As a teacher, there is an interesting internal debate concerning ones private and professional life. During teacher training, it’s drilled into your head that you must separate them, and if you want to go “out” or “party” you are advised to do it at least two towns away. Interesting perspective.

This is partly due to the fact that teachers are supposed to be moral upstanding citizens that model proper behaviour in society. A responsibility that is both lofty but also difficult to manage in an increasingly more digital world.

Normally this is not a concern for me, but I was affronted today by a lecture from our principal regarding what is appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviour in the town in which we live. Apparently this was prompted by some poor behaviour of a few, and it ends up affecting 150 staff members that have nothing to do with it, but it brings me a moment of reflection. Is my public behaviour appropriate or could it be perceived as inappropriate?

Short answer is of course it’s appropriate. I tend not to be very loud, I don’t often drink, but I do like to go dancing on a regular basis. So if this is not a problem, why do I take enough of this time to write and reflect. Good question; the answer lies deeper in the perception of management and how it relates.

Simply put, I live a pretty lonely existence. I work, I socialise with colleagues, and since one of only two people I know outside of work moved away recently, I find my social life to be even more hermit like than usual. At work we are preached at to not stay late and go to home, and I beg the question: “Go home to what?” Personally I work better at work, and my home is more of a relax and sleep place. I find it difficult to work at home and so naturally I stay later if I need to get work done. This is frowned upon.

So then I go home earlier, to sit alone at home. Why alone? Well because basically a staff of 150 is being told to limit their social life in public. So it leaves me in a bit of a pickle. In this town where I live it feels nearly impossible to meet new people outside of teaching, or develop a social life if you’re not out in public. I can’t go to a coffee shop without being spotted by either a student or a relative of a student.

How do I thus continue to live in the same city in which I work without having any family, basically no friends, and now a more limited social life at work? I already travel two times weekly to a city 60km away to participate in a choir, which is a social life in its own right, but it being religious and me not living there makes it tough to form real connections.

And thus my employer puts me in what feels like an impossible situation. Stay in and be lonely, and then be chastised when the consequence of that decision is a result of the request.