50 Reasons Why I Love Where I Work


Collage 2

Very few people can say they love what they do. Even fewer of those can say they also love where they work. I am one of those very lucky people. Before I got to where I am, I was a bit of a journeyman teacher, never staying at one school for more than about four years. Next year, I will be entering my sixth year at what I consider to be one of the best schools in the country. And still I have no plans to leave.

Here’s why:

  1. Because the boys are allowed to grow their hair, and because all of the students can mix and match their uniform, and because they often wear sandals and plakkies when it’s hot, my school often feels like a 1970’s surfer movie.
  2. One of my students can’t hand in her creative essay because she’s only written up to Chapter 3. Another is late because she’s painting t-shirts to show the history of the universe.
  3. When I ask for ‘something creative’ in students’ assignments, I get back Minecraft recordings, clocks, calendars, games, videos, paintings, apps… the list is practically endless.
  4. The corridors are littered with musical instruments, sports gear, dramatics garb and biology experiments.
  5. The headmaster has bought the staff not one, but two proper coffee machines.
  6. Ma Alice (the tea lady) always greets you with a happy ‘How are you!?’ every single time you see her.
  7. Our bus driver studies route atlases of South Africa, and can tell you where all of the national and regional routes begin, end, and every place they pass through. As a result, he has a mental map of South Africa second to none.
  8. Our seniors get to hang out in the canteen or library when they’re free.
  9. Some of my students have to be late to Robotics because they have to be at UN Debating / Johannesburg Junior City Council meetings / cricket / swimming / band practice, etc., etc.
  10. Some of our students read about things like epigenetics, micro-economics, mathematical puzzles and philosophy… for fun.
  11. At any time of the year, if I decide to have an open discussion, I am amazed at the depth and range of ideas my students have about almost anything.
  12. Some students Google what I am saying while I am saying it. Just to check.
  13. There is almost always something happening on campus… Even on the weekends.
  14. When I want to start something like a Robotics club, our generous parents quickly donate enough money to buy five robots.
  15. We are lucky enough to have our classrooms cleaned every day. (I used to have to sweep and clean my own classroom at some of my previous schools.)
  16. I have carpets in my class and blinds on my windows.
  17. Our SRC Executive body is actively encouraged to take on a leadership role in the school.
  18. Most of our teachers go out of their way to create beautiful learning spaces.
  19. Our groundskeeper’s name is Willy.
  20. Our headmaster is the most well-travelled man I know, and makes it his mission to get as many of the students and staff to experience the wonders of traveling as he can. Also, he has never turned me away from his office when I pop in to have a word.
  21. We do not have morning staff meetings.
  22. We have seats in the hall for assembly.
  23. We do not have detentions.
  24. Homework over weekends is discouraged.Collage 1
  25. If staff are not proctoring during exams, we can stay at home.
  26. Team marking is compulsory.
  27. When the Geography Department set a one-sentence exam in June this year, and requested students to create a paper sculpture for an exam a few years ago, and when the Art department set a slide-show exam a while back, school management rubber-stamped the idea without blinking.
  28. Our students complete appraisals of their teachers at the end of each year.
  29. The headmaster’s secretary, June, is the friendliest, most efficient, most courageous lady on campus. Whenever you finish chatting to her (which can sometimes take a while), you always walk away feeling good.
  30. Fridays are wacky: Fun in Maths, videos in Geography, calling teachers by the first names (First Name Friday), and every so often the Afrikaans teachers sneak the kids off campus to get frozen yogurt at the local shopping centre.
  31. For a small school, we have a super-abundance of provincially and nationally competitive students.
  32. Our Art, Design, Music and Drama students put on regular displays, productions and soirées. As well as showcasing their talents at assemblies and other functions.
  33. Our Science guru has visited CERN in Switzerland, Singapore and a variety of other places to keep up with the latest advances in science and science teaching.
  34. Our English Department has prescribed Malcolm Gladwell as an enrichment reader.
  35. Our Grade 8 and 10 Computer Studies syllabus includes coding games.
  36. We have a flat management structure. This means that no-one is there to oversee me doing my job and I am trusted to do so.
  37. Many classrooms are left unlocked during breaks.
  38. We have almost no incidents of fighting or stealing.
  39. The school has a strict zero-tolerance policy as regards bullying.
  40. Our school offers scholarships and internships for students who want to become teachers.
  41. Our Grade 8s don’t suffer any kind of demeaning ‘initiation’ rituals or ‘minionships’. Instead, they are warmly welcomed to the school.
  42. Our Art students have painted beautiful murals on the walls and tables outside the classroom. At another school, this would be called vandalism and painted over.
  43. The cafeteria makes awesome caffe mochas.
  44. Our students are remarkably independent and self-confident.
  45. We don’t have any stupid traditions which we do because we’ve always done them.
  46. There is no local branch of the thought-police on campus.
  47. The staff does a production once every two years where they make absolute fools of themselves. (The principal even has a starring role in the Rocky Horror finale!)
  48. We believe that technology never takes the place of good teaching.
  49. I believe we are always safe when we are on campus.
  50. I have a comfortable couch in my class.

Update: Sadly, at the end of 2015, I decided to move away from the school I loved so much for 8 years. I wish Crawford College Lonehill all the best.

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About Sean Hampton-Cole

Fascinated by thinking & why it goes wrong➫ (Un)teacher ➫iPadologist ➫Humanist ➫Stirrer ➫Edupunk ➫Synthesist ➫Introvert ➫Blogger ➫Null Hypothesist.
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7 Responses to 50 Reasons Why I Love Where I Work

  1. Justin says:

    You said it , you are very lucky or do we make our own luck ?

  2. That seemed like an effortless list for you to write. Makes me suspect there are a coupla dozen more goodies left in there.

  3. vickyi says:

    sounds a school full of fun and laughter as well as caring and achievement in all spheres of life

  4. Pingback: 50 Reasons Why I Love Where I Work | vickysideas

  5. Shaun Fuchs says:

    What a great school! I am thrilled that you came up with so many positives! I would love the students and the rest of the staff to do this exercise.

  6. What an inspiration to other schools and it is not all about money either.

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