Last evening I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline to judge the current mood of my fellow teachers as we reach the end of term and indeed the year. As usual I found a wealth of helpful and informative posts on all manner of things. Of course there were a few Negative Nellies and a few argumentative types but I generally scroll on past these. What really caught my attention was the vast number of NQTs and trainees who are struggling. They are buckling beneath the weight of work at this time of the year. I don’t like the thought of anyone struggling and I want them to know they are not alone.
Yesterday morning I read this post from @theprimaryhead and I recommend anyone who is struggling should read it. The Primary head is an experienced head teacher and even he admits to being ‘crazy busy’. I myself will admit to a slight feeling of alarm when I look at the number of dwindling days we have left and the amount of work still to do. As I tweeted a little message of support to the NQTs many people joined me and said that they too are anxious about the amount of work still to be done. These are experienced teachers. For example @aly_sea says she has been teaching for years and is on her knees too. It’s just the time of year. Also, @judeenright said ‘I think at this stage in the term everyone is totally on their knees and needs to be told how fab they are and what a great impact they’ve had’.
So, the volume of work at this time of year is overwhelming, we all seem agreed on that. That doesn’t make it right but we are where we are in teaching and we need to support each other. As the evening continued some wonderful and supportive people began to give helpful advice. For example @hecharden tweeted with specific advice for science NQTs to join @theASE and come to a teachmeet or conference or tweet #ASEchat to discover an amazing support network! Excellent idea. Also @aly_sea reminded everyone to treat themselves gently. Then @RBelleFortune said to request support from colleagues and to let SLT know where your well being is. This is important advice as SLT has a duty of care towards all their employees and should try to help.
Here’s a few things that I hope will help NQTs and trainees to keep their heads above water.
1)Make a quick list and prioritise. You’ll feel better when you have a clear plan of action.
2)Only do things that have to be done before the summer break. If you are able to, with permission from SLT let September’s work take care of itself.
3)Enlist the help of your TA. TAs are often an untapped resource full of knowledge and experience. They can help you plan.
4)My HT suspends teachers’ meetings at this time of year to give us extra time to complete our work. Yours may do the same if he or she can.
5)Look after yourself. Take proper breaks for lunch and drink plenty of water.
6)Go to bed at a reasonable time. You really will work better and smarter if you’re well rested rather than burning the candle at both ends.
7)Take the advice above from fellow tweeters. Join those organisations and look for positive people on twitter who will support you.
Above all else know that you are not alone. As I have demonstrated we are all suffering from extreme tiredness. It is perfectly normal and is the reason we have a big holiday coming up. We need to rest and recharge our batteries ready for September. If you need help, please tweet me and I will help or find someone who can help you.
Please pass on to NQTs or trainees who are feeling the strain at this time of year.