So, here we are.

How did I get to here, this, my final moments in school as a working teacher? I can vividly remember my first days at Redbrook sitting in the staff room, marking my first set of exercise books with an air of excitement and feeling quite grown up.

Now 43 years later I am wondering where all that time went.

It’s been a rollercoaster with good times and bad along the way. Perhaps the worst was the end of my time at my previous school which was truly terrible and almost saw me forced out of teaching. It was a period of great worry both professionally and personally and blighted my life for more than two years. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – it was unfair, unnecessary and dishonest. I was saved by Robin and I want to pay tribute to his kindness and humanity because he agreed to shelter me for a couple of terms on a secondment and I know that must have been hard for him to sell to the people around him. Luckily, it lead to a post I was able to secure through a robust recruitment process and a stay of more than eight years. It not only saved me and my career but breathed new life in to both and I will always be grateful for that. I hope I have repaid him and the school with my work and contribution since then.

And so…

Lots of people over the last few weeks have asked variations on “Are you on the countdown/” “Are you counting down the days?” And my answer was always no…because I haven’t been.

I haven’t been yearning to get away from here or education. I haven’t printed T-shirts with the number of days left or had a counter on my computer. I haven’t darkly muttered about not being able to wait to get out of here…I’m going kicking and screaming!

Because for me it has been a joy and a privilege to work for as long as I have in education in this most battered and beleaguered, but beautiful and historically important little town.

I like the thought that I have been here to make a difference because surely that is what we are here for…making a difference to the lives of the young people we teach.

 For many of them we – and the education we provide – are the only hope they have of improving their lives and those of their families.

I wish I was continuing that work but I am confident I am leaving it in safe hands.

Today I have keys, a swipe name badge – or proximity reader as it’s called! – log-ins, passwords and a zapper to get me through the gate. I have students, colleagues, things to do, people to help, mentor and guide. Tomorrow I will have none of that.

It is hard to let go but exciting to look to new horizons and challenges. I have no idea how it will all work out and I don’t know how I will cope with days I can call my own and which have no structure. But I have seen others do it so I must suppose I will manage.

I am bereft and my grief for my lost life and profession is immense.

My #teacher5aday – the Final Update

 

The time has come to update my #teacher5aday because from 1st September, this will no longer apply to me – although I will continue to support the initiative in any way I can. You see, Dear Reader, I retire on 31st August. *Gulp* – I’m still having trouble with that word and concept.

#Connect

Here’s what I wrote in my update:

This was about working hard for the staff I lead in my last two terms of teaching – well, it’s one now! I think I’m doing well with this as I work to ensure that the new Headteacher knows about all the good work they do *creeps*!

Well, it seems to have worked. They were genuinely sorry to see me go and gave me a lovely little leaving “do” with a bespoke cake made by our cleaner. It was lovely.

Now, it’s time for me to connect with the family and help out to lighten the load of those still working wherever I can. I have two sons and two step-sons and they need support to various degrees. I also have a lovely, young colleague who struggles for support as she has little in the way of family. I’m signed up for Monday pick-ups when she has school meetings.

 

#Exercise

My update:

This one was about maintaining my new found ability to run for 30 minutes three times a week and to fit in some swimming. Well, I’m doing alright with the running – I’m very pleased with it, in fact and now have The Race for Life 5k in my sights. Foolishly, I’ve signed up to do it as part of a school group which includes students – who will certainly put me to shame…and so they should. I’m still working on the swimming, though. Running has proved to be quick and easy to do as I literally step outside my front door on to the common and I’m off: swimming requires a ten minute drive. *sighs*

Now, this is something I’m really proud of. I have maintained the running – even in the heat of Spain during my holiday! – and find I really enjoy it. I’m pretty sure it has reduced my blood pressure and am ever more convinced I don’t really need the medication! Not only that but I did the 5k in what I thought was a very respectable time – 38 minutes 47 seconds (ish). The Race for Life doesn’t do individual times but I reckoned it from the clock and how long it took me to start. I continue to be impressed with my own perseverance and stickability- must be all that growth mindset!

I’ve also done a bit more swimming – a mile yesterday!

#Notice

Here’s my update:

This one was about noticing when others need support. I’ve done well with this as I like to try and help where I can. I’ve been through most of the things that ail people and I know how hard it can be. Friends and colleagues do ask for support and accept what I offer.

I was very humbled when my English colleagues described me as having a heart of gold and always being there to help and support. I plan to continue to help and support them where I can – even if it’s just providing an ear and a space to unburden and offer them different perspectives.

I’m hoping that I will also have time now to notice the world around me by visiting galleries, exhibitions and events as well as places now that I am not tied to employment any more.

#Learn

The update:

This one was about improving my Spanish and learning front crawl. The Spanish is going well thanks to my young friend and neighbour in the village where I now own a holiday apartment – who’d ever have thought it! I can hold quite long conversations with him and exchange texts on an almost daily basis – all with only a little help from Google Translate. The front crawl is proving trickier – see above – so I think this might be one for when the R word has begun. *whispers – retirement*

I am happy to report some progress here. My aforementioned lovely young colleague heard me wittering about wanting to learn the front crawl and maybe taking a couple of lessons. She certainly noticed because she bought me the lessons for my birthday! Turns out I’m alright at front crawl – I just need to get over my bogey about breathing and practice. I’m lucky enough to have been able to do that over the last few weeks and I am definitely making progress. I can’t do a length yet but it’s getting easier.

The Spanish is going really well but I’m determined to get to grips with the verbs so I’m speaking more often in the correct tense. I think this will be easier now I am more confident and know that I can hold conversations and make myself understood with my neighbours and friends in Spain. I’m starting with common verbs, ser, estar, it, hacer, poder. I reckon I can get a long way with them.

#Volunteer

The last update:

This was about helping friends once the R word has happened so it’s really a future one. I do turn up and help where I can at school. I am a Director of my local rugby league team and do the P.A on match days and I’m still a Governor at a primary school where I now have the exciting prospect of being involved in appointing the next headteacher. Scary but exciting and interesting.

There’s not much change here as I am still in summer holiday mode. I’m involved in all the things mentioned above and I’m thinking about what I want to do next. I’m wary of tying myself down too soon before I’ve had a chance to experience doing not much!

So, there we are. I’ve enjoyed the #teacher5aday and applaud Martyn for getting it off the ground. I hope you all make time in your lives for the important stuff. To be honest, I think we often do more than is needed or expected because we feel under pressure, because we don’t want to be seen as slacking or doing less than others, because we fear things will fall apart if we don’t. Ease off a bit. It’ll be alright.