Pause for quiet reflection... and some Youtube roulette
I’VE HIT a bit of a lull at work and quite frankly, I’m loving it.
There’s a short period between the end of the academic year and the beginning of the new one where a valve is turned and the steam flies. Some staff take holidays, some stick around, the building empties out and the relentless nature of life in FE (at least temporarily) slows in pace. It’s time to kick back, and if not exactly relax, then at least reclaim a little civility that previously there may have been precious little time for.
Rather than a snatched update as you Mach 1 it down corridors or shove a bag of microwave rice down you not caring about the minor burns to the inside of your throat (because if you’re not in the classroom before the Enterprise group get there, there may not be a classroom to go to), there is time for some actual conversations with colleagues. And (whisper it) some aren’t even about work. It’s a chance to catch up, have a laugh and remember that the people that you work with are actually people.
There are other certain luxuries to be had – maybe some self-directed CPD as you spend an unheard of hour reading some research. Perhaps a chance to really work on the scheme that wasn’t as effective as you might have liked. And everyone’s favourite: being able to go to toilet whenever the hell you want; such decadence not being seen since the fall of Rome.
Of course the working day goes on. It’s still a time to plan, carry out tasks from on high and do a bit of general housekeeping, but without the incessant pressure of a chocka timetable, these things hardly seem like chores at all. There’s time.
And having time is probably the nicest part about this period of grace. You can actually sit and think. There’s headspace to reflect on what you have done, what you are doing, and what you will do next year. It’s this type of reflection that can lead to improvement in practice and it’s a shame that often, the only time it happens is at the end of the year.
So I’m not going to apologise for taking it a little easier for a bit
(although it might warrant an eyebrow raise from my line manager). Along with the more frivolous pursuits such as Youtube music roulette, recycling bin basketball tournaments and a fair bit of arsing about, this quiet time does serve a more serious purpose. For me, it’s the time of year that allows me to meditate on the job I do. It’s probably the only time of year when that’s possible. That meditation helps me try and do better.
It also means that I don’t have to scorch my insides with hot rice. Double trouble.
Tom Starkey teaches English at a college in the north of England. He tweets @tstarkey1212