What keeps me awake at night: coaching netball means I can never stand still

23rd August 2015 at 16:00

Picture the scene: I have just finished my fifth netball session of the week. It’s only Thursday and I’m exhausted – the thought of teaching a full day tomorrow makes me want to crawl into a hole.

My PE teacher colleagues ask me to join them at the pub (they are celebrating a win against a school we’ve never beaten before), but I have to head home. The reason? I need to do two hours of marking and planning for the six lessons I’m teaching the next day.

Being a full-time teacher of an academic subject and coaching a sport looks great on your CV and definitely makes you more employable, especially in the private sector. However, the pressure on teachers – particularly younger ones – to take on extracurricular activities is growing.

I am the most qualified netball coach and umpire the school has, so naturally I am called on for every practice and every fixture for every age group (which is a lot). The PE department has very little regard for the demands of teaching an academic subject and the added time pressures of being so heavily involved in school sport.

So, week by week, it goes pretty much like this: every night I run a netball practice or umpire and coach a netball match, finishing at approximately 6pm (or even later if the fixture is far away). This adds about 15-20 hours to my already hectic working week. It also includes weekends – last Saturday I had a 10am-6pm fixture.

Don’t get me wrong, I love doing the sport. It’s great to see the kids in a different light and it definitely improves my working relationship with them. But I do struggle to cope.

My frustration is that, come 6pm, the PE staff can go home and relax, but they seem to forget that I have to carry on working. I have no social life during the week. I am exhausted, agitated, and overly frustrated at my PE teacher colleagues’ lack of understanding about the demands, workload and time pressures I face as an academic teacher.

The writer is a teacher in the North of England


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