Monday, September 27, 2010

Holiday. Celebrate.

Interesting how many of my English teaching Facebook friends have posted about doing piles of marking during the holidays. I have an aversion to this particular holiday torture, but despite working double time for the last week of term, I inevitably end up with at least one pile of marking that needs my attention during the break. This time I had two, unfortunately, but I dealt with them by putting my school bag at my bedside and doing a few hours marking on the first Saturday morning of the hols. My thinking was that if I did the work before I got out of bed, it wouldn't impinge on my holiday time. That is, my holiday wouldn't commence until I got out of bed on the Saturday. Mental. But who wouldn't be after thirty years of this?

Our school has also got with the zeitgeist of making the year 12s do their trial exams during the break. The idea is that the dedicated teachers will dash in, tongues hanging out, to collect the exams and get a head start on term 4 by beginning it with all the exams marked. Well, they can stick that up their jacksy.

Or are you one of those teachers who take extra lessons during the school holidays? I was a little that way inclined back in the day. Not now. If I haven't taught the course effectively during term time, with all those classes and all that extra-curricular counselling/tuition that I do, not to mention 24/7 availability on line, I'm evidently not efficient enough. As such, I get a little miffed when inevitably, at briefing at the start of the new term, 'prin class' thanks those 'more dedicated' teachers who gave up their own time to run classes during the vacation.

For me it's been a bit of travelling/cycling and some light holiday reading. Just finished 'Petite Anglaise', an appealing looking true story that I found amongst the remaindered items in a local book store. It's about an expat English womah blogging, famously (and I thought inappropriately) about her life in Paris. Oh to have a personal life to blog about. Clearly, she's not an English teacher.

Actually, it's not that bad. I did manage to steal a little carefully organised leave this year, without inconveniencing my students too much. Spent a blissful five weeks cycling in France.


Gottabecreative said...

Hi - I am just catching up on my rss feeds, after doing pretty much what you said - struggling with the demands of completing assessments before the holidays, running revision lectures before I left ( Country school) setting yr 12 practice exams and trying to have a break from all the hours we put in before we even get to that point. I was marking SACs on the plane on the way home from Nth Qld and faced the practice exam on my desk first Monday of term. I have now almost caught up. I am wondering - what strategies do you have in place in your school that address the issue of correction loads for english teachers? Is there anything that seems to be helping to ease the burden? Do you get any time release for moderation?

The Fraudulent Teacher said...

Hi Jen
I'm in my 31st year of teaching now. It is a well-known fact that English teachers do more marking than anyone else - and more reading. I always feel sorry for the drama teachers come production time, and all the performing arts teachers, with their outside school hours soirees and such. (I'm qualified in drama, but like Denise Scott in today's Age, I rate teaching year 9 drama as one of the worst experiences possible) I doubt whether you'll ever convince your 'prin class' that English teachers should have a lighter teaching load. Many have tried and failed. Teachers in all disciplines think they're doing it harder. But that's BS. I've taught drama, French, history, geography, and 'divinity' - lol - and the work load just isn't there; well, not at 7 - 10. Don't know whether it's like this at your school, but at all the schools I've worked in there's a curious nexus between PE teachers and leadership roles! The compensation for the English teacher is that English is the BEST subject, where anything the students want to discuss is relevant. I also get to indulge my passion for reading, and stand-up comedy with a captive audience. I find the classroom highly entertaining most of the time - apart from some stuff I've written about, but even that is interesting.
No time release for moderation. We double-blind mark all our SACs. I don't think anyone beyond my wonderful year 12 English team could care less what we do. It's an excellent way to assess, BTW. To ease the burden of marking, don't collect and mark 'class work'. Limit what you collect to 'finished' pieces. Set word limits, obviously. Don't tell kids that you'll collect work at the end of the lesson just to keep them under control. I find the threat of a 45 minute after school detention is a more effective discipline practice. You've got to follow through, of course. But dammit, it works. God, I sound like one of those old teachers who intimidated me in my youth!!