Tuesday, March 26, 2013

There's no one as normal as me (Skyhooks)

Things I've missed by not being in a NZ classroom for three years (a random sample):

Assemblies (yes really) – I've experienced two so far at Woodford House and they have been wonderful: a group of girls performing some theatre sports; an inspirational speech by a Y13 girl (she had her right leg and left foot amputated as a consequence of swine flu in her Y9 year); a performance by a visiting group of percussionists – Ginger Baker eat your heart out!

It's such a relief not having to be responsible for the assembly any more; instead I can enjoy them again from the staff rows.

Staffroom camaraderie – it's a small staffroom for about 50 staff (including all the office and ancillary workers) but everyone has been very welcoming and friendly. A staff quiz happens at 1pm each day (after the staff has visited the staff dining room) and it's a lot of fun.

My own classroom – I have been a peripatetic teacher in my schools since moving to senior management positions (the last place I had my own classroom was as Head of English at Mt Albert Grammar in 1995, then a gap until King John School 2004 to 2006). I can put up posters, arrange the desks as I want and have a home at last.

A desk in the staff workroom – I have had my own office at schools since 1989 (Head of English at Waimea College) so I haven't shared a work space since I was at Maclean's College (and before that at New Plymouth Boys' High School). It's where I am right now as I write this post.

Having an office is fine and dandy but it can also be quite an isolating experience. I've had some doozies over the years – the broom cupboard at King John springs to mind (no windows and a swinging cat would have suffered massive concussion).

A sense of belonging – my pronouns will soon shift from 'they' to 'we' as I begin to understand and embrace the culture of the school. It's been three years since I've felt that. In the Middle East I was an adjunct to Ali bin Abi Taleb school. I was advising and critiquing and all the while I was part of Cognition Education – not a teacher on the staff. Don't get me wrong, I was certainly made to feel a real part of the school but I was still a foreigner and an outsider.
The sense of belonging has been dormant for some time. I certainly didn't have it as a Principal - too isolated and too solitary a position. The last time I truly belonged was The King John School in Essex; a magic staffroom and wonderful people.

Busy and tired at the end of the day – nothing like mental exhaustion to make you sleep all night. I was busy and tired in China but I've not worked in a classroom since the end of January so I feel refreshed and ready to go.

So raise a glass and drink with me. Here's to being Head of English again and here's to normal and here's to stability!
And here's to the teacher profession! Hurrah!!

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