The First-Fortnight. Flu and laminating dreams …
Well it’s official, I am back in the classroom. Three weeks in now, and I am still alive… Just.
The first week was a challenge. My sister was rushed to hospital on the first day back and needed emergency surgery and then my little boy came down with Hand, Foot and Mouth. At school things were all over the place (as with all schools in the first week of a new year), I ended up having PE on the first day back (I think 7 out of 29 children had their kit… I know I wouldn’t have sent my daughter with her kit on the first day!), and honestly, if it wasn’t for my amazing TA, I would have been crying in the corner.
The second week brought the ‘First-Fortnight-Flu’. Sneezing, coughing, voice-croaky awfulness partnered with a headache that only the strong stuff would shift (just to clarify I am taking about Anadin Extra…. Although I never had the opportunity to see if Gin would shift it.) By mid-morning most of the 2nd week, I was losing my voice and spending my breaks rubbing my forehead and counting down the hours till the next Lemsip.
Then came the dreams… I had dreams about Laminating. Seriously?! Laminating! To be honest it was more of a nightmare- I was trying to feed an A3 laminating pouch into an A4 laminator and it was beginning to burn and smell and make a noise that no teacher ever wants to hear coming from their brand-new laminator!
I have been thinking a lot about workload this past few weeks. I keep finding myself saying “It will be better next term.” Going back to teaching after so long, returning to a different year group, getting my head around the way a new school does things…. I know I will get used to it again. I will find ways to save time.
But now I think back- I used to say that in teaching, our ‘To-Do’ list had no ending. There was always something more to do. If you actually wrote it all down, not only would it be hugely depressing, but by the time you get somewhat close to completing all the tasks, another few hundred have appeared.
As teachers we prioritise. But we also spin multiple plates. Many also go home to families and responsibilities that also require some super impressive plate spinning (cue circus music).
The results found by the ‘Educational Support Partnership’ in their 2018 Teacher Wellbeing Index (www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/blogs/teacher-workload-how-stop-it-becoming-overwhelming) stated that 32% of all educational professionals are working over 51 hours a week. They also found that those who worked less then 41 hours a week reported less stress. Unsurprisingly, 72% said that workload is the main reason they would consider leaving their job.
So what did you work this week? I looked at my current working hours- it easily works out at 10 and a half hours a day. I tend to work through lunch and break too. Add on the half hour travel there and back, I am normally out of the house for 11.5/12 hours a day. Even without travel, or work in the evenings and weekends, I am already in that 32%.
But you know what, this is something that can change. The profession is always going to have its pressures, but you know what, we do an amazing job. I probably spent about 75% of the school day feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, but wow- that other 25%! That makes it worth it. When you look at the writing your class did at the start of the year, and even after 3 weeks you can see improvements. When you see a child really succeed in their learning. When you get the opportunity to tell your class how amazing they are and what fantastic work they have done. When you get to give them Jelly-Bean scented stickers and then regret it for the rest of the day because they spend the rest of the lessons sniffing it loudly… Yeah, that’s why we teach! We love it. Really we do. We just don’t say it much sometimes.
Right, that’s me done for today. I have some books to mark…
I’m Heather Miller and I qualified as a Primary teacher in 2014. Since qualifying, I have trained as a Forest School leader and undertaken additional qualifications in Children and Young People’s Mental Health. I have just returned to teaching after a couple of years away from the classroom, and as if that isn’t challenging enough- I have also just started my MA Ed! At home I live with my 2 children; my 11-year-old daughter and my 9-month-old son, my partner, two cats and two rabbits!