“However you organise the room to start with, you’ll want to change it the minute the kids arrive. At least, that’s how it was for me. It took me half a term before I had things organised the way I should have had them in September.”
I am still grateful to Simon. Unasked for, he helped me sort out my first‑ever classroom, including a lesson in the putting up of backing paper. I chose to cover all my boards in a ghastly, beige-y, custardy, blah sort of colour, I seem to remember. A good back-drop for all that free, independent writing my class would be itching to produce, was the theory. Titter ye not.
There would also have been drapes in the book corner. My teacher-training had been big on drapes in the book corner. Reading schemes were risible, Phonics was an Ph-word, but the kids would still learn to read because my book corner had Habitat drapes. The interior-design school of education.
And, as Simon had rightly predicted, I spent the following half-term holiday changing it all to the way I would have had it in September, had I known then what I knew two months later.
I’ve lost track of Simon in the intervening twenty five years. He left teaching to become a different sort of missionary; a fundamentalist who didn’t believe in dinosaurs because of his reading of Genesis. But a nice guy, none the less, and something of a minor prophet when it comes to the lag-time between starting a new school year and actually being ready for the start of a new school year.
Which is all a fairly tortuous lead-in to the fact that I am now – finally – half a term late – starting to really enjoy having left full-time teaching.
There are many things I miss, of course, aside from the actual teaching. My colleagues – no, friends – the companionship, the staff-room banter. The money, particularly with last weekend’s unexpected roof repairs gobbling up a month’s worth of my teacher’s pension. My beautiful, beautiful school.
But set against this is the great liberation of feeling Free from Fear. I am going to bed at night actually looking forward to the following day, when, amid the chores, I will be able to garden or write or read without guilt.
Any teacher will tell you – probably has, in fact, at interminable length – that it’s not so much the actual teaching that gets to them in the end. They signed up for that. What takes the shine off life is the fear that, at any time, someone higher up the food chain – perhaps even the Big O – will realise that you don’t know the progress data for every child in your class; that your assessments and pupil profiles are not completely up-to-date; that your marking doesn’t clearly show the next steps for every area under the sun, including teeth-brushing. That your displays are not as fresh or as interactive as they could be (but why?) That your planning is insufficiently differentiated. That you are not making full use of the outdoor area / role play corner / interactive whiteboard. In short, that someone will realise that, all these years, you’ve just been getting away with it.
No? Just me then. Probably just as well that I am sitting by the picture window, quietly blogging. Who knows what damage I’d do if let back in the classroom?
There’s a blue tit on the pyracantha berries. I think I’ll watch it for a while.
I discovered a new blog this week. The ones I’ve read so far have been teaching anecdotes – very enjoyable. Here’s a link to a post called ‘Taking the p*ss”, which brought to mind finding one particular lad at the urinals, directing the action — so to speak – with one hand while eating a banana held in the other. Nice.
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