At Work #3: Guilt

I make guilt.

Some people make coffee, fix cars, package frozen food but I make guilt.

My desk is a sprawling industrial boom-town. Piles of unmarked books rise to crowd its skyline. The latest assessments jostle in for space. Year 9 mock exams, coursework for moderation all fight for the premium real estate. They are draped over the keyboard, obscuring the computer monitor, precariously bridging a gap between ‘Black Peoples of the Americas’ and stationary, the more successful will impetuously adorn multi-coloured post-it notes commanding immediacy and attention – DEADLINE NEXT FRIDAY.

My email inbox cycles and scrolls with endless requests for more data, more attention, more effort and more time. It stutters and flows like a bustling metropolitan cross-way. Sometimes pausing but never stopping. Have you had a chance to review your intervention data yet? Why haven’t you returned James’ SEN passport, it’s over the deadline? Rachael isn’t in today, could you make sure that the cover is set and the supervisor is supported?

Red pens, blue pens, black pens and purple pens for student feedback. How long has it been since you marked that year 7 set of books? If you take two boxes home maybe you can work all through Sunday and get caught up. I’ll smash them over half-term I just need to make sure that this new set of lessons is finished.

CRISIS. Email subject title – “Work Scrutiny”. (Don’t Panic). Can I have all your year 9 books by the end of the day? Shit. Shit. SHIT. I’ve been working my way through year 8 this past week. I’ll just have to take it on the chin in my next review meeting.
End of the day. Need a break. I’ve got to leave the classroom just for five minutes. Three more favours are requested on the corridor. Did you get that email I sent you? Yes, of course, I’ll help you out with that. No, I’m here until late anyway. I find another desk. It looks a lot like mine. How did you get on with your latest observation? I’m so far behind with my marking as well. I’ll have to catch up over the weekend. It feels a little too familiar. It’s a busman’s holiday.

I must be a crap teacher. Anyone else would be able to stay on top of this workload. I just need an action plan, a new list, some more planning. I’ll put an extra three hours in after work on Monday and work through lunch the remainder of the week. That should get it back under control. It’s just a matter of time and effort isn’t it? That’s what we tell the students anyway and you should always model good behaviour.

Some people teach. I make guilt.

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