In need of some advice please(17 Posts)
I know there are countless posts from people who are desperate to leave teaching, and I’m afraid I am going to add to that number.
I am really struggling with trying to cope with teaching and being a parent and I am starting to constantly feel anxious. I have two children (4 and 2) and I’ve been working part time (0.6) since coming back after my first maternity leave. I feel pathetic as I’m not full time and I should be able to cope, but I’m really struggling to hold everything together.
I think what stresses me out so much is the amount of work that needs to be done outside my working hours. And unfortunately, this is just part and parcel of being a teacher. I know that, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I teach a subject with a large marking load and have a lot of exam classes, so constantly have a huge pile of essays to mark. Every time I finally feel as if I’m getting through it, another class submits more work and the whole cycle starts over again. I hate the fact that I can’t ever switch off from my job: at the weekends and on my days off I’m always aware that there is a huge pile of work hanging over me. And I really am starting to resent that fact I have to do so much work in my evenings, when I’d much rather have hobbies or just sit and read a book without feeling guilty. The days I’m at work I try to work as efficiently as possible but, it’s impossible to get everything done between teaching, duties, clubs etc. I work through lunch and can sometimes do some “tick and flick” marking in a lesson, but it’s the essays that hang over me and take so much more time and concentration to mark.
I’m getting very stressed as I feel as if I’m being both a crap teacher and a crap mother and I don’t know what to do. I need to work as we need my wage, but I’m starting to think that I just can’t cope with being a teacher for much longer. What I would love is a job that doesn’t take over my evenings and weekends, but maybe I’m naïve and all jobs do this? On my days with the kids I am constantly worrying about all of the work I have to do, and I feel I’m never 100% with them, if you know what I mean. And I would love some down time. Proper down time to relax after a hard day. I know I get the amazing holidays and I feel like a new person during them, but during term time I’m just a shadow of myself.
So help, what do I do? Stick it out? Will it be easier when the kids are at school? Change jobs? And if so, what to? And will I regret giving up a term time job once my little ones are at school. I already have a cleaner and my husband does loads in the house. I just don’t know what other less drastic changes I can make to my life to make it easier, other than give up teaching. I’d really appreciate some advice and thank you for taking the time to read this.
Happy first of all, I'm so sorry to hear how you feel. I was in a very similar position recently (although I don't yet have children).
I had begun a teacher training course, and I was really, really struggling to cope due to all of the reasons that you describe in your post. In the end, I unfortunately resigned from my course, although I'm of course not suggesting that this is what you should do as well.
One of the suggestions that I have is to think about whether you might like to change workplace, and perhaps move to a different school, or whether you would like to change your career entirely.
Do forgive me for suggesting this, as you may have already attempted this. You could make a list of all of the good points and bad points that are connected to your current teaching position, and think whether the good points make the current bad points worthwhile.
If not, and the bad points outnumber the good points, could you think of ways to turn these bad points into good points (by changing workplace or career, talking to a trusted colleague about who you feel, or by having counselling support)?
I hope this helps a little.
If the marking is the most draining time consuming part start there- what are other staff doing? Do you have to always mark full essays- can you set elements of essays to practise? Can you commit to a certain number of essays a term and then do other homework? I'm not sure if that's feasible- are these essays coursework or similar?
Thank you both very much for replying. Other people in my department have the same marking load and just accept it as part of the job and work in the evenings/weekends to get it done, as I used to. Part of the issue is that I'm just so incredibly tired that everything takes longer. It is much harder to focus as by the time I'm back from work, have fed the children, got them to bed, eaten myself then I'm so tired that all I want to do is collapse on the sofa! But instead I have to drag myself to a desk and do some marking/ planning/ reports/ pointless paperwork demanded by SMT and it's hard to concentrate.
I feel like I'm always in a state of mild panic. Every morning is a rush to get kids up, dressed and breakfasted and out of the house by a certain time which is stressful. Then on work days I rush in feeling unprepared as often I've not had a chance to plan lessons properly so I'm winging it, and I feel in a constant state of "someone is going to find out how unprepared I am" and guilt because my pupils deserve teachers who are 100% dedicated to the job, which I'm not at the moment. I hate the fact the job is never finished and there is always so much else to do, and it hangs over me.
I have been looking for other jobs but very few in my area and advertised as part time and I know there is no way I could cope with full time at the moment. Can I ask Pample how you felt when you resigned? Was it like a big weight had lifted? Have you had any regrets? And what are you doing now (if that isn't too nosy)?
I am working full time now and my children are 4 and 7. I've been full time for 18 months and am finding it easier in lots of ways than part time.
However, I am in a sector that, despite serious day to day pressures and requiring great amounts of energy, does not have a high marking load. This helps a lot.
Full time worked out better for me because I can commit fully to the job and know that someone else (great childminder) is doing the school runs and after school fun. They were the most stressful things for me when working part time as I couldn't mentally commit to them.
In between children, when I didn't want to work full time, I worked as a nanny which worked extremely well. Would you consider that?
Are you marking according to the marking policy? Can you do more self/peer assessment? Mark differently? Mark a sample of books and use those to feedback to the class? Do whole class feedback instead of individual written comments?
It's crap, I'm part time with a 7 and 3 year old and totally get the feeling of being both worked to the bone and underprepared, with a fear of being found out. I'm hanging on till next year when both kids are at school when I'm telling myself it will become much easier. Until then the house is a tip and I'm muddling through.
Thanks for your comments. Can I ask how being a nanny worked when you had young children? Did you live in another house or just nanny during the day? Could you take your own kids to work or did they go to nursery?
I am a bit scared to take the leap to Supply as I'd be leaving a permanent contract and my husband is on a temporary contract. It just seems too much of a financial risk. If I were to leave I'd need a permanent job to go to.
I am marking in line with the policy, but our school doesn't like whole class comments etc. It's an independent school and we are told that are they are paying, the students require full written feedback. Management are always checking up and there is a culture of fear at the moment. That probably doesn't help my feelings that I'll be "found out"...
Your last paragraph pretty much tells me to get out when you can get something else "culture of fear" is not good. How on earth can teachers educate under such conditions?
I am exactly the same as you - work part-time, young children. I have stuck it out because we need the money and I don't know what else I would do. You are right about marking being the worst, especially when you are tired in the evenings and it takes so much longer. I have found two things helpful. First, get as much marking done at school as possible as I seem to get it done much quicker. Even if you only get through ten books, that's ten that you don't take home. Also, have set times when you are definitely not going to work. For example, I don't work at weekends except at really busy times. It means I have to do quite a bit each evening, including the days I'm not in school, but I feel I get to enjoy my weekends.
Can you speak to your school about marking expectations, especially given the new Ofsted guidance has specifically stated that there is little evidence to suggest that detailed written feedback is beneficial? I find it is the written comments that are onerous. If I can just highlight good bits and make corrections it is quicker.
One final thing that helps me is knowing that my youngest starts school next year and I'll have time to catch up on schoolwork during my days off!
Sorry, didn't see the bit about the marking policy? It might be worth keeping an eye out for another post.
I looked into becoming a childminder but it seemed like there would still be a lot of extra paper work after hours.
It's clearly pretty unsustainable. Speaking to part time teachers at my school with small kids, they're nearly all deeply unhappy as they spend at least one day off and one day at the weekend marking and planning.
It comes down to there simply not being enough hours in the day. There are a couple of options:
1. Resign and seek work with less / no 'out of work' commitment. Supply could be either v challenging or refreshing depending on how you find behaviour management and what the local schools are like.
2. Raise your concerns with department head / SLT / union rep. Actually sit down and identify how much time per week you would spend marking according to the school policy. Ask them how sustainable they think this is and for actual suggestions on how to do it.
For me it was 15 hours per week based on 3-5 mins per piece of work / book. Since I got 5 hours of ppa per week that was an extra WEEK of work per month just marking, not even planning or doing reports / data etc. I asked a member of SLT for practical suggestions on how she would manage this after being told that my marking was too infrequent (I was pretty pleased with it actually!) and all she could say was 'I shouldn't say this but I use the holidays to catch up'. Erm....not useful at all. This was the point where I knew it was impossible to succeed as I used the holidays to mark controlled assessments, plan new schemes of work etc.
3. Continue. Try to use peer / self assessment regularly so you are only marking final drafts of student work. Ask students, when they have completed an essay, to identify one section, paragraph or aspect that they want you to focus your marking on. Ignore the rest. Etc etc....
The school are being pretty short sighted to maintain the attitude of 'they're paying so they are right to expect a lot of marking'. Maybe so, but quality, not stressed and fearful quantity.
I'm on maternity leave at the moment and we've made the decision as a family that when it's time to return I won't be doing so. The financial benefits in no way outweigh the losses to my mental health (stress, anxiety, insomnia). So when we get to a point where a second wage is needed, we'll find a way. But it'll be a way where I don't feel guilty about not spending enough time with my family, and a way where my key phrase on a Sunday isn't 'I'll be done in half an hour'.
Good luck with your decision and apols for huge reply.
Hi Happy - just wanted to reply to some of your questions above
I honestly feel so much better and happier since resigning. It really does feel like a huge weight has been lifted off me. When I was training, I felt extremely stressed and panicked all of the time, in a similar state to how you described in your post.
I'm applying for tuition jobs at the moment whilst I think about which long-term career options I might want to explore. Is this something you might be interested in?
How are you feeling at the moment?
Thank you all so much for your replies. Your support means a lot to me. I think I do need to leave as I've become such a stressed and joyless person. The question is whether I try to find another teaching job in a different school or do something completely different. But I have no idea what! I don't think private tutoring would work as It would be evenings/ weekends and I wouldn't see my family. Maybe supply? Maybe something in an office while I get my confidence back? But all the admin jobs I've looked at are paid so much less than teaching! I've been teaching for 9 years so the drop in pay would hurt. But surely the better quality of life would be worth it?
Could you afford to be a TA? It's what I do and I love it. I get to do what I trained to do with none of the responsibilities. Crap pay though and I am lucky to have a DH who earns a good salary.
Totally get what you're saying about it being almost impossible to be a good mum and good teacher. That's why I'll never go back to teaching while my children are young (or ever!)
Good luck OP
I am leaving. Like you, 0.6 with two young children. Sadly my partner teacher doesn't like me (neither does the HT!) and after some pretty nasty shit happening, I have no choice but to leave. My family said that a massive drop in household income is far better than working with people who will 'stop at nothing' to ruin you as well as saving my sanity from the present nightmare I am going through.
I Ann not even sure I want to work with children. My drive and passion has literally been sucked from me. I am happy to work in retail or as a cleaner! Less stress, less income but certainly will be happier.
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