I’m a teacher and I’ll admit it. There were times when I would have liked to have given some children in my class more individual attention and support this year.
As the end of the school year draws to a close, teachers are delivering final curriculum, organising end-of-year school activities and concerts, marking assignments, attending interviews with parents, and giving students the one-on-one tuition they need to do well in exams.
This is in addition to the planning and preparation for classes, meetings with colleagues, and maintaining an engaging and stimulating learning environment for students that we maintain all year round.
My family has come to accept that I come home late, tired, overwhelmed and that class planning must be done on the weekend and student assessment in the evenings.
I’m not unique. All of my colleagues are taking more and more work home, with many expected to be available to parents and students 24 hours a day, and facing ever-growing mounds of paperwork. I don’t always have time to consider the individual learning and developmental needs of all the children in my classes, and plan to meet their needs.
Many times, when the demands have become too overwhelming, I have considered leaving the profession. I weigh up the passion I have for seeing my students succeed against the impact of that stress on my health and my family.
Teachers work an average 15 hours of unpaid overtime each week. Despite the complexity of the work, the unpaid hours and the stress, I often hear the fabled refrain that teachers ‘have a charmed life’ with a holiday break over Christmas.
The reality isn’t so charming. Spread the average 53 hours a week that teachers work over a full working year, and teachers are not even getting the mandated four weeks of annual leave.
Welcome parents to the sticky world of This Glorious Mess. Post continues after podcast.
The personal impact isn’t actually my most pressing concern. I am troubled that students miss out when teachers are under unreasonable pressure, pulled in all directions.
I have students with special needs in my class. I have students who need welfare support, and students who would benefit from extension programs. I want to be able to give every student who walks through my classroom door the attention they require to develop the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed.