It’s been an interesting time at work, recently. And I do partially mean in the Serenity “Oh, God, oh, God, we’re all going to die” sense.
The inspectors have been in.
In a change to the previous 3-week warning, the inspectors now give 3 days. Our warning came on the Wednesday two weeks ago: they were arriving on the following Monday. So, technically, we got longer because you could come into school at the weekend…but still. 3 days.
I get that this is still in the “try-out” stages, and our school was one of the beta testers for the new-style school inspection. I get that this gives a proper sense of a school in its normal clothes, as opposed to its “Sunday best”, which was the issue with the former system. Inspectors must be quite familiar with the smell of fresh Blu-Tack. I was told by my local wine pimp, in conversation about the inspection, that his old school, in London, had been able to send their high-tariff pupils (to use current educational parlance) on a field trip out the day that the inspectors arrived.
When your classroom, however, is a wasteland of paper and “to do” piles, and you have no time to file it away properly before their arrival, then panic sets in. And stays there, as you wonder if and when they will drop by your classroom, and ask you probing questions about the learning of your pupils, and ask you about things that maybe you should know, or you should have read, but you haven’t got around to it yet because you’re too damn busy teaching.
One inspector did come by. And stayed, for all of – oooh – 8 minutes. I have yet to find out what they deduced about my classroom practice in 8 minutes. Presumably that will be revealed by our department head at a later point.
I also got an observation visit today by our Depute Head. Who’s a mate. Who used to be the head of our department. And who has been in the school for 9 months longer than me – so, 19 years to my 18. So, no pressure there, right? Yeah. Right. This is me we are talking about. Time for a full-on, bells-and-whistles teaching show., brimful of the hallmarks of the current fave teaching methodology of Aberdeen City Council – cooperative learning. Feedback on that lesson will be revealed later as well.
And then there is SEEMIS – the toolbox of tracking and monitoring. Which is all that I feel I have done with it in my non-contact time for the last 8 weeks. At least the Deputy Head responsible for its operation in the school acknowledges the toll it takes on your time and energy for teaching; she calls it “Death By SEEMIS.”
The piéce de resistance, the tiny straw which has broken this camel’s back, would be today’s little incident, however. I have lost all teaching resources and admin work on my current pendrive. All gone, I know not where. Yes, I can probably fumble through the last few weeks of term without it. Yes, it is hardly an issue if you rank it against what I could be facing as a classroom practitioner.
I am very much aware that this is barely a pebble on the huge rockfall of what can go wrong in a teacher’s daily experience. Hence the title of this post.
I should be grateful that tomorrow, I can walk into a safe, properly lit and properly heated school, into my safe, properly equipped classroom, sit at my desk and use my Smartboard and laptop to organise, speedily, the materials for the day’s lessons. I should be grateful for all of that, because that is not the experience for so many teachers, not just worldwide but in my own country.
But. Weeks of resources were on that pen drive. Resources that I couldn’t save in my workspace because the amount of space available to staff on the shared network is finite and fills quickly. Resources which I had spent some considerable time making sure did the job for every, or almost every, pupil in my classes. Resources which I cannot use again for future classes.
Maybe tomorrow they will magically appear again on the pen drive when I get to work. Maybe whatever blip caused them to hide when I put the pen drive into my Macbook will be just that – a blip. Maybe.
And, maybe, next time, I will try to save all my resources in Google Drive where I have a better than average chance of finding them safe, sound and ready for action.
As said, an interesting time at work.