My old maths teacher once told me that there are three kinds of people in the world:
- those who make things happen,
- those who let things happen
- and those who wonder what the bloody hell has happened.
She was standing over me at the time as I whined pathetically about how no one could be expected to solve her impossible equations, so it was fairly obvious that I belonged in the third category.
Flash forward: the 21st century. A group of teachers are sitting around a staff-room table. Enter ‘Annoying Enthusiastic Teacher’ carrying a pile of handouts.
ANNOYING ENTHUSIASTIC TEACHER: Here you go guys, here’s a draft of the new look report we’ve redesigned for Yr10. Check it out and let us know what you think.
ME: (Picks up draft document and reads it). What’s this bullshit! What total moron designed this? Do they really expect us to know what curriculum level a student is working at? More bloody work! (Throws document on the table, spilling all the coffee cups).
Now I must admit that I had been given every opportunity to join the ‘Report Committee’ and could at any time have responded to the meeting minutes regularly posted on the school website. The question of course, was why would I want to! Still, there was no reason to be suddenly surprised by the emergence of this new-look document.
In the background I heard a squeaky voice: ‘Instead of complaining about it, why not get involved? Why not join the committee and help make things happen?’ Well, the answer to that was obvious. Only self-promoting suck-ups join committees. I would never associate with such people. It didn’t really bother me that I could simultaneously hold this thought whilst sitting through a staff P.D session wondering who had decided to serve up such pointless drivel. Something had to give. In a moment of madness I decided, that I would no longer be that complaining voice in the staff-room. I would join a committee!
Now I had been warned, by a cynical earlier version of myself, that the only people who join committees are those who enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice as it reverberates between the buttocks of senior management. I was determined, however, to not let my previous self dissuade me. I joined three committees and contributed to two others! Was it worthwhile? Yes. Did I have to kiss anyone’s ass? No, thank God. What I did find is that I gained a much clearer whole school perspective and came to the realisation that anyone who claims that they genuinely care for the well-being and achievement of students needs to get involved on at least some level. Being a whinging old sod can only get you so far.
As teachers in the 21st century, we like to yabble on about the need for students to adapt to a constantly changing world and how important it is to not sit back and allow change to happen without our knowledge or input. It took me a while to realise that this is a message not just for for students. If only I had listened to my maths teacher thirty years ago.