I usually find one topic that inspires me or I think other people would like to read about and blog about it when I get the chance, but this week so much has happened that you’re getting a little diary. Hopefully less catastrophic than Bridget Jones’. Enjoy.
Monday 13th – Exam day. Not for me, for my lovely year 11 girls. I teach GCSE Child Development (or DID, thanks Mr Gove and Mrs Morgan for THAT) and their exam was today. We had a two hour revision session first which was intense but valuable however that’s not what made me smile today, it was the lovely cards and gifts I received from some of my pupils.
Being a secondary school teacher has its perks; more stationary than you’ll ever need, the chance to work with some amazing people; both staff and pupils, school trips and leavers’ proms. Where primary school teachers have the upper hand is the Christmas/End of year present. Not that we do the job for the gifts but I know Little Monkey and I enjoy choosing gifts that his teacher will like and when he proudly hands over his card and present at Christmas she receives it with a smile and many thanks and adds it to the pile (she totally deserves it by the way, Little Monkey’s teacher is amazing). Us secondary teachers aren’t always as fortunate in the present department. The pupils have so many teachers in a year it would cost parents a small fortune and by the time you’re thirteen it’s not cool to give your English teacher a Christmas present. So when we DO receive a gift we know it’s come straight from the heart and it means as much as a pile of diamonds.
I was lucky enough to be given a few presents this year from my year 11 ladies; wine, Malteasers, a couple of massive bars of Dairy Milk and some Yankee Candles. But what touched me even more were the ‘thank you’ cards that came with the gifts. The words those girls had taken the time to write to me made me laugh and cry in equal parts. It really is the best and the saddest part of the job; when you know you’ve done everything you could and then you have to say goodbye.
Think back to your own school days and when it came to that last exam or assembly or however your school chose to mark the last time you would be in that school building. Remember the teachers who might have given you a hug or a handshake or looked you dead in the eye and said ‘I will miss you.’ And then off you trotted, onto spend your new found free time on seeing friends or working or lazing around for a few weeks before college started, thinking ‘yeah, they say that to all the kids when they leave’. You forgot about most of those teachers but they didn’t forget about you. They remembered you and would chat about you fondly in the staff room or laugh about the time you accidentally wrote the word ‘wanked’ instead of ‘walked’ in your English coursework and asked for some TipEx to remove it before anyone else saw (true story, a girl named Georgie who left four years ago) or when one of your current students is facing a tough time in their personal life, they use your experiences as an example to help get them through it. They keep your thank you cards and the little pictures you drew for them in detention, forever, stashed in a drawer or a box and take them to each new school they go to. Teachers are like elephants; we never forget.
Wednesday 15th – Little Monkey went on his first school trip. He’s in nursery and luckily is progressing onto the reception class that his nursery is attached to and even more lucky; his current teacher is progressing with him to be his reception teacher. I do think she’s completely nuts though, taking 30 three and four year olds to Liverpool on a coach for a full day, especially when one of those is my son and is not known for being a quiet and reserved child. Anyway, he loved it. They went to Underwater Street in Liverpool and although I don’t actually know what they do there, I do know that he went on a double decker coach (most exciting), made a magnet, some slime and panned for gold. But he didn’t do the science experiment because Amelia did that. He absolutely loved it.
I did not. I spent all day worrying about him; had I sent him enough to drink? (it was 22 degrees that day) Was the coach driver aware that he was carrying such precious cargo? Was the motorway busy? Would he wander off and get lost? Would there be a bomb scare in Liverpool that day? Would there be an accident on the motorway and they’d be stranded for hours? Would he be able to get to the toilet on time or would he have an accident?
I practically ran out of work on Wednesday night to pick him up from school. I needn’t have worried, they arrived back in good time and he’d had a brilliant day.
He’s never going on a school trip again though; my emotions can’t take it.
Thursday 16th – nothing happened today. This made me sad.
Usually on a Thursday I get to spend a couple of hours in the company of a truly fabulous person. For the last four years I have been tutoring my sister-in-law’s little sister, Pearl. At first it was because she was struggling in English and didn’t have an awful lot of confidence in herself but over time it became more than that. It was our weekly counselling session; for both of us, an excuse to have a chat about our week and what we’d been up to and have a coffee together. We did some English and talked about exams and how to cope with them, we talked about careers and colleges and A-Levels and friends and all manner of other subjects. But, now that she’s done her last English exam we don’t get to spend our Thursdays together anymore. So this week I sat and had a coffee (with some excellent coffee as my thank you present from Pearl) and chilled out. It was nice. Not the same, but nice.
This leads me nicely into Friday 17th, when I went out for a lovely meal to celebrate the end of Pearl’s exams. The food was amazing, the company was great and it was so nice to eat a meal that I didn’t have to a) share with Little Monkey or Little Panda or b) eat at 78million miles per hour because Little Monkey or Little Panda are done and want to go home. I took full advantage of this opportunity as for the next four weeks my life is over.
I do this to myself every year. I mark for the exam board. This is good; because it really helps to know a bit of insider info when teaching exam skills, but bad because I literally do nothing for four weeks except sit in front of my laptop, clicking away. Its hell. Having said that, its not paid too badly so over the summer we can have a few nice days out, a weekend away and I can buy my new winter school clothes. I also want to treat myself to a book crate as seen on www.lifeisabookblog.com so if anyone has any good recommendations I’d be very grateful!
So, on that note, I definitely won’t be blogging for the next four weeks. I also won’t be going out, sleeping, eating or washing…