Life of a TFA Associate: Crazy, Busy, Joyful

As a first year teacher, I found Term 1 to be  busy. Now that Term 2 has started however, I feel I can fairly say I was wrong:

Term 1 wasn’t easy, but Term 2 has been crazy. I often feel as if I’m running from one class to the next, with no time to stop and breathe. Sometimes, it feels like I can’t possibly be making a difference to my students, because there simply isn’t enough time in the day.

I know that my schedule can come as a shock to those who are unfamiliar with teaching. When I do get the chance to socialise, I talk about work – and I’m often met with some variation of “I had no idea teachers had to do so much work outside of school hours!”
So in case you have wondered, this is what a week in the life of a teacher, TFA or otherwise, can look like…
I get to school at 7.45am to photocopy, and have classes from 8.45am to 3pm: Form, Year 8 English, Senior Netball, Junior Netball and Year 10 SOSE.
After school, I herd the girls on to the bus for 30 minute drive to the netball courts, where we compete as part of Netball WA’s Grassroots Indigenous Netball Program. Games finish at 9pm. The last students are dropped home at 10 pm, and I fall into bed at 11pm.
I’m at school at 7.30am to photocopy and do last minute prep for today’s lessons. I then have class from 8.30am: Senior Vet Netball, Year 8 English, Double Year 10 SOSE (Study of Society and Environment), lunchtime learning area meeting for English, Year 9 SOSE and Junior Netball.
After school there’s a team meeting for the Academic Curriculum stream, and then a meeting with my school mentor. I leave school around 6pm and roll on home for dinner, some assignment work for my Masters of Teaching and last minute planning until 11pm.
I’m at school at 7.30am to photocopy and for a meeting with the student pastoral care team. I teach from 8.40am: form with my lovely Year 9s, Year 8 English, double Year 9 SOSE, a lunch homework help session and then Senior Netball.
After school it’s homework club in the library until 4pm, and then I arrive home just in time for a TFA catch up dinner with other Associates in Perth.
Once again, I’m at school from 7.30am again to photocopy – I do feel bad for the environment, but we’re under resourced with a large number of ESL kids (young people for whom English is a second language), and I find graphic organisers and pictures work best.
I start the day with assembly, then I’m straight on to Year 8 English, which is observed by my school mentor. From there it’s on to assist with Year 8 Drama’s script writing.
I debrief with my mentor, and then head off to observe a senior school English lesson. Lunchtime duty follows, and then it’s my last class of the week – Junior Netball.
I’m fortunate enough to have a whole day allocated to study. I’m currently working on an assignment so Friday is devoted to considering the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in the Australian curriculum, and to chores around my house.
With Saturday comes I have more uni work, and lesson planning for the next week.
Lessons plans, and relaxation –  just in time for it all to begin again!
I’d hardly call the above a healthy work life balance. I certainly need to improve on scheduling time for myself to improve my self-care.
Everywhere I look at the moment, the news seems to be filled with stories about teachers burning out. The dangers of burn out are real – it becomes far too easy to put school first and everything else second. This is especially true as you get to know your students, and doing well becomes more and more about their success than yours.
Yesterday, I took my first sick day, and I was wracked with guilt about it. I felt awful leaving my classes for someone else, and leaving my kids. Yet I know deep down that I needed to take that time. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have truly been present at school and that would let the kids down far more than taking a day. For me, that is what makes this intense, run off my feet kind of week worth it.
Walking into class and seeing the big smiles on their faces. The ‘I’m glad you’re back Miss!’ I received makes it all worthwhile. Educational disadvantage is a big issue to tackle and it requires hard work.
My life as a TFA Associate is crazy, busy and filled with joy; just as my work is challenging, stressful and rewarding all at once.

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1 Comment

  • This is a fantastic post Kirstie. Whilst the workload doesn’t relent in Year 2, a year under a teacher’s belt sure helps with organisation and self-care.

    Looking forward to reading many more of your posts!

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