Pillar of the Community

19 03 2013

pillar of the community

About 6 years ago I endured a tedious few hours after school attending my first ever internal INSET session.

It was everything I expected it to be 😦

In a bid to reduce costs in a damaged economy, the effective solution to training was to use the people within the staff body to deliver sessions rather than paying to bring in outside experts. There were the long winded explanations of pedagogical strategies that we were already using on daily basis anyway and no staff training would be complete without the predictable overuse of PowerPoint.

But aside from the fact that it was my first experience of this type of event one thing has always stuck in my mind.

The head teacher spoke that evening – with great passion – about the high regard in which teachers are held. She explained that we were “in loco parentis” while the students were with us and that we were charged with the great responsibility of educating young minds. She reminded us of our role in writing references and signing photographs for not only driving licence applications but also passports.

She informed us that we were all “Pillars of the Community”.

This gave me pause…

I went into teaching because I had a passion for my subject area and a desire to share my enthusiasm with others -(the holidays and seemingly short hours may have also influenced my decision); but I had never really considered the fact that I would be a ‘”Role Model”.

A pillar of the community is defined as someone who is important and respected and plays an active part in society. I questioned whether I was a suitable candidate for what sounded like a huge responsibility and, if I am honest, a bit of a chore.

However the Headmistress wasn’t finished – she went on to explain that we were NEVER off duty. Every shopping trip could result in a chance encounter with a student, in the pub on a Friday night you never whose parent or grandparent was in earshot and every interaction on a social media website carried the risk of public scrutiny.

It is one thing to behave in a professional manner at work – although I dislike the clinical and robotic persona adopted by some fellow professionals – but to accept that every aspect of my life both in and outside of the workplace is subject to scrutiny and judgement is intolerable and unfair.

This INSET lesson has always stayed with me and to this day I am uncomfortable with the label which was placed on me that day. I have bad habits, I occasionally laugh at inappropriate jokes, and I dress differently in my leisure time than I do at school. I am not a machine and while I do my best to be a good person and to do the right things I often get it wrong. But I am not paid to be permanently on the clock, nor should I be.

I will endeavour to be a good “pillar of the community” but I can live with myself if from time to time…my halo slips :p

 

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