The plan was…
So the plan for last week was to work on my blog and content marketing strategy for my website… however I got a phone call asking if I would complete some supply work for a local school in desperate need of a qualified ICT teacher (which if you don’t know was my previous profession!) By Thursday I’m in the school covering 5 lessons for students’ year 8, 9 and 10. Needless to say the week has not gone to plan!
Schools are facing a crisis point there’s no doubt about it. Having left in August 2016 stating the lack of work life balance as the reason I can definitely say I have made the right decision. Those naïve to believe it’s an easy 9-3 job with loads of holidays here’s some facts from my experience. Firstly I have to be in by 8.15 and cannot leave till 4pm earliest. However this in fact is a rarity as once a week there is a staff or department meeting till 5pm (usually finishing 5.30) 2 nights are week coursework catch up for students till 5pm, 1 night a week a ran a club (necessary if you want to move up the pay scale) and everybody is on a rotate for school and departmental detentions meaning one night a week for that. Then there’s all the school extras so that’s 7 parents evening, year 6 open evening, year 12 open evening, options evening parts 1 and 2 all of which last between 3 and 4 hours after the school day. Over a fortnight I had 5 planning marking periods 1 of which was taken up by peer group training (compulsory) So that doesn’t’ seem to bad…
Ah but then we need to talk about lesson planning, homework and coursework marking and feedback. So in my case I had over 70 A ‘Level students all being set one home a week this meant even if I only spent 5-10 minutes a student I had over 10 hours of marking per week. Add to this coursework marking which is always tricky as many students dislike labelling their work efficiency or putting the work in order! So that’s 2 classes totalling 36 students 6-7 hours a week! And that’s just marking and providing on work completed for GCSE and A Level!
12 weeks of holidays – stop complaining!
Oh and as for the “holidays” on more than one occasion I have had to run coursework or revision sessions during such holidays to help improve those not meeting their target grades (don’t get me started on where those target grades come from – well I might have to start on that another time) as well as catching up on the work that I haven’t had a chance to do during the school term. Plus the fact that I’ve pretty much worked 6 days a week and evenings for whole of the term time so I’m absolutely running on empty.
Don’t get me wrong the summer holidays are blissful until the last week where you realise you need to complete planning for new schemes of work or qualifications!
Students are not the problem!
Notice how I haven’t mentioned the students themselves? After having taught as a number of different schools both in West Sussex and North London I would definitely say they are not the problem. Yes there are always some tough nuts who just don’t fit in the academic system but for the majority they want to learn and do well. The sad thing is that I think many teachers just don’t have the energy to inspire the students with everything else that is placed upon them. I look around at the staff in the school I’m in and it saddens me having watched them teach effectively, calmly and professionally the lack of pride they have in themselves as they feel they are not doing enough. Teachers are constantly being told they are inadequate and failing students when the targets are unachievable with the workload currently attached.
PS Who agrees with homework – should it be set and if yes at what age? (I’ll let you know my thoughts on that and target grades another time!)