Monday, 5 January 2015

First Day Back

Image courtesy of SadMag

A friend of mine once wrote on Facebook that it upset her that teachers were writing end-of-holiday status' about how they dreaded going back, hated their marking pile and were in despair about lesson planning. This was as she had a son and didn't want to think about those who taught him thinking and writing these things on social media.

I have a lot of teachers on my Facebook, but also a lot of non-teachers. Teachers do sometimes give themselves incredibly bad press as the martyr profession all too often displaying their stigmata for the social media world to see (pictures of their marking pile, "Keep Calm and..." pictures, 'only 6 weeks until our next holidays' announcements). Lots of people work really hard, lots of people work really long hours, lots of people don't earn banker wages (most probably the bankers) and lots of people have a lot of stress in their job. A trainee doctor friend of mine once said, "at least if you mess up a lesson no-one dies"; a sobering thought.

Teaching is stressful, hard work, demanding, long hours... it would be hard to disagree with that. However certainly on my personal social media I try to keep it to:
  • Funny stories
  • Promotion and positivity of the teaching profession / RE
  • The odd political venture (Gove was always fair game)

This weekend I managed to 'squeeze in' 6 hours to watch the Lonesome Dove miniseries which I got for Christmas (Amazing for all your Western-lovers). I have also not done any school work whatsoever during the break, nor have I checked my @iteachre or @talkingdonkeyre  Twitter accounts with any regularity, and then only for notifications - what has been going on in the Edu-Twitter world? It felt good and the break was well needed; last term was long and this term will be equally hectic.

The 'first day back' is always a shock to the system; early alarm, no chocolate for breakfast, no long walk in the countryside, no meeting up with old friends, no bottle of red wine for dinner... however that return to routine is always welcome. Having spent a number of days working at Crisis over the holidays (see <here> for what a privilege that is), it is great to firstly have a job, secondly one that pays reasonably well, and thirdly one I love! (Perhaps take a moment to think about those temporary Christmas staff now without work, or City Link drivers). I also think I am a better human being, who achieves a lot more, by getting up and having a busy day.

However, we had another of our too frequent 'No Tech Days' (see <here>), compiled by a broken photocopier. Our email had been down since 28th Dec 2014, my iPhone helpfully told me, but I didn't think whole system would be down. At least I could crack on with some marking... These days don't fluster me too much, but I appreciate I am fortunate with my established status and relationships with my students. However lots of admin / pastoral jobs that needed doing didn't get done.

A five period day did wear me out, but I left smiling. Good to be back.

I did have a thought today though, that there should be a whole day at the start of each term where teachers are free to do PPA (and the Network Dept can fix the PCs!). It would have an incredible effect on work life balance. So many people told me they didn't sleep properly last night as they were either consciously or subconsciously worrying about school. I always have the 'Can I actually still teach?' feelings, plus I start making 'to-do lists' in my head. If everyone knew they could come in at 9am, have a whole day to meet with their departments, mark any work you were to exhausted to at the end of last term, plan this weeks lessons, and perhaps crucially not face 6 x 32 chatty / excitable students, there would be a lot less stress.

I wonder if any heads can or do make that happen? If not, why not? For the teachers on the ground, facing a 5 or 6 period day is stressful, and in my (perhaps naive) opinion, this could easily be alleviated.

Perhaps it would reduce the Facebook postings annoying the non-teachers too?

Marcus Owen posted this image today; a bit tongue in cheek and not something I'd post on Facebook, but a few words of truth hidden in jest perhaps:

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