Now the tiredness has kicked in. I can feel it in me, and see it in my colleagues. We’re on our last legs and the children feel it too. But we’re soldiering on – telling each other – it’s not long now! Every morning we wake up, wondering what day it is, wondering what the special event is that we have to remember for today. And we soldier on.
Although I’m making it sound like a chore – it truly is not. Yes, we are tired, yes, it is time for a break. To recharge our batteries. To start with a new clean slate again in September. Is it a chore? No it is not. It is the best job in the world.
I was chatting with a friend at work who used to work in an office before she became a teacher. She was describing her life in the office, and the more she talked I felt that she would have ended up owning company if she had put her mind to it. I asked her the question – why did she leave? She was bored. Unstimulated. Unchallenged. Bored.
You are never bored as a teacher. You are never unchallenged. No day is the same. You wake up in the morning thinking you know what’s going to happen that day – but you are wrong. In the words of Michael McIntyre, when he describes what it’s like to have children (before you actually have them) – ‘You think you know! But you don’t know!’
You see – you’re working with children. The most purest, more beautiful of all beings. Children. Who make you laugh. Sometimes, they make you cry. Sometimes frustrate you. But they are a joy.
I see my class differently now because I have children myself. I look at them as they enter my class in the most civilised manner, settling into their morning routines, sharing important information with me if they need to, and I wonder to myself:
How many of you ate your breakfast this morning without a fuss? Who had a fight with their brother or sister this morning? Who woke up really early and woke everyone else in the household too? Who had an unexpected lie-in and feels sluggish and not quite with it? Who was told off by their mum or dad for being too slow about getting ready? Who feels sad this morning and needs a kind word and a smile?
I’ve said this before – but working with children is healing. They fix you – because you have no time to worry or think about your problems. What they want and need is paramount and comes first. Their trials and tribulations make yours seem to pale into insignificance. Today, a child came into the classroom absolutely distraught and unable to speak. We calmed her down and eventually got out of her why she was upset – she had told her best friend that she liked a boy…and her best friend told everyone else! In the eyes of that little girl, it was as if her world had come to an end! At any age, that’s pretty mortifying, but for this little girl, the embarrassment and hurt caused was just too much. You’ll be glad to know that she was absolutely fine in the end – and that’s another wonderful quality of children, their resilience! This never fails to inspire me – if these youngsters can bounce back from their problems – there’s no reason why I can’t either.
I’m coming to the end of my 19th year of teaching – and I probably love it even more than I did when I first started all those years ago. Naive. Fresh-faced. Wanted to change the world. Believing that I could. Believing that I made a difference. Times have changed. The years have ticked on. I am not naive and no longer fresh faced. But the rest – hell yes!
There’s nothing better than going home and feeling tired and worn out – but knowing that you made a difference. Knowing that you being somewhere mattered! You made a difference. Your kind words. Praise and encouragement – they made someone better. Equally, you put someone on the straight and narrow because they needed that too.
There aren’t many jobs that make you feel this way – day in, day out. There aren’t many jobs where you can feel such highs and such lows. I fell into this profession by accident – it found me. And every day I count my blessings that it did.