They caught me unawares: large soft, silent tears – the sort that soon turn to great gulping, gasping sobs – sliding quietly down my cheeks. I blame @HeyMissSmith for it was she who posted the Des Moines back to work staff meeting with the Les Mis Flash mob. It was wonderful: funny, clever, heart-warming. What larks! What clever, creative people who had taken the time and trouble to come up with this bit of whimsy to ease the back to work trauma.
I’ve sat through countless back to work, state of the nation type days and none of them have been as much fun as the Des Moines one. And that’s what provoked the tears. I won’t be sitting through one this year. Tomorrow when my colleagues gather on the bleachers to hear the new Head talk about her plans and the deputy outlining the school’s performance in the summer series. I won’t be there.
I’ve been reading lots of blogs about back to school: advice for new teachers, new senior leaders, ideas about what to do on the first day, sharing ideas and resources for new curricula, encouraging, exhorting and soothing. I’ve seen the start of worry Tweets: back to work tomorrow, the summer has gone fast, the days spent planning and it can’t be long before the poor sleep and bad dreams Tweets follow tomorrow. And I’m not part of it.
Soon the kids will start trundling through the doors: wild-eyed, excited Year 7s in their too-big blazers, their ties tied by their mum and their shiny new shoes, Year 8s thinking they’ve made it now they’re not the bottom of the pile, Years 9 and 10 cynical and wary and Year 11 world-weary and braced for the exhortations to work harder, the assessing and weighing and worrying and fretting as their teachers labour to hit targets. And I won’t be greeting them.
While all these things are going on I will be hiding in the Spanish sunshine having what we always want at the end of the summer holiday – more time not working. Well, I will have that now as I retired this summer and I am living the dream. Only it looks a bit scary from here. It’s like a precipice into nothing with me teetering on the edge. My working life has been structured and controlled with something different happening every hour or so, people always around, noise, laughter, fun and sometimes tears, triumph and tragedy. Now, I am in control of my days: there are no fixed events, no obligations and no calls on my time or expertise.
I feel sad and a little lost but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit relieved as well. Teaching is a tough gig these days and getting tougher. I’ve already managed to carry on for longer than the norm – 42 years (gulp)- and it’s time to move on and do new things. I need to use this quiet time to think about what I want to do and then, when I stop hiding, to get out and get on with it.
I miss my lovely colleagues and I will miss the kids – the best part of it all – and that pain is physical and visceral but it will mend eventually. Now I have time to concentrate on my other people – the ones we see too little of when we are in the full throttle of hectic working days: my husband, sons, step-sons and grandchildren.
What’s not to like about that?
What’s not to like about that?