This is another one I wrote for Teach Secondary Magazine (whose staff foolishly continue to fuel my delusions of grandeur by putting me in their rather fine publication). It includes all sorts of goodness in regards to many aspects of teaching. You can support this dangerous lack of judgement on their part by subscribing at if you fancy. Cheers medears.

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Even if you’re beloved by all like yours truly (I haven’t heard any different, alright?) statistically you’re bound to come across someone you have difficulty getting on with at work. Now, I’m not talking about the truly repulsive specimen of the workplace bully – those guys need to be identified, flayed, put somewhere dark and damp and forgotten about. No, I’m talking about those guys who, usually through no fault of their own, rub you up the wrong way. Much like a hedgehog on a gauze.

With me the warning sign is when someone describes themselves as a ‘character’. If someone describes themselves as a ‘character’, I will, without a shadow of a doubt, find them to be the most impeccably tedious individual imaginable. If I hear ‘character’ I immediately get up out of my seat and run for the nearest classroom and start teaching whatever to whoever. My busyness levels surge exponentially. Same goes for ‘zany’. Or anyone with ‘You don’t have to be mad to work here…but it helps’ mug. Or people who smile.

And OK, I’m also fully aware that I might be ‘that’ person for other people. I’m irreverent to the point of offence in reference to the kids, I can suck the joy out of a room like it’s a punchbowl at happy hour and I like to offer a running commentary when I mark.

Because it’s very important to me that people know that I am marking.

But you can’t spend your day teaching kids who are perplexed by your presence seeing as it’s not your subject, class, or floor. You can’t go hiding in cupboards when you spot Smiley Smilerson coming down the corridors (some of them will be locked). You might even share an office. These people aren’t malicious or have a hidden agenda of undiluted evil (they aren’t management after all.)* They’re not going out of their way to make me want to shove markers in my ears, drowning out the infinitesimal detail of ‘the mad thing’ they got up to at the weekend (they went shopping at a supermarket that was not the usual supermarket where they go shopping) they’re just going through their day same as you. It’s not their fault. Or my fault. (OK the marking commentary thing is completely my fault but you get my drift.)

People are different and sometimes these differences manifest themselves in ways that make them want to take staplers to each other. So what to do? In my crueller moments I imagine stapler deathmatch. But as much as I would like them to be, schools aren’t supposed to be Thunderdomes. Schools are communities, and if we chuck departments into the mix they are communities within communities. Communities full of people doing their best for the greater good of those who are most important.

So Tracy two desks down sounds like a recently unblocked plug-hole when drinking her pre-Y11 coffee. Well, it could be worse; she could not give a damn about the kids she sees after she has finished up, slammed her mug on the desk like a viking and strided out of the office to the classroom.

So Dave claps you round the shoulder and says ‘Cheer up! It might never happen!’ to you every. Single. Monday. But then again he also gives up his lunchtime to run the reading club twice a week.

And yes, Tom does like to broadcast his weekly marking sessions to everyone within earshot but as well as that he…he…well I’m sure he does other non-annoying things to level it all out somewhere.

Basically what I’m saying is that people will get on your nerves sometimes, but as long as there’s no nefarious scheme behind it all, put some headphones in, nod politely at the enthralling tale of how the veg aisle was in a completely different place and suck it up. None of us are perfect.

And none of us are as annoying as the kids.

*I’m joking of course.. Most management are lovely, hardworking, dedicated professionals who are in no way embodiments of all that is unholy.



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