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Not sure what to do...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by mapledrop, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. mapledrop

    mapledrop New commenter

    Sorry for the long post. There's a lot of things I need to get off my chest. I've been signed off with WRS since the beginning of December. The workload just got so bad I couldn't function or think straight. I am on medication which I feel is only just beginning to take effect.

    I have an occupational health meeting in just over a weeks time. I have no idea what to say. I know they are meant to support me but I don't know what to expect or which approach to take.

    I also have no idea what to to about my future in teaching. I have been teaching for 5 years now and when I first started it was stressful but just about manageable. A day at school didn't feel like 'work'. I loved it. Now, 5 years down the line the job has changed so much. I feel that what I was told was good is no longer good enough. I am fed up of the constant criticism, the paperwork and the long working hours only to be told you require improvement.

    My time away from the nightmare has allowed me to think of what I want and my priorities. I have a 14 month old and regretfully I remember wanting her to go to sleep just so I can mark the 60 books waiting for me. I never want that to happen again. I've realised what a unhappy person I was. I want to be happier and I don't think remaining in my current role can enable me to be a happier person.

    I am in a permanent position so I could resign and leave at Easter. Part of me can't wait to resign but yet another part of me feels sad. I've worked hard to qualify, obtain a post and now I feel totally disheartened. There is a possibility of teaching part time but I just can't see me doing that at my current school. Maybe I should just leave and do supply and find another role, or maybe a non teaching job altogether.

    The main thing is.... I want to be a mum and have time for my baby. I don't want to be stressed about marking, planning, assessment etc etc. I want a work life balance.

    Any advice, thoughts or just hearing your experiences if you are in or have been in a similar situation will be appreciated.
    JeannieMc likes this.
  2. Jenkibubble

    Jenkibubble Occasional commenter

  3. Jenkibubble

    Jenkibubble Occasional commenter

    I am sorry to hear this. I can sympathise with you and am considering the same thing . Whilst my children are older, they still need me and I too desperately pack them off to bed just to get the lap top out to work. I've only been doing it a couple of years and the training was such hard work, but I feel is killing me !
    JeannieMc likes this.
  4. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    I'm so sorry to hear you are both suffering so much. This world has become completely bonkers and, as you can tell from my posts, I am in similar circumstances.

    Firstly OH. I've not been to an interview but have referred staff. My understanding is that their role is to explore your difficulties and see what adjustments work can make to support you. I don't know what your school is like , and therefore how much attention they'd pay to the report .

    I didn't go back to full time work until my youngest was 7 and even then found it tough. I have a great deal of admiration of those of you with little ones. The tiredness , the feelings of guilt and inadequacy are the lot of the working parent.

    All I can say is they grow up in a flash. One minute running round the garden dressed as spiderman, the next driving off into the sunset . if you can afford it , and I know that's a big if, part time is a good idea.

    Don't forget, if you do leave, you are still a qualified teacher. Maybe later, when your little ones are older, you'll feel happier to return. In the meantime cherish and enjoy them. Life is for living not for ' getting through' .
  5. mapledrop

    mapledrop New commenter

    Thank you to the both of you for your replies.

    I need to find that balance of being a parent but also earning a wage. Going part time may be a solution but I've heard some teachers say that they work the days they have off just to teach in the classroom 2/3 days a week and that puts me off the idea.

    As for my school..... a new head appointed to get the school out of RI, new regime, ridiculous workload that is unsustainable and every teacher just wants to get out. The place has changed beyond recognition, it's no longer the nice workplace it used to be. Due to this I don't think I could work part time there. My gut feeling is to leave and see where the wind takes me but it is such a difficult decision to make. Financially we can just survive on 1 wage and we have savings to fall back on but I thought my teaching career would carry on until I reached retirement. I never thought it would come to this.
  6. JRiley1

    JRiley1 Established commenter

    I think there are many more people feeling this way; I really don't know how anyone copes with the job with children! Way things are going no one will want to stay in the profession until they retire unless you are fully passionate, commited & so tied to the job you have no time for anything else.
    JeannieMc likes this.
  7. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    On the topic of supply as an option, be aware that it is casual, sporadic and very low paid work. Depending on where you are in the UK, you might find that you are only sent to schools who can't retain staff and thus spend your day with difficult and disaffected students.
    If you are not relying on your income, it does at least keep you in the loop. Check in the supply forum on how to deal with agencies and how to avoid getting ripped off.
    It's just a job so walk away if it's turned sour. Being a broke but happy mum is really ok too.
  8. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    I think if you are part time you have to make a deliberate decision. Being part time doesn't lessen the pro rata 'out-of-hours' working.
    You can decide to work the stupid hours on your 3 'work days' finishing presumably at 10 ish in the evening
    or as I did to work during the day on my 'days off' which meant that every evening and weekends were free.

    I had a very firm plan or 'timetable' so that the workload didn't drift outside of this planned work-time
    marlin likes this.
  9. MineField

    MineField New commenter

    If you can survive on one wage, then just resign - deep down this is what you seem to want to do. You want to spend time with your child - just do it now if that's what you want, and don't bother working for a year or so. I've been where you are. You will regret it for the rest of your life if you don't - you can get back into teaching, but you can't get back the time you spend with your child. You can always get money from somewhere if you need it as well - there are loads of jobs out there, just not necessarily career-type jobs. I felt sad as well, but it isn't your fault, it's the fault of the system. You can still look for work in that time, teaching or non-teaching. For either job, just sign up to Indeed (a job website), put in whatever words take your fancy, and see what comes up. You could do some tutoring or supply teaching, or childminding, or take a minimum wage job if you get desperate for cash.
  10. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I am wondering what is the most important things for these posters, and for others too.

    It might be:
    • Family time together
    • Family money
    • Feeling good about your job

    Might not be that, might be in a different order, might be completely different.

    And then ask which of these would give you what is important, or most of it.

    • Full-time teaching
    • Part-time teaching
    • Full-time not teaching
    • Part-time not teaching

    And then move on from there. Perhaps reading again this post:

    Possible other careers

    Best wishes

    notsonorthernlass and Noja like this.
  11. Katie777

    Katie777 New commenter

    My experience of part time is that managing the work load is fine, managing the stress is hard. When things are tough at school I have not been able to switch off and enjoy my time off. I am working on that but I have decided to leave now, mostly because of the stress. I don't have children but do have health problems.

    The part time wage is good for the number of days you have to work but on the other hand, it's not a lot of money for a very high stress and responsible job. I will trade more days for much less stress. I have done a four day a week low-grade office job before, very similar money, plenty of spare time, no stress.

    Having said that, I needed to try part time for myself before I could really give up on teaching.
    Good luck with your decisions x
  12. Noja

    Noja Senior commenter

    While I completely understand, I am now 20 years down the line from you, my children are all grown up and they are delightful people despite the somewhat chaoticness of full time teaching when they were young. What they remember well and what we all laugh about together are all the holidays and family trips we had as they were growing up, none of which we could have done without me working full time. They don't remember the stressy starts to the day to get them to the childminder and my feelings of neglect when marking while they watched tv. Do you like teaching? If you do, then don't throw it away without thinking it through. The worst times of the past 25 years have been when I've been worrying about money, not when some idiot I don't rate didn't like my lesson.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  13. Sally_90

    Sally_90 Occasional commenter

    I would agree wholeheartedly with the above comments.You do have to make sure that if you go part-time, it has to work for you.

    I've been working a three-day week since September, and I honestly have to say that those three days I'm in are totally n*kkering. I seem to be permanently marking-lunchtimes and break times are spent on a constant roll of marking. The introduction of triple marking in September has compounded matters.

    It's not just the time in school, but the evenings too, when I do the next day's prep and catch up on all my other paperwork, but I think I'm getting into a pattern now where I can switch off to a certain extent once my week is over. It's taken some getting used to though. I work mid-week, and so I have to make sure that everything is marked and sorted before I go home every Thursday; I obviously can't take books home because they're needed, and there's no Friday to plan for, so Thursday evening is the new Friday Night for me! I consciously avoid looking at school stuff again until late in the afternoon on the Monday before I go back in on Tuesday, unless I'm totally and mind-numbingly bored, as I was at Christmas! That also includes not looking at work e-mails, which I have found to my cost! Only close colleagues have my mobile number, and only one (so far) has rung me on a day off to ask a silly question that could have waited-he won't be doing that again in a hurry!!;)

    My health isn't brilliant either, and I'm a tad disappointed that going part-time hasn't been the total answer to my problems. I too have decisions to make,but mine are fairly clear-cut as I'm working part-time on Phased Retirement. My next step is to pack it in completely but maybe sooner than I'd planned.

    On the working full-time with tots issue; I went back to work really soon after the birth of our daughter and it wasn't easy juggling things. However, that just doesn't come up at all in conversation these days-it's a dim and distant memory for us all, and she only talks about the happy memories of her childminder and our family times together. She's 30 now and she's been no worse for the experience!
    Good luck to you, whatever you decide to do x
  14. TexDes42

    TexDes42 New commenter

    Reading your posts has felt like looking in a mirror and I just wonder how many of us feel the same way.
    I have taken the plunge and resigned in Nov. I'm going to work until the end of April to see my year 11's through to the end of their GCSE's (Art).
    I just hit the wall and knew I had to go. There IS more to life and I fundamentally disagree with too much around how schools are run, how teachers are treated and how my subject is expected to be taught.
    I have lost my marriage and my health during the past few years - I do lay most of the blame at the door of teaching.
    I have been part time for a year, I work 3 days a week, I do 10 hour days at school then at least another 10 at home each week. So I'm working a 40hr week (at least) for 3 days pay. And then found my self booking childcare during half term so I could do school work! I wasn't even getting time off during the holidays, it was the wake up call I needed.
    So now what?? I'm very confused about the supply options, I'm afraid as an 'art' teacher I wont get much work? and it'll be low paid? If I'm going to do supply I really want to continue to pay in to my pension?? Can I? Do I have to do my own tax return and pay NI?
    But then I haven't always been a teacher. I've had careers in design and call centres before training as teacher 5 years ago.
    The most important thing for me to achieve is to loose this constant weight and worry of work to be done at all time at all hours. Its been like living under a black cloud and I know I just couldn't continue. We only get one chance at life and I couldn't waste any more time trying to get teaching to 'fit'. My life and my children have paid the price for 5 years...NO more!
    I think you know when its time to go.I feel like a different person already just knowing it'll be over soon. I'm now enjoying the time I have left.
    notsonorthernlass and indusant like this.
  15. indusant

    indusant Senior commenter

    I think you have answered your own thread here. Sometimes you just have to listen to what your own body is telling you. If it's making you this unhappy, it may be best to walk away from this particular school. If your body is distressed, feeling sick with dread etc then so too will your mind. It's not a healthy way to be. It's difficult, but sometimes the best thing to do is let go.

    I understand that it's disheartening to feel this way after working so hard. I felt the same way. But it's not the end of the world. You still have valuable qualifications and experience and you can still do lots of work in education. You will also have a wide of transferable skills if you want to do something different. There will be something out there for you and your situation.

    Supply can be good for trying out different schools if you still want to stay in teaching. Yes, work can be sporadic and you can end up in some challenging places. But you may also find yourself on to a winner - there are nice schools out there. It may be worth sending your CV to some nice schools in your area first if you don't want the hassle of dealing with agencies.

    It's only a job - there are no rewards for martyrs. The fact is that teachers are easily replaceable - parents are not. Look after yourself, listen to your body and do what you feel will give you and your family the best prospects for happiness. It's possible that you may end up with less money, but you deserve your health and happiness. You can not put a price on those, and life is very poor without them. All the best in whatever you decide.
    notsonorthernlass and TexDes42 like this.
  16. mapledrop

    mapledrop New commenter

    You hit the nail on the head there. That's exactly how I feel. I too have been in the profession for five years and my previous job was in customer service. I did my job, came home and that was the end of it. I was good at it too and that was even acknowledged by management! Things have got to change. I no longer want to continue feeling that amount of stress and worry. Sounds like part time may not be the answer but perhaps a stepping stone out of the profession altogether.
    TexDes42 likes this.
  17. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Art, like music, is a discipline/skill you can take outside school and sell in the adult world. I know someone who is running adult art classes 3 times a week in a local hall. She rarely has spaces and charges a goodly whack for the privilege. There's the option of teaching art at Adult Education classes, and running art clubs during the holidays for kids, or after-school activities/clubs. And there's no marking!
    TexDes42 likes this.
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    When I've struggled I have always begun by looking elsewhere but I resigned several times without another post lined up. Sometimes I'd go on supply. Often I worked part-time. At the end I did supply as a TA (but that was my late 50s).

    When you are 60 will you wish you'd worked harder or spent more time with your kid? I didn't work full-time until mine were KS3.

    But, if you do go part-time, remember not to work at all on your days off. Ever.

    Why? Because, for all anyone knows, you could be working those days from 8 to 5 in another demanding job. They are working days. In which you choose to work (at something else) or work at home with your baby.
  19. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    I feel for many parents right now. I was HoD, and I resigned at Christmas to take up HoY role in Sept because I wanted a new challenge that didn't take up my hours on teaching and marking and paperwork, and meetings and all the rest of it. I feel as though maybe, naively pastoral work is a better option because I don't want to give up on teaching just yet.

    I know the guilt thing all too well. I have three kids; 14, 7, and 2. I only took time off for my middle child until she was 3 - then went on to full time. I also went to full time work after 6 months of having my youngest. The guilt eats me up sometimes and I do feel like I'm not there for him. But I think the plus side of having older children is that they love having a 2 year old. My 7 year old wasn't too keen on her baby brother at first, but she loves it. But then, the guilt has me thinking "it is wrong to dump your youngest child on your other children" even I know that isn't true. I do have a partner that is very supportive and knows how hard I worked to get my qualifications and to get my position which is great too.

    As parents with full-time careers, I think they'll always be that guilt of "I wish I spent more time with you". My mother says this to my sister and I because we have a strained relationship because of how hard our mother worked. We realised this is how it had to be to put food on the table, but there's always that resentment for being the last one to get picked up at daycare. Don't get me wrong not all kids will be like that or whatever, but as someone else said, this allowed to go on holidays abroad every year to the Caribbean, and all over Europe. I will never take away the time I slipped and fell into the pool when I was a child and all this I tell my kids and think "my kids will have these memories too".

    I've always been a career-driven person and of course, not because of the money being a teacher, but because of the ambition and love for my subject. I could never give it up because it is etched in me like stone, but family has been more important now I have a 3rd child.

    The thing is, you can always get back into teaching and if you can rely on your partner's income to afford to be a stay-at-home mum for a couple of years go for it. I've never fancied this because I'd feel guilty about not contributing enough. I am working however, because I am planning on getting remarried after 3 years of being engaged but there's never a right time because teaching constantly gets in the way.

    If future plans that need money isn't the problem, I say take some time out and hopefully when you're ready to fall in love with teaching again, you'd be at the right stage of both yours and your families lives to join in again.

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