The last year has been painful, but ultimately rejuvenating. I feel a new sense of purpose and have embarked on a whole new way of life. This September sees me teaching just three days a week. I have given up all my previous responsibilities within the school, including my role as Head of LIFE. It was a difficult decision. As a subject, I think LIFE might be the most important thing we teach at school. It’s an exam-less subject, and a chance for pupils to learn the kinds of things that will almost certainly be useful for them later on: emotional and sexual health, personal relationships, the importance of community, etc. The subject was my baby. I have spent the last 3 years trying to develop it into something I could really be proud of, and the kids usually love the lessons. I didn’t want someone else to be in charge of it. I didn’t want to give it up. But the health problems I have had in the past have, in no small way, come about because of the stresses of the job. And I’m looking to move in a new direction now.
Teaching last week was a dream. I remembered again the pure joy of just being in the classroom with the kids. No one came in to disturb my lessons, asking for my help with something. No one emailed me frustrating emails first thing in the morning about what they should be teaching. No one needed me to do anything other than stand in my classroom and worry about my own lessons. It was bliss.
Then Friday came, before the week even felt like it had started. If I were in charge, no one would have to work more than three days a week.
I am using Mondays and Tuesdays to write. There’s a book on the go, but I have also applied to do a 12 week writing course with Oxford’s Continued Education department. It’s being run by the author, Malcolm Pryce, whose books about Aberystwyth have been keeping me entertained over the last few weeks.
I am calm and I am centred and it is September. This is a new first.