16 November 2016

Panic

On mornings when Shirley is on earlies at work, my slumbering is disturbed. I reach out to press the "on" button of our ancient radio alarm clock to listen to "Today" on  Radio 4. A few minutes later, she  comes back upstairs to kiss me goodbye.

Even with the radio on, I soon drift back to sleep and that's when the dreaming starts. Usually these dreams evaporate before I can catch them but this morning I was in panic mode.

My Year Ten class had  completed rough drafts of long written assignments. It had been a struggle to get all the work in but finally I had managed it. They were all in my school bag. Christ! It was now Monday morning. I was supposed to have read and marked them all over the weekend. About five hours work. How come I have forgotten to do it? Perhaps I'm losing it. Panic! Very soon I'll be jumping in the car. What will I say to them? Oh dear.

And then as I emerge from the hollow of sleep, panic is replaced by relief. I am not an English teacher any more. I have been free of that kind of stuff for years now. Free.

But it was an unpleasant reminder of how things used to be. After exhausting fifty hour weeks, you got to the weekend needing rest and relaxation, time with family and friends but there was always that black bag sitting near the front door, filled with yet more things to do. You knew you had to dive into it before Monday morning came round again.

Many's the time I tackled school work in the early hours of a Sunday morning or after Sunday dinner and the Monday morning drive to work was frequently coloured with thoughts about things not yet done. It was like being a hamster on a treadmill. You never got to the end.

Teaching English generates a lot of pupil writing and every piece of writing has its own unique strengths and flaws. It is your job to help each pupil to advance his or her writing skills and red ticks in the margin simply will not cut it. But there's no time built in to the school day to get those piles of marking done. It has to be done after school, in holiday-time or at the weekends, unseen by pupils, parents, inspectors or teachers of other subjects whose marking tended to breeze over the intricacies of written expression.

Not so much a dream, more of a nightmare. That's what I woke to this morning. Yes - panic over or almost over but thankfully I can forget about it over the next hour as I rake up autumn leaves. Surely more real and spiritually satisfying than wading through reams of careless adolescent writing. The leaves will go into a big orange jumbo bag that I bought from "Pagets" builder's yard yesterday. There they will rot down over the next year. If only I could have done that with the mountains of writing.

34 comments:

  1. This struck a chord Pudding. I always insisted that everyone in my Department (all ten of them) realised the importance of marking - and of finding some positive things to say too. If work is not marked carefully and mistakes discussed then what is the point of setting the work in the first place? Thank goodness I have retired from teaching before all the form-filling came in - time for marking must be seriously cut short.

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    1. The time may have been cut short Mrs Weaver but they still expected the marking to be done. Was your subject English too?

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  2. Just goes to show that the panic is there in the background and that you have not fully retired, but I bet it was a massive relief to know it was just a dream and not real. I find gardening is a really good way of emptying the mind and good exercise too. Enjoy!

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    1. You are perceptive ADDY. The morning panic did remind me that I haven't entirely left that stuff behind.

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  3. Yep, I can identify with this YP. Don't miss teaching for one single second ! !

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    1. What about teaching Tony how to use a feather duster and certain other household chores?

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  4. Students never appreciate how much of their teachers' lives are given over to marking papers. I can imagine that task still creates a sense of panic!

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    1. I would have liked to mark your English papers Steve. I bet they were literate and intelligent. At the end I would have written - Grade A - Well done Steven! Another marvellous piece of writing. I especially enjoyed the description of the removal of the dog's cracked claw.

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  5. That is hysterical Mr. Pudding. I will have to tell all my friends, including me, that teachers have those dreams too. I go to school naked, or haven't been in awhile and can't remember locker or lock combination and haven't studied for tests or missed tests. It is very upsetting. I call those my anxiety dreams.

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    1. You go to school naked? If you had stepped into my classroom I would have blushed like a beetroot before throwing my jacket around you Donna.

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  6. My work related dreams/nightmares occur less and less I'm pleased to say. I have to say that I admire the dedication of teachers to break into the weekend for marking. My daughter has been complaining that she has so many classes that she has no time for lesson planning and has to do it in her own time. Fortunately, she now has a competent assistant which gives her a few free periods to do her planning.

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    1. Hell. I wish I had had an assistant or two. I could have dumped my marking on their desks and concentrated on preparing great lessons.

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  7. I'm not surprised you panic so much. That's what comes with being a Hull supporter.

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    1. I'd rather support Hull City than Hinkley AFC. Mind you good result against Barcel.. I mean Paget Rangers on Sunday.

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  8. One day I too will be retired...cannot wait.

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    1. Just heard that our esteemed government are pushing through legislation that means women currently in work won't be allowed to retire until the age of sixty seven.

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    2. ....I was joking. Hee-hee-hee!

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  9. Steve was a teacher, but as he taught mainly Business English to adults, there was little marking to do. However, all his lessons were prepared in his own time, at the coffee table in our living room, so I know how much unpaid, invisible work can be involved in teaching - as long as the teacher is dedicated to the work and does not just see it as a job.

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    1. Inside I laugh at people who are really precious about their work hours when my work involved giving so freely of my own time. I had forgotten that Steve was a teacher too.

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  10. I have a recurring dream that I'm back in college, and I'm trying to get to a class, and I'm totally unprepared. For instance, I can't find the right room, or I forgot to register and there's no spot for me, or I'll make it to class and realize I've missed some and haven't done any of the work that's due. I'm always half panicked in these dreams.

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    1. I hope our dreams don't intermingle Jennifer. There'd be hell to pay.

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  11. Oh I know these dreams. I also know the work load and the feeling of unmarked papers piling up. I'm 77 and the dreams don't stop. However, I wouldn't have missed it. By the way , I never sleep in. Gotta keep on schedule. I wonder where that came from.

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    1. I was always an owl Red. Sounds like you were always a lark.

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  12. So many teachers here! That's slightly scary.

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    1. Welcome to the staffroom Sue. Now about your Latin homework...

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  13. My daughter is studying to become a history teacher. I won't show her this post

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    1. I always envied people I knew whose work was finished when they clocked off for the day. I never clocked off Kylie.

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  14. I can certainly relate to that, YP! I also sometimes have similar dreams - I think they are anxiety dreams, which I get if I am worried about something. As for the hours and the treadmill, When I was teaching, I didn't think it could get any worse. These days, listening to my younger daughter, who teaches near Newcastle, I realise it has! No wonder so many leave the profession after only a few years.

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    1. It should be a wonderful job. What can be more interesting and worthwhile than educating young people? But "the system" has spoilt it through interference, underfunding and mountains of new initiatives in glossy A4 ringbinders.

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  15. God bless all [and ex] teachers. If they were paid what they are per the hour, we couldn't afford them.

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    1. You are right there "Unknown".

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  16. I realised the true value of teachers when I returned in my dotage to complete my secondary education.

    I've said that before and I'll say it again.

    Alphie

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    1. I hope you were a well-behaved pupil Alphie.

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  17. I guess we all must suffer with such dreams of our past working lives. I know I do often, mostly about preparing for hordes of people and all things that go along with that...and the stresses involved...just like you experience in your dreams. And it is with relief to wake up and realise the panic stations are just a dream, not a reality...as they once were! :)

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