Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, will have a flavour of me, as a teacher and I rarely do downbeat or feel sorry for myself (don’t worry I’m not going to start now) … but we all have times when you want to throw in the proverbial towel, even if only for a fleeting moment … well ok! for me, it is usually longer than a moment – about the time it takes for me to throw a dolly out of the pram and for Seager to talk me down (I blame my continental parents and their temperaments!). LETS GET THIS CLEAR: I have no intention of leaving teaching! … this blog is just the stream of thought that comes out of my brain, and sometimes (ok always!) I can’t help it! I find that when I start to type I develop a form of tourettes .. whatever I’m thinking just comes out!
Anyway, it hasn’t happened for a while, but when it does I need reminding that in the “big scheme” of things the impact we have on others (which in teaching is primarily our students!) is more important than all the game playing, box-ticking and ever changing goalposts. Don’t think I am naïve or green or even worse, have a “rose tinted” view of schools. Of course my views have changed over the years – I suspect that they have become more realistic; more informed (maybe?) but certainly less rigid in that there is no single panacea to any problem that is encountered: it really isn’t as simple as saying “oh X has happened, so we do Y”.
Next time I feel the need for a reminder I intend on re-reading some notes from some of my students and suggest that you do the same. I thought I’d share some of this years crop of letters, on the basis that lots of these sentiments apply to almost every teacher everywhere (especially if you’re “off to pastures new” and finding it tough going) and not just me … so when you are in need of a reminder of who the main “stakeholder” is in what we do for a living …
(1) “Firstly it has been an honour to have been one of your students these past three years. Despite your inability to seat me away from XXX until this last month, I cannot think of any way to make my maths lessons any better. Your connection with your students is much more personal than normal and this allows a rare bond between teacher and students that is unrivalled by any other teacher I have ever met and that is why we have become the group we are, because of your connection with us and laid back yet determined attitude (which has allowed some of us to get away with more than we should – me and YYY mainly). I owe you this honesty – I have always hated maths, but this has not stopped me from enjoying (most) of your lessons. You have turned us all into decent mathematicians and your should be proud of yourself – pity you could not improve my writing. I will always remember you as my maths teachers and a great influence“
(2) “I have to admit that before I came to high school, maths sucked. However after moving into your set maths soon became one of my favourite subjects, not only because you’re a cool teacher but you made lessons enjoyable (sometimes!). Now that you are leaving I’m relieved that I’ll obtain a great GCSE before you go … its all down to you. You will be missed very much and I will never forget the fantastic maths teacher I had.
From Love Student AAA”
(3) “Thank you for being a wonderful maths teacher over the last three years. You have helped me develop my maths skills into further and harder challenges. You always make sure we’re motivated, even through the toughest of times … and sums! I will make sure with all the knowledge I have been taught and the skills I have developed that I will achieve that A*. However I will miss you, as you are leaving and I won’t see you at school again but I wish you the best of luck at the school and with your teaching, you will make sure that the students will achieve to the best of their ability. Thank you for being an amazing teacher and allowing me to aim higher than ever before. Good luck and enjoy yourself”
(4) “I want to thank you for giving me such great lessons and for being such an amazing teacher for these last three years. I have always enjoyed and looked forward to maths and you’re definitely one of my favourite teachers. Your goal to be remembered in the future has been met. Thank you for turning me from that C grade students to that much preferred A* candidate … I will do my best to get this A*. I wish you good luck in your new job and I am honoured to have been one of your students”.
(5) I would like to start off by saying that it has been a great pleasure having you as my maths teacher. Although I seem quiet and don’t show it very often I am truly grateful for all your help for the past 3 years. From the start of year 9 I wasn’t sure maths was the thing for me, but throughout these years you have made me realise that it is. Getting those mock results in January was a big shock to me but I owe it all to you. Everything you teach is great. By the time I got to year 11 I’ve never been more excited to do maths. This is why I have decided to carry it onto A levels. You have truly inspired me and opened my eyes to make me realise that maths is for me. I thank you for all you have done and I hope I can be as amazing as you are in maths. I’m sad that you are leaving but I am too. Hopefully I’ll be moving to XXX Grammar School but that wont change the fact that you’re brilliant”
Now here’s the cynical part of me …I know that I am not indispensable (no one is! … yes! even you!!) and students are fickle .. but the sentiments are lovely and make me smile and if they serve as a reminder to just one of you then they have served their purpose.