I have been bringing two cloth bags full of books back to my house from school every day for the last fortnight. Post-it notes cascade out of them, each one a small review written by children across the school who borrow them whenever they want. I plan my weekly timetable and realise anything I don’t achieve in the remaining 5 hours will not be achieved. I shake hands with a child as they leave to go home, or I greet a parent and catch up with what’s going on in their lives, before realising that may be the last time I interact with each of them.
I’ve known I am leaving my current job for ages. My headteacher has known for around half a year, so that we can plan to find a replacement. Colleagues have known for months and months. The kids have known for around a week now. But knowing it isn’t the same as feeling it.
Whilst I’ve known for ages, it is only in the last couple of days that I have felt it. The realisation of moving on, and what this actually means, is hitting me hard at the moment. I catch myself in certain moments being hit with a pang of recognition – ‘that is the last assembly I’d do’, ‘that might be the last time I address this class’, ‘that child’s story I just had to cut off might never be completed’.
It aches. It aches especially in quiet moments. It ached when a girl in Year 6 left her story on my desk, without saying anything to me, in the shared understanding I’d read it and get it back to her. It ached when I was in the park with my mentoring group and we were talking about absent fathers and about growing up and about challenging relationships and family life, as well as about horror films and jokes and fashion and frisbee – the realisation that I won’t have this next year, and that I won’t be that person who is confided in for these kinds of talk, really caught me off guard.
Again, I am left with that lingering sense that I always end up wanting the opposite of what I have. As a teacher, I wanted to lead; as a leader I wanted to teach. Working in schools made want to work between them and now, in the latest iteration of this frustrating puzzle, the prospect of working between schools is making me pine for the best of what I have when I am teaching and working with the same group of kids over many years.
My school is great, and I have a huge fear of missing out next year. The new recruit who will be doing my job next year seems great already, and the school has been filled with new faces for the last few weeks. The new teachers coming in all seem great – bubbling with ideas, energy and enthusiasm and ready to add something different to the Park tapestry- and the kids are excited to work with them. I find myself feeling excited about it too, feeling excited with them and for them, before I remember that I’m off and won’t get to see it.
I am excited to be moving on to work for myself, as well as with Jo and Adisa, under the banner of Otherwise next year, and whilst I have no regrets about this leap – it brings so many benefits and exciting projects of its own – I feel once again that I am leaping away from something I actually enjoy.
I wish I wasn’t so easily restless. I think this more and more, despite the opportunities that can come about when you are open to new experiences.
I have supportive colleagues, a happy and productive school with an exciting curriculum and wonderfully idiosyncratic children. Whilst I have been feeling run down recently, whilst my body is in a state of arthritic ruination, and whilst I have felt stress in a way I haven’t ever before, I have still been very happy to come in most days, and have never felt resentful about it. I could gladly and comfortably stay, and continue to enjoy my role.
There are five more days to go, filled with celebrations, laughter, stories, goodbyes and farewells.
The spirit of Park – the whole school out in the park, singing, performing poems and loving the outdoors! pic.twitter.com/O6pH2VlKHS
— Park Primary (@ParkPrimaryE15) 12 July 2019