I love being a teacher. I love the people I work with and watching the students in my classes grow and learn. I have been at this for twenty years and thought I was through the worst. New schools, new preps, new initiatives, bigger classes and my own young family. I couldn’t afford to go on deferred leave or job share so I just did everything. I gave up coaching and clubs which I loved so I could spend time with my family (to the deficit of my students). I thought it was getting better as I got used to the PLCs [professional learning communities; mandated teacher collaboration groups] and TIENET [data entry system for students with special needs].
Then this year I was assigned a new course (that I was qualified for 20 years ago when I got my degree- but haven’t taught that subject area in 15 of my 20 years teaching). It’s so much work on top of the IPPs [individualized program plans] and TIENET responsibilities that I have to spend every spare minute at my table preparing lessons and labs and marking. I stay at school some nights till 7:00 or 8:00 and still take work home (because class sizes are so big and composition so diverse I can’t do what needs to be done during my work day hours). Then I still feel guilty that I am not involved in the extracurricular stuff. I have had many students ask for one-on-one extra help but there is not enough time. I give up three lunches a week for extra help already. And still so many phone calls and emails to send.
My own children need me just as much, maybe even more than when they were little. This is the first year I can actually understand how stress leave happens. I am being torn in every direction and no one is getting my best. I knew teaching was hard work – I’m not afraid of that. When you see a kid “get it” and be successful it’s totally worth it. It’s just all the extra things and new things, that aren’t directly related to my time teaching the students that have to CHANGE. It’s not fair that I can’t be my best as both a teacher and a mother. It’s got to get better… for my students, my family and me.