I’ve never been what you would likely consider an ‘engaged’ teacher. I don’t feel myself nodding in agreement when I read teacher profiles on The Twitter that are on about ‘striving for excellence at all times’. That sounds absolutely bloody knackering. The closest I get to that is in the morning where I wake up, strive to smash the snooze button on the alarm clock, hit it, and achieve an excellent extra five minutes of sleep. It all goes downhill from that point on. Neither am I particularly ‘passionate about the job’. It’s a job. It’s hard. I like it and all but I feel a lot more passionate about getting home, chatting to my wife and playing Monster-Truck Assault Course with The Boy.
(Monster-Truck Assault Course is awesome.)
In my everyday working life I have been known to coast on occasion, cut the occasional corner and I have a ‘If you see me outside, I will not acknowledge your existence’ rule with those I teach. I was once on a bus with damn near my entire English group – didn’t say a word to them. Looked straight ahead as they tried to get my attention like a guard outside the palace. Granted, they called an ambulance under the mistaken impression that I’d had a stroke but, you know, it was the principal of the thing.
So why then, being quite aware of my distinctly average track record of engagement, did I find myself on a ungodly early Saturday morning making practically the same journey as I would do to work in torrential rain to go and hang out with a bunch of education professionals (I learnt that not all of them like to be referred to as ‘teachers’ you see. Get me, always learning something) and listen to some ideas that are floating around at this moment at the Northern Rocks event in Leeds?
Well, I’m not saying that this is the primary reason, but drunken online impulse buying may have had something to do with it. Thing is, this awful Friday night habit I have was enabled by the massively reasonable 25 quid it cost to attend. Now, that might not make a lot of difference to many but I’m tighter than a jar of pickled eggs. I’ve wanted to go to lots of these things but it seems as though the average price tag is up around the 100 quid mark making it a difficult sell to the department or, if you’re a right keeno, a substantial hit to the wallet. I like money. I buy stuff with it like food and light and things so parting with it makes me get all sweaty. I kid you not, if it had cost any more I probably wouldn’t have gone. As it turned out it was a massively reasonable price for a day’s worth of stuff. And I got a bag and a pen into the bargain. Job’s a good ‘un.
Secondly, I don’t teach on a Saturday. This may seem like a hugely obvious point but hear me out. The amount of times that I’ve seen tweets from brand-new, LED High Def conferences that take place on a week day, IN TERM TIME, borders on the absurd. Also, it immediately tells me a number of things, such as there will be little representation from front-line teachers in places that haven’t got their CPD sorted out, no representation from teachers of schools who might be struggling with staffing issues (namely the rough ones) and no representation from teachers whose establishments may be in financial trouble. And I somewhat suspect that is the point.
Simply having the thing on a day where teachers could attend at a price teachers could afford was a breath of fresh air. It shouldn’t be, but it was.
And, as it turned out, I had a ball.
The details of the event have been well documented by a range of other people so I won’t get into here. But I can honestly say that by the end of the day (and against my better judgement) I may have been a little bit more inclined to strive for excellence and be slightly more passionate about the job. Slightly.
I only wish every one of my impulse buys had given me such a good return. If anyone is looking to by a 1992 Canon Word Processor with no ink ribbon and a faulty disk drive, please let me know.