Friday, 24 October 2014

Dying for Half Term?

First I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to marry and have children.
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough
 for school so I could return to work.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now, I am dying... and suddenly I realise I forgot to live.

This powerful reflection reminds me of the John Lennon quote, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.". I am one of countless teachers desperate for that bell to go at 3.30pm today. We're low on energy, patience and enthusiasm.

I love my job, I really do and I can't imagine doing any thing else. The young people I work with are incredible, wonderful and amazing. However, like many other teachers, I find myself wishing away the term; when's the next holiday?

The last ten years of teaching have gone past very quickly. I remember graduating in 2005 and starting my great teaching adventure with a PGCE and my first job in July 2006. I remember exactly how badly I did some things, and the horrific mistakes I made with classes I taught and colleagues I worked with. If I am honest, I still do some things badly now, and I still make plenty of mistakes... I just can't hide behind my NQT folder!

However, is it really possible to live for the moment in schools? I'm pretty sure we do at times. Sometimes I stand back in my classroom and remind myself how lucky I am and what a great job it is. I even allow a smug smile and an imaginary self pat on the back.

Yet too often we don't. We are rushing, missing deadlines, wishing we had more time, thinking 'if only?'. Then all of a sudden the next half term holiday comes, the summer arrives and it's another year of teaching chalked up. I used to keep all my old planners and diaries as a stark reminder of how many years had passed. Then I got my pension slip and saw SIXTY SEVEN; that'd be 45 planners. I'm sure those years will still go surprisingly quickly.

Finding time to live as a teacher is hard. However the classroom does still makes me feel alive (apart from maybe p6 on a Friday) in a  way that I struggle to see how an office would; I know I would find it hard to give up.

It seems workload is going to be the new teacher vote winner (the irony of spending time filling in more paperwork to air your views on this does not escape me) as Morgan, Hunt and Clegg announce they will reduce it if elected.

Some stuff we do is crap, but a lot of the extra stuff we do does make us better teachers. Maybe I'm lucky in my school and its not as bad as in others? I'm pretty sure some of my teachers at school didn't have clue what grades I was supposed to get, and it didn't make a blind bit of difference what my final results were. They cared, but did they get the best out of everyone? Do we get the best out of more students now? I really hope so, or it really is in vain.

So how to live and not spend our lives counting down to the next holidays? I'm not sure. I'm just glad that there always is another holiday as that means in the not too distant future there will be another new term and we can start afresh again with renewed energy, enthusiasm and patience for the weeks ahead.

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