Saturday, 4 October 2014

Trying to keep all the plates spinning.

Teaching seems to me to be one big balancing act.  At the moment I'm trying to keep all the plates spinning and it's less a matter of if one is going to fall but when.  There's the planning, the marking, the following up on homework and behaviour, the new staff induction meetings, the NQT meetings, the tutor group and all the mini spinning plates they bring with them and then of course there is the endless amounts of paperwork and emails.   Oh and the data and reporting that has already started, don't forget that.  Before I continue, I want to make it very clear that I am being well supported by my school, department and mentor and this is not a reflection on them, just an observation on teaching in general.

At the end of my training and the very start of this year I'd convinced myself that 'it gets better' 'the workload will get smaller' 'you'll have your life back eventually' but I'm becoming quite aware that this probably isn't the case.

I'm an organised person, everything has it's place and time and I like to keep on top of things, but that's just not possible anymore.  I was talking to another NQT in my department the other day and we spoke about just trying to keep our heads above water.  It's no longer about being on top of things but just trying to do enough to get by.  This is with my 10% reduced NQT timetable, the free time is meant to be used for observation and development but at the moment I need that time to get everything else done.  I'd love to be out and about in school seeing and doing more, I'd like to feel like I'm teaching good lessons not ones that are just about good enough, I'd like to feel like I'm achieving something rather than just getting by.  Unfortunately all of these things require time, more time than it's possible to give.

I'm assuming that this is a common NQT feeling, but what concerns me more is that it may be something that teachers are feeling further down the line.  Is this something that goes away or do all teachers feel this inadequate?  

All through my training I was determined that I would never be part of that statistic, you know the one, the one that's always quoted about the amount of teachers leaving the profession within the first five years.  I was convinced that I would leave my training year fully prepared for this and the fact that I was so organised was going to help me.  It would seem that I was wrong, over-optimistic and perhaps naieve. I'd decided that the people forming that statistic weren't prepared, they didn't really want to teach, maybe they went into it for the wrong reasons.  It wouldn't happen to me.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ready to become part of that statistic yet.  I'm determined to see out my NQT year and see where things take me.  There are days that none of this matters because someone in my form has done something brilliant, or something really clicks in class, or I actually manage to leave school at a decent time and go home smiling.  I just wonder how sustainable this sort of workload is.  I don't know how people do it, being 23, single and living with my parents I don't have commitments outside of school.  I can give as much time to it as I need / want to.  How do other people do it?  Surely something has to give?

I realise that I'll just have to accept that this is the way things are, that I can't be on top of everything and that's the way things go.  It's the reality for thousands of people every day.  I just can't help but wonder if things have to be this way?  Everyone talks of reducing the workload and pressure on teachers, but how do we go about this?

(To confirm, before anyone makes comment, I know that this sort of work load is common across many professions, working long hours and trying to strike that balance and many people don't manage it, this post is just a reflection on my feelings on the situation in teaching.)

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