James Complains About The Bag Of Shame


Regular readers of this blog will know that I rarely write about work.

This is for a number of reasons, not least of which is that this blog is very much my escape from the daily grind so to dwell on the quotidian minutiae of my profession would seem to be in direct contradiction of that sentiment.

Also it might be a tad unprofessional, given that much of my job entails working with some fairly dysfunctional young people. It’s not that that doesn’t generate some amusing tales, quite the contrary, but to share those tales outside of the confidences of a few, well-chosen, colleagues might not be a brilliant long-term strategy for career enhancement.

Obviously I fully intend to give up my day job as soon my talents as a writer, comedian and all round entertainer are recognised by the popular media, but as yet such acknowledgment has yet to present itself in the form of a jaw-dropping book deal worth an obscene amount of money, or the chance to write, direct and indeed star in my own artistically-credible-yet-accessible-to-the masses sit-com.

This could be down to a lack of effort on my part to make such dreams a reality.

Or it could be a lack of talent.

It’s probably both.

So for now I’m reliant on my day job to pay the bills.

And those bills do keep on coming.

But I’m not here looking for pity.

I actually like my job for the most part.

In fact since I was able to move out of the classroom and into my current role, I’ve enjoyed working in education more than ever. Lots of my colleagues now regard me with envy. The teacher who no longer teaches.

How does one achieve this noble art of teaching without teaching? Is it like Bruce Lee’s famous art of ‘fighting without fighting’?

Well no it’s nothing like that. But ‘Enter the Dragon’ is a brilliant film that should be referenced whenever the opportunity arises.

I am what is commonly referred to as a ‘SENCO’ or ‘Special Educational Needs Coordinator’.

Every state school in England has to have a SENCO by law. I’m not sure what the situation is in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland but I imagine similar roles exist.

In some schools the SENCO does still have to teach, but my school is quite a big school so the belief is that I have enough to do without a teaching commitment. That belief is well-founded. I do have enough to do.

I won’t dwell on that here though because I didn’t really intend for this post to be a description of my job. Interesting though it is to carry out on a daily basis, stellar blog content it isn’t.

The reason I’m even mentioning my job at all today is that I have a day off. In fact I have the whole week off.

One of the perks of working in education is that you get a lot of holidays. The downside is not being able to take those holidays when you want to, but the sheer number of days off does make up for that.

And this week is half-term.

So I should be at home watching Star Wars.

Instead though, I’m actually in work as I write this.

And I’m likely to be in work for the rest of this week.

I don’t have to be here, I am here out of choice. But it’s the kind of choice that I’ve made knowing that the consequences of not coming in might ultimately end up being quite bad for me in the long-term.

One aspect of my job, you see, is paperwork. It is, in many ways, the most important part of my job. I do lots of other things too though. And most of those other things can only be done during the school day, so they sort of take precedence. Because I can, in theory, do the paperwork any time.

Except that what happens with paperwork is that, if I don’t do it straight away, it starts to pile up.

And when it starts to pile up my desk gets quite messy.

And I’m not really a fan of a messy desk.

So for the last few months whenever the paperwork has piled up a little too high, I’ve removed it from my desk and put it into a bag. It’s one of those generic ‘bags for life’ that you can get in most supermarkets.

My intentions were innocent. I put the paperwork into the bag so that I could take it home and work on it there. The bag regularly made it as far as the boot of my car. It rarely made it out of the car once I got home though.

So I’ve been ferrying my paperwork back and forth from school in a kind of bizarre charade. More and more paperwork has gone into the bag over time.

Very little has come out.

In recent weeks I began to realise that some of that paperwork has been in the bag for months.

That cannot be a good thing.

I have started calling it the Bag of Shame.

It’s taken on a rather menacing air. It is the ‘Joker’ to my ‘Batman’, the ‘Skeletor’ to my ‘He-Man’ or the ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ to my ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ (because he is his own worst enemy is he not?).

And so I’ve take the brave, almost heroic decision, to give up some of my holiday in order to thwart the Bag of Shame once and for all.

Songs will be sung of this legendary battle. Peter Jackson has already expressed interest in the movie rights (although for some reason he wants to make it into a trilogy of three hour films, when in all probability a single, shorter film would be more than sufficient for telling the story).

Anyway, that’s why I’m in work this week.

To catch up with paperwork.

And I’ve made a brilliant start by wasting the first two hours writing this blog post.

Which probably explains more about how the bag of shame came into existence than anything else I’ve written today.


  41 comments for “James Complains About The Bag Of Shame

  1. February 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Funny how writing for oneself starts out fun and then it becomes a chore once one finds an audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Still fun but definitely an increased sense of responsibility to write more regularly and to try and make it ‘good’ (although ‘good’ is so subjective that I never quite know how to achieve it…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        All the more reason why it’s best not to dwell on what’s good but instead what’s entertaining to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm

        Wise words 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. February 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Interesting job you have. I hope you don’t read this for AGES because you’re so busy working. That bag would be useful for the shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Nope, I’m still avoiding work. It’s all part of the process though – I spend the first half of the day procrastinating then I get annoyed with myself and spend a few hours being productive, then I relax and reward myself with a cup of coffee and start procrastinating again…

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 12:43 pm

        I’m a procrastinator and hate it. I childmind and have a stack of paperwork I’m avoiding. You should do it and give yourself Friday off for a job well done. Pot/Kettle.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm

        But where would we be without pots and kettles? Definitely aiming for Friday at home. I just returned the contents of the Bag of Shame to my desk so that’s progress of sorts…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. gigglingfattie
    February 13, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    In Canada, we have these types of teachers as well. I loved being the supply teacher for them! I lived in a small school board so they usually had to take on some classes as well. But I was never qualified to do their actual special education programs with the kids (like literacy intervention) so I was just shuffled around from one class to the next, offering a helping hand or just sitting and reading with little munchkins. It was great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      I am in charge of the literacy programmes but I never deliver them. I just wander round looking important and make sure other people are delivering them. Most of my work is office based these days. I do still work with the kids but I’m very rarely ‘teaching’ them. More likely I’m trying to get them back into the classrooms they’ve just run out of, or refused to go into…

      Liked by 1 person

      • gigglingfattie
        February 13, 2017 at 2:13 pm

        Our principal/vice principals have to deal with that here. Or at least in my experience they do. Some students will have an educational assistant assigned to them to do one on one support, so if they run out or are having a melt down, those EA’s are trained to handle it and defuse the situation. It’s an amazing quality that I wish I had!

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        I think my job ends up being a mish-mash of management stuff and one-to-one de-escalation stuff, mostly because of the size of the school (it’s massive) and the fact that no-one aside from me actually knows what my job is supposed to be so anything and everything to do with special educational needs comes my way in the end. It’s never boring but even I forget what it is I’m actually supposed to be doing most of the time, hence the massive backlog of paperwork that is now eating up my holidays. But I still love it so I can’t complain too much…

        Liked by 1 person

      • gigglingfattie
        February 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        Jobs that you love are the best! I’m glad that you were able to transition into this! It sounds like a good fit for you! Aside from all the paperwork of course haha

        Liked by 1 person

  4. February 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    I loved this post. I, too, am a master procrastinator of the first order and as such have no advice to give you, but I will root for you from over here, across the sea, next to the radiator, debating whether to make myself a cup of tea so I can kill a bit more time and avoid work a little longer…

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Alas I’ve already given up for the day. A cup of tea sounds nice though…

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 4:44 pm

        Tea is always a good idea…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. February 13, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I love you even more because you are a teacher like me…..and SENco too…..haha….the humour comes from our life experiences apparently….. well enjoy ur paperwork half term. I shall be mostly painting my bedroom…another job that gets left whilst teaching. I have been living with shades of grey (and unfortunately not the sexy kind) in my bedroom for too long. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      I expect you haven’t used enough different shades of grey. I understand there is an optimum number? Not sure if B&Q stock that many though…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. sportsattitudes
    February 13, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    The origins of the Bag Of Shame are certainly evident at this point aren’t they? Indeed this struggle sounds as if it will be titanic in nature and not for the faint of heart. I had a run in with a similar accessory many years ago and the takeaway from that confrontation was I would not procrastinate ever, ever again. (I’m still considering whether that’s a good idea however…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      I regularly plan not procrastinate, it’s just that I then seem to procrastinate about putting that plan into action…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. February 13, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Being outside the classroom and swanning about is awesome, isn’t it?! I’d never go back. This morning, whilst everyone else was moaning about guided reading, I was sat in my room on my laptop… on a sofa!! You need to aspire to be like our SENco though – she’s part time.
    And as for the bag, my colleague said to me on Friday that if she was kick the bucket over the weekend, would I come in and sweep everything off her desk into a bin bag – all her bags of shame are already overflowing! I told her I’d need more than one bin bag…

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      Part-time is the dream. I remember when I first started out meeting this ‘consultant’ teacher who just came in two days a week and charged an absolute fortune for it. Not sure that’s an option these days – I think schools are more careful with their budgets, but it’s still a goal I hope to achieve one day…

      Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      And yes, swanning around is awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. February 13, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Hahaha, I need to start referring to mine as the bag of shame! It may be half term but i have pinned so many ideas, have a bag sitting in the corner of a room waiting for me as well as a heap on planning to finish that I have emailed myself. We all do it. Part is the dedication to our jobs, but it is also the knowing there there is so much to do that the only way to get through it all is to work during our holidays (and evenings, and weekends…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      They should issue an empty ‘bag of shame’ to all trainees as part of their induction…

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 8:13 pm

        I might just start giving them out to new teachers at my school!

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 10:02 pm

        You’d be doing them a disservice not to…


  9. February 14, 2017 at 12:28 am

    The best thing about working in schools is the holidays. The worst thing is having to spend it with your womb-fruits. And why is it that teaching is the only job where we leave our children to go and spend time with a whole bunch of other people’s children?
    Hope you mange to tackle that bag O shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 14, 2017 at 5:53 am

      As someone who entered the profession in order to qualify for a mortgage rather than any kind of ‘vocational’ reasons, I always assumed I’d find the kids annoying. Actually I find it’s the other adults that do my head in mostly…

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 15, 2017 at 11:12 pm

        I so agree with you. I’ve always said that if it weren’t for most of the staff, teaching as a profession would be a perfect job.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 16, 2017 at 7:31 am

        It really would

        Liked by 1 person

  10. February 14, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    The humour in your posts always amuses me 🙂 Good luck with the bag!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 14, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks – I’m needing every ounce of my good humour to see me through this ordeal – although one of your cupcakes would definitely help 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. February 17, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Hi James

    I have added you as my #BlogCrush on https://lucyathome.co.uk/blogcrush/blogcrush01-17-feb-17/
    I will confess Im still quite new to this but thanks for making me laugh!


    Liked by 1 person

    • February 17, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks for laughingI’m honoured to be your BlogCrush 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. February 22, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    I rather suspect that the kids loved you when you were in the classroom. I imagine your humour served you very well. Keep up the great work and, when you are famous, and inordinately wealthy, I bet you consider staying on in education!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 23, 2017 at 5:10 am

      I don’t know, I could happily never go near a school again if paying the bills were no longer a concern… but I have always had a positive relationship with the kids. The other teachers is another matter entirely…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. February 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Good on you for finally getting it done!! You need to find a new job for the bag so it can’t be used to store your paperwork anymore..or get a smaller bag so you have to get it done more regularly! #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      I’m trying to be a bit more organised this week but I can already see an increasing ‘to-do’ pile which is eventually going to be moving to the bag. I’ll definitely try to stop that from happening but it’s kind of the circle of my working life…


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