Just as if a butterfly flaps its wings in New Mexico and causes a hurricane in China, so my decision to leave caused its own little domino effect. People who took me for granted are going to have to work a bit harder. There, that’s it. Get over it.
Another cause and effect came into place when something happened in my teaching that had never occurred to before. I’d placed the children in a circle around me and was measuring one child using a meter stick. I farted. It would seem the asparagus that I had unwittingly ingested the night before had ventured from controllable to uncontrollable.
Now it was just a little one. A little zipper. The type you get away with in a noisy classroom or even when pressed up against a radiator during an assembly. But not this time. Every child in the class was staring at me. In silence. Now History will judge me but I decided to say “Whoops, I seem to have gotten so excited that I farted”. 10 minutes later, the results had been compiled, the graphs drawn and questions answered, but the snorting laughter, just like the lingering smell, remained.
Onto parents evening and now I was beginning to get nervous. My wife is expecting our first child and I knew my phone could go off at any moment. I had visions of quickly speed reading through the child’s reports and condensing the 10 minute slot into 10 seconds. Failing that, I thought of grouping all the parents together and announcing “All of your children are making the necessary progress…apart from your kid”. Alternatively, just to line the parents up and give them all a quick capsule review as I moved along “Excellent” “Good” “Average” “Shit” etc.
As it turned out I was probably far too positive for my own good. That’s the nature of knowing you’re leaving. Every child develops a halo. “What’s that? You’ve been asked to leave the playground for repeatedly punching a child in the face? Yooouuuuu! What are you like?” Even the most irritating of children, including the autistic child who for no reason suddenly screams as if he’s about to get struck by a train, could not falter my week.
It’s different for the other staff that remained. I overheard one teacher ask another to do something to stop a parent potentially overstaying their welcome. “What do you want me to do?” she asked “feign a cardiac arrest?” Thankfully for all concerned, the parent left in good time but I could see the woman in my peripheral vision gearing up for it.
The other beautiful thing about my last few days was the opportunity to tear up the textbook, if only for a while. We play classical music during our ‘Big Writing’ sessions and as I closed the lesson the music reached a crescendo. “Get your air violins out” I said and we all started to play along to the music. And as the music played, we had fun. Sheer fun. No learning objective. No mini-plenaries or steps to success. Nobody even stopped to ask why we were doing it. We just did it and laughter, the type that would make Gove retch, filled the room.
I’m going to miss the class. As a presentation of clothes for the baby was made, I pretended to look startled. “These aren’t going to fit me?” I protested. In their innocence they jumped to their feet, wide-eyed and aghast screaming “It’s not for you! it’s for the baby!” They genuinely thought I would risk a hernia trying to get into a 0-3 months sailor suit.
During the end of day goodbye hugs, one child’s reaction stayed with me. This was a child whose life away from school makes a Brazilian soap opera seem like ‘Waiting for Godot’. After we hugged goodbye his whole demeanour changed. With his head bowed and shoulders drooped he walked slowly to his Dad. “What’s the matter son?” his Dad asked, looking at me to see if he was in trouble.
It made me realise that more importantly than creating extra work for the staff, my decision was going to affect some children’s lives, if only for a short while. I’d wrestled with this choice for many months and had decided that for the first time in a long time, I was going to put this job second. Time will tell if I’ve made the right choice.
I want to say a very sincere thank you to everyone who has supported me through my teaching, either by visiting my blog or posting messages on Facebook and Twitter. In particular, I would like to thank Jo Pointer who is always the first to give me support, make me laugh or remind me nothing is worth taking too seriously. I wish all current and new teachers the very best for the future. To quote Socrates ‘teach the shit out of ‘em lol!”
Okay I made that quote up but these are some genuine quotes which are worth remembering;
“Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious”
“I tell you, we are on earth to fart around and don’t let anybody tell you different”
Oh and this isn’t the last you will hear from me, after all there’s a book to be written…