This week was one of the hardest weeks of teaching I have known. I know I am not alone and every single person, regardless of your job title who works in schools or elsewhere has been affected.
You don’t need me to tell you the reasons behind it.
The week before last we’d spent some time collating revision materials for year 11 and so we were already on red alert, and then on Monday the week started with lots of students have been on edge, lots of questions about whether schools would close alongside with many of them voicing concerns about the health of family members and friends. It was the first time I felt unable to provide answers and when Boris announced that exams and May and June would be cancelled I think it took a while for people to realise the consequences of this and more specifically what it means for year 11 and 13. I will of course try to disseminate how the grades will be awarded when it becomes a bit clearer.
Anyway, on Friday I drove to work knowing that it was going to be a tough day. I stopped to get some bits from a local petrol station and when I came to pay I noticed I had left my card at home having taken the wrong card out of my wallet and so embarrassed I started to walk out of the shop (minus my things) and when I got to the door I burst into tears. A young man saw me and offered to pay at which point I blubbed some more at a total stranger reaching out to help. I am an idiot though and remembered that I’d set up apple pay on my phone (but never use it) and so we got it all sorted. I was a mess.
When I arrived at school year 11s were hanging around before line up and a couple of them came up to me and we started talking. The same conversations will have been had up and down the country and I know I’m not unique but emotions were running high and I basically spent the day trying not to cry ugly. I am immensely proud of the students and I feel that they will come through it (and we WILL come through it!) stronger people – hopefully more independent and more aware not to take life as we know it for granted. For our year 11’s I wasn’t sad because I think this will adversely affect them in the very long term I am sad because this isn’t the way it was meant to be.
They were going to be on a journey that allowed them to show how hard they’d been working and how much they had learnt and I feel like they have been robbed of that opportunity to shine. They were meant to be collecting results that rewarded them (or otherwise) for the effort they’d put into their studies and I feel that the sense of pride in yourself and sense of accomplishment will come for them in other ways now and not through exam results. They were meant to have the whole leaving school feeling which is a milestone and theirs potentially could be marred. Maybe its because I have such fond memories of this time and look back fondly on getting my shirt signed and the whole milestone moment of leaving school that I was sad (and not everyone feels the same). I probably shouldn’t share this but we had a massive egg and flour fight outside school and all had to walk home miles as the buses wouldn’t take us! My hair felt lovely for days though!! It was a line drawn under the chapter … at least until some of us returned for A levels.
Our year 11’s were amazing though and there was lots of impromptu selfies and photos throughout the day – I was particularly touched that one of the supergroups wanted a “maths group” selfie .. we’ve come a long way for this group of students (and the other half of the year) to see themselves as a group and it was only going to get stronger. They did get to have their shirts signed and for the first time this year I was really pleased that we had them for maths period 5 and 6 on a Friday! I wanted to be with them as they walked out of school, for some of them for what may be the last time apart from collecting results.
Without a doubt they will go on to do amazing things and I will miss them … just don’t tell them that! I must keep up the bad cop persona after all!!