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Should I speak up?

(18 Posts)
WriterofDreams Tue 30-Nov-10 18:51:06

I'm 36 weeks pregnant and still working as a teacher. I'm not starting maternity leave until Friday week (yes I know I'm mad, I don't know why I left it so late). I'm generally very well but obviously teaching is tiring as I'm on my feet all day and it's very full on. Sometimes I think because I seem so well the other staff don't realise how hard it can be for me. When I went in this morning I was told quite late that one of the other teachers needed my room (which doubles as the DT room) for a course that was going on. That meant moving all my books, pens, whiteboards, etc to another room. Did that teacher or the other teacher who should have told me about this change offer to help? Did they heck. I know they were busy but it didn't seem right to me that they saw me waddling back and forth down the hall with heavy boxes and didn't offer to help.

Then later I had to move all my stuff back as the room I was in was being used for something else. Again a number of teachers were about and they were busy but again they didn't offer to help. I honestly don't think I would even let a woman as pregnant as me carry any of the stuff at all. To be fair one LSA did come in and help me in the morning but that was the end of it. I know I should have asked but it feels a bit lame and it feels as if I'm intruding on their work. At the moment I'm feeling very worn out and I had to go to the bathrooms for a bit of a cry this morning as I was so annoyed about it all.

I'm feeling quite down this evening and I'm really regretting agreeing to work so late. It would be horrendously difficult to get out of it for a number of different reasons and I know if people offered to help it would ease the burden enough that I could manage. Any advice on what to do?

PaigeTurner Tue 30-Nov-10 19:02:19

Hmmm. Could you have a quiet word with a sympathetic manager and maybe they could spread the word among your colleagues about helping out if they see you struggling? Where are people's manners. Honestly!

Sorry you've had such a shit day - I take my hat off to anyone working past 35 weeks!

DancingCat Tue 30-Nov-10 19:11:24

Yes you should speak up Writer - your employer should have undertaken a risk assessment which should obviously include lifting - that should be reviewed regularly and measures should be put in place for THEM to avoid putting you at risk. I'm a chief exec (and 32 weeks pregnant) and my Board of Trustees would never allow this to happen - to be honest neither would my staff, they virtually don't let me carry a cup of coffee at the moment smile
You shouldn't have to ask for help, although I appreciate your politeness and recognition that you feel you could be putting on others who are busy, but your employer has a duty of care towards you. If anything happened to you they would be liable and therefore its in their interests to look after you.
Sorry you've had to deal with this - I do think you should speak to your HR department.

WriterofDreams Tue 30-Nov-10 19:13:26

Thanks Paige A bit sympathy makes me feel a lot better. Just had a good whinge to DH too grin

The deputy head is very good, she tries to help me as much as she can. The problem is that I only started in September so I'm a little bit wary of coming across like a whingey moaner. At a staff meeting I asked if people could put the desks in my room back to the right place as I only work part time and my room is often used in the afternoon. Obviously being so pregnant I can't move the tables myself but the impression I got was that people felt I was complaining about nothing. That was of course until the headteacher was observing a lesson of mine and he witnessed me having to climb on a table (huge belly and all) to get at the projector as all my desks had been pushed forward. There's no way I could ask a child to do it, as it's too dangerous, but of course it's fine for a hugely pregnant woman angry

WriterofDreams Tue 30-Nov-10 19:18:51

Thanks also dancingcat They did a risk assessment not long after I started but no follow up has been done. I'm sure if I brought it up now the attitude would be that I'm finishing next week so what's the point? To be honest it's more the politeness and courtesy aspect of it all that's getting to me. The head of my year is absolutely lovely and I really like her, but she sat this afternoon (working) and watched me go back and forth back and forth bringing tiny amounts of stuff back to the room as I couldn't manage it all at once. The problem is that in teaching everyone is busy with their own thing and every teacher looks after their own stuff. If I started asking others to lift and carry for me I'm sure they'd do it but understandably they'd resent it as it would greatly increase their workload.

Of course when the children are about they're my little pack-horses, they're great, they do everything for me, bless them grin

japhrimel Tue 30-Nov-10 19:19:31

I'd ask for help every time something like that happens. By doing it yourself despite being pregnant, you're not making it clear that you need help and that it's just not on.

PaigeTurner Tue 30-Nov-10 19:22:19

Yes, I'd say something along the lines of sorry for interrupting their work, but in these last two weeks you're finding it pretty hard going, and you'd really appreciate it if they could just do X - and you'll return the favour when you return from mat leave...

spidookly Tue 30-Nov-10 19:33:25

It's not mad at all to work late I don't think. I worked until 39 and 37 weeks and found it helped me not go completely batshit at home, heavily pregnant, unable to do much (I am not good at being inactive).

Your colleagues sound very unsupportive. I would never leave a pregnant woman to carry lots of heavy things or move desks around (surely students should be doing that anyway when they're finished?).

WriterofDreams Tue 30-Nov-10 19:46:12

I agree, spidookly, I think I would go mad too if I had finished earlier. Inactivity does not suit me, and it's the thing I dislike most about my pregnancy, which has been pretty plain sailing so far.

I was managing pretty well up till now but today really pissed me off, partly because I was told about the change so late which meant that on top of having to move I had to do it quickly which of course made it a lot harder. I love my job and I'm going to be heartbroken leaving my kids next week as I won't teach them again because they're year 6 and will be gone to secondary school before I get back.

The issue with the desks is that people who use the room move them around and then forget to ask the kids to move them back. If I ask my kids to move them every day we lose a huge amount of lesson time so often I just leave them as they are but sometimes they cause a lot of hassle, such as when I can't reach the projector. Part of the issue is that before I started in September my room was mainly empty and was used on and off for different activities. Some of the less considerate teachers (one in particular) still treat it that way and don't take into account that I use it every day and need it to be set out a certain way so I can accommodate my class. The teacher who was running the course (said inconsiderate teacher) moved a lot of my stuff around today and didn't put it back and also left some of the equipment from the course out on tables. I know that when I go in tomorrow it'll still be there and I'll have to tidy it away, which pisses me off so much. It's just so rude.

waterplate Tue 30-Nov-10 19:55:08

Hi Writer
I'm a secondary teacher with no room of my own (I fell on my sword so that NQTs could all have their own room). As a result I teach in 8 different classrooms so I know exactly how you feel. I am only 6 weeks but this has made me realise what a nightmare I'm going to have in a few months' time (if all goes well).

I'd say you need to go to your head and say that if you don't get some help you will have to go on maternity leave straight away. You have every right do and I'm sure that even though you only started this year, by the time you come back the circumstances of you going on ML will have been forgotten anyway. Imagine if you did go into labour having recently lifted something heavy - they could be in all sorts of trouble! I'm sure the head could have a quiet word with the people who use your room without it having to come from you.

I can't believe you're being left to do all this to be honest - I'm the first to say that all teachers are busy but no one is busy they should let a heavily pregnant lady lift and carry stuff, particularly when it's because of them moving desks, using rooms unexpectedly etc!

spidookly Tue 30-Nov-10 20:12:36

Go and speak to the inconsiderate teacher and ask her to stop being a prat.

"Hi, I found these materials all over my classroom this morning when I came in. I don't think that's acceptable, do you? If you use my room when I'm not here, please can you leave it as you found it, it's only polite."

This has nothing to do with you being pregnant, that is not how decent teachers treat one another.

If problems continue I would raise it with the head.

Of course your students shouldn't have to be spending so much class time rearranging their classroom because of an unmannerly teacher.

WriterofDreams Tue 30-Nov-10 21:17:19

God I would love to do that Spidookly, but I don't have the guts! She's a very odd character, comes across as all lovely and nice but underneath it all is a complete bitch. When I first started I sensed that the other teachers didn't like her much but I couldn't pinpoint why. Now I know. I'm feeling quite fragile at the moment emotionally and I know if I said something and she said something nasty back (which I know is quite likely) I'd just burst out crying and the whole thing would blow up into a ridiculous drama Seeing as I'm finishing next week I think I'll opt for the quiet life for the moment. BUT I am going to ask for help if I need it, because I can't spend the next two weeks feeling as tired as I do today.

Waterplate I empathise with your situation - I think I would drop dead at this stage if I had to move around all the time! My only advice would be to see if you could possibly get your own room for later in your pregnancy. I know with timetables and such it might not be possible but it would be worth a go because it would cut down your tiredness hugely. Also if you can't get your own room it might be an idea to start your ML a bit early. I feel fine in general but if I do any physical exercise I'm fucked. Walking from classroom to classroom could well be enough to make your job impossible in the later stages.

sophielouise Tue 30-Nov-10 21:42:23

Hi there WriterofDreams, I am interested in your progress as a teacher myself (secondary). I plan to work up until four weeks before I'm due, and so far at 28 weeks I'm feeling generally good, although a bit puffed after the stairs etc! I also did a risk assessment, which seems to have been 'filed away'. (How are they supposed to deal with the risk of "unpredictable behaviour" from students? I remember just putting a question mark next to this one!) Would you advise others to stop teaching earlier than you are? Would you have changed it had you the chance? Today I had to shout at an unruly class of year 11s, and it almost made me burst into tears. You'd think they'd have a bit more understanding.

WriterofDreams Tue 30-Nov-10 22:10:42

My situation is probably a bit different from yours Sophielouise, in that I teach part time (half day Monday-Friday with PPA Monday afternoon) and I do six hours of tutoring. Effectively it's almost a full week, but tutoring is obviously easier in that I can sit down while I do it, and teaching one child is far easier than teaching a whole class.

I think the big difficulty with teaching is that it's so physical - you're on your feet for most of the day and there's a lot of walking around. Also difficult classes like that year 11 bunch can be so draining. If I could go back and change my mind I'd probably choose to go on ML last Friday, when I hit 36 weeks. I think at this stage the physical strain of just carrying the baby around is a bit much and trying to keep enthusiastic and on top of things is very difficult. My classes are generally very easy but I think if I had the extra strain of difficult students there would be no way I could carry on - I simply wouldn't have the energy to deal with them. I do want to spend as long as possible with my kids but I think I overestimated how easily I could manage things and I'm dreading the rest of my time as I have so many small jobs to catch up on (you know how it is!)

As for unpredictable behaviour I would say if you ever feel in danger step out of the way sharpish. The school can't expect you to deal with any form of aggressive behaviour during pregnancy so even if something does happen (a student strikes another student for example) you won't be held responsible at all.

notmyproblem Tue 30-Nov-10 22:51:19

WriterofDreams you came on asking advice and Spidookly offered you some. Don't then say you don't have to guts to take it! Nobody here is going to walk into your school for you and tell other teachers/the head about your issues and ask them to stop acting that way and start respecting you. You have to do that! No, it's not easy but the alternative is remaining a doormat for other people to walk over.

Stand up for yourself! You can do it!

spidookly Tue 30-Nov-10 23:36:35

You can do it. Definitely.

But I can quite see why at 36 weeks and with a week and a half to go before ML you want to leave it for now.

But when you come back kick some arse, OK?

WriterofDreams Tue 30-Nov-10 23:47:33

Ha, I just had a really nasty thought. This particular woman is obsessed with her weight, despite being very skinny indeed. One day in the staffroom she said "You are a very large size aren't you?" in reference to my pregnancy bump. I'm not very sensitive about my weight and in fact I haven't put on much weight at all, and I would say my bump is a reasonable size (ie massive). So in the next few days I think I'll drop into conversation a few times some oh so subtle references to her weight and how she seems to be putting on some pounds. That'll give me satisfaction without drama.

LoopyLoops Tue 30-Nov-10 23:52:36

I'm a secondary teacher, and I have to admit that a lot of my fetching and carrying was dome by pupils. Obviously not the really heavy stuff, but anything that was reasonable.

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