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Work Life Balance HELP

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by mrpag, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Hi All,
    I really need some advice here. No doubt most of us NQTs are in the same position but this work load is actually making me ill. I am a mature NQT, with a family. I have supplied for a while too and am very aware of the workload but after 6 weeks of being an NQT again I am totally exhausted.
    I am sure that I do not get the support of my mentor but I do go to the head who is very supportive. I have a tough class, and settling in with them has been very difficult. As one of my strengths is behaviour management, I believe this class to be difficult. They are actually putting me off of teaching because I feel that I am mostly negiotating through a battlefield rather than a classroom. I am top end of primary school.
    I am doing what everyone say you shouldn't do and that is reinventing the wheel as I plan every lesson myself! There is no one there to support me. I am told to go to the other NQT for support with the amount of time I am planning, but that is not good advice. She is struggling and feeling like a failure, because she is so exhausted. She is a great teacher.
    I know what the requirements are from my mentor, but I am not getting it. It wont really make a difference if I complain about it. I have already and nothing has actually been done to address the situation.
    All I want to do is get my NQT completed and get out. I loved supply work and worked in some amazing schools. Planning was shared, and life was great.
    So know you have the picture of what is going on, does anyone have any tips on how to speed up with paper work? It is too much and I am not sure how to get through it all. I am currently working about an 8 day week. When I have voiced this in the staffroom, it is acknowledged that I will because its my NQT year. Surely the transition from student teacher to NQT should not be so great that it is actually exhausting me! Additionally, just read other posts and the NQT right of passage seems to be ok to have little support and feel exhausted, both of which affect your teaching!
    My union rep has stated that, teaching at the moment, is purely for the young with no responsibilities, I just can't believe that!
    My partner asked me when was the last time I left the house and it wasn't to do with work and I honestly couldn't remember. This is a terrrible admission. Please help me to get this work/life balanced sorted out.
    Exhausted NQT[​IMG]
  2. HadleyDuffs

    HadleyDuffs New commenter

    I completed my NQT year as a mature student 3 years ago, I was exhausted. I kept thinking that things would get easier and they don't appear to have. In fact I now seem to work the same hours if not more as I did when doing my NQT year. I don't feel that I have much of a life outside work. I am in a permanent position and its all the meetings and paperwork and marking and targets ect ect ect that take up the time. Good luck, just get through this year and get qualified.
  3. pumpkinsoup88

    pumpkinsoup88 New commenter

    Hi there,

    I'm an NQT, but I live at home without any children. Still, the workload is hard and I feel a lot for you. The best thing I've done and that has changed things radically for me is by bulk planning in the holidays. I imagine that may not work too well when you have a family which is keen to see you and other jobs that need doing. I plan things like my guided reading, intensives and the subject I plan for which really don't take too long and it's much quicker than having to remember where you left off from the previous week. Additionally, I like to create an overview of where I'm going for Numeracy.

    Also, marking is the thing that can take up a lot of time (and is often ineffective), so think of different ways to assess the children and get them on board (a lot of self marking). The most important thing in my eyes is good planning, so that definitely needs to be done well, and everything should be smooth.

    Oh and collecting data from the children as you go along, and knowing what's coming up eg. IEP renewals, parents evening etc.
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Most of the time a mentor cannot do anything at all about workload, much as many NQTs like to think they can. Your mentor cannot plan lessons for you, or not on a regular basis. Nor can they mark for you, except occasionally to help out with tests or similar but it isn't actually their job to do so. Sometimes a mentor/NQT relationship works really really well and sometimes it doesn't. If yours isn't what you need then enlist the help and support of other members of staff.

    Ask for help from KS leaders or SLT with the behaviour. It is harder, much much harder, to manage your own class than to manage another classteacher's class as a trainee. Not all NQTs realise just how hard it is to be on your own all day every day and that you have to sort out every single thing. You have the added difficulty of starting mid year, which is never easy for anyone. The exhaustion this can cause will have a knock on effect on everything else.

    For planning, in your position it might be a good idea to buy one of those books with ready made plans for either maths or literacy. Doesn't matter which. Then spend your time planning the other subject brilliantly and just make do for one. This sounds like a cop out, but actually it will mean you plan and teach one subject brilliantly and so will feel better, which in turn gives you more energy. Then next term swap the subjects round and teach the other brilliantly.

    Also see if you can pair up with a teacher in the same year group in another school, ask your HT about this. There may well be a really good and experienced teacher who can let you have all sorts of bits and bobs to help with planning.

    Your first year is exhausting. But keep going and next year will be easier. All the planning you have from this year will just need a good tweak next year.

    BTW I would also recommend not talking to your union rep if that is their answer. When you feel down and fed up it is better to talk to those who are keen and enthusiastic to help you see the positives. The sort of response from the rep is of no help at all. And, to my mind, isn't true either.
  5. I can completely relate to this, I genuinely do not know how you are doing it with children. I know so many young, single people in this situation and they too describe it as you have already done so! I too have been unable to find a work/life balance even as a student teacher, which is making me think long and hard as to whether to actually go into teaching after all. I'm currently arguing with myself as to whether the stress/pressure is worth the amount of enjoyment that comes out of teaching...
  6. y9840125

    y9840125 Occasional commenter

    I am a single woman. I have been teaching for 10 years and my work life balance has always been unbalanced. If you find any answers, let me know.
  7. ESLAB

    ESLAB New commenter

    I too am a NQT with three children. During my PGCE year I found my work/life balance totally out of whack - all work and no life! However, this year has seen it level out. I get in to school at 8am and I leave at 5:30pm. I don't work at all in the evenings, but I might need to do some bits at the weekend - but nothing too much. So I'm writing this to let you know that there is hope for a decent work/life balance. However, I think it must depend on your school and what their expectations are. I think I might be in a lucky position whereby my HT lets me get on with things and isn't constantly making demands. I think it might be a question of finding the right school, which doesn't really help you much.My advice is to prioritise and make sure you get the necessary things done. Your own children need your time too. Good luck!
  8. Thanks for advice,
    Loving this IMPACT method it is working for me.
    However, a little gentle support from my mentor would make this a whole lot easier.
    It is not helpful emailing me ideas for plans that make no meaningful sense to me! It also doesn't help being an NQT in the current climate!
    But we all soldier on and hopefully, when we become mentors we will remember how much support is actually needed to encourage other NQTs to be great teachers!
  9. I'm a mature NQT with 4 children and although I'm tired, I do have a worklife balance. I work between 8am and 4.30pm at school and do not take work home. I work on Sunday afternoons. I haven't really done anything during half term to be honest, nor do I feel guilty because it's a week OFF.
    My main advice would be:
    a) delegate- if you have students, TAs etc, make sure you're sharing the workload with them and being assertive. I wasted too much time at the start doing lots of photocopying and printing and have now started to delegate more.
    b) ONLY do things that are important to the T&L cycle, eg. levelling big write and creating new writing targets is probably essential, but putting up yet another fancy display and writing every lesson plan from scratch probably isn't- cut corners if you need to and don't feel guilty, because an exhausted teacher is no good regardless of the quality of the planning. I sometimes use those lesson plan books and steal from previous years planning- what's the problem as long as you bear in mind your own class and their needs as you tweak it?
    c) Stop feeling guilty. There will always be more to do. I've had to admit on a couple of occasions that I haven't got something done yet, and no one has died. As long as you're up to date with marking and important deadlines, other things might have to wait.
  10. I'm from Ireland and did my PGCE over here as my boyfriend is from here. I'm doing my NQT year in London, but to be quite honest it is like slave labour - I'm surprised so many stick with it and .......with a family I don't know how you do it. Teaching in Ireland/Europe (I spent time in a French school too) is soooo different. Teachers are relaxed ....not stressing over planning (as they use textbooks), they don't have ofsted types breathing down their necks and don't have levels - so there is no assessing and target setting all of the time. Yet, pupils still come out well educated and the teachers are relaxed and have a life. I did some observing in my primary school in Ireland before I did the PGCE and my old teachers looked fresh and almost like they hadn't aged (it was 20 years since I had been there last!). However, here the teachers look exhausted. It is just not healthy and no it is not worth it - your health is so important....a healthy body is a healthy mind. At 1.12am I'm not feeling so healthy so I better get my nightly 5hrs sleep!
  11. The comment your union rep made about teaching being for the young with no responsibilities really jumped out at me, and I think really sums it up. 3-5 hours paper work a night is not just excessive. It's ridiculous. I suppose could peddle the usual stuff about being more time efficient. Here's one idea suggested by my mentor: always carry some work around with you so that you can get some marking in whilst waiting to see the dentist, for example. Or whilst having a coffee in Starbucks at the weekend. My God. Is that teaching today?
    I was an NQT. A mature student with kids. I left as I was on the verge
    of nervous exhaustion. I was neglecting my kids, my wife ( who works
    hard and found herself doing all the child care, cooking, cleaning) and my
    hobby/social life, which I have enjoyed since I was15 years of age, was
    fading away...
    What really clinched it for me was when I came to realise that, in the three schools I worked in at least, experienced teachers were working almost every night, most weekends, and over the holiday breaks. I got out.
    I rarely visit this forum but I think it is fair to hear from us that left now and then. After all, there's a lot of us:) And our ranks are swelling apparantly. Maybe we should set up a Free School?
    You don't talk about leaving, which is a credit to your commitment. It might get better but if not perhaps supply is the answer?
    Best of luck mate.

  12. I'am currently an NQT who is off with anxiety and stress and deemed 'unfit for work.' It has been a huge shock to me as all I wanted to do was teach and after getting a great job last year eventually the relentless nature of the post got to me. Whilst I was achieveing 'good' observations, nothing I did seemed right. Planning often the night before and trying to cram last minute caused me to become a nervous wreck, unable to tackle even the simplist tasks. I too have given serious thought to whether this is what I want to do with the rest of my life, only less than a year in and I have become a nervious wreck. What is worse is the feeling that I no longer am good enough, despite the fact that I know I can really do a great job. I guess I must learn to become satisfied with the standards that I set, and learn to solve time management. It is a completely different job than experienced on training, and I do not want my enthusism and skills to disappear over a horrible period at the very start of my career.

    We all do a fantastic job, and I feel that we need to give ourselves some 'positive praise' every now and then.

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