I'm exhausted - and my family pay the price

Tes Editorial

It's 7am on a dull Monday morning and our superb, recently promoted middle leader traipses down the corridor, weighed down with bags of marking and sporting red-rimmed eyes. Clearly, she has been crying.

It transpires that her long-term boyfriend has broken up with her over the weekend. The reason? He hardly sees her any more, and when he does, all she talks about is teaching. She has become boring.

Her tale may sound dramatic, but this is the third young woman who has come to me with a similar story in the past three months. Teaching is destroying relationships with partners, friends and children.

On average, our working week is about 60 hours, but that can easily increase if you throw in assessments or an end-of-term musical extravaganza. Some weeks I clock up 80 hours. Generally, we tend to work without breaks, then come home, cook dinner and get on with three hours of marking.

I'm usually exhausted and hungry - both of which make me grumpy with my family. This is compounded by me barking orders at everyone to do their chores with maximum efficiency so I have time to tackle the marking mountain.

The pressure of the job also leads to preoccupation. Even when we are out of school, most of the time our minds are not on those around us. Instead, we are thinking about the behaviour action plan for little Peter or the data analysis that's waiting for us as soon as we have a spare minute.

If we go out, which is rare, we have little to talk about because teaching is all we do, meaning that we gravitate to the nearest teacher and start wittering on about the profession. This, of course, alienates us from our non-teaching friends.

Many young teachers (and older ones, too) are being forced to choose between their careers and their relationships. This is a hideous dilemma that keeps me, and an awful lot of others, awake at night.

The writer is a teacher in the East Midlands

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

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