The plan to destress myself has worked well today. Let’s hope it continues tomorrow!
This is blog post 108 (unless I take advantage of WordPress’ rather naughty little feature of date tampering!). I aimed to write 364 or thereabouts, a few posts short of one everyday. Maybe not exactly 364, but close to it. I knew that I wouldn’t manage one day because life gets in the way, but didn’t think that I would be so far behind! If it weren’t for the summer holidays, I would be really behind!
In 304 days, I am averaging 1 post every 3 (just under) days. Obviously, there are glaring gaps in May and June (coincides with SATs!) and the summer holiday run counteracts this. I have 256 posts to write in 63 days. That equates to 4 posts a day – not going to happen! I can see me having to time travel!
Nothing changes unless you actually try to change it. I can either accept my situation or try to improve it. It is all too easy an answer to go to the doctor. I know I have depression, I know that if I went to the doctor I would be offered counselling, tablets and maybe even sign me off work.
Whilst I am not adverse to these treatments, I have experienced all of these before, I do not believe that they will help me. I believe that tablets will mask the situation. A little like a headache tablet. Useful if there is a minor reason for the headache, but not wise to take long term. After a while, you have to start asking – what is causing the headache? I think masking the stress might cause me to take on more, to push myself too far. Plus, the job won’t change, the circumstance won’t change. I cannot be on anti-depressants until I retire (at the grand old age of 67 years 11 months and 8 days!) Equally, sign me off work and I’ll eventually have to go back.
I have decided I actively need to seek another teaching job. It might be the current situation that I am in. I could change it by changing my job. This leads to me the fact that I need to lose weight (I am positive I will be discriminated against because of my weight) and passing my driving test would be useful (though, as my mum points out) I probably won’t be able to manage it because I never have. I wonder where I get my feelings of self worth from?)
These, however, are not overnight changes. I need something to make an overnight change.
1. Complete more work at school in order to have time off at home. This means:
a) marking more efficiently in lessons
b) working through my break, half my lunch hour and any other spare minute that becomes available.
c) ask TA to read class novel at the end of the day.
d) prepare work as far in advance as possible.
2. Work no later than 8pm at home
3. Stop volunteering to do extras at school.
4. Only work on a Saturday. If I am going out on a Saturday, all work must be completed Friday night and therefore the 8pm rule can be lifted.
5. Stop reading scrutiny feedback. Accept that you will never be good enough and that you could be amazing and still have room for improvement. Know that you are working your backside off, working far harder than anyone else and therefore ‘stuff it!’
6. Read / colour / craft before bed.
7. Paint your nails at least twice a week.
8. Wear make up at least once a week.
9. Complete the grateful November challenge.
10. Go out with Neil at least twice a month.
11. Go out alone at least twice a month.
12. Write at least two letters a month.
13. Send a message to my friends at least once a week.
14. Go for a long walk at least twice a month.
15. Do something off your Pinterest bucket list (I’ll explain this later!) every week.
16. Blog every night, even if it is just to write one sentence.
17. Do the things you have been putting off. This includes:
a) transcribing the diaries
b) making Christmas cards
c) starting your bullet journal
d) the things that you thought of to write this part of the list, but has suddenly slipped out of your mind because you have spent so long prioritising!)
EDIT: after pressing publish, I remembered! I want all my posts to have a ‘featured photo’ so one thing I have been wanting to do that I have postponed is going back through and finding pictures to match to blogs!
18. Be December daily ready.
19. Listen to a Christmas song everyday – this will surely cheer you up!
20. There isn’t a twenty, but my list cannot stop at 19!
So, it has been 21 days since my last post and I have a lot to update, but it is difficult to know where to start. I think it all boils down to the fact that I have been broken. I feel tired, emotional (I am a crier naturally – but these has been something else. uncontrollable, unpredictable, heavy..), lacked interest and enjoyment, been experiencing physical symptoms of headaches, stomach cramps, shortness of breath and chest pain. Of course, I am reasoned enough to know that this is pointing at stress.
Work is the main sources of my problem. Since becoming an academy things have really upped in the terms of the expectations on staff, and this is right. It is absolutely right that schools should ensure that their staff are working to the best of their ability to maximise learning for their pupils however, schools take this to the extreme. We have lesson observations, planning scrutiny, work scrutiny, environment walks happening in one form or another, every single week. I am being forced to teach in w a way I do not agree nor in a way I feel benefits the learning for the children. I also do not believe that it supports their enjoyment of the school system.
I just cannot cope with never being good enough. There are no rewards, no praise, no recognition. Well, not if you are me – others seem to get it. This therefore means that I am obviously no good, but this is apparently not the case. Out of 8 members of staff in my department, I rank in the top 2 – yet every thing I do comes back sounding like I am useless. This is not constructive criticism, this is petty stuff – ‘make sure everything you’ve highlighted in orange is ticked in green’, for example. I wouldn’t mind so much, but there is no recognition for this. I have been after promotion for around 5 years now and have always been overlooked.
The work load is immense. I mark each books three times over – once in the lesson, once after the lesson and then once again to make sure they’ve responded to my marking (which they invariably haven’t, so I end up having to mark it again!). Each books need ticking in blue, errors pointing out in orange highlighter (then ticking in green once corrected), the objective given either a -, one tick (some understanding) or two ticks (thoroughly understood). If you end up giving a – you need to complete some precision intervention (PI) to show that they can understand it, given some extra support. I can teach up to 5 lessons a day, so that equates to 140 books to mark a night – 56 of those are a definite, the others can be postponed (but obviously done at some point). This turns out at 560 books a week.
It goes without saying that planning needs to be done. Sometimes you are lucky to have a good year group partner to share this work load with. I do not have that luxury, my year group partner has just been pulled and now I am working with someone who is only going to be working alongside me temporarily. I am hoping that they will share the work load – I have already been told that it’ll be good for me to see how she does her planning so I can learn from it (mine not being good enough implied).
Then there is everything else – I can list it all because it seriously makes breathing difficult.
So I do that 5 days a week. My contract states that I am employed 32.5 hours a week. This means that my hourly rate of pay is £22. This sounds very good – except my working hours are not that. In a typical week, I work 8am – 5pm at school, which a hour deducted for lunch (8 hours). I work 6pm-9pm at home (3 hours) and I average 14 hours at the weekend. This makes 62 hours and brings the pay down to £10 an hour – which still isn’t too bad until you realise that is before tax. After tax, I am getting £7 and hour. National living wage is £7.20 and hour. However, there is the little issue of 13 weeks holiday a year. Let me just see. This week off, (Saturday through to the following Sunday a week later) I have had 2 days of not doing school work. Every other day I have been in school or working at home. Even on my two days off, I was still receiving and having to respond to e mails from work. Every holiday is the same, except for the summer holiday, when I can probably be guaranteed a 3 week period of proper time off. Taken at the most expensive time of the year.
Why teachers go into the profession is absolutely beyond me. Why stay, I hear you call? This was my passion, my dream job. I studied for 6 years for this. I had wanted to be a teacher since age 14. The job wasn’t like this when I started. Now, I am in a job in which I cannot get out. Despite the wage being ridiculous for the amount of hours I work, I would have to work those hours in another job to match the wage and most jobs just don’t offer those hours. Whilst not having the holidays ‘off’, I do get to work from home and therefore I don’t have child care issues (they never get any attention from me, but I at least keep them safe!) I am not ancient in terms of my age, but I am in terms of workability.
I have looked into all sorts of things into getting out. Our monthly outgoings just wouldn’t take the hit in losing a wage for the month. I could drop to being a TA. It is interesting enough that if I did, the wage cut would qualify me for benefits that would almost match my original wage. Firstly, I find the concept of rely on benefits morally wrong (though my opinion on that is slowly waning) but, secondly, I also would only get these whilst J is regarded as disabled and whilst the children are under 6. This would begin to change in 6 short years. This job would mean that I could still teach, still have the holidays (and they would actually be holidays) but still be stress free. I would have the period of waiting between jobs for my benefits to come through.
Hubby could work more hours. This would mean our income would increase and I wouldn’t have to earn as much. This would mean the same scenario as above, but without relying on benefits. The difficulty here being not being able to guarantee a full time job with appropriate hours. I like the fact he takes and picks up the children. Short of a lottery win, I am not sure what I can do.
I have decided that I will apply for other jobs. Perhaps it is just my current place of work that is the issue?
The keen am0ngst you will have realised that I said that this was the main cause of my stress. The other is my life at home.
Hubby is such a mixed bag. There are days when he is great – like today for example. He knows how stressed I have been and he has allowed me a big lay in (9.30am!) and has done all the work – fixed all the children’s food, done the washing and ironing, and has allowed me to do nothing. However, this is not typical. The typical is that he only ever manages to clean half the house in one day. He doesn’t work and so has until 9am until 3pm to clean. Quite often I have to catch up of an evening or a weekend. He just does not think of things that can be done – if things are generally tidy, he doesn’t consider to dust, or sort through the wardrobe for old closes, throw out broken toys, reorganise cupboards. Instead, he’d rather play on his laptop or lie on the sofa all day long and then brag about it. Actually brag about his lazy day. His theory is, is that he is never ‘off’. I can come in and work and finish my work, but he still have something to clean, or ironing to do. He forgets that he should be doing this during the day!
Being lazy is not the only thing he brags about. He talks about being stressed. If he has picked the children up from school and they are chatty, this gets him ‘stressed’. if something doesn’t quite work out (maybe his Minecraft game crashes) he is stressed. Maybe if T has thrown a tantrum because his game hasn’t worked, this makes him stressed (despite the fact that T has learnt this behaviour from him). He has not idea of what stress really is. He doesn’t fact the day to day scrutiny that I do, the fear he will lose his job and therefore the family financial security like I do. He has 3 children to look after for an hour after I leave and for 2 hours before I get home. I spend 6 hours a day with 28 children, a large percentage of whom are some incredibly challenging children behaviour wise.
He spends his time playing on his laptop, watching TV, going shopping, having coffee with his mum, or friends, going for a walk. He has to work 8 hours on Saturday and then again Sunday. His life is a doddle, yet he cannot be happy nor make the most of his time. He gets to go to all the concerts and the plays and the craft days, and even these he finds a challenge. It simply isn’t fair.
I want some time. I want time to be a proper mother, to play with my children to help them with their homework, to ensure they clean their teeth properly. I want time to pursue my hobbies. I want to be something other than a teacher.
I have been incredibly stressed over the past week or so and therefore the diet has gone to the pot.
I am definitely an emotional eater. If something goes well, we go out to celebrate. If we are felling down, we go out to commiserate. It we are bored, we go out. Or eat in. That is becoming even easier now thanks to the Just Eat app and the ability to pay for a takeaway by credit card – not being able to order in previously due to lack of cash not being an issue now.
I have had a week preparing for lesson observations (which went well) and book looks and therefore I have craved food to cheer me up.
Our oven has also broken, which has limited the food that we can prepare.
This is another thing that is bringing me down. I need to get back on the wagon.
I have attempted to create a December Daily for numerous years ( click to view Ali’s website). Each year, looking at her work with great envy and always hoping that I would complete this myself. Each year, I have failed to prepare in advance, always thinking ‘I’ll have time..’ but of course, I never do. This is made harder by the fact that I have so much to organise in December for school.
This year – I have prepared! Or at least I am starting to! I have worked like a trooper this weekend to ensure all of my work was completed on Saturday. Working until 11pm on Friday and until 5pm on Saturday, meant that I achieved just that!
Today, I have prepared the front cover and I have begun to back the pages ready. I am quite excited by the prospect I might.
Sleeps until xmas.