Teachers share many of the same hopes and fears. As much as we all yearn for the long summer holiday, we all loath the inevitable onset of September. The nightmare of our classroom in chaos has all beset us all, like Anthony Perkins hacking at our shower curtain, from the callow NQT to the hardened vet’.
I have been wondering about the teacher fears I’ve experienced and thought I’d share. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that!
The ‘Marking Monster’. This past holiday fortnight I have been dogged relentlessly by the ‘Marking Monster’. He has followed me everywhere. He has traveled on my train journey, peeking from behind my spells on social media. He has followed me home nightly, stalking me in my living room, hallway and more – mocking me with his dark secret. He has brazenly sat on my office desk – baring his teeth as procrastination gripped me. There is no cure: well, except a few hours of work. But the horror…the horror.
The Unannounced Arrival. I remember it like it was yesterday… In room W07, my first week of teaching. My first Headteacher, Mr Bridge, staring into my year 11 classroom through the window like a recreation of The Shining. With fateful mistiming, every student was howling with laughter at some error or other of mine on the register. The awkwardness, embarrassment and fear of the boss invading the sanctuary of your classroom never quite goes away. Open doors, learning walks, wall-free classrooms – they are the stuff of nightmares.
The staffroom ‘Drains’. Your morning has ground you down, your eyeballs are spinning with data and marking, oh, and more data…and reports…and more marking. What you need is a relaxing break in the coffee-laden oasis that is the staffroom. You sit down and your stress melts away. Then THEY sit down. The staffroom ‘Drain‘. Are you annoyed with *that* student spoiling your lesson that very morning? Of course, they’re a model of propriety for the Drain. Are you sinking under an avalanche of marking? The Drain hasn’t got any, before brazenly parading the fact they have a social life. Your idyll is smashed. You grab a coffee and slouch back to your classroom.
Being embroiled in the ‘holidays argument’. Is there anything worse than the staffroom ‘Drain’? Try the jokers outside of school who bandy about the ‘holidays argument’. “Teachers ‘ave it easy”…”Always moaning and always on holiday”…”Those who can do, those who can’t teach, ain’t it?” Utter hilarity and sage wisdom are shared in such debates. Every. Single. Time. Each time we hear these words a teaching fairy falls down dead.
The obligatory half-term illness. The phrase ‘body clock‘ was made for teachers. Each half-term the clock ticks down, the days pass, and the inevitable illness lurks. With remarkable precision, our immune system lowers the barricades and viruses and germs launch their attack. As we take home our planning and long-list of jobs for our ‘well earned break’, perhaps having the temerity to celebrate the upcoming break, illness strikes. Before we know it, after a week hunkered in bed under a pile of snot-ridden tissues, we are launched back at school, bone-tired and annoyed.
So what are your teacher fears?
I thought about beginning a list of five ‘teacher hopes’, but the Marking Monster is slouching beneath my laptop waiting to be fed.