Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Monday, April 30, 2012

Coming up for air.

Sometimes we get a wake-up call in our life.

Since January, I have been working in a school that demands extremely high levels of planning paperwork, which undergo constant monitoring. The workload is demanding, the management style highly critical and perfection-oriented, and 100% commitment is expected.

And I've been giving it, more than I ever have before.

I've been working 9, 10, 11 hour days and more. Plus hours upon hours on weekends to do the stuff I just can't fit in during the week. I've dropped out of a sport I loved because I had no energy for it, stayed in when I needed fresh air, given up opportunities for socialising, sacrificed sleep, dropped the housework ball more times than I can count, grouched at my family, and felt like an escapee whenever I found five minutes in which to pursue my own interests. My life these past few months has been a work-induced blur.

I thought it was the right thing to do, because this job was important. It was my key to ongoing employment: getting it right, showing my commitment, being the best I could be might lead to a permanent contract, and thus stability and financial security.

So, last week it came to crunch time. I interviewed for my own position along with potentially 1-2 more positions in Key Stage One. My lesson was good. My data analysis task was rated excellent. My panel interview went as smoothly as you could hope. I know the kids, I know how the school works, I have the knowledge and experience to make this work.

But they said there was someone better. I will not be needed next year.

Oh no, feel free, I'll just stand here while you punch me in the gut.

I got the call very late at night, and my deputy head - who had said that she wanted me in the job - sounded as gutted as I was. But that's as may be. I went quickly through the stages of grief: only a little denial before anger set in, barely a moment for bargaining before I hit a huge pile of depression. But after a good night's sleep and the first few conversations in the morning, I'd made it to acceptance.

Thursday and Friday were hard. In fact, they sucked. People were either shocked, or consoling, or avoided me. I was disconnected, suffering resurgence of the cricked neck that had plagued me earlier in the week, and feeling rejected and wistful and exhausted.

On the weekend, my body asserted itself, and gave me a sore throat and lost voice: the one complaint that can truly keep me home from work. Go, body. Today (Monday) was spent largely in bed.

The upshot of all this is that it's time to take stock. I've allowed myself to be overcome by this school's demands, which are far in excess of any other school I've taught in, and do not necessarily serve the needs of the pupils any better than systems at other (often much better) schools in which I've taught. There's only so much I can do to reel it in - as long as I'm there and needing a reference when I leave, most of their demands have to be met - but I'm going to try.

I'm going to leave early enough to see full daylight every day.
I'm going to source plans where I can and quit re-inventing the wheel.
I'm going to make sure I have the energy to go to gymnastics.
I'm going to get home early enough to have some alone time every day.
I'm going to use that time to do things for me.


I'm going to start working towards what I really want in life - which is not to be a slave to an education system that lets down its staff as much as its pupils. I have some dreams and some half-formed plans, and I'm going to do at least one thing every day that is a step on the road to getting there. I got out of mainstream education once, and fell back into it... time to look at getting out again.