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Stay or leave?

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by RiecesPieces, Sep 9, 2015.

  1. RiecesPieces

    RiecesPieces New commenter

    I feel like I'm in urgent need for some advice from fellow teachers.

    I completed my PGCE successfully last year, started my 1st job and induction year full of enthusiasm and energy. Unfortunately, my confidence as a teacher was quickly undermined by a destructive and bullying mentor, lack of support and a VERY challenging class...so I quit by Christmas when my health was already poor.

    I did a bit of supply teaching, one of the jobs being a maternity cover position long enough to complete another bit of my NQT year. I was doing well, but it was a free school and work load was MUCH less than what I was used to, plus I loved my colleagues and working environment. In the end they couldn't keep me as the teacher on maternity returned full time, so I had to look for yet another job and wanted a permanent position this time, both for my CV and to finish off the last bit of my induction year.

    Long story short, I wasn't getting as many offers as expected (lots of competition in the area I guess) and in the end had to go for a school on special measures in a deprived area of the city (so a lot of children with terrible backgrounds/home situations etc.). I felt up for it in the beginning, I had my energy and confidence as a teacher back and I felt like I could really make a change there. Plus they gave me the chance to finish off my induction year (which is only going to be one more term) and paid me over the summer.

    Now I'm only in my second week and feel like I'm thrown back to last year - I simply cannot cope. The workload I'm facing is simply overwhelming. There is a new head, new policies and just so so many expectations. I have that feeling again that I am not enjoying my job, I do enjoy the actual teaching bit, but not all the things around it. I love the children, but I feel like my behaviour management still doesn't come naturally. I simply feel like I am not and I cannot be a good teacher. I value my private life and hobbies, and I feel like as soon as school starts again after the holidays none of this is existent any more. My constantly high stress level is affecting my relationship, it already has last year and is repeating now. I'm trying to stay organize and work hard, but I'm simply worn out at 6pm every night. I'm even dreading weekends because there is more things to do! I sometimes honestly wish I had a 9-5 office job and a proper work-life balance. I KNOW that all these things are normal and you'll have to do them if you want to be a teacher, but I don't know if I can and do want to do it, if I want to make that huge amount of effort and be constantly tired, stressed to a level it's effecting my health and relationship and not enjoying my job. On the other hand, I DO enjoy teaching, being with the children and all that, so I don't see any alternatives either.

    I was actually signed off with stress - in my first week. I'm now trying to either get back on track by using the time to make a plan how to cope better, or decide to quit. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation? I feel weak, confused and with a bad conscience because I usually even go to work when I feel really poorly. Any advice would be hugely appreciated.
  2. Nikkibell811

    Nikkibell811 New commenter

    Just wanted to comment, but it's hard to offer actual advice.

    You ask if anyone has been in a similar situation and the answer would be yes, lots of teachers have felt exactly as you do now and had to make decisions about their teaching careers. Many of the threads reflect this and follow the people's journeys. Unfortunately the overwhelming workload you talk about is common in schools these days but it is not healthy or normal to live like this.

    I have just left teaching because I felt like you do. But I am at the end of my career and have seen the job change so much from what you describe at the free school to what you are experiencing now. I have never done another job so I can't give you advice on whether it would be better to jump ship now. There maybe others on here who can. I have met an increasing number of teachers who are now working as teaching assistants because they love the work with children but not the stuff around it as you say - would this be an option for you?

    My stepdaughter has just started her first job and I see her work all hours and put her social life on hold until half term. I worry about the long term impact of her lack of work/life balance but at the moment she is enjoying it and likes the school. I will be there for her if she needs me - I hope someone is around supporting you.

    It's still early days for you in this new job. Many experienced teachers feel overwhelmed at the beginning of a new year and it settles down as you get to know children and routines. Being in a special measures school will increase the amount of pressure you will be under I would imagine. Can you see your way to doing this one term to get the NQT year passed? And then leave? It gives you a better chance of staying in teaching and maybe doing supply or short contracts to find places you are happy. The workload is high in any school but not always overwhelming and some schools are really happy places to work.

    Look at your personal finances, because that may determine what decisions you are able to make. Think about those things you mention - hobbies etc. Can you enjoy a life that is somewhat boxed into sections of high workload with holiday gaps (albeit long ones some of them). Only you can decide.

    I wish you well.
  3. RiecesPieces

    RiecesPieces New commenter

    Thanks for your advice.

    Yes, I definitely need to stay at least until Christmas to get my NQT year done! However, in order to actually leave at Christmas, I obviously have to quit (again) by the 31st of October which I guess is not a good thing to do...That means I'll have to stay until the end of April, which sounds like a very, very long time if things don't improve.

    I would like (if things stay as they are and I feel I cannot cope any longer) to leave around Christmas, go on supply and do a part-time TEFL degree. I've always been interested in teaching English as a foreign language and my partner and I are currently thinking about moving abroad next summer anyway. Originally, I was going to apply for International Schools then, but I guess with my current CV (changing jobs all the time etc. ) I wouldn't have much of a chance?! Plus, I am worried about the reference they will give me if I leave early. Now I'm wondering if even that 2nd option will work out as I simply cannot leave before Easter (that is if I can negotiate early leave).
  4. escaped_teacher

    escaped_teacher New commenter

    I would not hand in your notice by 31 Oct. As you say you'll need to stay till you finish your induction anyway (which, I think, is a very good decision btw). Afterwards you'll see. If you are still this overwhelmed, you could try to negotiate an early release or get signed off with WRS. I hope you are member of a union - if not, join one asap. I can totally sympathise with you btw: I left teaching for a 9-5 office job because I wanted a life. Never regretted the choice, though I earn less than half of what I used to.
  5. naggin the nag

    naggin the nag New commenter


    I agree with escaped-teacher. There is no balance. Almost everyone buys into the idea that they have to work ridiculous hours and that's ok, because the holidays are long. I could never cope with the holidays because I was 'using' work to avoid all the life stuff. When I left teaching over a year ago, guess what, all that stuff hit me in the face and I've been having to deal with it since.

    If it's the contact with the students, you could consider tutoring. You don't say if you're primary or secondary, but get on ***** and see what subjects are offered and how much people charge. It's free for tutors. Ideally get QTS first, but I had Year 11 -13 students making well above minimum, tutoring younger students. If there are grammar schools near you, there is 11+ tuition too. This could supplement a 9-5 job.

    I have friends who work overseas and teaching is very different there too, KL and Dubai.

    There are other options. I have become a health coach with ****** and help people get better health through good nutrition and a healthy active lifestyle. There is an opportunity with what I do if you want to take a look. But if that's not your cup of tea, there are other Network Marketing companies out there in many other sectors. I have a friend in Travel, for example.

    I worked in a very challenging inner city school, so I can empathise. It is so frustrating when children don't want to learn and very very stressful.

    I wish you well with whatever you decide.xx
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2015
  6. SLB_5

    SLB_5 New commenter

    Hi, I would really love to hear what sort of things you put in your application form. 9-5 sounds soooo good! Wanting to leave teaching myself.
  7. WaylonWu

    WaylonWu Established commenter

    Sorry to hear about these unreasonable problems you are facing. You feel as you do because deep down you know this isn't a normal way for working life to be. You should get out as soon as you've completed your induction. The school doesn't deserve such a dedicated teacher.

    That's very true and that's why the system continues.

    Working abroad is a good option Rieces Pieces. If asked why you left after a short time explain the school was in SM and due to that faced a lot of problems and was an extremely stressful place to work. Most decent schools would understand that. Good luck with what you decide to do.
    naggin the nag likes this.

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