Teacher workload destroying family life?

(51 Posts)
Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 20:27:46

I'm married to a secondary English teacher (large comp, Upper pay spine but no management responsibilities just a regular classroom teacher and year group tutor) and I hate hate hate his job.

We have no evenings together - he marks after putting our kids to bed and having quick supper in front of TV til about 12/1 sun - Thurs and some sun afternoons. Hols and half terms involve me buying childcare or taking time off so he can work, he's rarely home before 7pm and thus 90% of childcare and chores fall to me. In the holidays he has the kids more but then claims he needs time off to relax so household stuff remains undone.

Is this normal? I can't face another 20 years as a widow to the marking.

Would love to know if anyone else's marriage has failed/hit the rocks because of teaching... Or am I just a heartless cow (I have typed up plenty of worksheets, done coursework cover sheets, helped write reports, spent Sundays ferrying him around to round up coursework from slack pupils etc etc over the years)?


Tinlegs Thu 14-Nov-13 20:32:17

I am a secondary English teacher in a small comp (Scotland) and do not work anything like those hours. It might be the difference in the systems (I am assuming you are England) but that level of work suggests he is not very efficient at managing his time and workload. Pupils need to do more self / peer assessment as they learn more and it frees up time for other, more useful, activities. However, it may well be the job, the pressures of his school. I worked 7am - 6pm Mon - Friday and 2-5 hours over weekend in an English school but this included a major extra curricular activity.

Move to Scotland! We have a maximum 35 hours. Many work much longer hours but you are allowed to say no!

Ubik1 Thu 14-Nov-13 20:33:49

Are you working too? It's tough, isn't it.

I don't really know what the answer is...you just do what you have to do.

I work nights/weekends and have 3 DC. DP and I are like ships that pass in the night sometimes. I hate my job, but it's big girl pants time, I'm afraid.

sunnybobs Thu 14-Nov-13 20:34:09

Sounds far too much to me. Either he's rubbish at his job or he's using it as work avoidance for something else. I'd be furious if that was my DH. We're both teachers & yes there are weeks like that & sometimes months but never every week all week. He needs new strategies for marking & time management to try & get on top of it. Is he in a requires improvement or special measures school as they can be utterly exhausting to work in while trying to hit all the targets?!

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 20:37:48

Yes he is bad at managing his time.
Reads and marks slowly and spends far too long on preparing beautiful resources (according to a colleague). He has cooked up a bit before and sails close to capability procedures so feels he has to do more to prove his existence as younger colleagues move up and beyond him, his morale is low and he's convinced that he is barely doing enough (always has huge marking backlog) and that he'd never get a job anywhere else (same school for 19 years, went there for his New year and never left).

Scotland sounds great but I am thinking divorce not relocation!

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 20:38:43

Bloody autocorrect - cocked up and NQT I meant!

Ubik1 Thu 14-Nov-13 20:40:53

How would divorce make things any better?

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 20:43:30

Yep I work school hours round the Dc's 4 days per week and one long day a week, sometimes have to work in evenings too but couple of times a month.

The school is outstanding so no sm type pressures, it's in a leafy small town and he has a 30—40 min commute there and back.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 14-Nov-13 20:46:11

My brother taught English for years and claimed it was harder work than say teaching Maths which was quicker to mark....

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 20:51:18

Forgot to add that he goes to a hobby 2 nights a week and some Sundays Sept to May... But then marks/plans after he gets in.

He's up so late we are on different body clock half the time.

chalkythecat Thu 14-Nov-13 20:51:20

Sounds like my DH who works in IT. He's NEVER home before 7pm, works most evenings and often gets up in the middle of the night/works at the weekend to fix things.

He's probably the equivalent of your DH in terms of seniority and other than a salary/bonus gets no company benefits or pension.

What I'm saying is that it's probably no better outside teaching...

chicaguapa Thu 14-Nov-13 21:01:05

This sounds like my life actually. DH is a teacher too and I often feel like I hate his job.

What bugs me is that his job comes first. I work full time too but I can't sit and relax when I'm not working because DH is marking, planning etc so it's left to me to sort out the DC.

And if I've planned something for both weekend days, we pay for it in the week because he has to plan ahead.

I know it's a stressful job but we all live with the stress too.

The way I cope is when he tells me about the successes and I realise why he wants to do it so much. So I try to be tolerant. But I feel your pain.

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 21:08:58

Thanks for all the replies.
Just don't know if I can live with it anymore. It makes our entire relationship utterly one sided and I know that me and Dc's come down the priorities list after marking and the hobby. My concern had turned into resentment I fear

Tinlegs Thu 14-Nov-13 21:16:23

Get him to ditch the hobby. Tell him that he has to stop at a certain time each day, regardless of what he has to do. Ask him to seek help from a colleague with managing his workload. Insist on one entire free family day at the weekend and no more than (say) 3 hours on the other.

However, the time just sounds ridiculous. Is he actually marking / planning etc or does he have a secret surfing habit that he is covering up with his job as a excuse? Is he online or in a room where he could be on (say) mumsnet as I a when I am, allegedly, marking.

Tinlegs Thu 14-Nov-13 21:16:51

Last sentence garbled....but you get my drift?

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 21:19:09

Well he marks while watching series on his laptop, spends a fair bit of time on Emusic and had/has a bit of an Internet porn thing.

The hobby is the only non work thing he does and he has no other friends, does no sport or anything so am reluctant to say he should quit it.

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 21:19:57

Sometimes marks while watching a series on the laptop, not always.

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 21:21:03

Have asked him repeatedly for years to get tips from colleagues, HOD etc re time management and workload but nothing changes.

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 21:22:28

The weekend days are normally free. He procrastinates on Sundays and usually starts work around 9/10pm.

Nojustalurker Thu 14-Nov-13 21:22:38

I am a teacher who struggles with work/life balance so I understand where he is coming from. I don't have any DC but I hope my priorities will improve then. If I worked the hours your DH is working I would be a rubbish teacher as I would be too exhasuted to be effective in the classroom. It sounds like he needs to learn some shorts and when enough is enough.

Have you talked to him about the effects it is have on you and your children?

Tinlegs Thu 14-Nov-13 21:23:32

Sorry, but you can't mark while doing something else. In order to mark effectively (and efficiently) you need silence and no distractions. The work is expanding to fit the time available and he is using it as an excuse to listen to music / access porn / etc etc.

I think he is avoiding family life and teacher workload (which can be immense) is a convenient excuse.

Ubik1 Thu 14-Nov-13 21:28:54

I think Tinlegs is right.

At some point you have to prioritise family life, he is shutting himself away from you, you need to talk to him.

Orangeanddemons Thu 14-Nov-13 21:51:35

I'm a teacher. I often work in the evenings and weekends. Try and minimise to about 2 hours per night over a maximum of 3 days, and about 2-3 hours at weekends, but I don't teach English which is a very marky subject. I also usually work about 2/5 of every holiday.

I think he is using excuses and overworking, but sometimes it can be as you described. Also when you are wall to wall with children all day every day, it does often leave you with very little emotional energy for your own dc.

NearTheWindmill Thu 14-Nov-13 22:04:35

My MIL, who is now 77, sounds a bit like your DH. The marking and the prep took over her life and her family's life and it was all due to the pressures of teaching. Actually, over 25 years I have just come to realise that she procrastinates and isn't very organised. I suspect, because she was a very good school girl and became head girl, that she exceeded expectations in relation to her capabilities. For example, she was accepted by teacher training college although she didn't completely matriculate (she failed maths) because her school wrote such a glowing report because she was just perfect in every other jolly hockey sticks sort of way. Unfortunately she was always punching a bit above her weight and as the stories have come out over the years, probably never far from capability. It was a terrible struggle for her but really she should have been performance managed out. And how can someone, who can't convert fractions to decimals and vice versa, let alone work out a percentage, really be capable of teaching 10/11 year olds maths. That perhaps is more of an indictment on what is wrong about the jack of all trades philosophy in primary education than about her though and is off topic so sorry OP.

SilverApples Thu 14-Nov-13 22:06:38

'Sorry, but you can't mark while doing something else. In order to mark effectively (and efficiently) you need silence and no distractions.'

Really Tinlegs? I can't work in silence, most of my marking is done whilst watching DVDs that I own. You can only speak for yourself I think.

SilverApples Thu 14-Nov-13 22:08:07

'That perhaps is more of an indictment on what is wrong about the jack of all trades philosophy in primary education than about her though and is off topic '

I'd like to see a lot more teaching of specific areas by specialists in primary.

Giveatossagain Thu 14-Nov-13 22:08:33

...so today he came home at 9pm after a school open evening that was from 6-8 (he stopped to buy booze at Aldi on way home), ate supper with TV on and checking school emails on his iphone and is now (10pm) back in his study marking and likely will be til sometime after midnight.

He did pick up some essentials in Aldi though and did help me hang out some of the washload.

SilverApples Thu 14-Nov-13 22:13:19

The children are supposed to read and respond to teachers' comments in their books and use the teaching points and whatnot to inform and improve their next piece. Which they can't do if the work hasn't been marked.
So I mark a piece of Y6 writing against the SC, pick out strengths and weaknesses, grammar, spelling and content and write a comment.
On every piece of work, or my marking is RI.

Tinlegs Thu 14-Nov-13 22:33:38

Really? Well, hats off to you if you can watch a film and mark at the same time. I think that it requires concentration but then I am teaching High School and some very able pupils who need their work to be given careful thought. I once saw a Geography teacher marking without paying it much attention but I can't read, think and watch telly at the same time and do the work justice.

SilverApples Thu 14-Nov-13 23:33:51

Whose a smug and sarky wench then! grin
I don't watch unfamiliar films, it's more like a need for white noise as I have grown up and worked in a number of challenging and very noisy environments. Quiet is too loud for me.
But then, I'm only a humble primary teacher, I mark with lots and lots and lots of ticks in green crayon and then I put multicoloured stickers on it.

SilverApples Thu 14-Nov-13 23:36:20

Whose blush


Cor, look at that, a grammatical error. I must be very irritated by your blinkered view, so it's time for me to hide the thread and do some colouring in.

pippitysqueakity Thu 14-Nov-13 23:59:55

I am the same Silver, need external noise to drown out the internal so I can concentrate. Cannot mark without t.v. or radio.

(Misses point of thread...)

roughtyping Fri 15-Nov-13 07:23:08

I also mark with music on. But again, 'just' a primary teacher.

OP, those are insane hours. Honestly insane. How's he kept going for 19 YEARS at that pace??

BrianButterfield Fri 15-Nov-13 07:36:22

I am a secondary English teacher - I consider myself a thorough marker and give full written feedback on work. It's something I think I do well and I don't being work home very often!

I get in at 8 so I can do 45 mins converted effort before lessons start, and at heavy marking times I make the most of every minute - classes do ten minutes silent reading at the start of lessons so I can do some then, or to get books marked I try and do them walking round the classroom.

I am a fast reader which helps, and I don't knock myself out making new resources where not needed (although I do actually renew stuff very regularly, I always work from things that have already been made if possible. With ten years' experience and 15 colleagues in the department it's just plain silly to insist on making everything yourself from scratch every time).

By doing all this the only time I need to work from home is when I have a backlog of assessment work to mark, and that's easily-ish done in one go given a couple of hours. Planning is largely done in my head, by which I mean I will sit down in advance and sketch out skeleton plans for a week or few days in my pkanner, then gradually mull them over on my way to work, during breaks etc. An experienced teacher shouldn't really need to sit 'planning' like an NQT would.

My DH is also a teacher with responsibility and has recently moved schools. He does have some work to do at home but still nowhere near the hours you're talking - a couple of hours a couple of nights a week and one weekend morning or after noon usually.

I'm not lazy but I strongly believe in the motto "work smarter, not harder".

Giveatossagain Fri 15-Nov-13 09:05:21

I lost it a bit this morning and asked him why he was working so hard - turns out he has insted/insight (internal ousted type thing next week). He could have told me rather than just buggering off to his study in a huff.

Sadly I know that this will just one storm before the next crisis (end of term deadlines, hobby causing him to get behind for a bit, catching up over Xmas etc) sigh. H

Tinlegs Fri 15-Nov-13 10:04:36

I think that BrianButterfield has the same attitude as me. I can't work and do something else (tv, or music) because I need to give it 100%. However, that means that it is done quickly and efficiently. I also use every minute I get in every lesson to do marking. I hand out homework and expect it in at times that mean I endeavour not to have too much to do on one day. I do not make up new materials, unless absolutely necessary although this year has been a real bastard in Scotland (entirely new curriculum with some bits the same but just different enough, no guidance from the exam board etc) so it has been harder.

I work in a tiny school so my classes are small, which helps. I think working as part of a group of teachers across several schools also helps. We share resources (ask him if he has discovered www.teachit.co.uk which is fantastic for English resources).

Also, we had an internal inspection last week (Council) and it was a strain but I have a husband and children and they have to come first.

Not sure that I was being smug, or sarky. I can't mark except in peace and quiet unless it is something fairly easy and I don't feel I would be doing any work justice if I did anything other than give it my full attention. Maybe younger folk are more used to working with noise. Maybe I am just not great at multi tasking. Maybe also it is because I teach Advanced Higher where 70% of their output (think dissertation / creative folio) is dictated by pupils so I am constantly having to mark things that I haven't taught them, but they have studied themselves. I wasn't belittling anyone (apologies if it read like that) but in the context of the thread I was pointing out that he is not necessarily working hard if he is also watching films or on the internet.

(This thread is about a distressed OP not about primary v secondary).

I think he is using the marking / job as an excuse. It also sounds as if he is struggling generally and might be slower, or less engaged with family life as a way of trying to avoid problems.

Do you think he has sensed your worries / anger and is trying to avoid them by burying his head in the sand / marking.

noblegiraffe Fri 15-Nov-13 13:47:33

Workload depends heavily on the school. Some schools have insane requirements of their teachers re marking.

It's a bit off that he has time for his hobbies of an evening but not for his wife.

CaptainTripps Fri 15-Nov-13 15:00:27

My husband is a teacher. He says you have to learn which corners to cut and how to play the 'game' in an ever-changing landscape. That's it.

It's only a job.

Seems like everyone knows (including the powers that be whoever they are) realise the job is not sustainable. But who the eff is doing anything about it?

Bonsoir Fri 15-Nov-13 15:03:23

It sounds as if your DH needs counselling to help him overcome his anxieties and mentoring to help him improve his efficiency. Preferably simultaneously.

soapboxqueen Fri 15-Nov-13 15:05:09

As others have said it depends very much on the school. Some schools have horrific planning and marking expectations which really are not manageable. It has nothing to do with being organised or not.

I think it would be better to find out what your dh's colleagues working time is like then you can decide if it is justifiable or not.

EvilTwins Fri 15-Nov-13 16:29:12

I teach secondary. DH gets cross with me for the amount of time I spend working. I do get a bit carried away though (love my job and get over-excited about planning) so could probably spend less time doing it.

Thing is, DH also has a job which involves lots of extra hours (and travel) so it's a case of swings and roundabouts.

Both of us prioritise family though, and whilst we may not spend all that much time together on weekday evenings, we do at the weekends.

OP, if this really is about the job, then I recommend:
1. Don't eat in front of the TV. Sit together and chat, and make that a habit.
2. Find something on TV that you both enjoy and make a point of watching it together - even if it's just one evening each week.

I'm not sure his workload is actually the issue though.

MrsYoungSalvoMontalbano Fri 15-Nov-13 18:43:00

I think it is a red herring that he is a teacher - there are many jobs with long hours and commutes, evening catch ups etc.... but it does sound as if he is using all this as an excuse OP.

Orangeanddemons Fri 15-Nov-13 19:37:06

Wow, my dh always knows when we have internal inspections. I get so stressed I have to offload all the time!

Alexandrite Fri 15-Nov-13 22:22:04

Why do you have to ferry him around to round up coursework from slack pupils?

Giveatossagain Fri 15-Nov-13 22:29:16

Gosh. Thanks for all the replies. Lots to think on.

I appreciate it is not just teaching - I work in IT and although I am part time because of Dc's many of my colleagues work evenings and weekends but they enjoy it and don't seem defeated and battered by it (as my DH does by teaching) and enjoy their jobs.

Thanks again.

Phineyj Thu 21-Nov-13 20:32:32

Okay, well that is the issue isn't it - 'feeling defeated and battered by it'.

I feel for you OP - it is no fun living (or working) with someone whose job makes them feel like this.

However, I am shock at driving to pupils' houses to pick up coursework!

MiaowTheCat Fri 22-Nov-13 08:32:04

I used to have to mark in school (had fuck all willpower if I took marking home and the box of books would just glare at me malevolently before going back to school after their little holiday) with headphones in... had a crappy open plan teaching area the cleaners tended to congregate in to chat and it was the only way to block out their discussion of Ethel down the road's varicose veins.

My ex used Ofsted looming and arriving (back when you got a nice long notice period to stress out about it) to have an affair while I was busy and distracted.

MrsYoungSalvoMontalbano Fri 22-Nov-13 18:38:18

I mark in school for the same reason - I get thought it more efficiently there, even tho' it means getting in earlier (prefer that to staying late).

Astr0naut Tue 26-Nov-13 20:33:23

It definitely depends on the school - although the teaching climate doesn't help.

About 5 years ago, I pretty much had it cracked. Worked a lot, but was staring to have a life outside school too.

Now I'm .8 after having had my kids, and even h has noticed that I'm working more than ever - even though, by necessity, I work a damn sight smarter than I used to.

Loonytoonie Sat 30-Nov-13 23:17:11

I'm secondary, in a school which was failing last year. Our marking policy is bonkers and impossible to sustain when you teach a subject that's literacy-heavy, and when you have 15 full classes (28 is smallest class).

I work all hours. I cannot sleep so I mark. I'm marking all weekend and, in fact, I'm marking now. Ive only come onto MN to see this board and share the misery

My DH does not support me which is ironic since he's a Primary school teacher. I think this job could lead to seperation for us because I'm juggling motherhood with a man who does what he wants. And still I always play catch-up to the marking and prep. I could'nt have a hobby because there is no time in my life for one. No way. I have no fucking life. I''m a shit teacher', a shit wife and a shit Mum.

But I still think that your DH is using his schoolwork as an excuse to not engage. Sorry OP.

And sorry for using your thread as a chance to offload.

Jenniferlh Tue 11-Feb-14 22:33:50

You could be describing me there. I too am I teacher whorls all hours. I would rather spend time relaxing with my husband but don't know how to complete work to a good enough standard and relax. I work 55 plus hours a week and still am never on top of things. There is a lot of pressure in teaching and a ridiculous amount of stuff to do. I doubt he's purposefully not engaging Nd like me prob doesn't know how to fix his work life balance

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