Fact & Fiction

When your mind is in constant dialogue with others, you are inevitably influenced by the multiple other points of view your mind engages with. It is no secret that truth, small letter t, is subjective. And sooner or later you will find that your ideas and opinions are formed and reformed by the dialogue you have been exposed to. To be honest, I am aware that my beliefs and opinions have been shaped by my personal convictions, my faith, as well as the conversations we have had in the staffroom, or outside of it. And at this point of my life where my personal and professional life seems to be one huge joint, I no longer know which thoughts and feelings are strictly my own.

In one or two weeks it will be possible for myself to apply out of my current workplace, to somewhere else. Would I? Possibly not yet. But has the thought ever crossed my mind? It sure has. I think it is important to look at every thought and feeling as objectively as possible, just so that I can answer for my own opinions and feelings when the time calls for it. I do not, after all, want to be mimicking someone else’s tongue.

Truth | It is required of me to do much work that does not add value to students’ learning.

This includes punching in numbers, copying and pasting, preparing excel templates and spreadsheets, sometimes more than once, just so that data can be presented and stored as desired. This makes the nature of my work increasingly redundant.

Myth | Our school gives us much redundant and excessive work that it is slowly killing us.

I do not know how our school compares to others, or if the comparison even matters. I believe that every school demands their staff to do work of some redundant nature. A friend training at a law firm recently told me how he was called back on a Sunday morning to tab page numbers to stacks of files before a meeting with a client on Monday. But if a school, or a leader, can help it, I think it is only reasonable that he or she leaves their staff alone during off-work hours. It is no longer about work ethic, it is about human compassion. If the school leaders cannot realise that their staff are only human and their off-work hours need to be protected, I think there is something intrinsically wrong with the management.

Truth | My focus is no longer on teaching and learning, and seeking to add value to my students’ learning.

As much as I want to focus on T&L, plan my lessons in advance, and create lesson resources that have been looked at and edited at least once, I just find myself unable to afford that luxury of time. Instead, I end up replying emails and keeping track of other things on my to-do list, coordinating meetings or planning school programmes. Well, not always – other times I find myself too drained after a day’s work that all I would like to afford as I wind down in front of my work laptop, is a mental idea of what I need to cover in class the next day, period. Nothing more, no fancy powerpoint slides, games, titbits and prizes, video clips or funky pictures.

Truth | Other non-teaching related work is affecting my priority at work.

I may not be doing much compared to another colleague, but it doesn’t matter because we have different capabilities and life priorities. But if I am in this job for the students, and I cannot deliver to the best of my desired capacity, then something needs to be reviewed and dealt with. I could easily decide to sleep an hour less every night so that I can adequately prepare for a class the next day, but am I prepared to do that? I could spent a few hours less outdoors every week in order to prepare for a lesson during the week, but do I want to do that? If I am not prepared to make that commitment to give extra of my life, then something else has gotta give.

Myth | I am giving my best.

“Giving my best” is an awfully subjective expression. I am giving my best, in the sense that I take pride in my work and am accountable when it comes to carrying out professional duties. But am I being the very best I can be for my students? Probably not. I need to go back to God and rely on Him for the mental, physical and spiritual strength, to go on in good shape. Until I do that, prayerfully and humbly, I cannot confess that I have given my best to this occupation.

Truth | I have lost heart for some students.

I know each child comes with their own baggage and has a different story, but I have had enough of empathy and patience. When I think of some students, all I can do, is sigh in dismay as my heart and mind wells up feelings of frustration and angst. If I could, I sometimes wish they were in not in the classroom and I was not responsible for their learning or performance. Perhaps I do not have sufficient energy and love to give, as much as we would like to think of ourselves as potentially a bottomless pit of love. I am not selfless as a teacher ought to be – not yet, if ever, perhaps.

Truth | I think I might enjoy teaching students in another school.

A change of environment always presents itself as a wild temptation, like strawberry fields. Of course I think I might enjoy being somewhere else because it presents a fresh perspective, a new change, a way out of the old and stale. But is there reason enough for me to take the leap and submit the application?

As I continue to figure out what my heart and mind is wired to think and feel, I will need to put an end to their floating around my head and capture them on paper. When the time comes, I may need to find the courage to give these thoughts a voice.

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