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Please be kind to a newbie

(14 Posts)
Stressedouttraineeteacher Thu 09-Mar-17 20:40:02

Hi everyone. I am doing Teach First and I am really struggling at the moment. Due to circumstances, I didn't get much of a break last half term and I have just discovered I have seriously fucked up by teaching an exam class the wrong stuff for half a term. I am just so, so tired, and every time I speak to someone or have a meeting, there is more work to do. I don't know when to do it and because I am so tired I can't do it properly. I really want a break to rest up but I don't have the time. In fact, it looks like I am going to have to give up my one free day at the weekend and work more over the next few weeks, instead of less. I was given extra support earlier in the year because I wasn't coping well, and I am worried concerns are going to be raised again. I don't want to quit, but surely this kind of workload is unsustainable? I am so grumpy and the kids are feeling it so behaviour is crap to boot. I am at a low at the moment and would appreciate kind words from people who've been there but don't work with me, as I feel I need to put a brave face on so they don't think I am about to crack and cry in class or quit.

70ontheinside Thu 09-Mar-17 21:06:08

Teaching an exam class the wrong stuff is bad, but not entirely your fault. Your mentor is there to check that kind of thing and is seriously letting you down if that went unnoticed!
I did School Direct and didn't have a break the whole year (not what you want to hear, I know).
Workload is the one thing that breaks teachers, I believe.

Here is my 2 pence then:
Teaching is never done. There will always be more to do. You need to prioritise, urgently.

Do your department and fellow trainees share resources? Do you use tes resources? Are you in a Facebook group for your subject that share resources? Do not reinvent the wheel - an ok lesson planned in half an hour is more sustainable than a perfect lesson that takes 3 hours to plan.

Marking: Do you do too much? Too slow? There is evidence that most marking is pointless anyway. Self and peer marking are the way forward. Do the absolutely minimum according to department policy.

Don't make stuff. Cutting, glueing, etc.: complete time wasters. If you want anything made, let kids make it in class, and only if it is reusable.

If your mentor isn't much help, is there a coordinator you could talk to?

Sympathies. That feeling of 'how will it all get done?' is common in teaching and because you're at the start of your career you don't know how to cut corners yet.

What subject are you? What is causing you the most stress? (Marking? Planning? Something else?) We might be able to offer practical help with a bit more info.

With regards to your comment about teaching the wrong stuff, I'd argue it wasn't you who seriously fucked up, but whoever is mentoring you. You shouldn't have been able to teach something for a half term without someone saying 'er, what are you doing?' Try to put that behind you. It wasn't your fault

Dreamanddream Thu 09-Mar-17 21:15:27

Honestly? Get used to this feeling.

Have a back up plan and start working on your second career.

This is not about you, it's about the career.<bitter>

rollonthesummer Thu 09-Mar-17 21:24:46

I would hate to say it gets easier but it doesn't. NQT year was hard but I think the year after was harder as you get less release time and more and more responsibility thrown at you.

rollonthesummer Thu 09-Mar-17 21:24:59

Love to say, not hate!!

ellanutella8 Thu 09-Mar-17 21:29:12

Not what you want to hear but it doesn't get any better. I am having an awful rqt year.

However prioritise: have a week of okay lessons rather than one good and 12 bad ones.
Nip behaviour in the bud. Do not create another problem.

It feels counter productive but make time for yourself. Even one evening off will make a difference to your mental health and lessons will be better as a result.

Stressedouttraineeteacher Thu 09-Mar-17 21:36:54

Hi! Thanks for your responses. A timely reminder that I need to work on prioritising, I'm not very good at that. When I'm this tired I get stuck in really unhelpful thinking patterns and forget to use my coping strategies. It doesn't help that I am definitely not a natural optimist...

Regarding my mentor: they're awesome. I somehow got the wrong end of the stick at a meeting in December and despite about a million emails that should've rung an alarm bell I still didn't twig that I wasn't doing the right thing. I don't mean to sound unpleasant, but the fact that my mentor and HoD might be kicking themselves too does make me feel slightly better, as I felt wholly responsible.

As for the predictable advice to leave the job: I am not. I am a career changer and leaving isn't an option. I'm not going to go into the details, but it just isn't. I am just going to hope it'll get better and go part-time in a few years.

70ontheinside Thu 09-Mar-17 21:41:37

A million emails is not enough - is somebody sitting down with you once a week and talking through all of your lessons and where you are and should be in the scheme of work? If not they're not doing a good job!!

Stressedouttraineeteacher Thu 09-Mar-17 22:07:31

We have an hour a week. My mentor sticks to that religiously and in comparison to other TF trainees I should consider myself lucky for that. An hour is nothing of course, often it's taken up by other stuff that's not directly planning related. Not sure if I can reasonably expect more tbh. It doesn't help that everything is in flux all the time - we changed exam boards in October so the work my exam class did last year is worthless, making my slip up even more consequential. There is a lot of creative freedom in the department, which is PC for very few things being shared - our HoD was marketing us sharing the planning of revision resources, whereas to me that send the obvious solution... The rest of the department all qualified 4+ years ago so I am a bit on my own in terms of being completely new - none of them did TF either. Have recently become friends with a new NQT in a different department and I get a lot of support from that friendship. I love my school, it really is very supportive, but I could do with having more people in a similar situation around me.

Stressedouttraineeteacher Thu 09-Mar-17 22:10:06

There are very few SOWs btw, the only ones I've seen were for KS3 - we just get told what to teach which term and what to assess. I'd say I plan 2/3s of lessons myself using TES. Have to say it's really refreshing to get an outside perspective!

DreamingofBrie Thu 09-Mar-17 23:31:29

What subject are you teaching, OP?

NQT year was incredibly tough but currently it is my RQT year (in a different school) that is breaking me.

We are under immense pressure with regular assessments. I found that I teach best when I don't look at the unrealistic scheme or work - I know that's probably unhelpful advice, but it meant that I wasn't rushing them (pointless as they then don't retain anything).

I am considering taking a break after this year. I agree that this workload isn't sustainable. I am also a career changer and feel so sad that I haven't been able to make it work, but then I don't regret training to be a teacher - without the PGCE I don't think I could have tutored, which is what I plan on looking into next year.

Good luck flowers.

Letseatgrandma Fri 10-Mar-17 07:37:51

As for the predictable advice to leave the job: I am not. I am a career changer and leaving isn't an option. I'm not going to go into the details, but it just isn't. I am just going to hope it'll get better and go part-time in a few years

This comment really worried me. I know 2 others who've had this attitude that just said they 'couldn't' leave-they both ended up having total breakdowns. Neither is teaching at all now.

OrangeSquashTallGlass Fri 10-Mar-17 07:56:28

I'm so sorry but what you're describing is just the job:
'every time I speak to someone or have a meeting, there is more work to do'
'I am going to have to give up my one free day at the weekend and work more over the next few weeks, instead of less.'
^ Get used to this. This is it.

'I am just going to hope it'll get better and go part-time in a few years'
^ As PP have said, it could get worse before it gets better.
Also, really really think about what pay scale you'll need to be on to make part time a viable option and then work out how many years it will take you to get there.
AND keep in mind that working part time could still mean working on your days off just as you are working at the weekends now.

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