Appraisal Cycle Traditions

Second Half of Autumn Term starts in traditional fashion with yearly anxiety about end of appraisal cycle review meetings. Tradition consists largely of colleagues panicking because they have variously not: Documented evidence of progress towards meeting targets during year and have left everything to last minute; Scheduled end of cycle review meeting for sometime before week ending 31st October; Completed self-review against the teachers’s standards; Remembered what the school-set targets were anyway. Admit with no small degree of irony that own adherence to these traditions is almost absolute but nevertheless point out that details of How To Do All Of This (including Helpful Videos) were sent out early in the calendar year. Colleagues suggest, in adherence to other traditional activities, that they may need reminding about these kinds of things, to which point out that message including details of How To Do All Of This (including Helpful Videos) was indeed posted several times during rest of calendar year. Follow additional tradition by resisting temptation to suggest actual reading of documentation may be more valuable than filing email in folder marked ‘I’m sure this will be helpful and/or important, but let’s be honest, I’m never going to do anything about it’. Immediately create own folder marked thus and set up rule directing all messages about appraisal into said folder. Proceed to making third coffee of morning.


Back to the howling old owl in the woods

As end of half term hysteria reaches fever pitch in the Provincial High School, forlorn attempt to reflect on most recent Leadership Meetings results in memory only of Conversations About Chicken Burgers In Refectory. This is reasonable development since Chicken Burgers In Refectory seems to be what majority of Leadership Focus has been spent on over entire first half term of academic year.

Pitch of hysteria also results in M sharing Interwebs Meme about Mental Health, drawing comparison to brain being like an Interwebs browser open with a thousand tabs, most of which are frozen and with no idea where music is coming from. In bizarre volte-face on usual Thoughts About Memes find this strangely amusing and reflect that in truth the music is almost always entirely within own head. Today, for example, the chorus of ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ by Sir Elton John repeats endlessly in loop that walks fine line between pleasure and irritation. Feel certain this is entirely fitting metaphor for entire existence.


Today, as I understand it, was designated Mental Health Day and so everyone in school encouraged to wear something yellow in order to show students that we are Someone They Can Talk To about mental health issues. Uncertain as to why wearing something yellow is significant and how this changes everyday job expectation of Caring For Young People but nevertheless made some concession to conformity by donning tiny vintage Mustard Club badge from the 1920s for the day. Impact of doing so, I feel, has been minimal.

Mental health of colleagues during day certainly not helped by Failure Of The Internets. This results (again) in significant amount of hand wringing and heightened anxiety about How Can We Safeguard Children When We Have No Internet (actually probably written in ALL CAPS followed by too many exclamation points). Quietly suggest to some colleagues that history of school did not begin with the invention of The Internet in Provincial Settings (perhaps circa 2014 or so) and that children were safeguarded prior to instantaneous, continuous surveillance of attendance (electronic registers). Idly reflect on vicious cycle of paranoia created by such technologies and enjoy complete absence of email traffic during day.


Struck by number of times in past weeks when have been expected to be in three entirely different places, doing three different activities, at exactly the same moment in time and space. Decide this makes the Provincial Teacher some kind of Superhero and start to sketch ideas for Costume and Mask on back of School Improvement Plan. Current mood suggests colour palette of black, not unlike The Batman.