It’s the end of September and a perfect time to reflect on this new year.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s been bloody hard.
This is my first proper year as a full time teacher mummy and it’s hard. Harder than it was when I returned from maternity leave at Easter last year. Initially I thought it was the summer holiday making me miss time with my little one, but it’s the balance. Not the work / life balance; the teacher / mummy balance.
For a decade all I focussed on was teaching. My tutor groups and classes were the most important thing. I tweeted, attended TeachMeets and conferences to make myself a better teacher. And because I loved them. But the hours I put in to my work made me feel happy that I was doing the best I could.
Now I have Oliver and I don’t have the same time. And to be honest, I no longer want to put the same time commitment in. Problem is, I’m still trying to be the same teacher I was.
It’s a struggle to come to terms with the way things have got to be. It’s the reality that deadlines will be prioritised and those deemed less important may be missed. This weekend, for example I met the UCAS reference deadline (very important), most of the Y11 internal report deadline (moderately important) and less of the Y10/9 putting PGs on the system deadline (less important). And I don’t feel bad about it. I know I’ll do it Monday or Tuesday and, I hope, I have enough of a reliable reputation at my school for those in charge to grant me a grace period while I’m working this whole teacher-mummy thing out.
But the real problem is the teaching. To make it all work, I have to change the way I plan and teach. A colleague of mine said she taught “50 pence” lessons when she returned after her first child. And I’ve got to try to do that (and here’s the real problem…) without feeling guilty. I still haven’t mastered that and I’m beginning to feel swamped and overwhelmed already. But as I left work yesterday I did feel like I may have a plan to claw my way back. Hopefully…
But, a stressful month back at work has yielded some wonderful moments too.
I have some amazing classes. My low ability Y9 are such characters and test my low level behaviour strategies. But I love watching their faces as I read Of Mice and Men to them. They’re proper children again captivated by a good story. Honestly, those moments are the best in my day.
My new Y11 class are amazing and such wonderful people. And I have my old Y9 class in their final GCSE year and it feels like such a privilege to teach them both.
It’s great being back with my colleagues. To be honest, it’s better now than when I first returned and I felt like an outsider: didn’t know the little anecdotes; in jokes went over my head; new staff I hadn’t formed relationships with. It did feel quite isolating. But I feel like I’m back home again with my department.
On top of that, I’ve been finding my Twitter voice again and have returned to blogging (although this is more cathartic than edu-blogging). And I’ve got TLT17 next weekend. I love that event and know that it’ll be the reinvigoration I need at the perfect timing. I’ve got plans to go to Ed Fest again this year.
I think (most days) that I’ll be alright and will end this year having found how to balance out the most important thing in my life with the job that I love.