The title of my blog is New Beginnings and in order to allow new beginnings in our life, we have to let go of old things. Regular readers will know about the war we have been waging on clutter. Some of you may have had a look at my new blog, following the Harcombe Diet with Sue from Our New Life in the Country http://thehowlowcanyougofooddiary.blogspot.co.uk/
Today was my last day at the Academy I have been working in. I found the experience very stressful but this has had absolutely nothing to do with the students who are quite delightful. Many of the staff were lovely people and I came away with these gifts, which I certainly hadn't expected:
Yesterday I said goodbye to the year 11s and today was my last day with my year 10s. Those of you who are teachers will know what I mean when I say that every now and again a really special class passes through your orbit and really touches your soul. There is a connection there. This year 10 group were/are like that and I am going to miss them. I taught them for 3 hours today (a one hour lesson this morning and a double this afternoon). They chatted to me, we took photographs; talked about endings... and new beginnings .. and there was music, cake, laughter and some tears. They gave me flowers and chocolates and made me a memory book with their comments in, which any teacher would be proud of. I felt very humble and hugely privileged to have known these very special young people. On the board they wrote 'There's only one Mrs P.' and I thought. well thank goodness for that - I don't think the world could take another.
Klaudia's entry, as well as many others, had me in tears. As teachers, we don't do our job for rewards, but when moments like this happen they count for a thousand bad days. The school I taught in is a deprived area and these students don't come from privileged homes. This makes their gifts all the more meaningful. I expected nothing.
As teachers we are used to beginnings and endings, but some students find them difficult. Students come into our lives and eventually move on to the next phase of their lives. Many we will remember. Students who come from broken homes and lack secure attachments will often form attachments (healthy ones) with teachers. A teacher does not just impart knowledge - in fact, it is my belief that we should be following the root of the word education - 'educare', meaning 'to lead out'. Unfortunately our National Curriculum and its fervent quest to impart facts allows for little of this. I have always believed that teachers are often so much more than educators. We spend 5+ quality hours with students 5 days a week. We have huge influence, which can be used for good or sometimes misused. We can help students to understand healthy boundaries that come with secure attachments when they have not experienced these in their own lives. We can help the lawless understand that sometimes rules are there to protect us and keep us safe. We can show what respect looks like through modelling it and this is a powerful lesson to those who have never received respect. We can raise self-esteem and confidence and instil a life-long love of learning through our own enthusiasm. We can explore issues in a safe, holding environment and teach that it is important that every individual has the right to be heard and their opinions respected. We teach, hopefully by example, that difference is to be prized and not feared, and this is all the more pertinent in a modern languages class. This particular year 10 group included students from Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Romania. They brought such wonderful diversity to the group with their amazing life stories and experiences. One of their peers who sat his GCSE this year with the year 11s comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His story is one that moved me to tears. We too learn from our students and as human beings, we may be sad when they move on. I hope that I have done enough to help this group get the grades they deserve next year. Knowing them has made me a better person and taught me many things. I will miss them. That said, this move is the right one for me and I am looking forward to my new school and the next chapter in my life.
When Little Sister was in hospital recently I was given the opportunity to say thank you to a teacher of mine and her husband who had gone the extra mile for me when I was at school. Sister spotted a name on the ward list and realised that it was the teacher's husband and the following day I took flowers and strawberries to say a huge thank you, 36 years after the event, to express what their kindness had meant to me. I had NEVER forgotten them. I bet there are teachers that you all remember; some fondly and some with anger, but teachers have an impact and my job as a teacher is to never forget that.
I'd love to hear your 'teacher' stories.
Love Mrs Thrifty