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It's only day 3 and I've cried already.

(32 Posts)
Theoverstretchedmultitasker Mon 09-Sep-19 21:45:36

A bit of background: I qualified at the end of 2016-2017. I teach a core subject and a different subject (which I'm passionate about) at A level. PGCE is in the core subject only. I was on mat leave for 6 months in 2018-2019. I came back four days. I was told (without a hint that there was even an option to say no) that I would be teaching KS3 lessons in two subjects I am not familiar with. I was not given any guidance with this, save two meetings with department members and the reassurance that all the lessons have been planned already. This means that my timetable is roughly as follows: 25% new subjects at KS3, 25% core subject at KS3 and 50% A level. My contract is for the core subject and the A-level subject. I don't feel at all equipped to teach these new subjects. One of the groups is SEN only and the needs are extremely severe: students with reading ages of 5 and/ or no ability to apply, non-existent memory functions. To add to this, I don't have my own classroom and several of the rooms I teach in are very poorly equipped, because nobody "owns" them, and the IT is extremely flaky. Each day I am in at least three different classrooms and there isn't a single group I teach in one room only, so I am forever lugging books around. Because I am now in three different departments, it is also completely unclear who my line manager is, so I don't know who to even speak to about these issues (technically it would be the HoD for my A level subject, but they do 6th form only and it would feel strange to discuss lower school issues with them). After being on the go and extremely stressed from the moment I got to work at 7.50 until I sat down at lunch (by which time I had done form, three lessons in three different subjects in three different buildings and a playground duty) and feeling like I had no clue what I was doing I just burst into years. This set up is seriously affecting my ability to do my job properly and to give the students the quality teaching they deserve. It's also affecting my enjoyment of the job, to the point that I am considering resigning, which I wouldn't have dreamt of two weeks ago. It's not me is it? This is pretty shit isn't it? Or is this kind of thing commonplace and have I just been lucky so far? These aren't the only issues bothering me, but I don't want to go on and on.

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noblegiraffe Mon 09-Sep-19 23:07:58

Oh that sounds totally shit. It’s bad enough not having your own classroom, but not teaching your own subject too must just be exhausting.

Don’t rush into resigning until you’ve actually voiced your concerns and given them a chance to try to sort something out.

Are the KS3 subjects actually properly planned or do you need more support with this? Usually as you are a teacher you can be directed to teach any subject, even though you might be crap at it. You say that your contract specifies the subjects rather than just ‘teacher’? That might be worth talking to your union about.

Have you had anyone look at your timetable to see if your classes at least could be rearranged into the same room each time? Have you had a look yourself on SIMs?

If your line manager is your HOD for your A-level subject then you need to talk to them about how you are not coping, even if it involves subjects that they are not involved in as you are their responsibility.

And if you need more guidance on your other subjects, email the heads of those departments and ask for a mentor you can go to for questions.

If you are feeling that awful after only a few days, then it’s in the school’s interest to support you before you end up signed off sick and they have to find someone to cover your crappy timetable.

EgremontRusset Tue 10-Sep-19 07:35:15

Not much advice, just sympathy here! I always count on the first 3 months of a new job being really awful, the next 3 months tolerable, and only after that can I really see if I’m thriving. That was certainly the case when I returned from mat leave - and like me, you only took 6m off so your LO must still be smallish, and you’re quite recently out of your NQT year too. It must all feel overwhelming!

Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 07:38:42

Thank you. I had already discussed it with DH but I was still worried I was being precious. I have decided to go and speak to the head today, as they're line managing one of my departments and always emphasise that people should come and speak to them about any issues they have. They should also be able to clarify who my actual line manager is.

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Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 17:31:50

Very disappointed with how the head handled my concerns and did not feel taken seriously or listened to at all. Will be doing some research tonight into job opportunities and the benefits available if we were to have DC2 now and I became a SAHM.

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noblegiraffe Tue 10-Sep-19 18:06:55

Did the head have any suggestions?

Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 18:22:07

Ask for help (which is what I was doing by meeting them) and I can change the day I'm on break duty. But basically I've got all the random subjects because I wanted to come back four days instead of three (this was never communicated to me) and this is the reality up and down the country and it's normal to struggle when coming back from maternity leaveconfused I actually cried twice and said I had the worst timetable in the school (I do) and that the kids aren't getting the best education that they deserveblush. Also the gem that they have confidence in me. That's great, but I feel crap, surely that should matter too?

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7salmonswimming Tue 10-Sep-19 18:35:28

Sorry, not an educator so no advice from that POV. I’m sorry if anyone feels the way you do in whatever job they do.

It very much sounds as though the SEN kids you’ve been assigned have been given an unqualified teacher (in the sense that your training is not in the subjects you’re teaching these specific children), in the worst classrooms, with inadequate facilities (poor IT).

These poor kids. They’re being fobbed off. Makes you want to cry.

You’re being taken advantage of, as clearly you want to do the best by your pupils. Your head is probably hamstrung by budgetary and other restraints. What a shambles.

picklemepopcorn Tue 10-Sep-19 18:36:33

You seem to be assuming that you won't ever be able to do the new subjects.

Don't you think you'll get in the swing of it after a couple of weeks, especially as the children aren't operating at a high level of knowledge? I'm commenting from the perspective of a primary school teacher, having to teach computer programming and music without any training or aptitude.

JustWonderingWhether Tue 10-Sep-19 18:38:34

ITS NOT RIGHT 💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐

Hopesorfears Tue 10-Sep-19 18:47:44

Of course it's normal to find it a bit tough coming back from maternity leave, but they have not chosen to make it at all easy for you with multiple rooms and subjects! If you talk about the stress that should be a trigger for some intervention or support. Your union rep can support you with asking. They could relook at the rooming to move at least some of your classes together.

Gigis Tue 10-Sep-19 18:50:07

Totally unacceptable and not 'normal' either. She is fobbing you off about up and down the country. Coming back from maternity leave IS hard though, and you must be exhausted and adjusting to school after a period of time off is so hard with trying to balance a child too, you have my sympathy.

Your head sounds insensitive, are you part of a union?

Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 19:10:21

Thanks for the support everyone. Yes, the SEN kids are being robbed off. They're being taught three other subjects by the same non-specialist teacher as well. It's awful. Think careful who you vote for. It's not just them though, I have a top set in rubbish classrooms too.

I do think I can stay one step ahead of them in terms of subject knowledge, but I also have a middle set year 8 group. According to the head I can teach them in the same (pedagogically unsound) wayconfused

I came back from mat leave 6 months ago and had a very light timetable (they'd have probably preferred me to come back later). I found combining work and parenting surprisingly doable. And I still do: none of the stress is anything to do with work-life balance, it's purely feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. Exactly the same as when I was training (and signed off with stress!)

I am in a union and have already contacted our rep to ask about notice periods. I know she and the head don't exactly get on though and I'm not ready to ruin my working relationship with the head just yet.

If only they'd asked what I felt would help I would be feeling so much better about it all.

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PurpleGoose Tue 10-Sep-19 19:43:07

Are you still an NQT? (If so I have different advice to what I'm listing below).

I have been in a similar situation: back from maternity (new to the school) teaching multiple subjects outside my specialism, across multiple rooms and buildings. A few things I found helpful in terms of practical logistics:

1. Assuming you use something like Sims, print out the 'free rooms' timetable, take it home and this weekend work out if there are any empty rooms that would make your life easier if you swapped to them. Then go and see the person who deals with rooming and ask them to make the changes - run it past your line manager first if your in the sort of school that requires this.

2. If students are able to manage this then have them take their own books with them after most lessons - obviously this might not be an option depending on your students/their situations.

3. Have a big box for each class that you teach in multiple rooms. In this box keep their books, any subject specific equipment and a folder for resources/worksheets to go in - when you print your resources put them straight in the folder.

4. On days like today when you are in a different room each period, try to get in early enough that at the start of the day you can take each classes box to the room you have them in, this means you only have to transport yourself and main equipment throughout the day.

5. Figure out which room is your 'hub' room (where you're keeping your boxes). Where possible get students to take the class box back to your hub at the end of the lesson so that you don't have collect them all at the end of the day.

6. Keep your equipment (pens, pencils, pair of scissors, stapler etc..) in an A4 strong plastic zipper wallet, that way it's easier to grab and go (along with your planner and water bottle) when you're moving rooms.

7. Get to know the staff that are teaching in the room directly before you, make sure they know not to turn off the computer/projector when they leave.

8. Have your starter activity printed on slips - aim for it to be independent and long enough for you to get the computer etc set up.

9. Have a 'book monitor' who's job it is to hand out books, equipment and the above mentioned starter slip.

10. Re equipment issues in rooms, report every single issue to IT/site staff - most schools use email now, but follow whatever your school's system is - start with the most urgent. (oh and buy the It support and site staff a pack of biscuits each as a thank you after the first job, often this means that your other issues get sorted much quicker than normal 😉)

11. Work closely with the TA (assuming there is one) for your SEN class - try to have a short meeting with them this week to sort a plan of attack.

If however you're still an NQT, scratch all of that and go straight to your union!

PurpleGoose Tue 10-Sep-19 19:44:57

Sorry my post had paragraphs and bullets, but they seem to have disappeared!

Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 19:47:08

Thanks! Not an NQT, technically this is my third year after qualifying although last year was mainly mat leave. I actually do most of those things already. I think I'm currently at least as pissed off with the head's reaction as I am with the situation itself.

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Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 19:48:21

They were theresmile

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noblegiraffe Tue 10-Sep-19 19:52:10

Tell the head that the reality up and down the country is that teachers are quitting in droves...

From experience, teaching the new subjects will get better, lugging boxes around classrooms won’t, so make that your priority to fix or at least improve.

If you are teaching a weak class with SEN they should not be switching rooms all the time. Look in the department for a teacher who is teaching top set or sixth form at the same time and request a room swap. Their class can handle moving around.

Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 20:01:01

Good idea about a swap noble!

Wish I'd had the presence of mind to come up with that reply! The comment was entirely designed to shut me up and make me think I was actually quite lucky.

I'm just so annoyed: a teacher comes to you in tears saying they're in an unworkable situation, and your solution is to say they're doing fine and should consider themselves lucky??

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TalentedMsRipley Tue 10-Sep-19 20:06:48

Sounds bloody harsh. Are you in a special school? Sounds like my old one...

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Tue 10-Sep-19 20:13:38

Could l just go against the grain here?

I teach 2 subjects and a form in 3 different rooms on 3 different floors. You do kind of get used to it.

I send students to collect stuff rather than lugging it round, as it is just impossible to do this.

No one in my department which is quite large teach one subject in one room. All of us teach at least 2 subjects and all of us teach in at least 2 rooms on 2 floors.

We just sort of get on with it. No one had one room to themselves or one subject. We just help each other where we can. It is stressful, especially when you don’t have to set your lesson up properly.

noblegiraffe Tue 10-Sep-19 20:17:04

OP is in 3 different buildings though!

Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 20:23:11

Yup, four subjects, four buildings, each class in at least two different rooms. 8 rooms in total. If I were to send kids to get the books I'd lose the first 10 minutes or more of each lesson.

Nope, not in a special school. And teaching SEN is not my strength, nor do I particularly enjoy it. I realise that it is part of the job, so no complaints about that.

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Theoverstretchedmultitasker Tue 10-Sep-19 20:26:12

Three classrooms in one building would be an absolute dream!!

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AskMeHow Tue 10-Sep-19 20:34:08

Who has overall responsibility for the timetable in your school? It's usually the deputy but it might not be. I would go and see them. I know you've already been to the head but the timetable isn't usually something they get to the nitty gritty with.

There seems to be two issues you're having - the subjects and the rooming. It seems like the rooming is making the rest really difficult to deal with. I would go and see whoever it is and say your timetable needs re rooming. Now, it may not be possible to give you just one room, or even two, as often schools designate rooms to certain subjects and you teach several.

But if you put it to them that you'd do a much better job of all these subjects if you weren't traipsing round the school every lesson, I'm sure they'd listen. Ideally, you want them to do the re rooming - they're the one that gave you all these classes so they should fix it. But there's nothing stopping you from doing it if you want and presenting it. I'm sure colleagues would be willing to swap rooms if you explained the situation.

I'm not a teacher but I am involved with timetabling. I do a lot of room changes at this time of year! Don't feel that it's an inconvenience to people to ask them to do their job smile

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