I was talking to a colleague at the end of the last academic year, before I began my experiment of coming back to teaching full time, about the importance of work-life balance. I mentioned that what I had learnt in India had changed me fundamentally, as a person, that I was no longer that person defined by her job. I had decided that I am not solely a teacher. I am me and I write and I read and I am something other than my job.
Well, half a term in to my job, seven weeks, to be precise and I have almost found myself drowned and washed up on the shore of disenchantment and disembodiment. I almost lost myself in my job and not in a good way. I certainly wasn’t thriving! I was dreaming about school, only to wake up at 3am worrying about all the things I still had left to do. I would then toss and turn and finally fall back asleep at around 5, only to have to wake up again 45 minutes later with the alarm.
Because of the early starts, I would go to bed early too, between 9 and 10pm, and this impacted on my time with my husband because after dinner we didn’t sit and chat about our days or life or plans, or even watch TV together. No, I would be sitting with my laptop open, prepping the following day’s lessons.
I had no space to write, to create.
I need to get away from that now. I haven’t read a book that’s not work related in over 2 months and it’s impinging on my existence. I haven’t written anything mildly creative, although I’ve tried and failed and I feel disembodied because if it.
Sounds a little dramatic, I admit but you know that feeling of dullness and hopelessness you can sometimes get when everything seems wrong? I was carrying that around with me all day, every day.
Things have moved on in teaching in the last three years and that’s thrown me. I feel like an ancient dinosaur when confronted with NC Rising Stars assessment levels (wtf, by the way!) But the pace as well, is almost breakneck. I’ve got to fit in Handwriting, Grammar and Spelling in an hour straight after Maths and just before break, all with proper teaching and planning and LQ stickers and stuff. Literacy has become so prescriptive with children having to demonstrate a number of sentence types, with or without their sentences actually making any sense, just so we can tick them off on a table. Although, at the school I work in, wants stories to be at the centre, we are constricted to how we tell those stories and what each child must extract from them.
I don’t get the chance to get to know my children any more, not in the way I would like. The afternoons are for extra maths and, although it’s not really on the timetable, it’s for catch up!
Art and the humanities and even Science is blocked so, in theory we can teach them really well and make them ‘dazzle’. But this half term, we didn’t dazzle. We were still catching up with the other bits.
I feel like a failure sometimes. This used to be a job I loved and I was good at. Once, I wasn’t upset about this job defining me. But more and more, I feel like if I fall comfortably into the routine and rigour of teaching once again, it’ll be much worse than before, because this time around, I feel I will be giving much less back to the children I am responsible for.