Panic in the Corridors

1 It’s half-term.

This first 8 weeks back are the most brutal of the school year: new classes; new routines to establish; new colleagues to meet; new routes to walk (I’ll find time to blog about the 16’000 steps I now do every day as I no longer teach any two lessons in the same building. That is, when my shoes stop smouldering …)

There can’t be many job where each September is, basically, a blank slate of expectations you have to gruellingly fill in anew year after year.

It’s tiring. And we get grumpy. (I try not to even send an email in that last week as I can feel my snark reach unhelpful levels).

But we’re at half-term now and it’s time to refresh and recharge. Right?

Nope. It’s Jets and the Sharks time again on Edutwitter.

Just when we should all be under the covers, binge watching Netflix and recharging our batteries, teachers up and down the country have decided to die on the hill of corridor silence.

Depending on your gang allegiance, there is either an epidemic of Daredevil levels of violence in school corridors or a sinister cabal enforcing draconian levels of discipline.

No-one in this argument is in danger of being misunderstood for taking too nuanced a position.

If you’ve managed to miss the vitriol over the last few days, let me help you get a handle on it: picture two Year 9 girls who used to be best friends. Something happened – no-one quite remembers what – but now they HATE each other. They’ve dragged in most of the rest of the class on one side or the other, it’s 3:35 on a Friday and war has just erupted in front of you over one of them looking at the other in a funny way.

There’s no point trying to reason with them: the dislike is entrenched. The cause for this current explosion is irrelevant. You tell them to just ignore each other, ‘grow up’ and you don’t want to hear anymore about it. The classroom management equivalent of the Twitter mute and block: and I’d encourage some people to avail themselves of the latter.

For what it is worth, silent corridors sound great. I spend a lot of my time bellowing at children to ‘walk’, ‘put that down’, ‘leave her alone’, ‘move to the right’. My day would be improved without all that. I’m sure the pupils would also benefit from a calmer change over. On the other hand, do I really want everyone to lose the incidental, social moments that enrich a child’s day? Probably not.

But hey, I don’t think anyone should pontificate on a context they’re not working in. If a Headteacher thinks that this will help their pupil’s experience, I’m going to assume they’re not evil and have actually thought about the impact. Likewise, if people want to express concern about them doing it, I’m going to take the line they’re doing so from a position of genuine concern.

I imagine there’s a middle position here that would be fruitful to explore: how to attain that peaceful corridor whilst allowing for the social experience.

It’d probably be a great half-term conversation for there to be someone out there that wanted to discuss what that might look like: we could probably learn from all the different contexts and approaches out there. I actually think that’s what Edutwitter should be like.

However, in lieu of that, we have the regular half-term trench warfare between the usual suspects who just can’t stand each other. The issue itself – and the opportunity to discuss, explore and learn from each other – is lost.

It’s a real shame. Now back to Netflix.

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