Thursday, December 22, 2005

Out of Hours

I managed to watch a bit of "Teacher, Teacher" last night. I was surprised by the strength of my reaction - that there was no way I could think of going back to all that: the kids with their MP3 player earphones in while they were supposed to be listening to the teacher, the comments from the puils about what made a good teacher ... not that they were wrong. No, they were absolutely right, but it was the same old record I'd heard so often before and suddenly I knew I'd had enough.
And then I was reminded about the other side of the job. The stuff that actually I remember with a sense of involvement. Not the work with a good class, rewarding though that could be. Not the hilarity in the staffroom, entertaining and life-enhancing though it was at the time. Not the staff/department meetings - oh no. Not the meetings. No, I'm talking about an extra-curricular activity. I don't intend to be too specific here, but a chance meeting with a senior pupil whom I recruited five years ago made me think.
Any teacher who invests time and energy in an extra-curricular activity is going to be disappointed, exhausted ( especially at 9.30pm when you feel you've been in your classroom forever) and frustrated. But they are also going to enjoy a terrific rapport with the pupils involved, a relationship which is entirely different from that possible in the class situation, the loyalty and support of the pupils and the satisfaction of seeing many of them take on new challenges and grow personally as a result. Personally, I had the best laughs, the biggest adrenaline rushes and the greatest job satisfaction from my years running a rather anarchic magazine - and that is the one thing I regret leaving behind.
Teachers who are "too busy" to take on extra-curricular work miss out, I'd say - and so do their pupils.

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