So that was the week that was.
One week down as DHT after a year and a half of being seconded and on the whole it has been an absolute pleasure to be back. Staff and students have made me feel very welcome and mostly it has been like getting back on a bike. Passwords have defeated me and new systems have baffled me but it is mainly as if I had never been away. Except of course I have. And there are differences; different staff, different systems and of course different pupils as well as the same pupils and staff at different places on their journeys; I have realised that I need to be sensitive to this. My motto for these few weeks leading to the holidays is therefore to listen and watch.
Someone also pointed out to me the other day that I am not the same DHT who left the school a year and a half ago. I have learnt a lot during my secondment but also forgotten a lot about the reality of life in school.
Listen and watch.
I have been back in class and it seemed to go ok. I have maybe become too soft and perhaps need to review the trad/prog debate before next week.
I have managed some crises and on the whole retained composure.
I have felt exceptionally anxious about everything, slept badly and suffered an almost crippling stomach ache all week but I am not sure anyone would have known.
And yesterday I gave an assembly to my S4. In Scotland we roll the timetable after exams and start the new year in June and my return to school coincided with that. I wrote a script to help reduce my anxiety and had a rather smart PowerPoint to go with it. They listened in what seemed to be an attentive fashion and I tried to remember Tim O’Brien’s advice that it was about them, not me.
I got no feedback and am hoping they don’t now view me as some mad old bird.
Because I am exhausted, I am going to cheat and make my script the rest of this post.
I believed every word.
I hope they will.
I wanted to take this opportunity to reintroduce myself to you as stage head for s4.
Obviously nearly all of you know me and I know you from when you were in s2 and I taught you for French and in some cases Drama.
But that was a long time ago and one of the things that has struck me is that when I left here you were children whereas I have returned to find young people who really are on the edge of adulthood.
I feel really lucky that I am getting to teach half of you for PSE and some others of you for skills for work. As I have taught you again for the first time this week I have been really amazed by how much you have changed and developed and gained maturity. I have found you to be polite, helpful and welcoming. And I thank you for that.
Perhaps for some of you gaining that maturity has been easy but I am sure that for others it has taken a real effort and a decision to grow up and leave immaturity behind. You deserve real credit for that. I
Maybe others of you aren’t quite there yet, still have a foot in the childhood camp and need a bit more support in getting to be ready for adult life in terms of your attitude or behaviour.
And supporting you is my job, alongside your guidance and class teachers over the next twelve months. To support you all in becoming healthy, happy and achieving young adults.
Some of you will choose to leave school in just twelve months. Others will be here for another two or three. Whatever the case, we need to make the most of the next year so that you have the skills and qualities you need to make it in the wider world when you leave school.
You are all individuals and every one of you will be on a slightly different journey. Some of you will be aiming to get all A’s at national five because you want to go into a profession like medicine. Others will be aiming to get your employability skills like communication and creativity developed and evidenced so that you can get straight into a job.
Some of you (and maybe lots of you) may not have a clue about what you want to do and so you need to keep your options open and get as much from school as you can.
I mentioned happiness earlier and I know that you might be wondering about that. Being a teenager and being happy don’t always seem to go hand in hand but now is a really important time in your life for starting to work out what makes you happy, what really matters to you and who you are.
Because although friendships and relationships with others are really important in life and really important to you at the moment, the one person that you need to have a relationship and be happy with for the rest of your life is your self. Because there is a truth that we all know but sometimes need to be reminded of: the one person who is guaranteed to be with you for the whole of your life is you. Others may be with you for some or most of the journey but the only certainty is you.
To me, knowing and being happy with yourself is one of the most important things we as teachers can help you to learn about.
Because if you get that right, all the other stuff like passing exams, getting jobs and getting on with other people will be so much easier.