Monday, 19 March 2012
How do I know I'm stressed? Let me count the ways:
1. I'm wearing mis-matched two piece suit. Now, not everyone matches their suits I know. Some go for a different colour jacket/trouser combo - but both parts of my suit are designed solely to be worn with their natural partner. Trust me. Charcoal jacket + Navy trousers = social ostracisation. I may have got dressed in the dark this morning but there is no excuse for this kind of faux-pas.
2. I walked into Cafe Nero and forgot what I wanted to order. I've ordered the same thing for going on three years and I forget what it is today. I just stood there wondering why I was in a coffee shop.
3. When I do order the barrista asks if I want it in a paper or china cup. This leads to a flurry of "paper.. china.. paper.. to go.. for here.. paper.. no.. china" until she eventually gave up listening to me and put it in a china cup regardless.
4. I have just mixed my tenses - switching from past to present to past. This is something for which I would berate a student and yet I here I am making basic grammatical error after grammatical error.
5. My school is holding a de-stress workshop soon and I am actually considering attending.
Why am I stressed? As is often the case it is a combination of factors. This is always the busiest time of the year for me. I don't know about the rest of the world - but teachers in Northern Ireland find themselves stretched in five different directions this time of year. On top of that there school inspectors assessing the school at the moment. I won't say much about my opinions of ETI inspectors; there isn't time and I'm not in the right frame of mind to be objective - suffice to say that I recognise it has to be done; I just don't like the way they do it.
I think I could safely say that teaching today is not what most people think it to be. It is certainly not what I thought it to be when I started out (so idealistically) all those years ago. It saddens me but I can't help thinking that society more and more adjusts itself to take account of the lowest common denominator often at the expense of everyone else. Take the analogy of car tax. Because there are people out there who are willing to commit fraud the rest of us end up paying higher premiums. In teaching because there are teachers out there who don't care about the pupils they work with the rest of us have to jump through hoop after hoop to make sure we are doing our best for our pupils. A worthy goal - but the irony is that often we are so busy working towards producing the paperwork, results and figures to prove we are doing our very best, that we don't have time to really get to know the people we are meant to be doing our best for.
So much of my job has become tracking and assessing and filling in spreadsheets and carrying out follow up checks and ... ... aghhh!
The thing is I know assessment is important. I know that we need to be aware of the progress achieved by what we do to inform the way we do things. I know that our teaching should take account of the individual pupils' needs and that assesment should there to drive the learning, not the other way around... just sometimes I wonder...
I realise all of this is a truism but right now it is affecting my state of mind. I'm doing my very best to avoid it adversely affecting the way I teach - perhaps at the expense of the rest of my sanity. If that's the case wearing the wrong jacket with my trousers in a coffee shop - drinking... actually I'm not sure what it is I actually ordered - is a scarifice worth making.