Maternity LeavingYesterday was my last official day of work. Yay!
I could probably have worked further into my pregnancy, but since it's best for me to return from maternity leave (if I return) next September, I had some time to play with. It's also easier to change-over to a new teacher during a break, and today marks the start of half-term break. Plus, it'll be a relief to not HAVE to do things, like sleep. I found myself not sleeping often over the past few weeks, then I'd get stressed about not sleeping because I knew I had to get up and give 'er for a full day the next morning. Then I'd not sleep even more. It's a vicious cycle. But now, no pressure. Ahhhh...
That said, as is usually the case going into a holiday, I have a pile of marking and catching-up to do over the next week. I want to ensure all the loose ends are taken care of for my replacement, including moving out of my old desk in the office. And of course, I feel responsible to give my best to the kids even until the bitter end. Ah, the kids. I love teaching.
I had one class I found a particular challenge this year, and for the most part, I will not be missing them. Certain individuals especially. Another of my classes was trying at times because they were such a low-ability group: I'd have to remind them every lesson just to write the date on their exercise books; and if they brought in a pen it was a miracle, let alone their homework! But they are not as flagrantly irritating as the above-mentioned group - I'm not even going to go into details there. Nonetheless, these were two out of my seven groups this year, so that's pretty lucky.
Then there were my good groups, my lovely groups. My 27 year sevens got OMGSOEXCITED when I played the radio during 'independent' writing times; they also LOVED when I read to them, and I loved reading to them. Setting homework was an adventure with this group because some were bound to come back with amazing, creative and over-the-top results! Year sevens still know how to think outside the box.
I was daunted when I learned I'd have a group of 30 year tens at the beginning of the year, and even more daunted when I learned their projected grades were entirely A and A* (no pressure!), but they have been by far my favourite group this year. They at once took words, ideas and lessons out of my mouth because they grasped things so quickly, and ensured I was always on my toes with planning and subject-knowledge. But they seem to have gotten the impression, however, that I am an expert in everything and were constantly engrossed in my every word - great for me and my attention-seeking nature! Yesterday, upon saying our goodbyes, one boy who has recently been fitted with a sling from a basketball accident asked me to sign his sling. This sparked about a dozen others to seek my 'autograph' on their personal copies of the text we are studying. I laughed, reminded them that I'm not a celebrity, and promptly signed away! Hilarious. I'm going to miss being astounded every day by their enthusiasm to learn and do well. We did paired research presentations on themes surrounding Shelley's 'Frankenstein', for example, and one group created an on-screen 'interview' with animated Eskimos during their talk-show version of the task, presenting Arctic exploration in the last 1700 - early 1800s. Their little animations actually responded to the questions they asked them, live, during a segment lasting at least 4-5 minutes! How do you not give that an A?
So when I second-guess my return to teaching almost a year from now, I'll have to read this post and remind myself that amidst all the bureaucracy and administration, amidst the 55-hour+ work weeks and the nerve-grating discipline issues, there are good reasons to return to teaching. At least 30 of them.