So at first reading, the headline “Ban pushy parents from emailing teachers, says Ofsted” would suggest that Ofsted thinks that schools have the time or the resources to do so and that it is actually something that they’ve said. On further reading, it’s not that at all.
I’m all for having email. I think it has transformed how people can reach each other, with largely the benefits outweighing the negatives in terms of my work. However, I do think that I can attribute that to one major factor: I don’t and will not have my work emails going to my private, personal phone. I just won’t do it. I won’t set up my school email account to ping each time a message pops up, I won’t check them at stupid o’clock and I won’t beat myself up if something has to wait until the next day for a response. My phone is for me.
While I’ve never had emails divert to my phone, I’ve not always been quite so well-disciplined when it comes to checking them.
There have been times when I’ve checked messages late on in the evening and found something from a parent that was really quite tricky to deal with, that derailed my evening. I would stress into the night and by the morning, I’d be utterly beside myself. But it wasn’t the parents’ emails (and there were some that were more ‘frequent’ than others and a bit more exigent) that made my life difficult and caused me stress, it was me. It was me checking messages and writing email at stupid o’clock, then actually sending them. I dealt myself that hand and then I stopped. I had driven myself into the ground with stress so something had to change.
I stopped checking emails at all times. That’s not to say that I missed messages and didn’t respond; I still met the school’s expectation that all message were acknowledged within 24 hours. I engaged with everything, but just within slightly less ridiculous hours that I allowed myself to be seen to work. I worked long hours, and I still do in different role, but I will not check work emails while I’m on the way to bed.
My phone is for me. My time is mine to manage when I’m not at work.
I will always respond to messages but I learnt (and made myself ill) that it is just a job (a job I love) and we should not destroy ourselves for it!