This past week or so I’ve been finding working from home a struggle.
I thought I was pretty used to it. Certainly, it suits my life better: I see more of my children, wrestle with fewer people on the Central Line, pay less to commute, and all that practical jazz.
But nonetheless I’ve been struggling. I have diagnosed in myself People Withdrawal Symptoms - specifically Now Teach People .
I think I felt a bit like this at the start of the first lockdown: all the days seemed long and the silence could be very loud.
In the past few weeks, I’ve had the great good fortune to spend time with some of the best people I know: Now Teachers (as well as the Now Teach team) and it has been joyous.
I note in myself a desire for precisely the opposite form of interaction to the kind I want on Zoom.
On Zoom, like everyone, I appreciate tightly structured meetings where there is a clear purpose and agenda and at the end a feeling that some kind of question has been answered. (Actually I think they are often better than in-person meetings when we have a tendency to get side-tracked.)
But in person I want the things I cannot bear on a video call. The phrases ‘online social’, ‘virtual celebration’ and ‘Zoom networking’ fill me with dread. I did the mandatory round of birthday parties and work socials and the rest during lockdown, and I suppose they served a purpose, but I’ll be happy never to do another.
In person it’s quite another matter. At a Now Teach Social the other day, about 25 Now Teachers from various cohorts gathered in a room near the British Library to drink wine, eat food and natter.
There was no agenda, no purpose: no point..?
I talked to a research scientist turned-teacher about how other Now Teachers from his sector might contribute to the way science curricula is developed. I left with an embryonic plan about how we can connect people with similar past professions.
I heard from a Now Teacher who began in 2017 and from one who started in 2021 that they are both happier than they’ve ever been in their lives. I left refilled with optimism and faith in what we are doing.
I spoke to a Now Teacher who retrained while undergoing some critical challenges at home, and reflected on how her parenting of teenagers will impact her teaching of teenagers. I left gladdened that she can have access to support from the Now Teacher Parents Network.
I shared a plate of snacks with a colleague who’s been doing this with me from the very start of Now Teach. We have talked to each other an awful lot in the last few years but seen each other perhaps twice ‘IRL’ and we've always have an agenda. I left remembering how much I quite simply like and admire her.
I hugged my co-founder, Lucy, and hugged many old Now Teacher friends. I left having made some new ones.
And in tiny and random ways, my view of the world changed a little. Connections were made; thoughts sparked; emotions understood. I felt more alive.
So now working from home feels just that little bit more of a slog. I’m sure there’s a beautiful hybrid world and I’m not sure I’ve found it yet.
But I am quite sure I never want to return to the ways we’ve worked these past two years if I can possibly help it.