It’s half term! And for the first time in the 10 years of teaching I have reached half term with a real sense of achievement. I feel like it’s been a great half term and I’ve earned the break. Does that sound a bit boastful? Hopefully it won’t as we go through!
The definition of achievement is “a thing done successfully with effort, skill, or courage”. That is definitely what I feel this half term has been, not just at school but in most aspects of my life.
In the 10 years I’ve been teaching normally a school holiday means relief, regret, and dread. Relief that I’ve made it; relief that I can turn my alarm off; relief for a week or so off work. Regret that I haven’t got everything completed; regret that I haven’t done my best; regret that I didn’t stick to my good intentions that I started off the year with. Dread for the amount of work I will have to do once back at school; dread for work to be done over the holiday; dread for the body likely to give up on me as it inevitably will over the holiday!
This time I haven’t really felt any of those things. But I feel achievement and that the break is deserved. I have done everything I have needed to do this term, with a little bit more as well, this means I have been successful. It has definitely taken effort, some skill was involved, and at times great courage. Therefore I definitely feel my sense of achievement is deserved!
Since September I have had an anxiety attack; gone to a course once a week for 6 weeks to work out my vocation; marked more than I have ever marked in my life; run 5k at least twice a week; cried; taken on a new responsibility at school; dealt with new and major departmental changes; continued to be actively involved in church; taken assemblies; walked to and from school every day; never worked on a Saturday; barely seen the husband; continued to lose weight; made and given away a lot of soup; not had a seizure; got most things ready for next half term; written a LOT of blogs; prepared, organised and participated in the school’s dedication service at Canterbury Cathedral!
That is a very busy 8 weeks, especially once it’s written down! I think a lot of it is down to habit. Every September I always think, I’ll stay on top of the marking, I’ll do more at school, I’ll be more prepared, I’ll walk. After a couple of weeks I’m already behind, I’m getting lifts whenever I can.
But this year it was different, the walking thing had clicked, I don’t even think about getting lifts or catching the bus anymore. I’ve asked for a lift once, but that was after open evening and it was 8:30. I’ve got into the bait of walking to school, getting there early marking a set of books, staying after school, marking a set of books. Therefore I’m on top of it. I haven’t let things floor me, I’ve just carried on regardless. I’ve got my lists and I tick them off once I’ve done them. I try to be ahead of the game.
I was worried that going back to work would mean I wouldn’t do as much exercise and therefore would struggle with the weight loss, but although I’m not going to the gym very often at all, I am still making I go running – not because I have to but because I want to.
I’m starting to see how all of the different aspects of my life fit in with one another and impact each other. I’m also seeing how doing that little bit extra actually eases things in the long run. This is definitely true with marking. But I think for me I realised this most through the explore more course. I’ve been in limbo for so long, not knowing what I was meant to be doing. If I’m honest the last thing I wanted to be doing on a Tuesday evening was go to a course about vocation which was going to confuse me. But those 15 hour days have been totally worth it, and I feel so much more confident in what I’m doing, knowing that it is what I am meant to be doing.
Yesterday was our last day of term, and it was our dedication service at Canterbury cathedral. I organise the service, book the speaker, choose the readings and usually stress considerably. But yesterday I enjoyed it, I enjoyed practicing with the pupils reading in the morning, I enjoyed listening to the musicians as they rehearsed, I did not stress when I realised that I’d missed printing out one of the fundamental readings, as chosen by the speaker. Then came the afternoon, I enjoyed seeing the entire school coming together in that magnificent building, looking fantastic and doing the school proud, I enjoyed the kids faces when they saw me and said ‘miss you look fantastic’, I enjoyed the singing, I enjoyed my impromptu reading, I enjoyed the talk, I enjoyed the time spent with colleagues in the pub after.
That service really has bought together this entire half term for me. The talk was fantastic, I knew it would be, as I knew the speaker and chose him because I knew he would be fantastic. But the fact that he hit the level perfectly for the pupils (not an easy task), that he bought together everything we’ve been talking about in assemblies this term without even knowing it, the fact that my colleagues were talking so positively about it later (early on in the evening).
I now know I am meant to be teaching, and after yesterday’s service I can see how I don’t need to be in dog collar to be able to bring God to others, and I’m so excited to explore how else I can do this!
I think I can honestly say I have not endured this half term, I have most definitely enjoyed it! And I look forward to saying the same at the end of the year!