A hastily written poem this one. I had a few lines running round my head one evening in the final week of term and thought it might be worth seeing what happened if I tried to join the dots.
It’s about…well, let’s not treat people like idiots here, it’s about what it says in the title. As many of you know, I’m a teacher and so this time of year is very special to me – and all teachers, I hope – and it always prompts a great deal of thinking. What will next year be like, how will I get on, what’s kid X going to be like in Year 9, do I think I’ll get along with this class next year, etc. And that’s before you even get to thinking about how tired you are and what you’ll be up to over the 6 blissful weeks of summer.
The last week of the academic year is always quite a strange time. For me personally, it always feels like a week too far and I know that’s silly really. There has to be a final week and, as I’m reminded of regularly by people who clearly never went to school, I have a lot of holidays. On a side note, I’ve never figured out why people who moan about teachers’ holidays don’t just solve the issue by becoming teachers.
The last week generally sees a small dip in the student population, a smattering of unauthorised holidays being taken, sometimes a downturn in behaviour and eventually, a slackening off in the quality of lessons. The weather seems to always be ridiculously hot – relatively so; this is the UK after all so we’re not claiming European levels of scorchio – and so it becomes a case of trying to evade some form of heat exhaustion too, for teachers and students.
So anyway, I wrote a poem about the whole phenomenon.
End of Term A strange mix of exhaustion, excitement and familiarity drifts around for days. Every morning is greeted with half closed eyes and a walk that has more than a hint of Marley's Ghost You trudge out of the door, drag yourself through each day, tolerate those you are faced with and smile through gritted teeth, as if that alone will make the clock go faster. From Monday through those last five days, classrooms will echo to a familiar refrain; 'Can we watch a film?' And you brawl with your conscience hourly to stop from caving in. The minutes fail to fly as you attempt to solve the mystery of how to craft one more lesson on a text long since finished and tired of. Outside the sun shines without mercy, turning the classroom into an oven that bakes until all enthusiasm is burnt and thoroughly dried out, like last night's re-heated lasagne. Windows and doors are propped open and you battle with all on the corridor to be heard, while your voice gives way and your feet grumble dolefully. After a week that felt like a year you arrive on that final day, too shattered to appreciate the glee that greets no uniform. You smile weakly at the fashion show and finally put on a film, while your class complains that this one's boring and that the teacher next door brought sweets for her class. Summer can't come soon enough.
It’s been a very difficult year in schools. Things have been different to say the least. Covid has changed everything and this year has featured a heady mix of room changes, teaching in bubbles, watching on not really knowing how to react when pupils have been taken out of class to be sent home for dreaded periods of isolation, bubble collapses and whole year groups going home, split starting times, dinner times and finishing times, Teams lessons, Teams meetings, school closures and teaching to an empty room, and of course more hand sanitiser than you could ever imagine!
It’s been a year to test the resolve of teaching and non teaching staff as well as students, parents and guardians. As a result, as the final line of the poem says – and with more emphasis than perhaps ever before – Summer can’t come soon enough.
As ever, comments are always more than welcome. Thanks for reading!