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Struggling to cope!

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by TeacherGeorge, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Hello all, sorry if this post is in the wrong section but it seemed the most applicable. I am currently in my 3rd year of university training to become a primary teacher (specialising in early years; hence why I have posted this here.)

    I'm on my long placement 2 and a half weeks in so far and am finding it really hard to unwind and cope with the workload put upon me. I have to be up at 6:45 to get to my school for 8ish to help set up everything and get ready for the day, I am then on my feet all day and leave the school between 4 and half 5 most days (as I will stay to use their copier for my lesson plans.) I'll be home around 6:30 most days where I will then have a ton of work to do in terms of lesson plans / university work etc and find that with doing all that I barely have time for a shower and dinner before bed and then I'm in bed around 10:30 / 11:00 most nights, to do the same the next day!

    It feels as though I have more work to do now than I will when I'm actually qualified, what with the university work on top of everything and I am struggling to cope with the lack of any time to unwind so I am asking; how did or do, any of you do it? I still have well over a month and a half left and I have no idea how I will manage it at this rate!

    Sorry for the essay but I really am struggling and would appreciate any help please.
    Thank you
  2. Take Friday off and give yourself three days to pull yourself together. Then talk to whoever is supervising you at school and tell him/her that you are extremely stressed. Talk to someone - a coworker that has some standing in the school - be careful. Sometimes, its hard to believe this (is it?), but schools and teachers take advantage of people like you and dump unworkable classes and schedules onto your young but inexperienced shoulders.
  3. Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I have been considering talking to my class teacher at school or my personal tutor at uni for a while now; I think now you have suggested it will give me the impetus to do so.
    I was wondering has anyone been in my situation or similar? And if so how do you spend your (very!) limited free time of an evening to best unwind yourself?
    Thank you
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Sorry I'm probably not going to help but you need to consider that when you do qualify you will be doing this for 39 weeks a year and while there won't be university work there are other pressures and responsibilities as a teacher that have additional workload.
  5. Hi,
    sorry to hear you are feeling so stressed about it. But I was in exactly the same position on my final placement. I didn't have a life, and only had a small amount of time at the weekend to unwind. But it was worth it. However, I appreciate that you may not be able to appreciate that yet. Find someone that you can talk to, so that you can offload when necessary. There must be people you are training with who feel the same, I didn't realise until after. But ultimately, you have come this far and there isn't actually that much left to do, so I think you will feel happier if you just focus and devote all of your time for this at the moment. In a couple of months you will be free to choose some time out, supply work, or applying for a full time role.
    P.s If you are spending nearly every waking minute working, or thinking about working then at least it shows you are working hard, which I'm sure will be clear for the class teacher, student co-ordinator etc to see. Good luck.
  6. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    I don't know if I'm disorganised, or my school has unrealistic expectation, but I don't have any time to unwind in the week either.
    I get up at 6 to be in work for 8 (I've only got a 10 minute drive), but I always have housework, lunchboxes to make etc before waking my daughter at 7.
    I teach Reception, so it's obviously non-stop throughout the day. I work through most of the lunchtime (setting up the class for the afternoon or trying to catch up on jobs). I try and sit down for 15 minutes to have a bit of lunch and a chat with other members of the Foundation team, but we're often working as we eat and talk.
    Every evening there is work to do, but I don't usually get home until 6ish (because of staff meetings, running a club, or taking my daughter to a club). It's usually 8 before I can start work (family dinner and daughter's bedtime to do first). I probably work in front of the TV (thank goodness for laptops, so I can be a bit sociable) until about 11- although it might only be until 10 if I didn't get distracted by coming on TES!
    Even so, I am permanently behind with my paperwork.
    I relax by totally switching off at the weekends: no school stuff allowed on Friday evenings, Saturdays, or until after daughter has gone to bed on Sunday (although by leaving it that late, I do end up working until the early hours most Sundays).
    Teaching has become a crazy job with ridiculous hours during term-time.
  7. You will get more efficient george and the end of the day is often when you are most tired and most inefficient anyway so that tasks which you might breeze through on that early morning fresh brain become laboured and heavy after work. I would suggest that you leave work as early as you can and do something physical - I have swum for an hour a day after work for twenty years. It has always been a break. Relaxing, meditiative, rhythmic, solitary (washing the kids and their voices out of the hair, letting an inner voice be heard in the quiet stillness away from the clamour). You mght not choose swimming but something which brings you back down into the physical realm and outs you back in touch with yourself and the commonplace and simple is essential.
    Might be jogging, or a shower, or a pint or whatever is your style but being alone is a big part as there is so much noise and interference in the head just after school, so many competing demads for your attention that you can lose sight and sound of yourself.
    I must disagree with Msz, who is normally a great source of cheer and postive help, and a great one to slog out a bottle of communion wine with - however in this case I disagree with her. It WILL NOT and SHOULD NOT be like this forever and does not need to be. The current climate of teaching is inhospitable and completely politicised. The hours you put in do not necessarily make you a better teacher.
    You've got to get through the hoops at the moment but the thing you must do is think smart, think for yourself, question everything and everyone so that you get a specific idea of what you are being asked to do and not whay you might think or others might think you have to do. There are many myths in teaching - the 'OFSTED need this' being one of the biggest.
    Copy and adapt plans, find simple algorythms for planning and ask your tutor for the simplest. Anotate as you go and try to deal with as many things in the present as you can rather than store things up for the evening. they rarely get any easier and often the first impresson, the first observation, the first idea for a next step, are about as good as you are going to get.
    They will not improve by waiting to be done they will only make you feel as though you have a whole bus queue waiting in your head. Its a bit like maths, if you show your working out thenthe final answer isnot as important. Don't be fooled and caught out by the guilt that is ofen heaped upon us. There is only so much you can do, and only so much time. There is always tomorrow. Bad moments pass and there are better ones.
    Displays - be it of colour coded plans, triple-mounted kids work or shows of over-conscientiousness labouring away until the night might, be superficially impressive but they aren't worth too much of your time- they aren't that smart. Get away form school and let yourself refelct in quiet distraction. Involve kids in doing as much as possible of anything- they learn more, the results will always be more interesting than your own ideas and you can save yourself time and energy.
    Oh and learn to play an instrument. It will help you with any age group of kids and will give you many hours of refreshment and stimulation using a different part of your brain than the logical, structure bound, analytical aspect that predominates in our current climate.
    You also have the leeway to ask the daftest questions and to ask any member of staff how to do something. Log your questions and answers and sahre them with your tutor(s). Its surprising just how many grizzled hard exteriors respond when you genuinely ask for help and touch the part of them that is still green and growing even under silver skies.
    The only way you are going to survive and get to be a good teacher is to realise that it is a struggle to get your own understanding and to create your own independence of thought anywhere- that is a challenge in all walks of life. However if you can manage to achieve it for yourself in education it is a far richer and revealing field than many others. Others will tell you their solutions for how to get along; listen, learn, reach out as wide and as far as you can and go away and take what works for you. You really are doing well to question already. Kids need teachers who think smart. Many of them know the world isn't fair, that there are many who say do as I say not as I do.
    Finally teaching can be very hard work, but it is not necssarily fatiguing, It can be fascinating and exhiliarating. It can be a path of personal discovery which you will take you almost like an anthropologist amongst a tribe of the kindest, simplest, most forgiving spirits you could hope to meet - kids. Teaching can be a richly rewarding insight into life and into ourselves. It can allow us to rediscover the world and and to look again through fresh eyes at things we have perhaps forgotten, or to see things we we never saw on the first passing.
    It allows us to study again at first hand our own nature. It is far more than knowledge transmission. Far more than seeing kids as a level3c, it is full of vision and revelations. It involves work with the very energy that is shaping the social world around us. It allows us the rare privilege of hearing the rhythmic pulse at the heart of life m,arking and measuring the time of our generation and your adult life. In other words it can be great. Stick with it but get smart, get physical, get musical, get some rest.

  8. Hi TeacherGeorge, I'm in my 2nd year of teaching reception. I felt just like you on my last placement, but just remember it isn't forever. Just gather as much evidence as you can and do Uni work after your placement. Teaching eyfs is SO full on, but it's never boring! If you can't stand being on your feet all day then you need to question whether or not the eyfs is for you.

    I get up at 6:15 to get to school for 7:30. I set up my classroom and get everything ready for the children coming in at 8:40. After school i'll often have a natter in the staff room or i do an after school club and then crack on with work. I leave school between half 5 and 6 most nights. The only night I don't take work home on is Thursday night and I make sure I do minimal work at the weekend (I have ppa on a Monday which is brilliant!). I make sure each night I do something to unwind - a bath, read a bit, play piano etc. I think you need to organise your workload more; make lists, prioritise and don't procrastinate! I found that during my first two years at Uni I spent so much time whittling over the amount of work to do instead of cracking on with it and getting it done!

    I really hope you make the decision that is right for you. Talk to your mentor and gather strategies from them - they're the ones doing it day in, day out!

    All the best, Maddie

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