When I started teaching, there were so many things that I expected.
I expected to find that behaviour management was a struggle at times. I expected to work hard, work late and work at home. I expected meetings, parents’ evenings, detentions, marking, marking, marking and more marking.
I even expected that every time I moved to a new school I’d be ill for the first year because I’d got no immunity to the local bugs.
But I didn’t expect this. A pandemic.
This has been the strangest week of my career. It’s been littered with meetings before and after school, often interrupted by government news conferences that totally changed the meeting’s direction and set us back to square one.
Each lesson, break time and lunch, one student or other has come to see me to discuss the situation or their fears or with questions about what to do.
On Monday there were still plans to welcome our new year sevens at a transition evening. On Tuesday, there were still plans to hold a parents’ evening next week. On Wednesday, exams were cancelled, with no mention of potential solutions for poor year sixes, 11s and 13s. On Wednesday, schools were to be closed.
But also open. Open and closed.
On Friday, Boris re-opened school doors for huge numbers of students next week.
We’ve had condensed classes, cover, cover and more cover. We’ve had year eleven leavers who didn’t want to leave yet, weren’t ready to leave yet. We’ve set up, printed and distributed home-learning packs for students, created, resourced and trained in virtual learning environments and set up new hub-schools for students of front-line workers. Front-line workers, including us.
More than that, we’ve organised these new schools so that, as requested by the government, they will run through the holidays. Holidays not one of us is paid for.
It’s been chaotic, chaotic and exhausting.
“What strikes you most though?” I hear you ask.
That I still love teaching and I love being part of a school. Every single teacher I know, every single teacher I work with has done everything they can for their students, has given everything they’ve got in a time when they are terrified. Every. Single. Damn. One.
In the face of continued media vilification, exposure to a potentially deadly virus, constant change in governmental directives, teachers as a team have been there for your children, for our children. To serve sacrificially for the greater good. Even those who are already ill at home have continued to put themselves second, attending meetings virtually and organising emergency measures from their sick beds.
I’ve never been prouder of my vocation.
Well done, folks. Well done.
Stay safe and take care.