I used to work at a private school
The area where I teach there were a lot of competing private schools
And of course since each schools revenue depended on the number of students enrolled, the school had no choice but to advertise its programs and activities and special events.
Strangley enough, not many of which are designated to a specific job title. So guess what..
We were all expected to be part of it.
So aside from teaching, we were expected to be involved in school musicals, extracurricular activities, sport, special projects, open days, open nights, fathers nights, mothers nights, parent information evenings about internet safety, special breakfasts and the list goes on and on.
I know what you may be thinking. That’s in every job.
But ive done a lot of jobs, and even in other schools I taught at it was nothing similar to this. Every year we had new ideas, and had those added to the existing ideas and projects. So in essence we had more and more and more work and it grew year by year. Never was an old idea removed, or an old task deleted, it was just updated and added to.
Work became a constant overloading , constant stress and constant deadlines until one day I stopped dead in my tracks and realised something.
I had become a bad teacher.
Ill admit it. I was so stressed from all the extra curricular crap I had to do that I didn’t want to relate to my students as human beings, it was easier to look at them as names on a page and marks in a fancy excel spreadsheet just so I could get home at a decent hour.
And I was so overloaded with the sheer amount of assessable work that I had to do that I had lost my drive to teach well. So I taught the curriculum, or the parts of it that I had the energy and time for ( my gosh there are so many assemblies and special days that kill off the time) and the rest didn’t get taught.
And then as I had my sudden realisation I looked around the staffrooms and saw that I wasn’t the only one.
I had a look through the results of the HSC of the past 15 years.
Our school used to perform quite well. That was before all the extra extra curricular activites. That was before the excessive number of sports gala days and excursions to fancy random useless places, and before the days where everyone had to dress up as this or that or MAKE FREAKING CARS OUT OF CARDBOARD BOXES for our annual box car rally ( what the hell was the point of that waste of a day anyway)
That was before teachers had to spend their weekends coming in and doing walking tours for prospective parents and standing guard over the carpark while parents watched the musical ( 3 hours security guarding on a Saturday night…. Seriously?)
Our PD days had turned into photo opportunities with fancy soup vans and “special guests” from overseas, but the content has almost nothing to do with teaching at all.
We had become the masters of nothing.
The paper shuffling champions.
The school of hot air.
“Come to our school, we will literally do anything but teach”.
Your kid will come out full of fun experiences and oppurtunities, but lacking in the one thing school was meant for. Education..
Not only did we become masters of nothing, but we were producing students who were also masters of nothing. Master jugglers of balls of rubbish. Dolled up clowns with all the gadgets and gizmos but without any kind of skill or talent to create, understand, manipulate, design, dream or know.
As I took the time to ponder these things, I decided to stop
To stop wasting my own time
To stop filling my life with the over bloated useless chip bag air crap that I had filled it up with pretending it was useful and worthwhile.
And then I stopped going to things that weren’t worth my time.
I stopped going to meetings.
I didn’t lie and say I’m sorry I couldn’t go and make up excuses either, I told the truth. “I wont be attending these meetings because I have other priorities.”
I took sick days when I needed a mental break. And I stopped doing extra crap that I hadn’t signed up for and didn’t want to do.
And after a while I started to have my life back.
I saw the sun after work.
I woke up Saturday mornings whenever the damn hell I pleased.
I spent evenings talking with my wife and going for walks and just doing nothing. I played Mario kart on the wii. I bought a beehive.
And it’s fantastic.
My bosses weren’t too pleased until I showed them my exam results.
It was clear as day. I was a better teacher. I out taught the other teachers in my faculties and I had dozens of parent letters and phonecalls praising my classes.
My classes were innovative and fun, not because I was trying to make them that way, but because I was happy and relaxed.
Art takes time, time to meditate and reflect and to produce.
And so does teaching.
And so does life.
So email your boss.
Tell them that you can’t make today’s useless meeting and go home, turn your phone to silent and sing your guts out in the car.
Then take your wife or husband or whoever out to dinner and just chill out.
Take tomorrow off.
Call in and say “I’m not coming in today”
And then do something you used to do when you were young and free.
You might think Society values the word “busy” over the word efficient?
But that’s bullcrap.
Society values the word “worthwhile”
So stop being a master of nothing.
And go do something worthwhile.