New Educators: Connect with us
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 7, 2 October 2020, page no.21
Welcome to Connect with Us, a space to explore issues directly affecting our Gen Z (aged 25 and under) members and the wider new educator membership, featuring their voices and lived experience.
This edition explores the issue of workload and work-life balance, which are often central to the experience of those who are new to the teaching profession. Thank you to our fantastic contributors for sharing their experiences, which again highlight the importance of the QTU’s ongoing workload reduction campaign.
Kelsey Hawthorne (teacher and Union Rep, Marsden SHS)
Throughout my final practicum and the final year of my teaching degree, both my lecturers and mentor teachers continuously expressed the importance of work-life balance.
Workload continues to be an issue for me, and this is overlayed with the additional challenge that I have chronic fatigue syndrome. The constant battle to balance a full teaching load, my health and also maintaining some sort of social life catches me between a rock and a hard place, not just every now and then, but every day.
I have been blessed with amazing mentors who understand the struggles in beginning teaching. I am also blessed to be a part of a very supportive beginning teachers program at my school. As a specialist teacher of a practical subject, I also find it valuable to connect with teachers who face similar challenges.
Teaching a practical subject brings its own unique challenges, such as preparing ingredients, the WHS considerations for students in a kitchen, and the cleaning required after lessons. I often have full classes too, which adds to the workload. Regularly, I find myself at school at 6.30am in the morning until 5.30pm at night, just to stay on top of my planning and organising for the next day.
Darcy Barnes (teacher, Forest Hill SS)
For me, being a beginning teacher has been time consuming and physically and mentally demanding. As a young teacher, my world has revolved around my job - it has been everything I talk about, everything I think about and what I lose sleep over at night.
What I have found most challenging is all the “extra things” you don’t necessarily anticipate doing as a teacher. I was prepared for my full teaching workload, but I wasn’t prepared for all the other things I needed to learn on the job. For instance, working out how to use OneSchool, collecting, collating and analysing data that I had never heard of before, and learning how to use that data within the classroom took far more of my time than I could ever have anticipated.
It has taken me a year, but I now listen to the experienced teachers when they tell me to eat lunch, take a break or go home. That has been an important and very valuable learning for me.
Georgia Abbott (teacher, Surat SS)
My first year of teaching was not what I expected. Constantly trying to keep up with all the responsibilities as an early years educator was exhausting.
The pressure and expectation to perform at a high standard created an unsustainable workload, at the expense of my own personal wellbeing. As school life consumed me, I found it difficult to be an active member of my small rural community.
It wasn’t until I was completely run down that I realised that, in order to be the best educator I could possibly be for my students, I needed to manage and balance the different areas in my life.
I am not yet entirely sure how or where to draw the line, as an educator’s work is never truly done, but as they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.