Thursday, 3 July 2014

A small(ish) winge

The last few weeks have been difficult for me.
An already busy job became even busier when one of the teachers fell sick, left work, and ultimately decided not to come back. I started picking up some of his classes from the first morning that he didn't show up.
After a couple of weeks I realised that this was going to be a long term option and put some effort into managing some of his classes on a permanent basis. I chose classes that I could fit into my schedule and that I had already been covering. A few days later the school administration came to the same conclusion and ultimately classes were re-arranged and distributed amongst all the teachers.
Unfortunately for me all my extra work was for nothing as I was assigned different classes. I was able to hand over some material, grades and assessments to other teachers, but no one was organised enough to return the favour. That rankled a little bit. These were teachers that claim to be highly experienced and on top of everything, but ultimately, to my eye did a poor job of covering the necessary work beyond turning up to a classroom prepared to keep the class engaged for the required time.
This extra workload came on top of an already busy schedule. I have not completed a full year at the school yet. In my first Semester I was working 70 or more hours per week, just to keep my head above water. This, my second semester, I am more on top of things. However I am still writing training and study guides for work that must be done in the following week. Most weeks I put in between 50 and 60 hours. That seems a bit of a joke when officially I have 18 teaching hours, 20 with the current overload.
For most lessons it takes the equivalent of 1 or 2 lessons to prepare the material and then further time afterwards to do marking, assessment and grading of the students work. Once again it galls me when I see my fellow teachers arriving at or just after the official start time, leaving the second that the clock reaches 4pm and never seem to do any marking or planning. In fact those around me seem to have plenty of time to sit and chat and take life easy.
It makes me wonder about the quality of their teaching and the experience that the students are getting.
To be fair, there are teachers that appear to be very diligent in their work. It is not just me doing long hours.
I just became a machine and just plowed through my work, socialising just about zero, not going away on weekends and trying to avoid any distractions. I thought that I was just keeping on top of things but as I now start to prepare for submitting mid semester grades I can see that I have failed to assess a number of classes adequately.
To top it off we then had 2 Teachers go off Sick at the same time. One was off for a week, the other for 2 days. I could see the grey hairs growing on the course Director's head. I wasn't feeling too good myself while this happened as I had caught a heavy cold and had root canal therapy on a tooth. No way could I take time off, so I just battled on and felt like crap for 3 days.
But I am almost at the end of it now. My cold has abated, the pain from my tooth has abated the two sick teachers are back at work and a replacement teacher starts next week. On top of that we are in mid term exams. I have to do assessments and grading and supervise exams but at least I do not have to prepare and deliver lessons for a week.
On the positive side, I am having some good times with my students. Recently I bumped into one at a counter of a coffee shop. She stepped in close to me and laid her head on my shoulder. That was heart warming.
The Bludger has just stopped whining.

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