I teach. I went into teaching aged 35, so not a wide-eyed innocent by any means. I already had kids of my own, in fact the youngest was already 9 at this stage , the eldest was 13. I fixed many a stroppy youth with a steely eye and pointed out that my son was older than him, and I’d seen it all before…
I think that going into teaching later was a very good move, it gave me a lot more personal experience of learning and struggling [OMG university in your 30s, with young kids and an unsupportive husband…don’t get me started], and this informed my work. If I’d gone into it in my early 20s, I don’t think I’d have survived.
Most people going into teaching these days leave within five years, 40% leave within one year. The stresses are well documented elsewhere, and that’s not what this post is about… This week, all the college staff were called into a meeting to receive a prepared statement about costs, demographics, blah blah you get the picture. Many jobs are to go. I’m not even off probation yet, so this is all rather disconcerting. I’m not actually [too] worried about my post, but everyone is now pretty unsettled to say the least.
There were four of us in our little office after the meeting, and after we’d all cursed and moaned for a bit, then reassured each other a bit, it actually turned into quite a good afternoon.
I really couldn’t be bothered to faff about ‘planning’ for tomorrow’s lessons [already done anyway] or wasting time on admin tasks, so instead, I taught our trainee how to make origami jumping frogs. And we played. While playing, I chatted to her about all the ways I’ve used these frogs in lessons, to teach statistics, technology, and aspects of engineering and mechanics. And it was fun.
I’m unlikely to use these lesson ideas in the near future [been there, done that] but she might. Possibly for years to come. So I feel that I’ve done something much more productive than more paperwork, updating folders of ‘evidence’, photocopying practice materials and so on.
More and more, teachers don’t get time to socialise with one another, to chat, or to play. We need to be able to compare notes, and share the horror stories of everyday classroom life so that those new teachers can see that it’s not their fault, and that we all get the same problems. We need to be able to let off steam, swear about the little fuckers, cry on shoulders, buckle our swashes, and get back in there.
We need to be able to be people, because our skills are the human ones, and those skills are what make us bloody good teachers.
So. We made frogs, made jokes, watched a hilarious YouTube video
and did bad Cher impressions. We cheered up.
And then we buckled our swashes, and got ready for tomorrow.
Do you find space to ‘play’ at work? If not, how would you use it?