When Adam wasn’t looking forward to the new term, fate stepped in. A chance encounter reminded him of his passion for teaching.
A few weeks ago, Sunday 6th January to be exact, my wife and I were in Costa. We had a voucher as a Christmas present and wanted to have some time to ourselves whilst planning a spa break for the next half term. I needed something to look forward to as I was not particularly enthusiastic about returning to work after Christmas for some reason. I had the same feeling in the pit of my stomach as when my paternity ended the previous summer and I had to tear myself away from being at home 24/7 and spending quality time with my wife and kids.
We ordered (large) and sat in the comfy seats and started planning. On the table next to us was an elderly couple who thought they recognised my wife. We are used to that now as it as a regular occurrence, she has one of those faces. Just to be sure they asked if they knew her and as we got talking to them I found out that he was the retired Head of a local primary school and his wife was also a retired primary school teacher. We shared our stories about the Christmas holidays and about school starting again and that I had an INSET which I was grateful of as I needed to break myself back into the swing of it all etc. The stories went on about how the system has changed over the years and the ages they enjoyed teaching the most. We talked about our time teaching abroad and how we would possibly consider it again. The lady then said that she goes back in twice a week to listen to readers in the Foundation Phase as she loves hearing them read and still enjoys being with the children. They finished their coffees, we wished each other a Happy New Year they and left us to our spa planning.
I could not take my mind off our encounter with the couple for the rest of the day and I joked about how that will be us in years to come. The fact that they still talked so fondly of education and the fact that she still goes in to school to listen to reading made me realise that even though she has retired she still has that calling. The calling that we all had at some point in our lives, the calling to work with young children and to inspire their future. The encounter also made me think about the added extras we do as teachers, all the paper work and admin tasks that have been created to keep someone else in a job. It brought me back to what I call the ‘bread and butter’ of teaching which we now call the four core purposes (you may have different names for them). They are the basic principles that got me into teaching in the first place:
- To be ambitious, capable learners
- To be ethically, informed citizens
- To be healthy, confident individuals
- To be enterprising, creative contributors
Very often I find myself losing inspiration for the job, something that I know is perfectly normal as our workload widens but bringing it back to the basics and concentrating on what really matters I realised that I still have the passion and drive I hoped was still there. I realised at that moment that teaching has joined the rat race, almost a paper pushing job in itself. Someone could easily pick up from where I have left off on the admin side of things but it is the passion to work with children and to shape young minds that refreshed my mindset and helped to motivate me about starting a new term.
I believe in fate as everything in my life has worked out just the way it was meant to be so far. I needed that encounter in order to put things into perspective and it was no coincidence. I had started the day dreading Monday morning and ended it with the motivation and excitement I thought I would find at the bottom of my mug. I think it is important that we stop once in a while and prioritise tasks. Ask ourselves, why am I doing this? One day we will leave the profession , for example, due to retirement but that doesn’t mean that our passion has to be handed in along with your stapler and marking code. After all, teaching is a vocation and in my opinion still is the best job in the world!