So I’ve made the decision to not return to my school next term, but because of the weather I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my students.
I’ve been playing with the idea of leaving my school for a while now. I won’t go into details (certainly nothing done wrong by any party!), but suffice it to say that I know I’ve made the right choice for me.
I told the principal, who asked me to make a final decision on the last day of term in the hopes I would change my mind. I decided that it would be appropriate to not tell my students until then as well.
Unfortunately in this regard, school was cancelled on the last Thursday and Friday of term due to the cyclonic weather which had swept down the coast. It was deemed by the premier too dangerous to permit staff and students, and their families, to try get everyone to school. Even if we were all able to make it there (some people were flooded in, others without power or water, others still dealing with storm damage), there wouldn’t have been any valuable learning happening. Every teacher will tell you that even the simplest of weather fluxes influence student mood and motivation, and the changes that this type of weather would bring would mean classes becoming nothing more than trying to keep everyone calm. Some students would be panicking about their families/pets/homes, others would simply feed off the chaos, and silliness would reign supreme.
So even though I was grateful for the cancellation, I was sad too.
Sad that I wouldn’t get a final lesson with my classes. Sad that I wouldn’t get to say goodbye. Sad that I wouldn’t get to explain to them that my change in heart wasn’t because of them.
They all were an absolute delight to teach, and no, I certainly wouldn’t (and haven’t) said that about all of my past students. I really did enjoy teaching them all. Their individual personalities fed into my lessons, changing the way I taught and interacted with them on a daily basis. Of course some of us butted heads, but that is a natural thing to occur between an authoritarian figure and a teenager.
Even in the short time I had with them, they have all had an impact on me and my teaching. I learnt in that single term how to teach without any sort of text book for science, and how to play games in math – things I hadn’t really explored before. I learnt how to use personal devices in an effective way during class tasks (although the biggest part that made that successful was the trust I knew I could have with them to be on task and not take advantage of the situations). I learnt how to create assignments that were mildly interesting, and were not exams (even for math!).
I set up a lunch date time with a group of year 8 boys, where I would go visit at 11am each Monday on my play ground duty rounds to sharpen our wits (i.e. participate in mild, politically correct ‘roasting’) and discuss weird things that happened on the weekend. The larger year 8 group I taught across two different classes showed me how to approach sometimes difficult topics like reproduction with ease and humour, while still remaining professional and comfortable for everyone. One year 10 boy inspired me to create teaching memes, which can be found over at my Instagram account. The rest of that class showed such a genuine interest in the topics we were learning that many of the lessons dissolved into prolonged discussions about science, society, and ethics. My crazy year 9 class taught me more about the social dynamics of that tricky age group, and how to continually adjust my playful teacher persona to keep them on side and working.
So kids, if any of you are reading this (and I know some of you are!), I’m sorry I won’t be returning. I’m even more sorry I won’t get to say goodbye. That I won’t get to tell you all how special, good, intelligent, funny, kind you all are. I really do hope you have a successful year, and that you enjoy the remainder of it!
About the Author:
Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys blogging about her experiences, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine. Emily is currently on maternity leave with her first child. You can read more teaching articles from Emily here, or about her life as a new mum over at Actual Mums.