⌚ 3 minutes
I often feel quite sad at this time of year. Teachers and children prepare to return to the school, a mass migration, a new beginning in which I no longer take part. Since leaving teaching in July 2014, the next time a September comes around I feel like I should be doing something: labelling trays, organising my classroom, buying new stationery (best bit), getting excited about subjects I will teach, or books that I will read and looking forward to getting to know the children who will call me sir (or 'miss'). As mundane as these tasks are, they were rituals of the job I performed for many years and symbolised the start of something new, something fresh.
No, things are not all bad. I can have a longer, cheaper summer holiday. I don't have to get up at 6.30am. I am far less tired than I used to be. Now, I often find that I have a great burst of creative energy at this time of year - new ideas seem to come easily, I have a renewed determination to achieve the things that are important to me. I have spent the last few weeks making great progress on the book I am writing, restarted my blog, enjoyed reading a wide range of research about teaching. But, it's still there in the back of my mind: I won't be going back to my classroom.
Over the last few years, I have written a lot about the reasons why I chose to leave primary teaching. It took a while to confront, but it is something that I have found cathartic to explore and, in doing so, something that will hopefully help others in time to come. It was still the right decision, but that doesn't mean that I don't feel a little lost, a little exiled without the familiar to return to.
You can read about it in this blog post I wrote for BERA earlier this year: www.bera.ac.uk/blog/teacher-identity-in-a-performative-age-coming-to-research-through-autoethnography. It even gave me the impetus to start Teacher Talking Time (www.teachertalkingtime.co.uk), a listening project where I interview teachers about their experiences in and out of the classroom. You can read mine here: https://www.teachertalkingtime.co.uk/2019/09/stefan.html Starting this blog and hearing the voices of others was a way for me to untangle the threads of my career as a teacher, both then and now.
If you are going back to school today, I wish you every bit of luck for what is to come. I am a little envious, I admit, but I'll be thinking about you as you go through the familiar steps, try out new ideas, start the lifecycle afresh.
But, if like me, you won't be going back and are feeling a little adrift, I know how you feel. If you ever need to talk about it, please get in touch.