The stage was set: crammed into a small outdoor-ed-type classroom in the middle of a country estate were 30-ish primary teachers. Each one of us had raced here straightafterschool, perhaps avoiding that parents at the gates, or that staff meeting, or that cuppa and chat with their job share partner… or perhaps even their after school Fairtrade/Enterprise/Change for Life club.
Now, freshly coffee-and-custard-cream-fuelled, we perched on uncomfortable chairs in awkward, too-close rows and politely listened to the introductory health and safety chat:
“… no planned fire alarm today… ha ha… so, we’ve run this event so many times and have refined the system for signing-up to events every year…. the main advice is to only sign up for three workshops as things often go awry on the day…. the kids will have a blast getting stuck into the activities. And you teachers might do too…!”
So. That was that. We had been provided with the information about each workshop session and now had to sign up to the events using this constantly-refined sign-up system. Perhaps I would learn something quite profound about event organisation.
The system was as follows:
- Each of the 30 or so different workshops was printed on a different A4 piece of paper
- These A4 sign up sheets were arranged neatly on two large trestle tables in two separate rooms of the outdoor-ed-type classroom building
- Each A4 piece of paper had bookable times throughout the day printed on it
- You had to write down your school name in a box to book it
“So, now that’s clear everyone… off you go!”
I hung back in my uncomfortable chair for a heartbeat, unsure of the etiquette. Everyone else had been here last year.
Surely it can’t simply be that you casually muscle in and write your school name down? Surely Shirley not…
Coming to, I was incensed with organisational anxiety. Adrenaline coursed liberally through my veins, (overtaking the caffeine and custard cream crumbs); I stealthily scooted round the edge of the room toward the first table. Pedestrian black and blue ink already adorned each sign-up sheet, the scrawling handwriting of jaded educators spreading like bindweed across the trestle tables.
Another wave hit. Organisational anxiety… There must be a better way to do this!
Had I spoken the words aloud? I would never know.
It was time for action.
Between my finger and thumb, as snug as Heaney’s pen, I wielded my trusty green Pilot G2. Within moments, the short name of my school was on every sign-up sheet. Every single one. I felt crazed. My legs carried me to the other room where I clicked and unclicked the literary sword then Zorro-ed the school’s name on every sheet. Every single one.
Yes! The kids in my class *would* experience willow weaving.
Yes! Sod Sarah Moore’s allergies… they could all go to the ferret handling session.
Yes! They would receive a free flint from the bushfire construction workshop.
I stood back and surveyed my handiwork.
And it was then that I noticed the other teachers. And their sensible pens in black and blue. Glances were cast my way.
“Which pillock wrote their name in green on every sheet?”