I am sat in my Year 3 classroom, surrounded by copybooks, having been called in by my Head to make sure that everything is ticketty-boo for tomorrow’s visit from OFSTED.
Having marked the last book, I take a look around the room. In this room, Connor (all names changed) has threatened to stab me with a pencil, Callum has irritated me with his constant chatter, and I have run from this room to catch Helen ‘the runner’.
My mind is now full of faces. On my desk, there is a cup given to me at the end of last year by Callum. It is a precious thing.
I had witnessed two OFSTED inspections as a trainee in both of my placements. I remember hearing a teacher breakdown and cry in the next classroom as she was being observed by an inspector. I heard her sobs, followed by a man’s voice saying ‘please continue’ like a lab technician in a Stanford experiment.
My Head and Deputy had worked ceaselessly to turn the school from ‘satisfactory’ to something closer to safety. The prior judgement had etched deep lines into their tired, kind faces.
This time, OFSTED drift in and out like dementors. We are judged ‘outstanding’.
Oh, how we party that night. I learn I can actually sing as we karaoke into the small hours. 80’s hit follows 90’s hit follows 80’s hit, and we scream our exhausted elation at the plasma screen. And then everything slows down. The disembodied sensation that I’d had when selling gadgets years ago, descends upon me yet again.
This time, however, as I watch my fellow teachers contort their mouths around the lyrics to ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’, I no longer feel the same rootless separation. I feel the warmth of my colleagues – my friends.
My hair is a mess. My hands are filthy. My face grubby and smudged with ink. I am tired.
But my mind is full of the faces of children.
I have left behind a world of digits, pixels and pound signs. Teaching is analogue; it’s vinyl; it is rock and roll.
And I am extremely happy.
My Journey (Part 1): Svejk the Teacher or How I tumbled into teaching like a crap acrobat.
My Journey (Part 2): Edutainment becomes a word or How I tumbled into new media like a hapless goon.