Newsroom Panorama by Victoria Peckham
- What if some staff became semi-itinerant in terms of the staff room location?
- What if each staff room had a table space for collaboration – as well as a couple of comfortable chairs and perhaps less desks and/or privately managed work materials (aka clutter)?
- What if ‘mobile’ staff could choose which staff room they wanted to work in from day to day?
- What if some staff would like to trial using the Hub (even with its open access and senior students) as their home base for work and meeting with students or staff (if a GLM or LAM)?
- How might we provide secure space for them in the Hub? – possibly a locker or a mobile mini-caboose?
- Are you a ‘change’ junkie? Does any of this strike a chord with you? Are you interested in putting your hand up to try something different?
My Principal emailed around the above questions and I knew I had to respond. If I don’t respond how can I ever argue about any changes that are inflicted upon me. This was my chance to influence the working situation I would like to be in.
Currently I am not completely happy with my staffroom. There is one phone shared amongst 7-8 staff. As an online teacher I am often at my desk answering on everyone else’s behalf. That said, I am also often responding to knocks on the door from students, looking for items teachers have forgotten to take to class or to see one of the other teachers in the room. Music students are particularly frequent visitors sincethey need to book rehearsal times, fetch instruments out of storage and just generally more needing of support.
One of my really good friends is approaching retirement and at times she can be a little negative. She is a great teacher but is not very flexible with changing attitudes towards education, particularly regarding technology and student-centred learning. As much as I love her it is becoming harder sharing such close space with her.
So, to escape this situation the Principal’s offer looks appealing.
I actually like the idea of the Hub in many ways. There would be more interruptions but they will be more for me instead of someone else. I worry about the security of students’ work, since it is a place senior students use. As I mark papers I would need to secure them every time I left my desk for even short periods of time. I like communicating and collaborating with teachers across the whole school, being in the centre of activity. But not all the time. I can see working in the Hub being appropriate some of the time.
There will be occasions where I will need to work with staff in my faculty on activities such as programming and assessment writing. A meeting room where we can spread out and not be interrupted would be ideal in these situations. As a head of faculty I would also need somewhere private to talk one-on-one with a member of staff or students.
However, to be very productive in my individual work, I like quiet. Recently I shared a quiet office for a couple of weeks with just two other occupants. One, a non-teaching member of staff, is quite a reserved person, although he received many phone calls (each desk had its own phone) and the other was away teaching most of the time. I achieved a great deal of work during this time due to the lack of interruptions and the room being what we dubbed ‘a cone of silence’.
I’m not one for personal photographs or artefacts at my desk but I like my own stash of stationery and resources to call upon. If I had a large locker for these items plus my files and folders it would be an adequate solution. I would love to have a business/economics/culture area within the school where all the associated resources were stored with some comfy chairs and a round table to spread out alone on or to hold meetings around. Every time I went to teach a class I wouldn’t want to lug around my lap-top with me. It would need somewhere safe and secure, away from where students could read my email or tamper with files, although a locking mechanism could work. Many students could hack through it though. I am not yet willing to trade a lap-top in to totally rely on an iPad or some other Personal Digital Device.
I like to change where I work. At home I have a desk but more often I am in front of the TV on the couch or in bed. Once a week I stay at my in-laws and adapt to being in a different location, packing for me and my children each week. I am a very busy person and take my iPad to conferences and my lap-top when I stay at houses of family and friends (just about everyone has wireless access). When I have a looming due date for a writing gig I stay at a hotel for a weekend to have peace and quiet and room service, alone, away from all the domestic demands of my own house.
Overall I like the concept of not having a permanent desk but it would have to be managed carefully and securely. I would need a large locker space or an area of storage that was easy and attractive to access. I started a pro and con list but the list was coming out with many more cons than pros, the most prominent ones being noise, lack of storage and lack of privacy. The pros being a more collaborative atmosphere, more flexibility and you know what, sometimes change is good. I did a bit of Google, Twitter (thanks @SimonBorgert and @BAFDiploma) and academic database research and found we should also be concerned with hygiene, RSI and other ergonomic factors and practicalities such as how one is to be located when there is a phone call or how to print.
Yet my deepest concern is the divide it could cause amongst staff. Already there is a bit of divide between those teachers who embrace technology and are flexible within their classrooms and those who are more traditional in their approach. I am concerned that it is perceived as an ‘either you are with us or against us’ attitude from the top. I am willing to try it but am scared that once a few of us say we are willing to try it leads to a headlong rush into doing it for real, for everyone whether they like it or not, no turning back. Sometimes at our school trials are really an easing-in of a new idea, not trials at all.
I wouldn’t have described myself as someone who embraces change. But yes, I will respond to the Principal’s email, putting up my hand to say I am willing to try something different. But I will also send him the link to this blog.