“Are you building a fortress around your desk?” My head of department had a point. Surrounding my desk there had accumulated such a pile of waste and debris that it was becoming difficult to navigate my way to my chair without disrupting some precariously balanced pile of books, paper or crate of whiteboard pens. I’m not even sure where most of the mess came from; it is like my desk has a gravitational pull.
The problem is I have been trying to manage my time better. I know what you are thinking: “How can managing my time more effectively be an excuse for an untidy desk?” Well, during a recent induction meeting I voiced my suspicions that time is playing tricks on me; that time secretly hates me.
At risk of sounding paranoid I had to get it off my chest. It was suggested I try to “manage my time better”, or more specifically, rank tasks by importance and urgency. Logically, the most urgent important tasks should be prioritised, those less important or not urgent, put on the back-burner – the priority always being teaching and learning.
However, this is easier said than done. When people are literally tripping over the debris that has accumulated around you in a cramped office, the lesson you want to plan urgently for tomorrow morning becomes less urgent. The immediate urgency is placed on tidying your desk; before someone hurts themselves. So I tidied my desk.
The bizarre thing is that, on inspection of the bulkier items, it turned out that very few of them belonged to me at all. Two of the boxes were overflowing with what looked like multi-coloured poker chips, another contained a long forgotten order of mini-whiteboards and rubbers, and on top of all this (albeit hidden beneath the worksheets I had put there for safe keeping) were two packs of laminating pouches. The lesson learned? Don’t put worksheets on top of other people’s mess.
Aside from shifting this offending ensemble of items into less conspicuous places around the maths office, I have been very busy elsewhere this week. Out of the classroom our Young Enterprise programme is really starting to get exciting.
For those of you who are not familiar with Young Enterprise, it is a charity that supports young people in setting up their own business venture. I am the “link teacher” for a group of year 12s who, between now and the end of the year, will be setting up and running their own company from scratch.
Being the link teacher for Young Enterprise at our school was something I volunteered for at the end of last year on a desperate whim to be responsible for some extra-curricular fun, when another teacher left to pursue his own business venture rendering the spot vacant.
It was only in the weeks leading up to start of term in September that I got the cold, dawning realisation that I have no experience of setting up a business myself and therefore absolutely nothing to share with the pupils in terms of business wisdom at all.
Luckily for me, however, this is not a problem, as Young Enterprise partners you with an experienced business advisor for the duration of the year. Our business advisor is very much on the ball with all things entrepreneurial, so all that is left for me to do is facilitate the meetings, ensure everyone is happy with proceedings and remind everyone to turn up. So far, being the link teacher is turning out to be a lot of fun. I am learning about business, the girls are coming up with some exciting product ideas and their passion is infectious. Watch this space!
Our NQT diarist this year writes anonymously and is a teacher of maths from a south London secondary school.