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.