In the JET Programme, we have nice jargon that we throw around for situations that everyone experiences in most jobs. Today’s word is deskwarming. This one is to describe a time in every Assistant Language Teacher’s life, and everyone else’s life too really, where they will have nothing to do during their day so they have to sit at their desk and just be. Sound familiar? Yip, it did to me too. I had so many of these days at my job at the bank and at my job at the ad agency that I became a professional at initiating “work” projects for myself. Occasionally I’ve presented these projects to my bosses to some positive feedback so you can say I’m a bit of a pro at this now.
Anyway, I have two schools that I work at here in Japan and I split my time between them during the week. Two days I work at Junior High School and three days I spend at Elementary School. I love both my schools as they both give me different things to look forward to. At my elementary, I love getting to see my kids, especially the ones I don’t teach, the grade 1s, who seem to love me for reasons I have yet to figure out. The atmosphere in the staffroom is also pretty chill and mellow and my colleagues are very friendly, making it a comfy space to spend my days. Unfortunately, this is the one school where I am busy all day, and most days so I don’t get to enjoy the staffroom that often. At my junior high, I love getting some free time to write and to play table tennis on Fridays with some of my students. The staffroom is always buzzing with activity cause everyone is apparently prepping for something all the time so I barely get a chance to chat with my colleagues, though they do seem like lovely people. Unfortunately, my number of classes in a day have gone up since my initial month on the job so the free time I used to have there has gone down.
So what does a busy bee like me know about desk warming? Well, it’s winter here in Japan and in my town, we are facing a wave of influenza in our schools. What this means is that some classes and grades have been suspended for a few days to avoid the spread of the virus. And what that means is that there is a higher number of teachers loitering in the staffroom than ever before because they don’t have children to care for. This is the true face of deskwarming season, my friends. When a chunk of the staffroom is flung into joblessness because of unforeseen circumstances.
Today, a Thursday, a day I usually have 6 classes, I only had 2 classes. Initially, I too was like, yay, more time to write! But, since everyone is affected by the same circumstances, the staffroom has more bodies. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if I was at my junior high where I have become used to a noisy staff room, but this is my sweet old elementary school. Having bodies in the staffroom means having people who aren’t used to sitting still being confined to their desks all day. This usually turns into office small talk. Which also is a signal for “nobody is working today”.
This deskwarming has been slightly challenging for me because it has caught me at a time where I am weeks ahead on my blog posts and I have too little creativity running through my brain to tackle any of the short stories I am working on. So what do I do when I have no motivation to write and nothing else to do? I write anyway.
It’s painful, and it feels pointless but the truth is, the little bits of something I’m doing today will add up to something tomorrow. The hardest thing to conquer during deskwarming is truly one’s own mind. But once you start, the lack of motivation that was holding you back will gradually disappear and you’ll start getting into whatever it is that you needed or wanted to do. So as I sit here today, battling the urge to fall asleep in my cup of rooibos tea, I’ll fight against the onslaught of laziness that deskwarming inspires by pushing myself enough today that tomorrow me will thank me for moving forward, even if a tiny step.