It’s getting to that time of year again when schools are a constant source of morning teas, cakes and random deliveries of chocolates. Days are passing in a sugar-induced haze as we roll towards the end of year and the long-awaited break. It’s almost as though schools enter a more relaxed mode once senior students start sitting their final exams. This filters down to the younger years and there is an air of expectation as the holiday countdown begins.
Even though there is an abundance of chocolates and a slightly carnival air to my school at the moment, it’s also a time of high stress. There are reports to be written and the phenomenon we have experienced the past few years of starting next year’s classes in the final weeks of the year.
This manages to coincide perfectly with report-writing and means teachers are having to adapt to a whole new sea of faces and their myriad backgrounds/issues/attitudes/lack of stationery while feeling overwhelmed by reports.
It’s a clash that results in a lot of stress and drama. In my office, this has been tackled by the consumption of a ludicrous amount of chocolate (where it all comes from, I have no idea) plus sudden, loud outbursts of “Have I got a class now?”, as people realise they have no idea what their new timetable is.
I won’t lie, if the answer is yes, there is usually a fair amount of swearing that follows as belongings are gathered up and laptops slammed shut. It’s just too late in the school year to get your head around changes to your daily routine. There is also considerable angst as next year’s loads start to be handed out.
“Woodwork? I haven’t taught woodwork since 2012!”
“Oh no! I’ve got that feral group of Year 8s next year and they’ll be even worse because they’ll be in Year 9!”
“My Wednesdays are going to be crazy! No break, plus Yard Duty!”
More chocolate is reached for and reports are typed extra loudly.
Strangely, this is also the time of year for serious technical difficulties.
“My laptop has just crashed! Like, seriously crashed.”
“My reports have completely disappeared!”
“Where have my Year 7 English reports gone? I saved them and backed up, now they don’t exist!”
The IT team becomes overwhelmed with requests/demands for help and stress levels begin to rise.
“Did you back everything up?”
“On a hard drive?”
“A hard drive.”
“No, I just saved it on my laptop.”
“I don’t have time to do them again.”
“Hopefully, they’re in here somewhere. You might want to leave your laptop with me for a few hours and I’ll see what I can do.”
Inevitably, chocolate is purchased as a thank-you for the IT team when they recover your reports and the whole chocolate cycle begins again.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian