Let me set the scene...
It's the second to last week of term, a departmental meeting to discuss end of term exams and data drops. The head of department decides to do the exams on the Thursday to give us Thursday through to Monday to mark and put our data drops in. The data drop is due Tuesday after school. Seems pretty reasonable right? Except I’m on a course that Thursday, a course neither him nor the second wanted to go to. So I can’t mark while the exams are being done, I can’t even get the papers until Friday morning which is a 5 period day for me; and then he says the thing that gets my back up “ I know its not due till Tuesday, but I want this done by Monday, so if we can all get these marked and on the system over the weekend that would be great.” In my head I’m panicking, there’s no way that I can do all that work in work time. But I have a rule, and I wasn’t prepared to break it so I said something I don’t regret.
“that’s not feasible, I don’t take work home with me and Friday isn’t enough time to get that done. I’m not working over the weekend. I’ll stay late Friday and Monday but I can’t take it out the building.”
And there it was. That Look. The look that said this is the job, you have to take it home with you. It has to be done and that’s your problem not mine. The look that said “you’re going to be a problem , aren’t you.”
To his credit, he immediately made it Monday night not Monday morning he wanted it done by, but my issues still stood, that’s not a lot of “work hours" to do a lot of work. I said I’d try and that would just have to do, I didn’t want to make an issue out of it but I was seething. It was the casual way he said to work over the weekend, I’m new to this school and I don’t know him all that well as a boss, he’d seemed great up to then but had I ruined it all with that one statement?
A colleague came up to me after to see if I was ok. Which in one way was sweet but also made me feel like an emotional person when really my statement was not emotional it was fact. I have a very clear divide between work and home, it’s the only way I keep my mental health on track. But that’s not something they need to know. What they need to know is it’s not Ok to ask me to do work over the weekend.
In the end I had 75% of the work done by 5pm on Friday. I had no breaks, no lunch and very little energy left when I slumped onto the couch that night. But it was mostly done and I had 2 frees on the Monday to finish it. Which I did. Again by losing my breaks and lunch. But the important part was, I didn’t take it home and it was done.
The next day, I popped into a colleagues class to borrow books and he is doing a mathematical colour by numbers, I frowned at him trying not to judge his lesson plan, when he said he just really needed to get the data drop done and was using that time.
I’m not sure what is accomplished with this horrific last week of term scramble, why we have to do assessments every 6 weeks to be marked and analysed, but clearly it’s affecting teachers and students alike. My classes on Wednesday asked if I was ok and if I was feeling better from the previous lesson. They could see my stress and I’m not surprised! But I had my weekend to myself and some of the other members of my team didn’t.
I don’t regret what I said, I work damned hard while I’m at work and I don’t need to do it at home, it always takes twice as long that way anyway. But putting that statement out there has probably put a target on my back, I’m the odd one out in a school of people working at home.
For me it’s a non-negotiable, I know the second I bring a set of books home to mark I’ve lost some internal battle, the floodgates will open, work becomes life and life becomes work.