kate bohdanowicz writer

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Planning, paperwork and pressure - observations of a new teacher

This week was brought to me by the letters S. T. R. E. S. S.

I had my first teaching observation that I spent 10 – yes 10 – hours planning for. It went Ok but I don’t have the results yet.

I’ve always been a worrier but my stress levels have increased in the past 18 months. I think it’s because in the space of a few months I lost a parent, left my decade-plus long job, started a new relationship and began a teacher-training course with new folk doing new things that were alien to me.

Prior to this, I felt my life was stagnant. I yearned to be one of those people who would say: “If you’d told me in 18 months that I’d be [insert life-changing experience here], blah blah. ” Then I became that person and I was unprepared for the shock.

I’ll be honest, I hated the PGCE year. The workload was just about manageable but the feeling of isolation and the steepness of the learning curve were something else. No matter how many essays your write, textbooks you read or lessons you plan, you can’t predict what will happen in the classroom. Nearly every day I would leave unhappy, shattered and with a searing headache.

Anyway, that was then and this is now. I’m four weeks into my first job and while I enjoy teaching adults, the paperwork and planning mean I’m spending around 30 hours a week on an 8-hour a week job. This week, with the observation, I spent 40. Everyone says it will get easier and I know that. But right now it’s difficult. I’ve had sleepless nights and I grind my teeth. I take it out on my boyfriend and ramble down the phone to my sister until the only solution for her is to say: “Have you tried counselling?”

I’m a capable person and outwardly confident so people are often surprised that I feel this way. Maybe it’s a control thing. After years of knowing what I was doing (as much as you can know in newspapers), I went into a profession as a newbie, where you are judged on the quality of your teaching, the quality of your paperwork and your students' exam grades.

Earlier this week I wanted to quit. Now I don’t. Hopefully in 12 months time I’ll look back at this post and wonder what I was worried about. Until then, I’ve got hours (and hours and hours) of planning to do.


SEO stuff – journalist (neglecting this role), teacher (hanging on), writer (plodding away).

Comments (2)

  1. Wendy:
    Oct 24, 2013 at 01:26 PM

    Hello Kate your Emerald comment-leaver is back. Started a new job this week: also super-stressed.
    The lesson planning sounds horrendous and reminds me of planning for EFL lessons. It was all about keeping people entertained and warding off boredom. The painkiller + coffee consumption was astronomical.
    Ten hours is a lot but I'm sure it will reduce to five hours in time...

  2. Kate Bohdanowicz:
    Oct 24, 2013 at 02:58 PM

    Ha, ha, thanks. I feel a lot better now. The 10 hours paid off and I'm trying to organise my time better.

    I hope your new job is going well. The stress will subside when you find your feet (or spontaneously combust).

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