Each morning I would sit in my car, the motor running, listening to ZM chatter while I breathed deeply, scared to start my day.
Staring at the looming school building I would will myself to get enough motivation and passion to get through another day.
The moment my car door opened and my feet hit the ground, until I lay my head on my pillow at night, teaching would consume my day.
I'm 37, a mother of two young children and until recently a permanent part-time teacher at a local high school.
I temporarily resigned from teaching at the end of 2018. I decided I needed to put my own children first. I needed time out from a career that was all-consuming, too busy and too much of an all or nothing working lifestyle that gave me little respite for my own life.
It was not an easy decision and I feel guilty; guilty that I'm not currently struggling alongside my ex-colleagues as they strike. Guilty that I'm free from the pressure, stress and unrealistic expectations that teaching brings.
I also feel sad because I do miss my students, I still find myself following their progress and hoping they are achieving. I don't think that will ever change.
Before resigning, I had been teaching dance and physical education for the past 15 years, 12 at Rotorua Girls' High School where I was full-time and more recently three years at John Paul College.
Becoming part-time was a little bit of a joke really. Sure, it lessened the amount of take-home planning and work, but I still worked full days and into the evenings without the benefits of full-time pay.
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There was the opportunity to go full-time but I just couldn't hack it like I used to. I had children who didn't sleep through the night, didn't have the time during the day to choreograph routines and felt mounting pressure to be creative on demand.
I felt stress and anxiety every day. I was in charge of my own subject across five year levels, my budget, moderation, assessment and unit planning as well as creating choreography that was creative, fresh and met the needs of the students.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted, any spare time was spent planning, doing paperwork and maintaining my teacher's evidence folder. I may have appeared organised but on the inside I was flailing.
I questioned my ability, my passion and motivation. I gave my all to my students, my job and my school. They got the best of me. My own children came second and my husband dead last. I was a grumpy, rushing mother, who was too tired or busy to hang out with them after school.
It wasn't always like that. When I first started teaching at 22 it was different. I loved the long hours and challenges I faced as I raced to prove myself an effective professional teacher. I wanted to be the best teacher I could be and so I said yes all the time to everything offered to me.
But last year, every day I found myself questioning, is this the career for me? Will I end up hating the profession that gave me so many opportunities, memories, fantastic students and amazing collegial friendships?
I wondered what else I could do that would bring me satisfaction and enjoyment, while still remaining challenging. My colleagues laughed alongside me as I entertained idea after idea of possible jobs that would get me out of teaching.
Only another teacher can understand the pressures, environment and challenges that we face daily. Only another teacher can see how stressed we are, or truly understand what it means to be juggling so many hats in one day.
Only our partners and children know too well how we miss out on family time because of co-curricular commitments.
We end up coaching, counselling, caring, negotiating, managing, organising, marking, planning as well as remembering the many different individual personalities, learning abilities and strengths of each and every one of our students.
Many primary school colleagues are near breaking point. The struggles they face are compounded by the sheer size of classes and the young ages of the students they teach.
There are so many different children's abilities to manage, personalities to foster, meltdowns and external factors to support, that these primary teachers are struggling to just breathe, let alone teach.
That is why teachers are striking.
But I know, regardless of expectations, a lot of teachers will have spent a portion of their unpaid strike day yesterday working. They would have done extra planning, organising, marking and preparation work to help lessen the workload they will go back to today.
Teachers deserve better than this.
- Jane Trask is a 37-year-old Rotorua woman who resigned from teaching last year after 15 years in the profession.