Teaching has always been an all encompassing career path. Yes, it is so unbelievably rewarding to maintain strong relationships with students and witness those little ‘aha’ moments, but the time and energy that we put into our careers is enormous. And I find the strain even more so during Term 3.
Term 3 is the hardest to keep students engaged. It is different to the others: in Term 1, it’s a novelty to be back at school; in Term 2, students are focussed on all the projects and assessments that are due before reports; in Term 4, the wind down of the school year and smell of summer holidays is building up in the air. Term 3 just seems to be a time where you need to work even harder at entertaining your classes and providing content that resonates with them.
To be honest, I don’t blame them; I, too, am just going through the motions this term. It feels like I’m just on a hamster wheel trying to just make it to the September holidays. If you’re in a southern state like me, the cold and dreary weather of July and August doesn’t make things easier.
Term 3 also seems to have the most interruptions to class time in my experience. School musicals and the bulk of excursions and incursions all occur now, making it really difficult to ensure continuity in lessons. Often it’s a few students who are constantly busy and I am forever needing to follow up with their work. Honestly, I really enjoy being involved in our school productions and taking my students on interesting excursions. I want them to have the most enjoyable school experience possible. However, it is a catch 22 because, while these school productions and excursions provide a lot of joy for me, they are also my biggest causes of stress.
And if you teach a VCE subject, then forget about having a life this term. Having to cram in all of your content and assessments for Unit 2 and especially Unit 4 is a nightmare for corrections. We basically only have our Year 12 students for the first couple of weeks of Term 4, so that time is only useful for revision and exam preparation. The content, however, must be delivered and assessed in Term 3.
I am lucky to have an ongoing position at my school, though. I remember what it is like to be on contract year after year and always finding out at the end of Term 3 if I had a job the following year or not. If teaching wasn’t hard enough, having to reapply for your job every year and look out for other positions is an added burden.
I, personally, felt the same way year after year. Until last year.
2020 in Melbourne was a game changer for me because, not only did it force me to teach in a way that was most unnatural for me, I had some time to really reflect on my career and decide what worked for me and what didn’t. I noticed that the high stress but low level of energy were really hitting me hard. I didn’t want to feel that way year after year. So I decided to implement some strategies to ensure 2021 would be a better year.
I can say now that if you feel the same way, it doesn’t have to be this way. Term 3 can have the same energy as the rest of the year. However, I recommend putting strategies in place now in order to have a more peaceful time next year.
Teaching is well known as a high stress career because we have such an important responsibility. But it doesn’t need to be this way. It is definitely all about getting into a routine. Find ways to minimise your load by taking these tips on board and see how they work for you.
by Catherine Mancini
As Catherine says, Term 3 can be a busy one. And teachers know that things won’t slow down any time soon. If you want to take some stress off your teaching load while still having the greatest impact possible with your students, now is a great time to think about how your current maths resource is serving you.
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