Earlier this year I stepped out of the classroom for the last time after a decade and a half teaching high school students. It was the right decision for me for many reasons, but that doesn’t stop me feeling guilty about leaving.
The NSW Department of Education teacher’s strike this week brings that feeling of guilt to the forefront.
I got into teaching to inspire young people, and for the most part, I felt like I was able to do that, especially at the beginning. But during my time as a teacher, my health and wellbeing increasingly started to suffer.
Watch: The things teachers never say. Post continues below.
It started off small - school holiday periods when I would just flop down exhausted and inevitably come down with some sort of sickness (because I had suddenly stopped the frantic pace I’d been working at). I’d recover and then refresh for a new school term, ready to do it all over again.
Administration tasks started to increase, requiring extra time in an already busy schedule of classes, meetings, lesson prep and marking. That started to eat into the time to properly prepare for lessons, which is so central to the core business of a teacher.
I began to find that I was less and less prepared and this affected my ability to manage my classroom.
I was feeling frazzled and overwhelmed on a regular basis. I would be so mentally tired after a day at school that I could only do my marking and lesson prep at nighttime - after doing the mum role to my own kids plus regular home duties - I was also having to set the alarm for 5am to get up and do more work before school.
My tolerance levels were impacted, and I became snappy and frustrated in the classroom. By the end, I was getting teary in the bathroom at school and feeling really burnt out.