I’m writing this on Friday morning, listening to the radio, drinking coffee, the day after the last day of term when the year 6 group I’ve been teaching for two years finished at St. Oswald’s and made their way to pastures new at secondary school. Over thirty years working in education, I’ve learnt not to get attached to classes, but when we get to the final leavers’ assembly (soft clart that I am), these days I find it increasingly difficult emotionally. It has been an enormous privilege to be a primary school teacher and there are some fantastic kids I’ve taught over the years.
It makes me very happy when someone, whether a teenager or adult who has been in my class, takes the time to talk to me and reminisce about life in Class 4. Only the other day, I bumped into an ex-pupil in town, a forty year old bloke with a family, who I’d not seen since 1987. It was the eyes I recognised. Occasionally, students will return to St. Oswald’s, just to let me know how they’re getting on and what their plans are for further study or career choices. We chat in the classroom, while ghosts of pupils past drift around us, asking for spellings, looking for pencils, organising paintpots, swinging on chairs, reading books or gazing out of windows at the playground outside …
Which leads me to the point of this blog entry.
I am a fifty-six year old primary school teacher. When asked (cliché alert), I always say (truthfully) that the best part of this job is the teaching of children. It is the thing I look forward to; it is why I became a teacher after a false start in engineering; it is the main reason for going back in the autumn term every year. The peripheral nonsense I complain about in other forums, regarding interference from the likes of politicians and other vested interests, has become something which is resulting in many colleagues leaving the profession. People I respect, and who have years of experience, are leaving teaching in droves. There is a genuine crisis in education in terms of recruitment and retention of teachers, which has been caused, in my opinion, by over twenty-five years of political meddling. Teachers, along with nurses, doctors, ambulance crew, firefighters, police etc. are not valued by the Tories who … (stops himself, before he launches into a rant which is not the purpose of this blog 🙂 ).
So, I am considering retirement …
Part of this process has been creative and has taken the form of a poem, which will appear next Tuesday (25th July) in that marvellous online publication Atrium Poetry. I have imagined what the last day of all terms would be like for someone in my position, when the time comes (eventually) to leave the classroom for good. Below is a link to a clip of a shorter version of this poem on Youtube:
In the meantime, “Thank you” to the lovely crew who left me with super memories and enough wine, beer and chocolate to test my arteries over the summer break.
JH : ) x