Today has quite possibly been the most draining day at work I have ever had.
To give you a bit of background flavour, I work in a college of further education in the UK. Think stepping stone to-, not quite university level. ESOL and basic skills qualifications sit alongside things like BTECs, vocational qualifications, and even HE stuff including PGCEs. Diverse provision to say the least.
Morning ESOL classes start at 9.30am, and the evening ones end at 8.30pm. Which means regularly teachers have days going something like this: arrive at work between 8.30 and 9am; teach from 9.30 to 12; lunch break of 30 minutes or an hour followed by another 2-2 and a half hour lesson; finally the last class of the day runs from 6.30 to 8.30pm.
Throw in another cover lesson between the afternoon and evening classes above, coupled with the anxiety of possibly being observed in one of the lessons, and you have my first day back after our Easter holiday.
I am BEAT!!!
But, I’m aware that others are in situations a lot tougher than I am – teaching maybe 20, 40, 100 students at a time, maybe teenagers. The mind boggles. I know I should be grateful – a lot of people don’t have a job, I’m lucky.
But I can’t help feeling something runs a little deeper here.
Certain parts of education seem to think we are carthorses. ‘Of course you can manage a 12 hour day, can’t you? You’ve got breaks. Oh, you’re teaching tomorrow morning as well, remember’.
Certain parts of education seem to think that our students are automatons, for whom getting through a 2 and a half hour lesson is nothing. ‘Give them a break halfway through’. Find me anyone who can concentrate that long and I’ll eat my hat.
Honestly, what can they hope we will achieve when we are all so TIRED??