This week I have worked in a corporate office environment for the first time since 2009. Back then I left a career in Marketing and ventured into the world of teaching. Now, 8 years later I am returning to the “real world” as I like to call it.
Last night I was discussing with a past colleague, who has also decided to leave teaching for the time being, what the benefits will be of working in an office environment. The first thing that came to my mind (which is really important whilst I’m focusing on drinking my 8 cups of water a day) is that I get to go to the toilet whenever I want. I don’t have to restrict my water intake because I don’t have time to visit the ladies for hours. So it got me to thinking – what are the benefits that teachers see to NOT working in a school? Having a social network full of teachers I thought I’d ask them and here are the top responses:
- Holiday whenever you want.
Some people take this for granted. You see a good deal, you check with the office calendar, book your annual leave and off you go. For teachers it is very different. You see a deal, you check the dates it’s available and then you frown because it’s not during a school holiday. Yes, teachers know annual leave dates a whole year in advance, and yes, we know, teachers get waay too much “time off”. But there is no flexibility, no freedom.
I remember one year looking at holidays abroad for the summer holidays and the evening flight (on the last day of term) was over £100 more expensive than the 7am one. No flexibility at all.
Which brings me nicely onto my next point…
2. Not paying extortionate holiday prices
It doesn’t matter how far in advance you book your holidays, the travel world seem to know when school holidays are and BOOM up go the prices. For example, an all-inclusive week to Cyprus for 2 adults in August will put you back approximately £1300pp. Change it to mid- September and you are looking at approximately £850pp for the same holiday!
Now I know families have a similar issue, and with schools adding fines for taking your child out of school it’s becoming a problem for lots of people but teachers can’t take a fine for booking a holiday in term time. We’d just lose our jobs! (Don’t get me started on making the government look at reducing the price hike on school holiday vacation prices).
3. Stop working when you walk out of the door at the end of the day
Many people quip about the “part time” nature of teaching as school finishes before 4pm. However, one benefit of working outside of teaching is that you can potentially walk out of the door at the end of your shift and not have any work to do until you walk back in at 9am the next day. Now don’t get me wrong, I know not every office job works like that. I know some people start their commute in the small hours if they have to travel to a different office; I know some people (my Dad included) who will respond to work emails on their laptop at night. But in reality will the world end if you don’t reply until you log-in the next morning? (It’s worth thinking about for all of us.)
As a teacher I could easily work right up until I go to bed at 11pm. Some nights I even sat in my bed with my planner on my lap. The to-do list is never ending. If it wasn’t planning some lessons for the next day, it was marking the mountain of essays or books I had to grade in time to input on the data system.
3.1 TGIF actually means something
Another linked benefit, which is one of my favourites, is having a weekend! I have spent too many weekends and watched my Mum spend whole Saturdays with the dining room table piled high with books to mark. The moment I realised that I needed to stop bringing the marking home was when I sat in the car at Brands Hatch watching motorbike races with a pile of essays to mark on my lap. What was I doing? Suffice to say, whatever job I take on next, my evenings and weekends are for my husband and I.
4. No marking
As a teacher this is probably the hardest, most tenuous but one of the most important jobs you have to do. This is fine in a posh fancy private school where you have small class numbers. But what happens when you have a top set Year 11 class with 32 students? Bye bye sanity.
So, yes at the moment I am spending some of my days proof-reading a lengthy corporate Annual Report – but that (at the moment) isn’t as tiring as reading 32 efforts at an essay about Macbeth, where you wonder what on earth they were doing during the 6 weeks you spent studying the play.
5. Finishing a whole cup of tea
Now, this came from my Aunty who worked in a Primary School for a number of years so her situation was slightly different to me. She was not allowed hot drinks out of the staff room. So for teaching staff who work in schools with strict rules on hot beverages it is a real luxury getting to drink a whole cup of tea mid-morning. What tends to happen is you queue up for ages to make the drink take a few sips then tip it down the sink because the bell has gone and you have to rush off to class.
In the secondary schools I had worked in you could make a drink whenever you were
able, as long as it was in a lidded thermos cup (Note to parents: don’t buy teachers mugs anymore, always opt for the lidded thermos cup!!) My issue with finishing a whole cup of tea was different. If I did get to the urn before the students piled in through the school door at 8:20am, by the time I remembered I’d made it (after listening to my form rant and rave about something they suffered through the previous day in school) it had gone stone cold in the thermos cup before I finished it. Now I’ve nearly done a whole week in an office and I’m working on my ability to even manage to finish a whole cup as I’m so used to just drinking half. It’s a hard life.
Reflecting on a week in the “real world”
I was absolutely inundated by friends and family who were or are in teaching when I asked them for the perks they saw of the “real world” of work. I’m still getting odd updates four days later when they think of something else. But I think it’s time for me to do some honest reflection after my short time back in an office job.
Firstly, I have energy left at the end of the working day. I get to 5pm and I’m mentally tired, but physically I still have energy. So much so I have hit my step target every day because I’ve been to the gym (two days) and went for a walk and played at the park with my best friend and her twins (2 yrs old and non-stop running/playing). This for me is a novelty. I rarely had the desire, inclination or energy to hit the gym straight after school. I would not only be mentally exhausted but also physically having spent 7 hours constantly walking around a classroom keeping 30 students focused on something they’d probably rather not be doing.
Also, I’m finding I am more relaxed in the evenings. Last night my husband and I were sat on the sofa and watching something completely pointless on the TV when he turned to me and said “How does it feel not having to prepare for work tomorrow?” My stomach flipped and I realised he was right. Even though I had done a full day at work it still felt like I was on my holidays, relaxed, zoned out and enjoying my evening. That in itself is more valuable than a swag bag full of gold bullion.
Now I just have to find a permanent job…