Sunday 27 November 2011

Being a Postman

Last Tuesday me and my colleagues had a very interesting conversation. Me and another NQT were talking about the heavy workload and how we never manage to get everything we need to done. As soon as we feel on top of everything, we find out there's something else that we should have been doing all along but haven't (like emailing TAs with lesson plans and instructions. Whoops.).

We were hoping for the more experienced teachers to reassure us that after n years (where n is nice low number) you stop feeling like that and the workload becomes a doddle. To our despair, that's not what we were told.

My head of department (and mentor) raised an interesting point: that as teachers, we wish away our present and live in the future. We tell ourselves that at the weekend we'll have more time so we'll finally be able to catch up with work. Then by the weekend there's too much work to do in the time we have. We tell ourselves that during half term we'll finally catch up and even get ahead, but again this fails. We wish away every day as we wait for the summer holidays: the only time a teacher can truly relax (but not for the whole six weeks, and with relaxation comes I-should-be-working guilt).

One of the most experienced teachers in the faculty admitted he sometimes dreams of being a postman. A postman has a bag of letters to deliver. When the last lettter has been delivered, his job is done. He knows it's done because there are no letters left. He can draw a line under the working day. He then goes home and spends the rest of the day however he likes. He does not worry about tomorrow's bag of letters. He does not have to prepare anything for tomorrow's circuit. He doesn't have the pressure that a letter he delivered badly today may ruin tomorrow's delivery. He can't be held accountable for any letters' futures.

It's tempting, isn't it?

I asked him why he doesn't become a postman. They get paid less than teachers, but it's enough to live off. He thought about it for a second, and then simply said, "I just couldn't. I'm a teacher".

I thought of all the hundreds of jobs I could do instead of teaching. Some better paid, some worse, mostly shorter hours, but some with longer. I thought of having a job with no "homework", a job where you're not emotionally invested. I thought about jobs where you shut down your computer at 5pm, pick up your coat and you're instantly free until 9am the next day. And what conclusion did I come to?

I just couldn't. I'm a teacher.

Emma x x x

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