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Inspection madness: a control freak speaks

September 24, 2010

My school is having an inspection next week. I don’t know how it works for you all in the US, but here in Rain City, UK, we get a few weeks’ notice. Then a team of about a dozen inspectors descend for a week and watch whatever lessons they choose to see, usually with no notice. Some departments are chosen for focused inspection – thankfully, mine wasn’t. But they’ll poke around a bit, ask students about the work they’ve done, and generally use every possible cunning ruse to catch us out.

In theory, we all teach pretty well, care about the students and do our best for them. Our paperwork is good enough and the school is run efficiently. And in practice this does happen – but it’s impossible for us just to accept this and carry on as normal. Maybe teaching attracts more than its fair share of perfectionists. But we’ve all gone mad with the inspection preparation over the last few weeks.

As the lovely reprographics technician said, “Stand still too long and somebody will laminate you”. Yeah – laminating something is very fulfilling and definitely makes you feel that you have done it better. I love to laminate, especially when under pressure.

This morning I walked past a noticeboard in my department which features music tutors’ names on coloured (laminated) labels above their timetables. I was unhappy with the colours of drawing pins that had been used on them, so I spent ten minutes replacing them so that the pins matched each other but contrasted with the background colours. Like yellow pins on a turquoise label and white pins on a red one. I didn’t use the same colour of pins on two labels next to each other. It looks very lovely now. But would any inspector care or notice? Ummm, I’m thinking no. And I’m thinking that I may be even control-freakier than I realised.

When I tell AB that I’ve done something like that, he laughs his legs off. He’s a teacher too, and he has a much better attitude. If he had an inspection to prepare for, he’d be thinking about what exactly he wanted to teach in those lessons and how he could best achieve that. He’d make sure that he had a good range of interesting activities and was ready to sum up clearly at the end. It’s not that I don’t do that. But as sure as anything, AB has never colour-co-ordinated a drawing pin in his life and is probably the better teacher – and certainly the easier human being to get along with – for it.

I need to loosen up a little. At the moment I can explain it away as me displacing my nerves before the inspection by completely OCD-ing every item in my department. But all my dozens of colour-coded lever arch files (which I buy from a special shop 37 miles drive away) in my office kind of give the game away. I do this all the time. I am such a control freak. I guess I need help. Pity the guy best qualified to do that is 3,000 miles away.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 26, 2010 5:22 am

    Never apologize for being who you are, darling. And you and AB balance each other out – it’s why you work. 😀 Same thing with Bob and me. I make him less fussy and he makes me more responsible.

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