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How to cope?

(23 Posts)
Strugglinghere Sat 22-Feb-14 20:13:16

I'm finding it so hard to manage at the moment, my workload seems insurmountable and I've spent most of half term ill with IBS. How do you manage the workload and pressure, along with family life? Does anyone have any advice or tips on how to get through it?

LizzieVereker Sat 22-Feb-14 20:22:59

You poor thing, IBS is horrible and I have so many teaching colleagues who seem to suffer from it thanks

With regard to workload, I have a few things which help me. I teach secondary English, so very marking heavy, I have a marking rota which I stick to religiously to stop me from having a meltdown. I also " timetable" what I'll do in my non-contact periods, otherwise I faff. I find it especially helpful to have set times to read and answer e-mails, or this can be a hideous time stealer.

Do you have any departmental shared resources which you can use to cut planning? Or use TES and adapt, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

I'm very lucky to have a DP who does the lion's share of housework - do you have someone to support you? My DCs know that I'll work one day of the weekend and that the other day is for them.

Strugglinghere Sat 22-Feb-14 20:35:56

Thanks Lizzie, I'm secondary mfl, teaching two languages. I try to stay organised but find I'm so sapped of energy at the moment I struggle to focus on the many jobs on my list! We've had a lot of changes lately and so I'm having to teach from scratch a lot of the time, rewriting SoW and creating new resources. Not much within the dept but I do use TES when I can.
I'm 0.85 but don't feel pt, dh is also a teacher and is HoD so is v busy too, though he copes with it much better than me...I've been teaching since 2000 and feel I should be coping by now! I'm hoping to decrease my hours or leave in Sept, can't really afford it but I can't have this workload as my life. Hate having to tell my dc that I can't do x, y and z because I have to work. Again.

LizzieVereker Sat 22-Feb-14 20:48:19

Ah, two teachers in the house - everyone is overstretched!

We've been teaching for the same amount of time smile - it doesn't feel easier does it?

What are your HOD/ colleagues like? I started work 2 years ago in a dept that had nothing resource wise, but my dept were great. So each half term each person wrote the SoW and Powerpoints for one SoW, and we did that each half term, so by the end of the year we were fully resourced. It was hard work, but more effective than everyone planning the same things at the same time. And for each SoW you wrote you got another 6 which your colleagues had made. Would your dept. be up for something like that?

Philoslothy Sun 23-Feb-14 00:55:10

I also suffer from IBS, it is often triggered by stress or being overtired with me. Workload is my hobbyhorse because I simply refuse to work the hours that some teachers do. I have four children, one on the way and a stepson as well running a small holding at home.The following works for me:

1) I say NO an awful lot..
2) I hav a very strict making timetable which I rigidly stick to.
3) The only work I ever do at the weekends is marking A Level
4) I get up very early, get some housework done before I go to work
5) I don't reinvent the wheel, 9/10 I use the lessons on the department's prepared schemes of work and if needed add a tweek. I have 30 mins to tweek a lesson and work against a timer. When the timer is up I stop.
6) I don't work in my holidays and am very open about that. If it can't fit into term time it was too big of an ask.
7) One day a week I leave work almost on the bell to spend time with the family. I am very open that I do that, it is on my shared calendar and encourage those I work with to do the same.
8) when I give feedback in class, the students write out that feedback in green pen.
9) I use my iPad as a great time saver. Idoceo has streamlined my Markbook and planner .
10) My frees are timetabled.
11) I have an office but I also have a secret hideaway in school which my PA knows about but nobody else does. I can be contacted in an emergency but it means I can get some heads down marking done without distractions.
12) I am ruthless about students sticking sheets into their books, if it isn't stuck in it counts as missing work. They must also stick any sheets in flat so I don't waste time unfolding things.
13) I check emails at 7am, 8:30 am, start of lunch and end of the school day. That is it.
14) I try and get as much done at school as possible , I arrive at 7am and work until 6pm and every second of that time is timetabled.
15) I often give students comment banks when they are peer marking and then by about the first half term I don't have to add my own comment to a piece of work that is peer marked.
16) Students hand their books in open at the point from which I need to mark
16) I clean the family bathroom while the youngest has a bath in the evening. DH and I take it in turn to either do the story or clean the bath afterwards.
17) Every child has their own basket into which their freshly laundered clothes go. The collect it and put it away them selves.
18) We have a laundry basket just for school uniform so it doesn't get lost.
I also have a basket just for my work clothes.
19) I plan my outfits on a Sunday evening for the working week, including shoes, underwear and accessories. I have hangers that are labelled with days of the week. I wear a lot of dresses as you are then not matching things.
20) My emails are synced to my iPad calendar so that dates for meetings etc go into there with little effort.
21) An obvious one but something that I needed pointing out to me, when marking exams mark all of the same question from each student and then go back and do question 2, then 3 ...
22) I mostly shop online.

MrsYoungSalvoMontalbano Sun 23-Feb-14 09:31:07

philoslothy sheer genius!!!!!!!!!!!

Philoslothy Sun 23-Feb-14 09:35:26

Hardly, I just want to spend as little time working as possible.

Snugglesrock Sun 23-Feb-14 19:47:10

Philo please could you run the iPad syncing thing past me - planner and mark book???

Snugglesrock Sun 23-Feb-14 19:57:05

Struggling. Secondary Mfl here also
Tis bad isn't it!! I've been teaching since 2002 and ATM seems harder than ever!!!

louloutheshamed Sun 23-Feb-14 20:05:57

Philoslothy I am going back ft after my second mat leave later this year and that post is going to be my saviour! Thank you!

ravenAK Sun 23-Feb-14 20:21:49

Good tips there.

I'd add:

Home - Have far too much school uniform (I snap up grey trousers/skirts in charity shops). Life is too short to be sponging a jumper at 8am.

Batch cook & freeze - tubs of chilli, bolognese etc.

Delegate housework to dc - a 7yo can hoover, wash up, make beans on toast, or put together a packed lunch.

School - stickers are your friend. I mark stuff that actually needs close marking, but where appropriate I have sheets of stickers that say 'Peer Assessed' 'Self Assessed' or 'Verbal Feedback Given' & pass them round the class - each child takes one & sticks it on their work.

I often work through the night on Schemes of Learning/resources etc - kids in bed, bottle of wine to hand. Start at 8pm & finish about 5am. Not for everyone, but I enjoy cracking on in a quiet house; I do this maybe every third weekend.

Strugglinghere Sun 23-Feb-14 20:28:56

Wow, great tips Philo, thank you. I've been trying just to prioritise today, I'm at the point though where I just don't know my job any more. I'm finding planning more and more time-consuming. I guess I'm always conscious of having to tick the right boxes as we are constantly having 'learning walks', Mocksteds etc at our school and I haven't had better than RI in the last six months having never got less than Good before. Interesting reading about the effects of constant grading on teachers this last week on various blogs - I have just lost all confidence in what I'm doing after all these obs. I'm hoping to leave teaching this year, or at the very least cut down my hours - I'm not used to feeling as though I'm failing and feel like I'm flogging a dead horse, my career! sad

Strugglinghere Sun 23-Feb-14 20:31:31

Good stuff too, raven, thank you.

Hobnobissupersweet Sun 23-Feb-14 21:08:59

Fri kin hell philo, much kudos. Super organised and long hours at work, no wonder you don't do anything in the holidays. Some I already do eg 8, 9, 20 and 21. Am def going to nick 13 and 16, thanks.

knitknack Mon 24-Feb-14 06:26:36

Wow - 'the students hand their books in open at the point to be marked' 'missing sheets count as missing work' WHY have these never occurred to me?! Book marking currently involves ME gluing sheets onto books FOR the lazy ones!!! I've been a mug!

Thanks - this list should be a sticky!!!

angelicjen Mon 24-Feb-14 06:39:59

Great advice, especially on the first Monday of term when I'm late getting up and horribly aware I didn't get through the half term marking mountain. I'm starting to hate this job (secondary English) and that makes me sad.
You women that are doing it with families are truly amazing.

strruglingoldteach Mon 24-Feb-14 07:06:59

No advice here, but checking in. I'm also feeling completely overwhelmed at the moment, and as if I'm always just a step or two from capability proceedings. Really finding it hard to keep on top of things.

I've been at the same school (primary) for 10 years, but we're now a failing school with a new head. In theory I'm pt, but it doesn't feel like it!

Love the tips above, lots of great ideas there. Just wondering though- how do others deal with colleagues? I seem to be interrupted whenever I sit down to get on with something. I'm not management, but we are expected to work as a close team so it's hard to get away without seeming rude.

Philoslothy Mon 24-Feb-14 07:39:37

Late start today for hospital appointment , so am a lady of leisure this morning .

I think Primary is much more work and perhaps more work that can't be put off for a few days.

When I used to have to work in a staff room I used to put my earphones in so I could block people out . I am a huge gossip myself so could be honest and say that I am stopping myself from interrupting you, rather than I am blocking you out!

I also have lots of uniform . Primary is cheaper so I just have five of everything. Their secondary uniform is more expensive but I still have three skirts and blouses/ shirts as well as two blazers and ties . In fact they have three ties because I teach at the school that my daughters go to and I keep spare ties for them in my desk drawer as well as PE socks , hair bands etc.

I also don't do packed lunches , if the older ones want them they have to organise it themselves including ordering the food.

I have tried the batch cooking but with so many of us it is a huge task just doing one meal for everyone , particularly as most evenings at least one child will have a friend for tea. I do meal plan though and do an ocado shop twice a week. We have a huge meal board in the kitchen which covers two weeks. The week we are on and the following week. The week before everyone in the house, bar my youngest, has to sign up to cook at least one meal. You also sign up to say which meals you will be present for and if you are bringing a guest. DSS is away at the moment but there are five of us who can cook a meal at least once a week to share the load.

I am also a great fan of stickers and stamps for my marking and the students are very good at stamping/ stickering themselves. When I set a test or assessment they all put in their books a sticker that has their target on which they fill in themselves. When I am marking it is then easy for me to see their target and write on the sticker their result . They also stamp on their books when homework is late . When they have a. "Next steps" task again they have a stamp which clearly highlights that they are acting on my feedback. I was tempted to have the stamp labelled " Mr OFSTED look here "

I find that when I mark an assessment I often write very similar comments. I have these prepared on stickers and stick the correct sticker in. I sometimes give students sheets of marking stickers and ask them to put the correct stickers on the correct piece of work .

I mark in fountain pen, it enables me to write faster but keep it legible.

Neeko Mon 24-Feb-14 07:46:07

Hi. Secondary English here. Not much to add although I feel your pain.
With better classes that I've trained I sometimes mark essays using two different highlighters: one for good points and one for development needs. The first part of the next lesson is them writing the comments at the end of the essay whilst I help those who are stuck. It is quicker and it makes them focus on their strengths and weaknesses. I also never mark something that can be marked round the class such as close reading, language work or spelling tests. It's not ideal but it's a sanity saver.

Philoslothy Mon 24-Feb-14 07:48:17

snugglesrock if someone makes an appointment with me via email , the time and date will appear on that email as a clickable link to my calendar on my iPad. My iPad calendar is linked with the calendar on my idoceo account which has a planner . That means that I don't miss an appointment but I am not having to go to much trouble entering things. I hope that makes sense.

Idoceo also allows you to email students from your mark book. This week I have been marking year 11 assessments . I can record as an extra note on my mark book the next step task that I am setting a student . I can then email that directly to the students at the click of a button. I tend to use this more with A level to be honest. This also remains on my mark book as extra data that I can refer back to when writing reports.

I find the idoceo app invaluable for collecting data to use for reports and the students know that I have a record of every misdemeanour so they rarely forget homework, not bring their books, chat etc.

Philoslothy Mon 24-Feb-14 08:00:44

That is a good idea for A Level marking in particular Neeko.
I do a watered done version of that with Lower school. I will usually mark at least two pieces of class work and one homework at a time. They read through my comments and the comments from their peer/ self assessment and then in their own words on a dated post it note they write down 2 things that I liked about their work and one thing they need to work on. They have a blank page at the front of their book where the dated post it notes go. It makes you think when you are marking , that you are giving praise and constructive feedback. It also adds value to the peer marking. It also makes them read the marking and show that they are responding to it. Again OFSTED love it but it is them doing the work not you. They also look back to see if they met the previous target , if they did they get a merit - which they award themselves to save me doing it.

Philoslothy Mon 24-Feb-14 08:02:04

By getting students to hand books in open , I can also tell which piles of books need marking. If they are open they are unmarked , if they are shut they have been marked.

cardibach Mon 24-Feb-14 20:37:28

I hate post its. How on earth do you stop them all falling out like confetti?

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