On Thursday, I meet my new class and I genuinely can’t wait. In my career, I have greeted many new classes and always relish the opportunity to meet new ‘little people’. However in September 2013, I experienced something entirely different as I began in a new role as an Assistant Headteacher. It was in a Primary school, but I didn’t have a class and I felt like a fish out of water.
I remember not knowing what to do in the Summer preceding my start – I had no classroom to set up and didn’t quite know what I should be doing instead. I covered the board on my side of the office and put up bunting, but apart from that, there wasn’t anything to organise and do. I didn’t need to do name labels, drawer labels, classroom displays or indeed anything that I had previously spent my Summer holiday doing – I felt odd.
The first day of term came about and it was one of the weirdest days that I have ever had as an educator. Classrooms were full of new children and I was in an office with no children. I was learning the ropes from the other Assistant Headteacher, but I felt bereft. It is a very strange thing to be an educator without children. I desperately wanted to be back in the familiar – getting to know new children in my own classroom but I had chosen to leave that.
I was out of class and away from children for five years all in all, but it never got easier. I have met some educators along the way who relished leaving the classroom and moving into different roles but that wasn’t my story. I missed the role of class-teacher so much.
Why, you may wonder, didn’t I do leadership combined with class-teacher. I did and had from 2010 – 2013 and as wonderful as it was, the workload was immense and I needed to make the choice between leadership and class-teaching for my own wellbeing in 2013.
That being the case, I leapt and I chose leadership. Being appointed an Assistant Headteacher was wonderful and there were many aspects of the role that I loved, but I always missed being a class-teacher. Many people can combine both and still ensure that they have a work-life balance but I couldn’t, which is why I chose one road. After five years walking down the leadership road, which included some wonderful opportunities, I decided to return to the well-trodden and familiar road of the classroom and I couldn’t be happier.
On Thursday, I will be greeting my new children and doing what I love most – teaching. It won’t be an easy day for some of the children in my class, as they won’t have been near school since March, but I am wonderfully well-placed to support them. Am I nervous about what the next school year brings? Of course! Have I got a thousand questions about how it will all work? Yes – I think every class-teacher does. But, I am so pleased that I am a class-teacher in 2020 than a school-leader.
I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to make all the decisions that have been placed upon school leaders’ shoulders this year. The burden of keeping children and staff safe whilst ensuring that high-standards of teaching and learning are maintained is an immense task. I am so grateful for the school-leaders we have and the governors who are supporting them. I wish I could say the same for the policy-makers, but I can’t.
”We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.Confucius
Instead of finishing this article with a rant about our policy-maker I shall finish it with a question – who are you? Knowing who I am and what I wanted enabled me to make the decisions I have and has led to peace and happiness. Know who you are and who you want to be. If you want to remain a class-teacher then that is fine. If you want to scale the dizzy heights of leadership, then that is fine too. Just know who you are and be that educator.
The other day I was reminded of this quote: “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” – Confucius.
So, do what you want to do and not what you think you should do. Be happy! You deserve it.
P.S. Have a great week educating in whatever role you are in!