An anonymous female teacher in the UK reveals all to the Daily Telegraph

As a young female teacher in my 20's, I wasn't surprised to read about the recent furore surrounded Lydia Ferguson, a teacher in Newport Pagnell, England. She was allegedly suspended for posting a "sultry" selfie to Facebook.

The image is not lewd or intimate in anyway - indeed her pupils have come to her defence saying: "We think Miss looks lovely. There's nothing wrong with the photo at all" - but it is not uncommon to hear about a school reacting in this way.

Teaching in the 21st century is a minefield, especially if you're a woman. When I first began my training around six years ago, it was drilled into me that my pupils should never be able to access my social media accounts. We were advised to use our middle names on Facebook instead of the surnames our pupils knew.

Lydia Ferguson was allegedly suspended after posting a sultry selfie to Facebook . Photo / Facebook
Lydia Ferguson was allegedly suspended after posting a sultry selfie to Facebook . Photo / Facebook

We all make our accounts private - from Instagram to Facebook - and have to be careful with photos our friends might upload.

A harmless photo of a Saturday night in a bar could potentially ruin a career, so all my friends know not to tag me in any photographs without my permission.

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Of course, this isn't the hardest part about being a teacher. I haven't actually had to deal with friends taking selfies on a Saturday night for a while because my weekends are currently non-existent.

I work 12 hour days, plus weekends - and I do it all for a salary that works out at less than minimum wage, when you add up all the hours I put in.

People say, "why don't you just work less?" But what is "less"? Do I go in the next day without a lesson plan for my class? Do I say "sorry I didn't mark your books because I went out on Saturday night and got drunk?"

I just can't do that to my kids, and I don't feel like I should speak to my seniors about it.

As a young female teacher, if I go up to them and say I'm struggling, I'm basically admitting I can't do the job. The school I work in is pretty male-dominated, so if I go to them in tears, it'll seem like I can't cope.

Part of it is probably my fault. When I was at school as a pupil, I became a bit of a perfectionist. That Little Miss Perfect complex that so many girls struggle with still hasn't gone away, and I find it hard not to do my best, whether I'm helping able pupils or those who desperately need extra.

“She is a brilliant teacher,” one student stated in defense of Lydia
“She is a brilliant teacher,” one student stated in defense of Lydia ". Photo / Facebook

Sometimes the stress of it makes me cry, but that's normally late on a Sunday night when I'm panicking. If I'm sobbing in the loos at work, chances are it's probably caused by a pupil.

It's the kids who really get to you. Most of them are great but there are always a few who want to disrupt lessons and it is hard being such a young teacher - I'm closer in age to some of the children than the staff I work with.

Every time I've started in a new school, I've had to work hard to get the students' respect. In one of the slightly rougher co-ed public schools, the boys treated me like one of them.

In a way, it was good because I could relate to them and help them in a way older teachers might not have been able to.

But it also meant they'd tell me to "f*** off" if they were annoyed. They didn't understand boundaries and would regularly ask me unprofessional questions like, "What are you doing this Saturday night, Miss? Do you want to come out with us?" It was hard to always know how to deal with it.

During one lesson, during which they could submit anonymous curriculum-related questions, I ended up having to throw most away because they were so inappropriate. One of the boys even scrawled his mobile number on the piece of paper.

When I started at my current all-boys' grammar school, it was slightly different. The boys weren't so explicit with their comments, but their arrogance was hard to deal with.

They didn't like having a new teacher for their A-level year, so they tested me. If I criticised their work, they'd argue back in a way they never did with their older male teachers.

They never swore at me like pupils might have done in my old school, but they could be incredibly aggressive with their tone of voice and it often felt like they were trying to patronise me.

Because if kids don't like a teacher or they don't trust them, they'll do everything they can to break them.

If you're a timid young female teacher, they will use that against you. It means you have to toughen up and never show they've got to you - even if that means bottling up the tears, crying on the couch to your flatmates at night, and making sure you haven't posted any of it onto Facebook.