Back to School

The week before I go back to school I start having dreams of anxious moments in the classroom, maybe they are more like nightmares. In Doctor Who on Saturday, Clara Oswald had a dream moment where she was in front of a class and couldn’t control what they were doing; some were throwing paper around, most of them were shouting. The sequence ended when she said she would see it that they all got expelled from the school, followed by one student calling her bluff with the retort “go on then”. My dream the other night was that I was teaching in my new classroom, in my new school and had forgotten to set a seating plan. I had (in my dream) done everything I thought I should stepping into my new role as Head of Department, but I had forgotten the basics of preparing myself for one of my new classes.

I am a big fan of the summer holidays; I suppose who isn’t? I’m not one of the people that subscribe to the idea that we should have shorter summers and more even holidays throughout the year. I think the students need six weeks to switch off and be children, to find themselves and grow up a little bit, although it never feels like the latter happens enough. However, the one downside is the week before we come back: the dread. I have it more so this year as I am making my first transition to a new school. I have spent eight years teaching in a nice middle class school where I had made loads of friends, worked in teams I knew inside out and cultivated a reputation that was respected. I don’t think it is arrogant to say that last thing, teachers know when they are working well and so much in teaching comes down to how you are perceived by the students. I know that one of the biggest challenges I have to come next week is making the first steps on being respected by the students. I’m not big into interpreting dreams, but I know that getting that seating plan in place is something that must happen if I want to do well.

I know that there are many people all over the country who might be starting a new job this week that aren’t teachers. Starting something new is hard. It’s the little things that I stress about. Dreams of seating plans aside, I am pretty confident in what I do in the classroom. It’s the things like: who to speak to about ordering resources; where to sit in the staffroom; who to speak to about changing a bulb in my room, that I am most worried about- all the things that I probably won’t be told in my induction. These are not worries specific to teaching. But the big difference that we teachers have are the unforgiving customers that we come into contact for most of the day. I doubt most estate agents or car salesmen have a “go on then” moment like Clara faced.

We are dealing with young people, young people are insecure and having a new person in front of them is scary for them. It might not always seem this way when there is a group of 30 in front of you but they too feel the strain of new things. If they are in Year 7 they also share fear of new places but even the Year 11s, who belong to the school more than we do, still worry about the start of term. I’m just trying to remember that I am not the only one that is feeling the fear of stepping out of the glow of the summer into the shadowy unknown of the September term. We’ll be fine, just as long as we know who sits where.


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