Teaching is meant to be a lifestyle. With a week to go, I remember how much this time of year has its own challenges. Now is the time to prepare for next year – to ensure all is up to date, and that as much as possible is in place. Yet the tension is to tie things down. To stop things. To close the classroom door and return six weeks later to begin again.
Teaching is meant to be a lifestyle. But part of the experience in that lifestyle is the ability to allocate time, and to complete tasks.
Energy is one of the most important requisites for this profession. You can (and should) be kind, and have some sort of moral compass. That isn’t, though, a necessity. Not all authority is tempered with affection and reasonableness, and this is a life-lesson learned by jobsworth teachers (who are vital for the profession if they are excellent in other ways.) You should be both clever and intellectually curious: you should not only know your subject matter, but you should know how to simplify, analyse and learn it again through the eyes of another. Yet all of this pales, I think, against the need for energy.
I have written about this before through the terms of ‘teaching fitness.’ That refers to the physical fitness needed to do the job (and that is often unspoken of as something necessary to teach.) There is certainly more to energy than merely the physical ability to stand and talk and move and think and judge for five hours a day at a high level. Such energy needs to be social, emotional and (to a certain extent) spiritual.
Time is finite. I like to wake up at a decent time (just before 7am) and reflect and read as I ready myself for the day. I tend to get to work for between 7:30 and 8:15 depending on how busy my time is. If there isn’t something specific I need to do, getting into work early is a waste of time. Many of my colleagues do not come in before 8:30 (largely because of substantial commutes, I think.) I leave between 4:45 and 6:00.
Work in the evening and weekends rarely works well from a to-do list.