‘Working’ From Home

James Proclaims (4)


When last I blogged, I did so from my office in a very much still open, though poorly attended, school. That same day the government decided to close schools, although they did give us the remainder of the week to keep things ticking over, which was nice of them. It was not at all challenging with most of the staff already ‘self-isolating’ and the added bonus of having to manage the behaviour of some now very disaffected year 11 students who had just been told that the exams they’ve spent their entire secondary education working towards, would now not be taking place.

And then on Friday, we closed the gates indefinitely (I mean I didn’t help with the closing of the gates, the people who usually close the gates did the closing of the gates) and all staff, bar the few who have been requisitioned to continue working with the children of people who find themselves included on the government’s list of ‘key-workers’ (which is a list that is open to interpretation and could include more or less anyone who has a job), have been instructed to work from home. Which I started doing in earnest yesterday.

Working from home does present some challenges. My current role doesn’t involve any teaching (though I feel I should point out that I am a fully-qualified and vaguely competent teacher and should the need arise I’m as capable as anyone of boring a room full of teenagers on a range of topics) so, unlike many of my colleagues, I don’t have to learn how to deliver lessons remotely to our students. Which is a relief, because it seems like something I would be quite bad at. Not that the vast majority of pupils will necessarily be availing themselves of any online learning opportunities that are provided. And not just because they can’t be bothered (though that will be true of some) but more likely because I work in the kind of school where social disadvantage is prevalent and a lot of the students won’t have access to the internet.

And actually, for a lot of those students, the lack of access to an education is the least of their worries. Schools are far from perfect institutions, but they do provide a place of safety and a continuity that is going to now be absent from the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.

But, under the current circumstances, it’s hard to argue that closing schools wasn’t the right thing to do. And it’s hardly the only thing that’s impacted on our lives as we all wake up to daily to what appears to be an ever-worsening crisis.

And working from home, in the sense that I can do a lot of my paperwork from home, is hardly the biggest inconvenience, all things considered. Indeed, it seems like an opportunity to catch up on said paperwork, given that I rarely get any of it done when I’m at school.

Despite not actually teaching, I do still work with students quite a lot when I’m at school.

I also have to attend a lot of meetings.

Many of which appear to about other meetings.

Without these other demands on my time, you’d imagine I’d be tearing through the paperwork at home. However, it turns out that working from home is not without its difficulties.

My wife and daughter might seem like the most obvious distractions, but actually Mrs Proclaims and I have managed to be come to an agreement about how we’re going to manage this unheralded state of affairs and we do have one room in the house that can function adequately as a home office. I have custody in the mornings, while she has custody of our not-undemanding toddler (which is even more challenging  without the usual plethora of toddler groups, which have helped my wife maintain some sense of sanity for the last nineteen months since our offspring entered the world). We switch roles in the afternoon, so she can work on her PhD while I manage the childcare. Which works in my favour as this incorporates my daughter’s nap time, but, it does allow me to attempt to continue working while she sleeps and try to complete what is essentially a full day’s work.

I’m sure as time goes on, we’ll all get on top of each other, but I think that, despite living in a house that is very much smaller that would be ideal, we can make it work for the most part.

No, the problem with working from home is…

…well it’s me.

I’m quite good at working at work. There really isn’t much else to do there.

But working from home presents so many opportunities to not work at all.

And I’m not very good at ignoring them.

So yesterday I accomplished very little of what I set out to do.

And I almost felt guilty about that.

Fortunately by around midday I’d received a flurry of emails from people who needed answers to questions that they believed I could clarify.

I admire their faith in my knowledge but I could not answer their questions.

What I could do is consult a database that they also had access to and tell them what they could have easily found out for themselves.

It was, for a few hours, like actually being in work.

Because a lot of my days are spent telling people stuff they could easily find out for themselves.

It’s not how I meant to spend my day, but it definitely was work and so my guilt was appeased.

Today, however, I must do better.

Although, as I have spent the first part of my ‘working day’ writing this, I would say the signs are not particularly promising…




  9 comments for “‘Working’ From Home

  1. Bryntin
    March 24, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Fourteen year old son on phone “Dad! They closed school! It’s gonna be great!!”

    Fourteen year old son on phone three hours later “Dad… you won’t BELIEVE how much stuff is coming on email from school.. shouldn’t be allowed…”

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 24, 2020 at 12:23 pm

      Tell him not to worry, the novelty will wear off soon and he can get back to YouTube safe in the knowledge that his teachers are doing exactly the same…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bryntin
        March 24, 2020 at 2:02 pm

        I’ve sent his teachers a screenshot of this message. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. March 24, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    I suggested live streaming lessons. I got shot down and mocked, saying I’d probably turn up in a different costume each day like a crazed TV presenter. I don’t know why they have this image of me…
    Anyway, like you, I have no need to concern myself any longer with the teaching and learning side of things. But I do worry about the children I’m not getting to see. My mornings have been spent tracking down children we still want in school (or at least their parents). But working from home has its perks – jumped on the Joe Wicks bandwagon and managed to sneak a bit of Netflix between emails and phone calls! By Day 3, I imagine all good intentions will be scrapped in favour of pyjamas and binge watching an entire series though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 25, 2020 at 8:36 am

      It is really hard not to watch Netflix more. To be honest I think I’m a saint for never watching it when I’m actually at work. On those rare days when I don’t have back-to-back meetings I have a few hiding places where I go to try and catch up on paperwork without being disturbed and it’s so tempting but I think being in work and wearing work clothes keeps me ‘just professional enough’. But now I’m in tracky bottoms and sitting at home, I feel like all bets are off.
      And today is day 3…

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 25, 2020 at 9:39 am

        I wish I had hiding places. Even when I lock my door, they’re outside licking the windows like a horde of zombies (and that’s just the staff… 😉). I’m also in tracksuit bottoms, still trying to stay fit with Joe. But then school rang. I had to answer. Panting down the phone to the boss may raise some questions…

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 25, 2020 at 9:46 am

        I think it’s the advantage of working in a secondary school (and having worked there for a long time). There are always rooms not being used if you know where to look. Joe Wicks is going to come out of all of this a national hero. I haven’t done his workouts myself but I seem to be literally the only person on the planet who hasn’t. I’m am trying to stay fit though so maybe I should get on board. My boss seems to have forgotten I exist. I’m not complaining…

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 25, 2020 at 10:26 am

        He will… providing he keeps it up. He was struggling this morning, which isn’t a good sign. Oh I hope someone has put Attenborough in a nuclear bunker!

        Liked by 1 person

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