Teaching full-time in busy Sydney has been quite a feat. I was anxious at the start of my teaching career with statements of “up to half of Australian teachers leave the profession in the first five years” and “one in five teachers leave the classroom within 2 years”. This is scary and confronting because I was determined not to be one of those teachers mentioned by the media.
There was a reason why I chose teaching as my long-term career and why I spent four years of my youth and $$$ to go to university in order to get a degree which will qualify me as a teacher in the classroom. That involved a lot of time and effort in ensuring I pass all my courses while teaching privately on the side.
I thought it would be all worth it once I get my own classroom as a full-time teacher. I was truly thankful and lucky to be offered a job as a fresh graduate. Definitely exceeded the odds there. That first year (which was last year) could be considered a dream. I was definitely living a dream there. I had my own classes, my students respected me, I had supportive colleagues and the overall culture of the school was blissful. At this time, I was like “Why would people leave? Its such a great place to be!” It just doesn’t make any sense.
My friend called it “the honeymoon phase”. And sadly, I have to agree.
This year (my second year), teaching at the same school was a different experience. Not by a lot by by a slight margin. Even this slight margin can have a marginal affect on my overall wellbeing. I found my tired, drained, with no energy left after school for social hangouts. I even found myself cancelling on my friends often and scheduling a lot of meet ups during the odd weekend. Why the sudden 180? Was it the students? The teaching itself? NOPE. Definitely not that. I still enjoy seeing my students every day and I love teaching them.
It’s the admin side of teaching. It drains the life out of you! The free periods in your timetable which you think you can use for lesson planning, setting up exam papers, etc. does not exist. I find myself using that time not for my students but for filling endless amount of paperwork in which the Department of Education (DEC) keeps throwing at us. I wonder if its because I’ve been promoted to 2IC (2nd in charge) but I don’t think thats it. Even going through my emails gives me anxiety. There’s still so much to catch up on and I don’t have enough brain power to go through them. I still have a lot of messages on unread and the number keeps increasing everyday!
Whoever said teachers have a 35-hour work week is living under a rock. Even though we get school holidays, most of that time is used to lesson plan since I can’t do it at school. I don’t even get much of a break at school as I still work during recess and lunch! I try and try to give myself time to relax for my own mental wellbeing but I’m not sure if I can go on for any longer.
Its quite depressing to say that I feel I might be one of those teachers who leave in their first five years. I pray its only just this term because I was able to cope in terms 1 & 2. I need a break. Maybe if I start planning my holiday now, I have something to look forward to.
I truly do enjoy teaching and I don’t want to leave my students. I want to see them grow in school every year until they graduate because you do develop a great rapport with those kids. They are so innocent and I want to help them prepare for the real world that will hit them soon. It’s just unfortunate that there’s this huge downside.
Well, I have 6 more weeks to go for this term until holidays. I’m definitely going to use that time to rewind and relax. 加油！