It’s been a work of sorting paperwork this week. Having finally got to the desk drawers stuffed with old bank statements (from before we went paperless) and payslips from the past, we have almost rid ourselves of all the stuff we will not be taking to the new house.
In one of the drawers, contained in a faded green cardboard folder, I found my old school reports and couldn’t resist sifting through the thin paper pages for a nosy at the kind of student I used to be. Working with young people as I do, I have many conversations with them about why they do or don’t enjoy school and what it is about the subjects that I work with them on that they find so challenging. I often find my this side of my work the most interesting.
Having worked in schools for twenty years now, I have often let my later teens colour the way I felt about being in school. I generally hold fast the idea that I really didn’t enjoy secondary school, and by the time I reached the fourth year I came to dread it! As a super string bean type, I was teased and a lot and desperately awkward about speaking out in class or drawing attention to myself. There were moments of joy though, and some of those were provided by my teachers.
My love of reading and descriptive writing was picked up early by both of my English teachers, and I looked forward to their lessons as they often contained nuggets of confirmation that I had something to offer the world. I was always a dreamer and when I wasn’t staring out of the window or writing observational poetry, I was sketching or painting or buried up to my eyebrows in a book. I never won any awards or accolades but I am still most proud of my cycling proficiency certificate.
I left school lacking in self-confidence and the ability to believe that I could be ‘a success’ but I chose to pursue subjects that interested me, and entered into a quest to gain life experience instead. Fast forward ten years and I found myself returning to school for some experience of working with children, and a desire to become a class teacher. I chose primary school, convinced I would hate working in a secondary school because my experience of it was so negative.
But here’s the thing, despite many enjoyable years working in infant and junior schools in Nottinghamshire and a wealth of opportunities to acquire training in working with students with a range of barriers to learning including issues with their behaviour in class, I felt that I was somewhat limiting myself. This all coincided with meeting my soul mate, being whisked off to Thailand to get married on a sunset beach and spending many months swinging in hammocks, just being.
As hard as it was to leave my last school, it really had been a very special place full of love, I knew that that was the end of another decade of hard work and finding out what I was capable of. The children thought that I was going back, and maybe I did too for a while but in my heart I knew that my work there was done. I had nurtured two classes through a whole school year and watched those amazing little people grow in so many ways.
I knew I had done my best by them, I hoped some of them would remember me too, but life would go on for them and they would enjoy being in their new teacher’s class just as much. I felt lucky, I had been allowed the privilege to work with some very special young people. Some of these I met again, when I started working in a secondary school. Ready for something completely different,on my return to the UK, I took a job in the isolation unit…and loved it!
Here I met some of the saddest and most troubled young people that I had yet to encounter. And as I got to know some of them better, I began to realise that although some of them did have difficulties outside of school that for many of them school was making them unhappy. It’s my impression that as schools become more and more corporate, we are only going see more unhappy children within their technology fuelled walls…but that’s ok right, because they all have access to i-pads?!
I loved my last job as academic coach and mentor to Year 11 students, but wasn’t comfortable with all the changes in education and then government cuts gave the push I needed to try something new. My creative business gave me the balance I needed for a long time, and led to me meet some wonderful people, but I saw that reaching it natural conclusion too.
I was asked yesterday if I missed ‘honey bee’ at all and I answered without hesitation ‘no.’ I know that I will continue to seek out creative activities but to be honest am enjoying passing on my knowledge much more than making at the moment. The legacy will go on, and I will always look back at past creations with delight that I made them, but for now I am enjoying making my contribution another way and am incredibly passionate about this.
With my new business venture I feel like I am REALLY making my mark, and finally pulling in all of my skills and varied experiences. And I get paid to do what I love…
so until next week