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Stressing at the weekend...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by -myrtille-, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter


    I'm not completely sure what I'm looking for here - I suppose mostly I'm just wondering if anyone else ever feels like this too, and what you've done about it.

    I am feeling really stressed and anxious right now. Since getting back from work, I have tried to relax but I just have a million work related thoughts spinning round in my head (and a large pile of marking sitting in my office) and I feel rubbish. Recently I've been having some wheezing and weird breathing, but only at times like the end of the day or in the car on my way to work, not when I'm rushing around and being active.

    But my situation is not anything like most posters on here. I do not feel that I am being victimised at work in any way. I am part of a really great, strong department team. I had good pay progression (jumped 2 points on the pay scale) last year and recently got a TLR post for coaching/developing other teachers, which I was asked to apply for as a result of being identified as one of the stronger teachers in the school. I feel able to approach senior staff when I have a concern and that my views are listened to (even if sometimes nothing changes as a result, it feels like my concerns are taken seriously and we have a proper conversation about it). I think every school is dysfunctional in some way or another, but in my school it's generally quite benign - lapses in organisation, communication, etc., rather than deliberate bullying or undermining of staff. Outwardly, things are going well. I enjoy being in the classroom and hVe good relationships with colleagues and pupils.

    Yet I don't feel able to cope at all. In the week, my time is filled with the day-to-day tasks I need to do. Planning lessons, meetings, marking key assessments, responding to things that need to be dealt with straight away. Anything else gets shunted back to the weekend, and at the moment this means stuff to do with my house purchase, the residential trip abroad that I'm running in a fornight's time, and more mundane stuff like marking class sets of exercise books.

    So I get to Friday evening, and want to relax, but all I can think about is how much I've got to do this weekend and how I'm going to manage my time. I've felt like this at points most weekends (other than in the holidays) for the past 2-3 months. I feel so stupid for getting stressed like this at the weekend when I should be taking a well earned break, but I don't know how to prevent it.
    palmtree100 likes this.
  2. emilystrange

    emilystrange Star commenter

    i have something similar. great school, lovely colleagues, benign management.
    stress related health issues and constant work brain.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Does the TLR post mean more work for you? We all have the same amount of time in the week and there comes a point where you just can't fit everything in and you have to prioritise and say well perhaps In would rather have more time than money

    Look at your work schedule and see where you can reduce your workload so you have more time for your life outside teaching even if means taking a cut in pay.
  4. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    To be blunt, if you want every weekend free you are in the wrong profession. The weird breathing etc - in teaching you are expected to be at your best at all times. Burning adrenaline like rocket fuel. This is bound to take a toll on your body.

    I think you need to decide on one day of the weekend you WILL work and one day you WONT. Unless you are hyper efficient or capable of getting everything done in the week, some weekend work is inevitable, where some teachers (I am an ex teacher myself) go wrong is letting it take over the entire weekend. I preferred having Friday Night and all day Saturday free as Sunday can be a bit of a 'homeworky vibe' day.
    wanet and schoolsout4summer like this.
  5. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    At the moment it does mean more work in the week, but not loads (an extra meeting now and then in PPA time, setting cover sometimes to do observations or attend training). Because the role arose mid-year we haven't been given any extra time for it, but the stated aim is for us to be given extra PPA in our new timetables next academic year. So that should be a bit better.

    I think the big thing making life difficult is the trip I'm running, and in hindsight maybe I shouldn't have opted to take it on. Hopefully I'll feel better when it's over (although as it's an exchange, I'll still have some stuff to organise for when we host our partner school in a few months time).

    Sorry if my original post was unclear - I wasn't suggesting that I could manage to have the entire weekend free on a regular basis. Currently I spend Friday evening trying to calm down, then on Saturday I work for about half the day and Sunday I work all day. I used to manage to take all of Saturday off but this year (since marking became a bigger deal and Ofsted is looming) it hasn't seemed achievable unless I want to get really behind on everything and create more work for myself at a later date.

    My issue isn't that I have to work for some of the weekend - I've always done that. It's that in the small portion of my life that I am able to allocate to not working, I'm unable to relax because I'm panicking about how I'm going to pack all of the work I need to do into the next 1.5 days before Monday comes round again.
  6. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I've resolved to try and take tomorrow off completely to clear my head a bit.

    Somehow I will pack lesson planning, marking and various bits of emailing/phoning/reservations for the trip into Sunday. And leave the marking 'til last because if the worst comes to the worst, it can wait.
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    OP - Not to bring religion into this but even God had 1 day's rest per week..........
    joannagb, pepper5 and -myrtille- like this.
  8. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    I've coped by going giving up TLRs 3 times. I stay at school til about 6 then go home ( partner does all cooking in week!) I work really late every night in the week if necessary to make sure I do little at the weekends. Obviously it doesn't always work; mock exams, test weeks, reports, parents evenings, option evenings etc it piles up, but in the main I am not stressed at weekends. I think it's the only thing that keeps me sane. Also lucky cos family is completely independent now. I could not have coped buying houses bringing up kids etc in the current climate. Advice; don't carry on like this, something has to give, I suggest the T LR before your mental health.
    Chapeau to you for doing all you do AND planning trips!
  9. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    Teaching is similar to parenting, you can do endless improvements to lessons, marking and admin tasks but it gets you down if you have no break. Accept you ars good enough and go with that. Get out and do things for you, a walk, watch a film, read a book. You have to be a whole person if you are to withstand teaching.
    grumpydogwoman and wanet like this.
  10. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Sounds like you need some more down time. Everything might be fine generally but if you've not got enough time in the week to unwind then you'll keep running 'hit' so to speak in work mode and burn out.

    Be kind to yourself, you work hard, you deserve some me time.
  11. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    You are overworked and your response is a normal and healthy one - as long as you don't ignore it

    Your brain is telling you do something different before it makes you ill

    Working at the weekend might be normal and acceptable for some people but not me - and I am a better teacher in the week for it.
  12. katykook

    katykook Occasional commenter

    I think you're right in identifying the trip as the problem. I organised an exchange and it was hard work. Have you made a list of what needs doing? (Sorry if this is an obvious question.) Is there anything you can delegate for the return visit? I found other staff were happy to share taking the group out especially if they had some cultural interest of their own. I would set aside time each day (30mins?) to work through the aspects of the trip and then leave it alone until the next day. When I have something stressful to do like this I try to focus on the day after it's finished and envisage how I will relax - remember nothing lasts forever.
  13. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    I make myself take Saturday off completely then spend some of Sunday (quite often most or all of Sunday) working. Some prefer to work Saturday and leave Sunday clear. I prefer to do it on Sunday cos i can remember it better on Monday!
    I've returned to going to the football on home game Saturdays which certainly takes my mind off teaching! I also play/conduct in a band when i can fit it in.
    so make sure you take time off and find something to do that gives you something else to concentrate upon.
    And remember teaching is the sort of job that is never ever completely done. You could work 24/7 and still feel guilty about something that you "could" have done extra.

    At the end of the day.
    Tired stressed teachers teach tired stressed lessons.
    and if you are stressed you will feel the children are behaving worse than they are and start a dangerous spiral if you are not very careful.
  14. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Can I be honest? I think this is a sign you have taken on too much too soon.
  15. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    Thanks for all of your input and advice.

    I agree that I have taken on too much.

    The opportunity to set up an exchange came up quite suddenly (when a teacher from our twin town came to visit the school last summer) and I was keen to give it a go because I wanted to give my pupils (some of whom are so hard working and write beautiful French) the opportunity to actually experience life in France and become more fluent. So I rushed into it when the opportunity arose, and now slightly regret it. It's come at a stressful time and now everything has come together at once and become too much for me to cope with.

    I can't (and wouldn't want to) pull out of the trip now. I've got through the worst of it (the budgeting, the risk assessments, the paperwork, the reservations, the chasing of medical forms, the pairing up of French and English pupils, the drop-outs and last-minute replacements...) and it's not long to go.

    I've already said I will not be running the exchange next year. We struggled to get enough pupils involved, so I think every 2 years will be enough. So that's a huge pressure which will be mostly gone in 3 weeks time, and completely gone by mid-June. My house purchase is due to complete imminently (and doesn't involve the stress of moving - buying from current landlord) so that will be another thing sorted.

    I think being realistic, I need to forget about marking exercise books for a couple of weeks until all the other stuff blows over. Everyone in my department is struggling with the marking workload (as we have to prioritise Y10 and Y11 controlled assessments at the moment) so I don't think I'll be further behind anyone else - it's just that I'm a bit of a perfectionist and don't like feeling I've left something incomplete or done shoddily. I've never coasted or been "just good enough" so it's something I find really difficult.

    Thanks - this has been helpful in terms of clearing my head a bit and sorting out what I need to do.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  16. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    It isn't normal to have to work at the weekend. However, it has become the norm for many teachers. For the vast majority of my time in teaching I never used to work at the weekends, I used to go away but then the workload increased and the expectation of you should spend at least one day at the weekend doing school work. Teachers have let this happen.
  17. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I think you should have most weekends entirely clear. Teachers should stop accepting a workload that destroys their life.

    Trips are hard work and maybe it's a lesson learned to say no - to your own enthusiastic instincts too - when you have a lot of other things to do. I would also say that you can't be a perfectionist in teaching and survive. It's a job where you could always do a little bit more and you have to learn to stop at the end of the day. As someone else said, work to be good enough rather than always aiming for perfection.
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You're buying a house??? Have you ever done this before? Perhaps you don't fully realise how hideous a process it is.

    Cut back on planning and marking. Generate as little marking as possible. Have quizzes. They mark their own answers. Use personal whiteboards. Do oral work. Anything but written work in books.

    You're a French teacher, I imagine. Use online resources, wing it if you can. Show them youtube videos. Anything. But reduce that paperwork.
    poltergeist, -myrtille- and wanet like this.
  19. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    Haha, yes, it is a truly hideous process, as I have discovered. It's taken months (despite not being in a chain) but the stress is pretty much over - exchange has taken place and we complete next week. And as we're already living in the property, at least we don't have the additional stress of moving.

    I do quite a bit of stuff where pupils mark their own work (eg: homework is usually learning vocab for a test, which they then swap and mark, to avoid having to mark worksheets/paragraphs etc.) and they mark their own listening tasks and starter activities in class too. We also do a fair bit of mini-whiteboard work for practising verb conjugation etc. But with 11 classes (4 of which are GCSE groups doing controlled assessments) there's still always something that needs marking.

    Thanks for your suggestions - I think I'm going to do a bit of a film project with Y9 after their exams next week, as they've worked hard (and I need the break!). I feel languages is one of the few subjects where watching films from time to time can be justified (so long as we also discuss the film and do odd bits of "real work" relating to it) as it's cultural and develops listening skills.
  20. joannagb

    joannagb Occasional commenter

    tbh it does sound to me like you've got too much work on. I've done exchanges and the amount of work that they create is completely bonkers - far more than normal trips, although even they create massive amounts of work.

    Is there a chance that your line manager might listen to you and make a useful suggestion about dropping something? A friend of mine was in a fairly similar position to yours at one point, he spoke to his line manager (dh) and was helped enormously - I think it was because it was obvious that he just had too many different projects on at one time and simply didn't have enough time to do it.

    You should keep a close eye on the stress though, the balance can easily tip and it would be far more useful to speak to someone about the quantity of work now than to let it continue and find yourself in a far more difficult position in a few months time. Also it needs to be highlighted with SLT now that you are struggling with the workload otherwise once the exchange is over you might find yourself having conversations that start with "now that the exchange is over and you have a little more time, we thought you might like to try..."

    If you really believe that this is a temporary thing and can be fixed by lightening the load a little then you could perhaps try to avoid using the word "stress" when discussing it, keep it factual about the amount of work vs hours in a day, let them know that you are concerned or worrying about it, but the word "stress" seems to trigger a particular reaction with SLT, and it might be more useful to avoid it! Good luck!

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