Thursday, 4 February 2016

Always keep this in mind ...

Term 3, which is disappearing quicker than cake in a staff room, has been almost ludicrously short.  We have barely changed the displays and finished our first topics before we are talking about "and next term..."

Of course, some outsiders might think that this makes life easier.  Some commentators might say "Well, you teachers haven't had a holiday for ten minutes...".  We insiders, however, we in-the-know are all too aware of the pitfalls of a short term.

In any term, regardless of the number of actual days, teachers and leaders generally give themselves about ten weeks' worth of work.  We then try and crowbar other things into this which will prohibit us from achieving things on the list, and then get to the final week and think about making a start on what we set out to achieve at the beginning.

This term at Badock's, we have, as is our norm, done just that.  We started the term with a thundering inset, filled morning number one with more meetings than we could possibly host or attend, and have carried on in a similar fashion ever since.  Yet here we stand, on the precipice of the term, and we are all exhausted and deflated, and not a little blue.

Without wishing to sound glum, it is true to say we have had a bit of a term.  Yes, all of the above is true, and we have attempted to fit in far too much.  However, as if this weren't enough, we have also had to face a number of adversities that would take the stuffing entire out of lesser mortals.

We have had more than our fair share of illness, especially in the teeth of the cold weather we have been having.  Staff who should not have even been near members of their own family have dragged themselves in to work, only for us to send them away.  Our governors, despite their own ailments, have continued to support the school with gusto.

Added to this, we have suffered an almost unprecedented number of bereavements, and I do not mean simply his holiness David Bowie (although this, of course, took its toll).  Sadly, many members of staff have been affected by sad news of near and dear.  I had to dig my own black suit out recently to attend a funeral, and I have returned home this very evening to hear news of the passing of a former headteacher colleague (who was, I am scared to recall, younger than me).  To each of my amazing colleagues who has been affected, you know all of our thoughts are with you, always.

It would be easy for us to curl up and hide in a dark corner at such points, and extremely tempting.  But I feel we have too much good going on to go into despair, there are too many things to celebrate for us to simply give up.

On Monday morning just gone, I arrived at school with a phone and an inbox full of "Sorry but I won't be in"s, and found even more on my arrival.  The words "You need to go home" have never been so relevant.  Half way through the morning, it was clear that our resources weren't stretching that far, nor were our children coping.  It was a shame.

However, less than two days later, our new friends from Elmfield school came for lunch, and suddenly, as if by magic, the sun shone.  Our playground was aflame with friendships being made and new possibilities opening up.  What had two days previously been a place of discomfort (and please recall the 70-mph winds on Monday!) became a place of humility, sharing and joy.

As I watched, I realized that I had never before seen hide-and-seek played by two children in a wheelchair, one of whom was also hearing impaired, with two other HI friends and three new-found Badock's buddies, and that my life had been the poorer for it.  As our friends from Elmfield prepared to leave, the line of children waiting to say goodbye was longer than the chip queue on a Friday, and I felt privileged and humbled to be a spectator.

Every school has its grotty Monday mornings, and they are usually the culmination of a set of circumstances almost impossible to manufacture or replicate.  However, always keep this in mind: for every such Monday, there will be an even sunnier Wednesday, an even brighter Thursday.  Is a rubbish Monday - ten such days - not worth the sight of true friendship and learning in children being sparked?  Inevitably, when we are at our lowest, the very success which motivated us to sign up for this crazy ride is just around the corner.  Always, always keep this in mind.

That, my friends, is all.