Compliance With Necessities

​But it must be remembered, that life consists not of a series of illustrious actions, or elegant enjoyments; the greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures; and we are well or ill at ease, as the main stream of life glides on smoothly, or is ruffled by small obstacles and frequent interruption.

–Samuel Johnson, A Journey To The Western Isles (1775)

Another day, another drachma. (Teachers aren’t paid enough for it to be counted in dollars.) And a new school!

Yes, notwithstanding the fact that I am generally a supine and procrastinating creature of habit, I finally decided to take a plunge and move school. For a number of reasons, the grass looked decidedly greener elsewhere. And although it’s more a cheeky little sidestep than a promotion, so far I would say that it still “feels” right.

So I am now deep into the business of establishing myself in a brand new school. It makes you realise how much we all depend on the unwritten and unspoken rules and expectations that are grist to the mill of every workplace. But these seem writ especially (but invisibly) large in schools, or so it seems to me.

So my working life now is emphatically not a series of illustrious actions, or elegant enjoyments. Rather, it is the bread and butter of teaching: turn up; do thou thy daily duties; attempt to remove or smooth over the inconveniences of life; work to establish relationships; and procure a few petty pleasures for yourself, your colleagues, and your students.

My new school has some excellent policies and procedures. And, of course, some batshit crazy ones too. Some of them make you think that the MAT it belongs to has never read the “Ofsted Mythbusters” page. On the plus side, the Science department has developed a system that makes triple marking almost work.

I have made some other changes too. Although I’ve been working long hours, I have not installed my school email on my phone or my tablet: when I am at home I intend to be at home, without the insatiable monster of work email rearing its ugly, insistent head and colonising my every waking thought — and, sometimes, even my dreams.

And so the main stream of life glides smoothly onwards. So far, at least. Long may it continue.

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