There are actually elements of classroom teaching I miss. No, I never thought I’d say that either.
It has been an entire year since I packed up my belongings and left my classroom. This was a small snippet of the resulting devastation at home. Folders, paper, resources and assessment all had to be compressed into the top of my double wardrobe, just in case I ever returned (although every fibre of my being cried out in protest at the thought). I am fully aware however that as soon as I throw these worksheets away, that will be the moment I need them. So this image shows a small fraction of the ensuing damage. So a year since I left, what exactly do I miss?
‘Soandso, stop talking!’ This strikes fear into the heart of every child. How did they know it was me? They’re not even looking!! I miss this.
Teaching classes of young people I don’t know all day has its own joys and benefits, but you certainly can’t tell who spoke when your back was turned. I miss being able to bewilder children by calling them by name when I couldn’t see it was them. Recognising one voice out of 30 takes time to perfect, but it’s worth it to be able to tell them you’ve got eyes in the back of your head.
It’s the same for handwriting. Where once I spent my days nagging children to write their name on paper, I now actively discourage them – “no, voting is secret!”. Invariably in the pile of returned work there would be several unnamed items, and here is where my skills came into their own. Handing them out by recognising letter formation and ending with none left brings a sense of satisfaction. Perhaps not as much as if they’d all listened in the first place but still..
Although these seem odd things to miss, there is a reason behind it. I called this group of youngsters ‘my children’. They were mine, after close friends and family I was the one who knew them best. I could recognise the backs of heads, a coat, pick up bags and know who they belonged to. I knew their voices, they could pick out mine amongst adults. I’ve never missed a class once they’ve moved on – I always felt that was the natural order of things – but I miss knowing ‘my’ children so well.
One of the items I have treasured most is from a parent whose child started several weeks before Year 6 ended. These aren’t all that regular, but if your child loves school – tell their teacher! Their child had transformed back to their usual self in this brief time, and I had played a small but vital part in this. To know I made a difference was infinitely rewarding, and to have such an impact for a year of a child’s life is a privilege that I chose to forgo for my own contentment, but is a honour I won’t forget.
I also miss teaching maths. I love logic and I miss imparting a love of that to my children. I teach elements of English, history and citizenship at the moment so I still enjoy those and as I don’t like science I don’t miss that in the slightest. Maths makes sense and I enjoyed that, you follow the rule and it all works out. Recently I’ve started breaking a few rules though, and I think I’m enjoying that more!
The last thing I miss is less profound. I love Wimbledon. I used to anticipate the end of the school day even more than usual, because it meant being able to watch BBC live on the massive projector screen. Watching tennis in near life size, breeze blowing through the classroom and the sounds of summer outside. Of course the pile of 50 books to mark was less appealing but at least it could be done to the dulcit tones of Andrew Castle’s commentary in the background. I didn’t get this scene this year…
There’s definitely things I miss but it’s more of a fond memory. And a memory it shall remain; because leaving the classroom one year ago turned out to be a pretty good decision.