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Experiences of women teachers returning to work after maternity leave

Discussion in 'Pregnancy' started by AtomicGurl, May 9, 2012.

  1. What is your experience of returning to work after maternity leave?

    I am researching this issue for my masters degree dissertation. The overall aim of the research is to offer an insight into the experiences of women teachers who are returning to work.

    I am looking for comments from women teachers who have returned to work after maternity leave in the last five years. In particular, I'm looking for responses to the following questions:

    1. What are the stresses involved when returning to work after maternity leave leave?
    2. What coping strategies have you employed?
    3. What is your perception of your work/life balance since returning to work?
    4. Has there been a change in your career ambition since the birth(s) of your child(ren)?
    5. How can schools help women returning to work after maternity leave?

    If you would like to comment on any (or all) of the questions, please leave your post below.

    Please note that by doing this you consent to the researcher using all or part of the data for purposes of the research. While direct quotes may be used, no usernames will be quoted in the dissertation.
  2. Hi BPG,

    What a horrendous experience! I hope your son is ok now and you get a new job soon (with a headteacher who values you properly!)

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post and best of luck for the future.

  3. Chica77

    Chica77 New commenter

    I've just gone back to work after maternity leave with baby no.2. I have 22 months between my children and went back to work on 0.5 after my first child in Feb 2010. I had 9 months off with him, and i've just had a year off with my daughter.
    1) Stresses for me have involved who takes a day off to look after the kids if they're ill. My 2nd week back i had to take a day off as our daughter had a temp of 39.6 and was sick, and my husband had to take the next day off. I feel guilty having a day off work, but we have no-one else who can look after our kids.
    Also, my husband works shifts so it can be difficult for me to get work done when he's working lates, especially if the children are being difficult and not going to bed.
    My school became an academy in Sept, so i have gone back to what is really a new school, and it's now on split sites, so just the travelling, getting to know new procedures etc is stressful.
    2) I make sure I enjoy my days off with my children and make sure i get some 'me' time by going to the gym, and try to remember teaching is just a job, the world won't end if i have to have a day off, my children come first.
    3) Work/life balance is fine since i work part time, but i think if i were full time i'd struggle, but probably more because of my husband's shift work rather than the job itself.
    4) I figure there's plenty of time to progress up the ladder career wise, so I guess since having children I've relaxed more about it.
    5) I think schools should be a bit more structured when women choose to do KIT days, and keep them informed throughout maternity leave of any changes happening.
  4. I returned to work in Jan 2011 after having 9 months off with daughter #1.
    1. What are the stresses involved when returning to work after maternity leave leave?
    I was very worried about being able to teach/manage behaviour as I had only been teaching for 5 terms when I had my 2 terms off. And trying to catch up on all the new developments that had happened since I was off.
    I was getting very little sleep at the time and this meant that I wasn't on top form in the classroom and my planning and marking suffered as I had less time in the evenings and weekends to work. I worried about this endlessly.
    I was given new subjects to teach and difficult classes to manage as I was put in where I was needed rather than with what I could do. Generally not feeling valued for what I have to offer other than being an extra pair of hands that knows what I'm doing.
    Having quite a lot of time off when DD was ill (a lot in the first year of nursery), but my school never commented and most people were very understanding as we have a lot of new parents within the department.
    Not feeling very good at teaching or being a mum as I was constantly worrying about the other.
    Expressing milk at work during my lunch times and break times (this was all I was offered and I had to do it in the medical room when the nurse was persent as she had nowhere else to go) meant I had even less time for setting up / tidying up / detentions / sitting / toilet / eating and drinking.
    Over the last 2 terms I have been timetabled off on staff meeting day and I have no meeting minutes so I am often the last person to find out about issues or important things to do and I ahve no opportunities to share my thoughts or ask questions.
    2. What coping strategies have you employed?
    Trying to let the everyday stresses wash over me, ie. I'm not here tomorrow and I only have so much time today so it can't get done. If it's really important they can chase me for it.
    Having a planning evening and I HAVE to get it all done then or I just have to teach from the scheme of work rather than making it into my style.
    Focussing on classes that need extra reflection / planning time. So I will plan and teach those classes to the best of my ability rather than all my classes to my best.
    3. What is your perception of your work/life balance since returning to work?
    At first it was terrible, I was working when DD was sleeping on my days off, and most evenings. Now I just plan on one evening and marking a couple of evenings a week. I actually really enjoy teaching part time, it's much more sustainable as I'm less tired at the end of term and have much more energy and resiliance when I have difficult classes as a result.
    4. Has there been a change in your career ambition since the birth(s) of your child(ren)?
    At first this was the hardest things to adjust to. 2 colleagues in my department who were NQTs with me had both got promotions while I was off. I felt that I had chosen not to develop my career when I got pregnant, while part of me was happy with that another part was upset that I wasn't included in the same way as my friends any more within the department.
    I decided to focus on teaching the best that I can, but I still want to do more as I have many ideas and much to offer. I am overlooked and undervalued by many people in the department who have been very surprised this year with the results of my observations and other contributions to the department. I am currently considering applying for a TLR that I believe I could do part time.
    5. How can schools help women returning to work after maternity leave?
    Some sort of return to work interview/meeting would have given me the opportunity to ask for any support I felt I needed, like extra time to express.
    We have a good mentoring system for our performance management, but as I returned part way throught the academic year I wasn't included and so I missed out on the support I could have had regarding lots of changes to how we needed to plan and deliver lessons.
  5. Thanks Chica 77 and Heather T - this is invaluable information for my dissertation and demonstrates how important it is to investigate!

    I really appreciate you taking time out to reply

  6. Hi
    1) stresses - feeling ridiculously guilty that I am not doing a good enough job at either being a teacher or being a mum. (I am part time because of this)
    2) relying on friends/family - often collapsing in a mess and on really bad days a glass of vino
    3) work life balance - ha - feel pulled in every direction most of the time - I drop LO at 7.10 and aim to pick him up by 5 but often OH ends up getting him as I can't leave school until 5.30-6. By the time I get home, feed LO bath LO story bed Its starting work again so ready for the next day
    4) I never thought I would return to work part time - I thought I would be able to handle full time. Np particularly career minded anyway
    5) part time has been a life saver for me. I can afford all bills by myself if needs be (OH is self employed) - appreciating that extra curricular activities are difficult to do with a little one at home. e.g. this term I have to go in on 3 Fridays (non working day) to do a variety of things (I do get paid extra this) but consultation of 'would you mind' would be nice rather than presuming I can do it because I am part time.
    the other bug for me is phonecalls on days off. I don't ring my boss on a Saturday or Sunday so why is it any different.
    Good luck
  7. Thanks for all responses so far. There seems to be a definite theme developing...

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