So, there I was. 43 years old, 4 terms into my teacher training and sitting in the classroom trying to stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. The morning bell hasn’t even gone yet but I am a broken man.
Rewind 5 minutes – I’m just back from the photocopier, making sure I have enough self and peer assessment grids to stick into the literacy books for the end of a unit when the school secretary knocks on the door. “Mrs Smith* is in the foyer asking to see you”. Now I’m a student in the school, just finishing a 6 week placement – why would a parent want to see me. I rack my brains, I don’t remember having told little Jonny* off for anything yesterday, I never sent him out to see another member of staff (although I have in the past) and, by his standards, yesterday had been good! What greeted me in the foyer threw me completely off guard – Jonny is with mum in floods of tears. Apparently he has been inconsolable all night as a result of me telling the class that this would be my last day in the school. Mum made some very gushing comments about what a difference I had made to Jonny in the 6 weeks I had known him and how much he was going to miss me.
Now I know I am no super-teacher and that I am not the first person to have heard these words but it is the first time it has happened to me. Then it hit me – this is what teaching is all about. It’s not the money, the hours, the holidays or any of that. It’s about being able to make a tangible difference, at any level, to every child that enters our classroom. This is the emotional capitol that makes the work bearable. This is the glue that holds the profession together and makes us all get up in the mornings. This is my eureka moment, my lightbulb, my raison d’etre.
There will be another Jonny, in every classroom, in every school – cling to the hope and remind yourself why it is you do this job.
*not real names