If any informed, respectable person was asked to write a list of the most stressful jobs one could do, teaching would have to appear somewhere on that list.
Yes, teachers will tell you that their job is hugely rewarding, and it is, but…
…most teachers simply do not stop. Multi-tasking is second nature to them, and the number of daily hours they devote to their profession, and to the many needs of the children they teach, is probably beyond the comprehension of most non-teaching folk.
You can include weekends in their working hours too.
But don’t teachers get amazingly long holidays?
No, not really.
Teaching is an ever-evolving profession, so, as well as amassing silly numbers of hours over their 7-day working week, they also apportion of good deal of their ‘holidays’ to the planning and preparation that they couldn’t quite squeeze in during term-time.
And, of course, just like every other human being, teachers need to find time to relax, spend time with their families and, dare I suggest, sleep!
So, what’s my point?
Well, in one respect, I guess I’m setting the matter straight, as there are still some out there (although, admittedly fewer than there once were) who have the deluded opinion that teachers are people who work short hours and get long holidays. That outdated (and offensive) view really does need to be catapulted into oblivion.
The other reason though, is to provide some background as to why this book actually exists.
At the outset, it wasn’t meant to exist. It really wasn’t.
The emails that I scripted to my fellow staff at school were simply designed to alleviate the stress that I knew that most of them were constantly faced with (including me). They helped us both.
Each time one of my colleagues thanked me for making them smile in what had been an otherwise difficult day, I felt exuberant, as if I’d done my bit for the good of humanity. I realise that sounds a bit strong, but the effect on me was significant.
Writing these emails was having a positive impact on my own well-being.
But where did I find the time?
I’ve been asked this a lot, and the fact is that I didn’t really have the time. In fact, some of these emails were written when my own workload was starting to feel unmanageable. It would get to the point where I had so much to do that I didn’t know where to start. And, whilst I was procrastinating, the burden on me became greater, and my productivity levels began to fall.
So, I managed my time.
Outside of school hours, when I felt swamped with my workload, I effectively swept everything aside and decided, for the moment, not to do any of my work! I realise this sounds counter-productive, but it was quite the opposite.
Instead of getting bogged down and depressed, I started to write something silly – something that would allow my mind to forget the stresses that were piled up on my desk.
And as I allowed my mind to weave its daft little tale, I’d smile.
And when I smiled, I felt better. The emails were akin to a home-made anti-depressant!
Then, once an email was complete, I’d get back to my work - and, hey presto, my productivity levels were much boosted!
So, over the years, I’ve written plenty of morale-boosting emails, both long and short – one of them was just a single word. It’s a riveting read!
Together, the emails are like a collection of smile-inducing memories. And now, as I’m about to move on to pastures new at a new school, it seems a good time to collect those memories and keep them, bound together in the form of this book…
Keep them safe for me, will you?