Just some of the headlines I am proud to say I'm disproving; I've reached the end of my fifth year in teaching, more inspired and eager to continue than ever before! What's more, this fifth year has been my most favourite. But it hasn't always been this way...
There have been times I've considered quitting:
So why didn't I leave?
Each of these instances, and several more in the years gone by, have taught me an important lesson:
Cut to 5 years later.
I've enjoyed a year in a new school, after feeling professionally confident enough to jump ship from everything I knew!
I've launched teachmrn.com, where my constant rambling is creeping up to 50,000 views!
I've created an app designed to support parents with reading at home!
...and there was that time I split my trousers at the London Science Museum.
There's nothing further from my mind, than quitting this glorious business.
However, there is one thing I am giving up; reading miserable "Why I'm leaving" articles. If you don't like it, put in the effort to change it. Be realistic about the timescale. And be prepared to tackle critique on the way.
Don't pour your time into composing a short essay on 'how it used to be', which will only be read by people who already know everything you're going to say, or people who can't relate, thus rendering your misplaced efforts as another poster for the 'recruitment crisis'. We know the stresses; we do it too. Anyone who doesn't will just assume you're complaining about not receiving an extra week's holiday after your 3.30pm finish. There's nothing wrong with this profession - it's just the way you're being asked to go about it.
We need you to stay strong, stick to your values, and take your expertise to another school that really need you!
The 5 Year Curse is a myth, and I'm pleased to have made the right choices to ensure my longevity in this rewarding career.
Like Dave Benson-Phillips would have said in the 90s, it's time for my kids to get their own back. It was only fair that they wrote me an end of year report...
I don't think any of us can believe how quickly the year has flown by, and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself - I hope you have too!
Coming to a new school is always daunting - it doesn't matter whether you're a child or an adult, the worries are still the same. You still need to make new friends and learn where things are kept. The timetable might be different and they'll definitely have new routines to learn. I'm really pleased you were the class to help me. You'll understand why, when you go to secondary school.
In many ways, the class a teacher has is the best bit, the biggest difference. A good class make a teacher work hard, just as much as a good teacher makes a class work hard. I feel like we found a good balance; decent effort, resulting in us being able to enjoy the 'banter' (as you like to call it). I've looked forward, most days (let's not go too far), to coming to work with you. You're wired, but use your powers for good - rather than evil - and you'll go far.
You have a lot of heart, and I'm impressed by the way you protect each other. Granted, the squabbles are completely unnecessary, but you make the best team when you pull together; you've evidenced this many times. With many characters to tolerate, I'm overwhelmed by much of your maturity and the understanding you have of everyone's backgrounds; there are a lot of adults in the world that could learn a lot from you.
They say school days are the best days of your life. It doesn't always feel like it, but it's true.
Moreover, they're the perfect rehearsal for adulthood.
Right now, it's your homework, but your future boss hands out deadlines too!
Right now, they're the naughty child, but that co-worker will always be irritating.
Right now, it's called playtime, but your friend's 30th birthday bash is fast approaching!
Keep an eye on your future; it's where you're heading and this time is important - you just don't realise it yet.
Best of luck little people.
At whatever point I met you, in whatever setting (educational or otherwise) thank you so much for being part of my story. I'm a big believer in everything happening for a reason, there are lots of lessons to learn; I met you because I had something to learn from you, something to lead me to my next decision.
To those I have left behind,
While I miss you greatly, I don't hesitate to say I am having the best time! Whether I met you in uni halls, on a job paying for my degree, or at any point since qualifying, our chapter was an important one - otherwise I wouldn't be in the position I'm in today! I hope your story is going well too!
To those I have started with,
Thank you so much for being so welcoming! I am still in an element of disbelief when I think about where I have ended up. Work hard, play hard comes to mind; it's the best mix of productive and hilarious. You make this life the most fun. It has real purpose without losing any realism.
To the ones down the corridor,
I admire your patience as I stand in your doorway, on a daily basis, spouting some rubbish. Thank you for taking the time to hear me out and help with so many queries. Finding a group like you isn't easy. I reckon you could single handedly solve the 'Recruitment Crisis'.
To my team,
Truly, I think what we have done this year is very special. The autonomy we have afforded each other has been the cause of our greatest successes, I think we make a great team. I am really looking forward to the new academic year to build on what we have created so far.
To those I am yet to meet,
Success in this life is largely down to outlook - change your outlook to change your life. It's very difficult, but you never know what could happen until you give it a go! Make calculated risks, good choices. I cannot wait to meet you!
I started the year with what my classroom looked like, so it seemed only right to end the year with what it looks like now! Any teacher will know that how you visualise things and how they end up, are two completely different entities. So here's what happened...
Our Learning Walls
My English Working Walls became a staple part of my lessons, an extra resource that I referred to daily. I've got a separate post about them currently drafted. The main rule is that nothing gets added unless it has been used with the children (otherwise it just becomes wall paper). Ideally, I like to think the children seeing it being used and then pinned to the wall gives it a bit more context.
It was a great idea in theory, but it's nothing that marking wouldn't have told me. It would have added ownership, but I also felt I'd achieved a great deal of ownership with the Entry Quizzes (which are one of the things I will definitely continue in the new year).
I have really enjoyed using this, almost as a scrap book. It's been really easy to add to and take from. Depending on what we've been learning at the time, it's been useful to refer to, a simple place to add 'things we've learnt', a great source of feedback and it's also served as a place to display those extra bits they bring in as homework or independent study. In future, I'd like to add more photos and maximise its use at the beginning and end of lessons. I love a Post-It!
Although I consider myself relatively optimistic, I always feel balance is important. As an NQT, and still now, I am surrounded by astonishing practitioners who work so hard to do an incredible job. It's uplifting and aspirational. I remember in my first few years, watching these people (we used to be given 'Peer Observation Time', I'd highly recommend it) and being completely in awe of everything they were doing; finding a way out of your own classroom for a lesson or 2 is extraordinarily valuable. You enter your own classroom refreshed, with a new strategy you saw next door (it's strange how the first thing we look for, is the same thing we feel we are lacking).
But the other side of this coin is a little darker. Do you ever feel like everyone around you is doing a better job than you are? All of their lessons seem to go so well, they always talk about how engaged their children are and their to-do list is so neatly crossed through. Even here, I witter on about what went well and how exciting x, y and z were.
Let's flip the coin. Here are my 5 most irritating flaws...
Next time that person (likely me) is bragging about that brilliant lesson, remind yourself that they still had the price stickers stuck to their shoes the entire time. When you feel like you're the last person to assembly, you know it's because they never actually started their lesson because they spent 30 minutes talking about their dog.
One time I sat in milk. It was dreadful.
Dear Student Teacher,
Upon hearing I was working with you, I felt a mix of emotions. On one hand, the thought of relinquishing control made my skin itch. The last time this happened, it didn't go well. But conversely, I was also dreadfully excited. I've always wanted to work with a Teaching Student, and here's why...
Throughout my own teaching years, I have always felt there's too much emphasis placed on the false link between experience and success. While I don't doubt that there is a strong relationship between the 2, I've despised the reliance people place on them as 2 constantly functioning qualities; just because "you've been doing this a long time', it doesn't mean you're any good at it (you're just outstanding at getting away with it). Equally, just because "you're new", it doesn't mean you have less to offer.
In fact, I believe the exact opposite. You have the most to offer.
Fresh out of training; the newest policies, the latest research, most modern language... My reasoning writes itself. Although I don't believe in persistently jumping ship in order to be up-to-date, there is great validity in everything you're taught, and everything is worth a shot. It's vital for those of us no longer in training, to observe new strategies from professional think-tanks - your training provider and the like. Yes, we could hear the ideology of it, from a course with a good lunch. But we could also observe it within our own classrooms, with you as the Course Leader! We can discuss, share, debate (rather than leaving at 2.45pm "if we work through the afternoon tea break").
Yes, there is still lots to learn - we all have lots to learn - but all of your future experience means nothing without the enthusiasm, passion and hard work you exhibited. You're charismatic, a great role-model for the children and brimming with ideas. You came into my classroom and got to know each learner individually. You helped them learn new concepts, identified difficulties and addressed the gaps. Those are skills your training won't ever teach you. Those are skills that make your future experience valuable.
Thank you for launching yourself into teaching; you're a hero. I learnt a lot from you, and I hope you got something from the experience too! Congratulations on securing yourself a job; they're very lucky to have you.
Light and life,