When I first told my mum I was applying for teacher training, her response was “a great job for a woman”. Okay, slightly sexist but I see her point. 13 weeks holiday a year, and you work half 8 til half 3, don’t you? It’s a no brainer!
Don’t get me wrong, the holidays are fantastic and as soon as Mr Gove starts to take those away I will be looking at alternative careers, but how family friendly is this job during term time?
I have pretty much come to terms that I will miss assemblies and sports days that occur during the school day as I cannot book the time off to go to see them. I cried all the way to work yesterday as I dropped my son off at nursery to spend his birthday there instead of with me.
But these are special occasions and are exceptions, what happens in the day to day reality of the job?
Let me give you an example of a typical Tuesday for me. I wake at half 5 to get to the gym for 6. Now this may seem like madness but if you’ve read my blog before you will know we are struggling to conceive baby 2, and I think that being healthy can only help to improve our chances. I can’t go in the evenings because that would mean a night when I couldn’t do school work, which would result in the work piling up. I arrive home just after 7 to jump in the shower to get ready for work. Hubby has got Baby O milked up so I get him dressed and we leave the house about quarter to 8. I drop him off at nursery and head off to work.
School starts at 8:35 and I have a full teaching day of 5 periods. I change classrooms every lesson (which means lugging 3 bags around with me for the day as I never get a chance to drop anything off so carry my entire days resources) and as I have the joy of teaching at a split site school I spend my break and half my lunch changing between the 2 sites. When school finishes at 3:15 I then have my compulsory revision lesson to do which normally goes on until about 4:45. Being on my feet for the majority of this time means that by the end of the day I’m physically knackered as well as mentally because in a lesson you never have a minute. Kids want your constant attention, and not always about the work. On Monday one of my Year 7 kids had the burning question of who I thought was the better superhero, Superman or Batman! (Obviously it’s Superman)
Just before 5 I leave to pick my son up from nursery, go home and spend some time with him before bath and bed at 7. Once he is safely tucked up I get my planning/marking/other admin stuff out and work until between 10-11pm!
Apart from Friday when I allow myself a night off this is how my week pans out most days. I have meetings once a week and with revision one night every week, by the time you’ve thrown in a parents evening most of the after school time has been taken up. Any teaching mums will tell you the time from the end of school until about half 4 is so precious as it is the small amount of time you have in school to get things done. Take that away from us and we’re screwed!
Oh, but what about all the free periods we get? I get 4 frees a week. It takes about 2 hours to mark one set of books and I have 6 classes. You do the Maths, the frees go nowhere! And that’s before we’ve even thought about planning a single lesson.
So to be told today that I’m not working hard enough was a bit of a kick in the teeth. When I explained the hours I was working (to a head of department with no children) the response was “at the weekend send my son to the park with my husband so I can do my work in peace”! So much for quality family time!
I fully understand that when I came into the job there would be work outside of “school hours”. I get that! But I didn’t sign up to working full days and until 10ish 4/5 nights a week to then be told that isn’t enough!!
Before I had Baby O I probably would have kept up the pace, but my son and my family comes first and after doing it last year I won’t compromise our time together. I used to love my job and I still love the time I spend in the classroom actually teaching but the amount of hours work that is involved outside of lessons is growing exponentially and I’ll put my hand up and say I can’t do it. Not if I want to have some sort of life as well.
So tonight I am knackered, the bags under my eyes are getting bigger, but I am taking the night off seeing as I didn’t get home from work until half 7! I feel this worn down and I’m only working 4 days a week, I know if I was still full time I’d be at breaking point by now, as several of my colleagues are!
So is teaching a family friendly career, you decide?