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Old 01-02-18, 01:35 PM
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I'm Making A Decision.

4 years ago I moved and got a lovely new job in a rural area, very happy with where I lived and the school.

It was a part-time job, I worked 50% and gigged a lot on the side. I enjoyed getting to play a lot and definitely needed time to emotionally recuperate from the stress of my previous job.
The next year someone retired and I took on their portion of work, a very very crammed day of classes, seeing all the kids in the school. So I added teaching another subject to all the grades in the school. PreK was also added onto all of the specialist teacher's class loads which got rid of the ability to break up larger classes into smaller sections or have time for prep.
I'm up to 2 different subjects taught to all 8 grade levels, a third subject to 3 different grades, a 4th subject to 2 grades, and I direct the all-school play (PK-6th grade involvement) which is put on in April and is a massive undertaking. I have no background in theater and this is done with less teacher help than ever before because I took over for the teacher who retired instead of us hiring another body, and we also have a new art teacher whose schedule barely overlaps with mine now. I also put on another full school performance in December, which did not used to be a part of the job description, and a smaller concert in June, so I basically spend the entire year in some way or another getting ready for the next performance. The school play is a year long undertaking, we started having meetings and getting things organized for the next one literally the day after the last one was done.

I am part-time still. I am paid for and get benefits for 70% of full time. I work Mondays, Tuesdays, half day Wednesday with a teeny tiny stipend for the rehearsal that I have after school every Wednesday, which actually makes Wednesday a full day of work for me, and Thursday. I have rehearsals for an hour after school every Mondays and Thursday from January to April which are included in the teeny tiny itty bitty stipend. My after school time does not count in the 70%, but I also put in massive amounts of preparation to prepare for those rehearsals. They are also a requirement of the job, not an option, it was very much conveyed to me in my interview that putting on the play was expected and that those rehearsals take place after school.

The year that I took on more work at this job, I never felt like I could get all the work under control, halfway through the year my longterm relationship ended. I've been trying to date ever since. The emotional turmoil around performances is hard to handle in a new relationship, and the amount of time I have to work is hard to manage as well. It's difficult to get things off the ground ever. I feel like my emotions and my focus are in a pinball machine with everything that I have to do.

I do about 11 hours on average of prep outside of contracted hours every week. I keep track pretty accurately now, I set a timer when I start and stop working and I've got notes for every week, what I did and how long it took. Sometimes it's up to 20 hours, sometimes it's less because I was gigging or something else and wasn't physically capable of cramming in more.

Prep is lonely work. It's very hard for me to motivate myself to sit down and work by myself for that long outside of very busy teaching days every single week. I'm lonely. I have no social life. I've lost connections with friends and I don't know how to rebuild them. I basically only spend time with boyfriends.

I also am trying to maintain gigging, because I do enjoy that although it's also causing me stress because travel is tiring and I often get sick. I am sad to think about cutting back on gigs. The project that I've been a part of for the past 2 years is coming to an end now and that breaks my heart, but I've got another smaller one that is waving little fingers of possibility at me and I want to grab them. I'm not sure I can make the commitment that is needed. This opportunity to play in a new group doesn't have definite plans at the moment, but I feel that all it really needs is for me to make room for it and it will be there. There is nothing else standing in my way really, I have the "resume", so-to-speak, from my previous projects that people would want to hire me, plus the other guy's experience, he has a lot and we would complement each other well I think.

I had about a week and a half off of work the day after my concert. I spent 6 days down south at an extended gig. It was fun! I have done no prep yet. I have lots of prep I have to do to start getting ready for play rehearsals, and came back home to freezing weather...my propane had run out, some of my pipes are frozen. I have a physical in an hour and a half, I needed to get snow tires on my car before I left for the week but couldn't make it happen because I was too busy getting ready for the concert (which was the day before vacation started), so I still need to get snow tires. My inspection is out so I need to do that too. I've got a guy coming and going trying to sort out my pipes. I also am sick, I caught a cold that was going around at the gig. School starts back up tomorrow.

I am relieved that I am sick because I'm going to go ahead and call out tomorrow, this year is the most I've called out sick since starting at this school. Not good. I'm sick all the time.

I've been having work stress dreams that make me feel a lot like I did at my old job. At my old job I would wish to get sick, wish someone would hit my car in the morning, wish something bad would happen so I wouldn't have to go in to work. I would plan on taking sick days every month. It was 2 years of misery, emotionally... This school is much more of a joy and I adore the kids so it's sad that I'm feeling similarly stressed again.

But after this week of gigging and a little time away and checking in with my feelings...it would be disappointing to have to cut something out of this job, but once gone I would not miss it. I just wouldn't. I am STRESSED trying to balance everything I want to do and I cannot do it all.

There has been discussion of hiring me an aid to help with the workload as the principal has at least some sensitivity to realize I'm working way too much and I've expressed the need for help so often. But the principal also says things that don't happen sometimes.

My decision is this: either an aid is hired for me, and it is agreed that this person is going to help with prep not just teaching - I don't need help with teaching, I need help with the organization required to do the teaching - OR I am going to cut down on my time there, take one of the classes off my teaching load and ask that they hire someone else for that class, and it will be one of the classes that will situate that person to be able to help me with the play as well.

It would almost be the same thing either way for the school. They have to hire someone either way. If they tell me they want someone who will work full-time for them, then I guess I'll have to quit and find something else. But, the principal knows I do an excellent job, I work really hard, I'm kind and smart and have figured out a lot of things I had absolutely no experience in so that they could keep the school traditions going, and I've even improved many of the things that I took over doing. My professional experience performing is good as well, I can run and teach other people how to run the sound system and other techy things, and have been able to fix bugs that have been a problem for the past 30 years. I was able to guide them on buying new mics and I have contacts to help me with these things. I am able to convey to the students what they need to prepare for performing and it is often observed how smoothly things go, the kids know exactly what to do, and how professionally the students behave in rehearsals and during the the shows. I have great relationships with the kids because I love them to little bits, they are so fabulous, and the parents like me as well. I think I am in a position where I can bargain to make the job workable for me and they would not want me to leave.

TL;DR: Here is my decision: Decrease the workload, or hire an aid to help me.

I have to figure out when and how to convey that. Should I set up a meeting right now with the principal, coming back from break?
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Old 01-02-18, 02:47 PM
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Re: I'm Making A Decision.

I would give the principal a day or two to readjust but then yes, set up a meeting. You have made it clear that work is not fulfilling as it is right now because you are stressed and overworked. You are putting in above full time hours and not being compensated with fulltime pay right? Maybe that would help? I see no problem with demanding or requesting an aid or cutting back. The aid would be the cheaper choice for them as hiring a new teacher would probably cost more but who knows how they think?
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Old 01-02-18, 04:13 PM
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Re: I'm Making A Decision.

Yes definitely speak to them. I've got a friend who teaches at primary school and the work load is so much that she wants to quit now. It sounds like you love your job and are brilliant at it so if you can find a way to make it work everyone wins.

Ithink you can set up a meeting now but give yourself some time to think about what to say in advance.

Don't be too humble. Think of what to say in advance and what arguments to being forward. Toot your own horn. Don't let them fob you off. You are doing a great job and they are taking advance of you. You are just asking for what is fair.
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