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Work life balance

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by believer26, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. Hi all,

    I am an NQT, and while I did go into teaching with my eyes open and I was aware of how much work there is involved in teaching I am having problems with my work life balance. I have spoken to other NQTs and know they face similar issues and I was wondering if anybody has any tips, especially around marking and making efficient use of my time.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    What are you finding is taking you the most time?
  3. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    Don't worry, I think most new teachers find the work/life balance difficult. I'm in my second year and am finding it easier, but still trying to make it perfect (if there's such a thing)! I have, however, started to work the first part of my lunch, getting things done and sorted in class (this includes marking). Then I can go down for something to eat and have fifteen-twenty minutes of real relaxing time. This stops me from eating lunch and still being in the staffroom 45 minutes later chatting!
    With regards to marking, it depends if you are secondary or primary. If you're primary, I can recommend getting children to put a 'P/T box' in their maths books. This is basically a cross (upright like a crucifix) with a P at the top of one side (for Pupil) and a T at the top of the other. The child marks under the P with a tick if they understood the lesson, a question mark if they'd like more time on it and a cross if they think they need adult help. Then the children pile them into the three piles. After the lesson I can instantly see how many children think they struggled and, if pushed for time, can at least mark the cross and question mark books and see if the children need support next lesson. Then I can cast my eye over those with a tick, but not mark in detail, to see if there's anyone who needs support next lesson.
    Another thing I try and remember to do, especially with top groups, is ask them to check each other's work with a calculator, then you can just cast your eye over the page later. With literacy, I try to remember when marking large bits of writing that I don't need to mark everything all of the time. So, if the objective was to write in paragraphs, I'm not going to correct every spelling mistake or missed comma. That saves me a LOT of time, as I used to mark all my class's work in the greatest detail, which took forever.
    Finally, try marking a few books every night. I have five groups for maths and literacy in class and have stickered the edge of each book with the correct colour. The books live in boxes with the same colour on the outside. If I'm stuck for time, I can just grab one or two boxes and get those marked first. It also makes it easier to know which books I've marked and which I haven't.
    Hopefully some of this was useful. It's just about finding a system. And it will come eventually! As I said, I'm finding my second year much more manageable. You'll get there! Good luck.
  4. j_pink

    j_pink New commenter

    Thanks Helena I found your post very uplifting! I will be juggling being a new mum to a 3 month baby and an NQT in April. I'm planning on leaving at 4pm most days with one day of working late per week. I will do planning on a weekend and after school and marking after my baby is in bed. In time I hope to pay for a cleaner/ironer a few hours a week to help me.
    I still wouldn't change industry for the world - teaching is so rewarding and the time at home with my baby in the holidays is priceless.
  5. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    Glad I could help!
    The thing is, I love teaching but it isn't my entire life. I also am me, not just Miss ****. You have to work out what is the most important bit to do at that time.

    Make sure you use your free periods/PPA time properly and you should be fine. And never forget to ask for help and support.
  6. Wow I'm so jealous! I'm in school from 7.30 till 6 every day then work about 8 hours at weekends, I know it's way too much but I don't know where I can save time as I feel like I'm scraping by as it is. Maybe the subject you teach makes a difference - I teach drama and English (also NQT), so I have extra-curricular 3 nights a week till 4.45 plus loads of marking.I love the job but I need to find a way to manage better and do things quicker.
  7. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    I get what you mean about subject, I am RE so I only have to plan 1 lesson per year group a week. However, it does mean I have 15 sets of books to mark and reports to do. I also teach some history and geography so for those subjects I get resources from TES or other people in my department as I know there is no point me planning entire lessons from scratch when they have tried and tested lessons that have been used for years.
  8. I take it that you give your students the option of a 3-week rotation to hand in their homework.
  9. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    No, I set homework every 3 weeks as I only see them once a week. I collect it in the next week and mark it for the next lesson.
  10. Fair enough and motivating for the students to get quick feedback.
    My original comment was due to frustration when my daughter is waiting for several pieces of homework which had been given deadlines for handing in but can be anything from 3-6 weeks before being given back, or going a whole term with only one piece of work being marked.

  11. I only ever take my laptop power lead home at the weekend. If the battery goes low during the week I know I've worked enough that evening and stop!!
  12. Hi Worksleepwork. I am very similar to you. I am a Drama NQT and the only Drama teacher in the school. I teach 11 ks3 groups and 2 year 10 groups BTEC Acting. I am at school by 8am every day and usually leave at around 6pm, before October half term it was regularly 7pm. I'm so tired by the weekend, that by the time i've recovered, it's time to do more work so i'm half ready for Monday when i go back. The workload is really putting me off teaching as a career, however, other teachers i know have tried telling me that it's the school that i'm at. I work at a high achieving Academy and there were no resources at the school for my subject when i started so i'm creating everything myself (or using things i have taken from my PGCE placement schools). We have to set homework every week at ks3 and twice a week for ks4. I haven't got time to start a drama club, but would like to. I know i will be expected to put on the school show in the summer, but don't know where i will get the time.
  13. This has given me hope! I am currently an NQT working late and into the weekends. I need to set boundaries and stop feeling guilty for having free time. Need to accept that I can't do everything and nobody will die if it isnt perfect. Thanks

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