Realistically how bad is the work/life balance?Watch
About to submit my application for a teacher training year, pending the return of my second reference.Been put off recently quite a lot by people complaining about seriously long work hours/no work life balance... Seen posts saying 60-70 hour work weeks and a friend of mine says his mum (primary teacher) takes home 3 hours of work every nightI've also been told by other teachers that its perfectly manageable to not actually take any work home at all, providing you utilise your PPA properly, work through part of your lunch break and stay a couple of hours after school until about 5pm to plan/mark etc...I'd like some thoughts on how true and how much of an exaggeration this all is please... I don't mind staying a couple of hours after school every day - the hours would be the same as a 8-5 office job - but I couldn't stand my weekends being completely consumed by work
I can honestly tell you there are maybe 5 teachers who arrive at my school before 8am. The vast majority are at school from 8:30 to 4pm. It is a deserted ghost land after that. I promise you!!
There are staff meeting after school every now and then, and there are parents evenings that you must attend.
I have spoken to my primary school teacher friends and from what I understand, you can be a perfectly good teacher from 8 to 4. Max!
You are not required to decorate the classroom, that should be someone else’s job. You are required to mark one piece of writing and one piece of maths PER WEEK. Give anything more than that as verbal feedback.
You are not required to spend a penny on your class - all resources should be provided by the school.
You should not have to plan every single lesson, ask the other teachers to send you their old plans. And do this without shame.
Join a union. Make it clear to your colleagues that you are fully aware of the ‘21 things teachers should not do’. And then, don’t do them. (Google this).
If you want to decorate your classroom, laminate 150 pieces of paper and mark 750 pieces of work a week, then yes, you’ll be there all night. That is not required of you. And burning out will not help your students, your loved ones, or yourself.
Personally, my work life balance was shocking when I was training, largely down to uni expectations. I wasn't just planing/teaching/marking/data, it was all that plus detailed lesson plans, reflections for each lesson and at the end of each week, preparing things for lectures, essays, and so on. I was, to put it bluntly, on my arse. There was not a time in the week when I wasn't working.
Since starting teaching, however, it's improved massively. I teach secondary, so primary may be different. I'm generally in school for 7:50 to make sure I'm ready for the day (students appear at 8:30 - teachers are expected to be in their rooms by 8:10), and have usually left by 5 (6-6:30 if it's marking season or data collection time). My department policy is that a small number of books must be checked each lesson in order to inform planning, but not marked. We mark two pieces of work per student per half term, giving detailed feedback, targets, etc. Everything else is peer or self assessed where appropriate. The only marking that eats into my life to any degree is GCSE mocks/mini mocks, but as we don't do them often, I don't begrudge the extra time spent. The vast majority of my planning is done during PPA or before/after school, plus maybe an hour or so on a Sunday if I change my mind about something. Ask around about resource sites you can join, they're often not cheap, but are worth every penny in terms of time saved if you're in a rush or need something quick.
The best advice I can give you is to ask questions about marking policies and so on at interview, and run like the wind if you don't like the sound of it. At the end of the day, teaching is not a 9-5 job, there's going to be times when you fall behind due to something or other, or your marking load increases temporarily, and your free time takes a swan dive to make up for it. But if you get a halfway decent school, it's manageable. Plus the longer you're in it, the more of a resource bank you create, intervention strategies you can call on, etc.
Still all is good and it is way better than my previous life sat behind a computer from 9-5. Suck it and see!
Regardless, one tip she gave me after the interview was .... don't take your work home. Arrive at school early, and leave late.... and attempt to get all work done in that time. Seemingly, separating work from home helps considerably ... psychologically speaking. Saying that, i'm sure those with more experience might dispute the logic, but it kind of makes sense to me.