We have just changed our reporting system. Apparently it is faster, easier and more accurate than what we used in the past. This is all well and good until you actually start trying to use the new, whizz-bang system and feel confused and defeated.
I had the whole reporting system down to a fine art. I knew how long each phase was likely to take me, how much caffeine I needed to consume to complete each class and how much procrastination I could fit in before there really was no time for delay and the adrenaline kicked in.
I am now completely in the dark. Perhaps if I had listened better during the Professional Development sessions we have been given I might have more of a clue but at the time we had them, reports seemed a long way in the future and I figured that I would somehow work out the system by the time reporting season rolled around.
That did not happen. I am still well and truly in the dark, which has left me feeling panicky yet inert — I know I need to do something but I’m not quite sure what.
There are always teachers in schools that seamlessly pick up on new technology and run with it as if they have been using it all their lives.
While I am clearly not one of those people, I am lucky enough to have friends who are and, in situations such as these, I can harness their knowledge and get up to speed.
In fact, I have always found that the initial stages of report writing are best attempted in the company of others — partners, children and extended family need not apply and are actually advised to flee for their safety but a well-selected set of colleagues is perfect.
The location for the report-writing gathering is also very important. I prefer large tables, no distractions and extremely close proximity to sustenance.
The local library with free wifi and an in-house cafe fits the bill perfectly as the novelty of working somewhere away from school and home makes it feel serious, but the fact that I can purchase a muffin and a coffee makes it feel friendly. A perfect balance — with magazines available for quick windows of down-time.
Our reporting group of five supports each other through difficult decisions (how to express that a “challenging” kid is a nightmare in politically correct terms and whether it is reasonable that most of your class’s comments are very similar) and also provides an immediate source of gossip and distraction but in a contained way, not a 10-hour Candy Crush bender kind of way.
The fact that, once contained in the library, I cannot start rearranging a cupboard, baking cakes or painting a fence in a sort of productive procrastination frenzy helps me to focus on the task at hand which, should you be struggling to write your own reports, is a handy turn of phrase.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.