As the end of the year approaches, the school starts to spiral into chaos. Teachers are snowed under by reports, exam marking and preparing end of year activities and the kids seem to have developed a slightly festive air and are more difficult to control than they were halfway through term 3. If there is any evidence needed to support why schools need to close for regular holidays, now would be the time of year to gather it.
“Why are all the teachers so grumpy?” asks one of my wide-eyed year 7 students.
“Yeah. Miss Day just fully yelled at me for dropping a pen on the ground and when I told her to take a chill pill, she sent me to the coordinator. She’s normally really nice.”
“Mr Ford told me off for coughing too loudly. I couldn’t help it. I have tonsillitis. He went totally psycho over it.”
Colleagues have started to focus on whatever they can to get them to the finish line. Many have chosen to hone their energies onto such important issues as finding their beloved mug before the end of the year (if it was so beloved, why didn’t you just leave it at home?) and making use of the colour photocopier for worksheets that really could be left in black and white. Maybe they just enjoy seeing their photocopying accounts fly through the roof in a devil may care kind of way.
I always find it amusing to look over photos of staff taken at the end of the year and compare them to what they looked like at the start of the year.
Everyone looks battle worn and exhausted. It’s not unusual for teachers to wear the same outfit three or four days in a row. I have been known to turn up in highly crushed outfits only to catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror and realise just how dishevelled I look.
In the midst of the chaos and confusion, there are always those who treat the whole report writing process as a competition.
“Yes!”, exclaims Paul in our office, wheeling backwards from his desk and fist pumping the air. “Just finished another class’s reports.”
Whilst I am all in favour of acknowledging my colleagues’ achievements, when I am yet to even upload my classes onto my laptop for reporting, I struggle to be pleasant. I can’t help but think evil thoughts and secretly curse the fact that I teach English and have to mark for what feels like forever, before I can even attempt to write reports. Woe is me.
So, as you enter the twilight hours of 2013, be tolerant of your colleagues, stop sending emails about missing mugs, don’t take your lack of sleep and frustration over your workload out on your students, put a lid on the colour photocopying and don’t even think about bragging about when you finish your reports. Oh, and of course, have a wonderful break.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.