Twelve weeks later and I’ve survived! Easter Holidays have arrived, and not a moment too soon.
I know straight away all the usual trolls will make comments about “Bloomin’ teachers, bloomin’ always on holiday, bloomin’ finish at 3 o’clock each day…” but hear me out before condemning us as a group. We are reaching a tipping point in teaching with the prospect of more strikes, issues with both pay and pensions and the invisible menace of the issue of working conditions that have mysteriously vanished in the last six months.
Before I was a teacher I was in the chorus laughing at the educators for moaning for doing a seven hour day, five days a week. Having been in the profession for nearly nine years now the joke is wearing thin and I’m looking round at colleagues who have worked themselves into the ground this term – again – and if the holidays weren’t here now I don’t think they or I would have made it much further. Genuinely.
I can only speak for English & Media Teachers here as I don’t know about the pressures from other subjects, but from what I hear it appears to be the same all over. In the last 12 weeks we have had to write three sets of reports for three separate year groups, attend two parents’ evenings, several staff meetings, complete folios for the SQA for all classes in S4 – 6 (S4 five pieces per pupil, S5 & 6 two pieces per pupil in English, and Media one piece per pupil), set and mark senior exams in both subjects, planning and organising a week of Red Nose Day events (which raised over £9000 in the end) all on top of the usual planning, marking, tracking and profiling. Oh yes and I taught over 160 pupils a week too.
There’s a lot I’ve missed out of that list because it’s just the day-to-day stuff and admin that comes up that we all do that isn’t really on any job remit. I’m not moaning, I’m just trying to show you where all the work goes. People say that their jobs are just as tough – and they are – but do you remember that easy afternoon you had when the boss was out of the office, or the early finish, or the day off you fancied? Teachers have to be “On” all day, everyday – no prep for presentations we give those several times a day with interruptions and questions, we have impromptu meetings with other staff, professionals, parents and pupils across our days – especially through breaks and lunchtimes. Then we go home early.
No we don’t. We stay in school to get things finished or take piles of marking hat take up our evenings and weekends and those “bloomin’ holidays” – I’ve got four separate piles of marking to do for going back and more waiting for me on my desk when I return. We plan, print and prepare in our own time too. And when little Jimmy turns round and asks if his essay he handed in two weeks late is marked the day after he handed it in – he wonders why I get angry. Parents constantly phoning to have a go at teachers for not doing enough for their kids, “Will they mark an extra set of essays if Billy does them in preparation for his exam?” Mrs Smith asks and is angry when we say no. If we did that for every pupil we’d be dead.
This is not a soap box to moan about the job because we choose to do it and some of the time we even enjoy it. Please though, do not moan that we’re glad to see the break – even if it’s just to catch up with the work we have in front of us – and to put our feet up for five minutes. And if you wonder what it feels like for us, think about that Sunday afternoon of Sunday 14th April when you know your little darlings are heading back to school and you’re relieved you won’t have to keep them amused anymore – multiply that by 160, then tell me I don’t deserve my holiday!