So, as my last post suggested, the world of education and teaching is littered with many trials and pitfalls and has been, at times, a tough place to work.
And yet, as I leave, there are so many memories, good times and aspects of teaching that will remain with me always.
In the name of balance, here’s just a few of the things I am going to miss.
- Playing guitar on a windswept beach
I have always enjoyed bringing my guitar out in the classroom and assemblies, playing latest songs or simply top education tracks – My Triangle by James Blunt (!) and That’s a Lovely Adaptation being particular favourites.
And, for the last five years, I’ve lugged the guitar across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man for a evening singsong looking out to the ocean. There’s something really special about leading a group of children in singing anyway, but in that spectacular setting with the sun slipping behind the clouds and the waves rolling in, belting out Let It Go never felt more appropriate. Gotta love residentials.
Thank you to all the children – and staff! – who humoured me with my guitar playing. No idea who my next unsuspecting audience is going to be!
- Getting over-excited about the world of school football
This passion was stoked at Ambleside where, despite my first football team receiving me with great disdain (“Who are you again?”), we experienced tremendous highs. Champions of Nottingham, guest-starring at Notts County and at Notts Forest home grounds, and within a referee’s whistle blast of Nottinghamshire champions, it was amazing to watch children achieving their potential. Huge thank you to those loyal teachers who helped me there for their service, support and coaching.
It only increased when I moved up to Manchester and met the most committed school sports teacher I’ve had the privilege of working with. His ambition to bring sport into the lives of every child was really inspiring and helped me play a part in transforming sport at our school.
Single best moment – a bullet header extra-time winner in the middle of winter as darkness crept rapidly across the pitch. Epic!
- Helping children make progress, love learning and get better
Every teacher has had the child in the class who really struggled but suddenly grasped something and took great strides forward in their learning. It’s been such a privilege to be part of their journey, whether it’s an academic concept or a social skill or simply something that helps them be a better friend. I’m no different, and in trying to understand young people and help them see right from wrong, I must have made a difference somewhere along the way. I will miss the opportunity to make a positive impact and help our young people – who are confronted by an exciting but turbulent and confusing future – make sense of the world around them.
- Jokes and laughter
Someone today described schools to me as “a bubble.” And it’s so true. Every workplace has banter; every workplace has its array of personalities and characters. But schools are microcosms of society with the added complexity of parent-teacher relationships, parent-parent dynamic, senior leaders and, governors not to mention the rapport between a teacher and their class. I’ve always enjoyed teaching the older primary children – for some reason, they seem to get my sarcasm more readily and realise that the twinkle in my eye actually means I’m joking. I’ll miss being well looked after by so many members of staff as well. I try not to be quite so bumbling but thank you to all those who’ve helped me out with a big smile on their face while they do so. How will I cope in the big wide world?
- And finally…the community
A school – primary in particular – is at the centre of the local community. Teachers are important figures, role models who shape and influence young people. They matter. I’ve enjoyed building strong links with the communities I’ve taught in, through teaching the children, providing an array of exciting opportunities (orchestra, concerts, debate club, sport) and/or just trying to be a decent human being. My wife and children have always felt really welcome at school and part of the fabric of the local community even though we live a fair distance away. I’m not sure how another workplace can fully replace this feeling.
So there you have it. I will really miss it – this Monday morning all these elements will no longer be part of my life.
I wonder what the next step holds.