up and say things like ‘WTF WHY AM I PREDICTED A D?!” or they when they need to shout at someone because they didn’t quite get it all out at break time.”

You regularly cry at extracurricular events (i.e. plays and recitals) when a non-academic student finds their true destiny


You occasionally get emotional, but not as often as films suggest 

“Once we had a dance show and these six boys who are quite boisterous did an amazing contemporary dance. I got a bit emotional then. But mostly kids just dick about during extra-curricular activities.”

You get lovely thank you presents


You get presents, but some of them aren’t lovely 

“Er, I once had a half-used gift set of body lotions. But I have a child in my Year 8 group who has a reading age of a 4 year old, so his card was pretty sweet.”

There’s a lot of paperwork, but kids don’t tend to bleed on it


There’s a lot of paperwork, and kids tend to bleed on it

“Apparently people get nosebleeds when they’re stressed. Children get stressed when they’re asked to do tests they haven’t revised for. I’ve marked quite a few nosebleedy tests.”

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