This is a very new kind of summer.
On the last day of school, while my colleagues worked purposefully tidying their work spaces and packing their resources for a summer of planning and preparation, I was visiting my favourite spots on campus – saying goodbye to the conker trees, to the wild bluebells below the sports field, to my classroom, the coffee machine, the library, old friends.
My work space wasn’t tidy – it was clear. This was not a temporary goodbye, but permanent closure on the last eighteen years of my professional life. I felt sad to be saying goodbye, of course; but not unhappy.
Now I feel the impact of leaving teaching for the first time. The exam results come in mid – August and though I am confident about my department’s performance, I know at least one student taught by a colleague will drop a grade and compromise their next steps. I will feel for both student and colleague. But I won’t be the one facing sleepless nights as I try to analyse (sometimes unsuccessfully) what didn’t go quite right. Sometimes students drop a grade. That’s life.
I won’t be taking out established schemes of work and re-evaluating the delivery of a text I have taught many times to engage this year’s cohort – and myself. Exams boards don’t keep things lively.
I brought back years of collected resources – books, papers, notes, folders, DVDs – and stored them in plastic boxes and placed them in the loft. I won’t need them for a while. Instead I laid out a pile of 23 books I have wanted to read this year. I’m already on Number Two.
Pink Floyd’s lyrics come to mind…
Every year is getting shorter; never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone…
Except time has not gone. This time has just begun. Now I look at the summer as a clear space for creativity and critical thinking and realise how lucky I am.