This is the Last Time…

Normally at this time of year, I turn into Jack Black’s character from School of Rock. The one who watches the clock waiting for the bell to ring so he can get out of school before the students. I’m not like it for the rest of the year, just when I can see that 6 week holiday approaching and it’s within my grasp! The thing is though, this year’s different – so so different. This time, it won’t be a 6 week holiday because I won’t be going back. so tomorrow is my final ‘last day of term.’

I blogged a while ago about the difficult decision I made to give up teaching after 10 happy and rewarding years. You can read about my reasons here. The thing is, I know that everything I wrote is still true, and leaving is the right thing for me to do right now, but that was all ‘in the future’ and now it’s not, it’s tomorrow! My husband and I had our leaving do last night, I’m currently in the process of clearing my work laptop and clearing my classroom, ready for my replacement to take over. I know she’ll do a fantastic job because she has the enthusiasm and passion that every teacher should have, but it’s been really tough letting go, even though I know that both my own children and the children I teach need me to.

Being a teacher has actually made me as a person. Before I became a teacher, I was the student in the class who wouldn’t even read out in English, and who hid at the back in PE because I knew my trainers weren’t the cool ones. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and hoped I had it in me, but deep down I wasn’t sure if I would actually ever have the confidence to be able to take on teenagers with far bigger personalities and attitudes than mine.

I guess I really have my mentor on my PGCE for giving me one of those ‘sink or swim’ moments way back in 2000. It was my first day in my placement school. My mentor told me to go up to the classroom and he would be up shortly, so I timidly went into the classroom, notebook at the ready for my observation of my first ever music lesson at this school (I had done 2 weeks observation at a different school already). After 10 minutes there was no teacher. I was the ‘adult’ in a room full of 32 14 year olds. It wasn’t my fault there was no teacher there, but I figured I should really do something, and if I couldn’t or more importantly wouldn’t, then I should definitely pack my bags and give up. So timid Miss Gibson got up, said who she was and why she was there and asked to hear all about what these students had been learning about in their music lessons. And do you know what? They listened, then told me, then showed me, and actually, I think they quite liked me too. ‘Me’ the real me. They didn’t laugh at me or pick on me, and for the first time in my life, I felt that I could do it, and that I wanted to do this as well as I possibly could. It was an amazing moment, and I’ve loved every minute since then.

I’ve only worked at one school in my 10 years of teaching. I’ve never wanted to leave, and I have so much to thank it for. Probably most importantly for introducing me to my husband. My job became available because the current Head of Music was marrying the Head of History and they were going off travelling and teaching abroad, so the students found it quite spooky when the new Head of Music got together with the new Head of History, but it was also a lovely time. For a while we were the school’s equivalent of Posh & Becks, just with less money and more flab!

On a more professional level, one of the greatest highs was the time I was selected to be the Leading Teacher for my subject over the whole County, and got to go and visit other teachers of my subject, sharing good practise. Over this time, I developed so much in confidence, it’s amazing how much difference it can make when someone else believes you can do it as well.

And while I’m obviously very sad to be leaving and am confident I will need a good many tissues tomorrow, I’m not sure that there’s a better note to go out on than all of my students in Year 11 leaving with the highest grades, and one of them heading off to the Brit School in September. I feel very privileged to have been a teacher, because that’s exactly what teaching is and should be – a privilege, but as of tomorrow, my new bosses will be 4 and 2, and my main duties will include getting to the Weetabix before it firmly fixes itself to the table, cleaning and being general slave and taxi service, but I was once told it’s far better to regret the things you have done than the things you haven’t.

Tomorrow, my husband and I will drive together for work for the last time, but to my school – thanks for the best 10 years of my life. Maybe I’ll get called ‘Miss’ again one day…

My now very empty classroom...