Friday, March 21, 2014

Trying to have it all (and failing)

For those of you that don't know - I am an English teacher in a secondary school. I teach from age 11 (Year 7), up to age 18 (Year 13). I am also what is called a House Manager; think of it in terms of Harry Potter if you like, I am in charge of, say, Griffyndor! Basically, being a House Manager involves lots of raising money for charity, rewarding students, being in charge of prefects and the annual Christmas Fair and lots of other little things that crop up. When I started teaching I loved it; I would work from 8-3.30 and then go home and have some dinner and carry on working until about 11pm. But I enjoyed it; I loved making resources and PowerPoints for lessons and it never felt like work. Of course, seven years later I don't need to plan lessons as much or in as much depth as I know what I'm doing now.

However, the admin and paperwork that goes with the job has increased dramatically since I started. I spend most of my free lessons (which is 3 a week), responding to emails, chasing forms or doing some form of admin. I can't remember the last time I actually sat down and planned a brand new lesson. I rehash old ones. It's a shame, because that's the part I loved. But I just physically don't have time. On average I see 6 -7 classes a day, all of different years and all doing different topics. Now, don't get me wrong, I knew what I was getting into when I signed up to teach; I knew the hours were long, I knew it was thankless, I knew that people complained about our 'holidays' etc, and I can live with all that. But at the minute, I feel like work dictates my life. I am not sure if teaching is any good for a marriage, let alone having children. I'm lucky that hubby works in the same place as me, so he knows what goes on and he can relate and understand my frustration and stress.

Whilst I can live with it, it really, really riles me that I see people moan about teachers having too many holidays. They fail to understand, that actually, we don't get paid for these. Our pay is pro-rata, but we don't get paid for being off for 13 weeks a year. They also fail to understand that a lot of teachers work in the holidays. They need to plan what they are going to do for the next term, or mark books or create fabulously eye catching displays. These people also fail to realise that we are physically and mentally exhausted after a seven week stint of standing up in front of thirty kids every fifty minutes and 'performing'. Not just that, but walking around the classroom constantly, checking books, helping students out - we need 'down' time. Time to relax and do nothing, or time to spend with our families, where work is cleared from our mind. These people seem to think that teachers don't deserve holidays at all!

Up until now, I've resisted talking about how I feel about work and teaching in general on this blog, partly because I wouldn't ever want colleagues to read this, but teaching is a part of me and defines who I am to an extent. I also feel that I can't stay quiet about it any longer!

Why are we not allowed family time? I always feel guilty at home when I am not working! But actually, I stop being paid at 3.40 so why should I work at home? I know that, nowadays, a lot of jobs require a bit of work outside of the office and I suppose there are very few 9-5 jobs around. But I just get really annoyed with all the criticism that teachers get for the hours we put in.

Anyway, I don't know what the answer is. I want a better work life balance, but struggling to find it as yet.

Any other teachers out there who can offer their own suggestions?


  1. We've just nominated you for a Liebster Award xx

    1. Aw fab!! just going to go and check it out now! thanks ladies xx