April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
The opening lines of The Wasteland by T. S. Eliot
There comes a time just beyond the middle of the school year when it feels that one is limping through an electrical field. There’s a listless anticipation in the air: looming exams and the too-distant prospect of holidays beyond. The nervous excitement and best laid plans of the beginning of the year have gone. The star chart is frayed; and your rather naïve classroom management gimmick (‘I know! If they don’t speak the target language, I’ll put a plastic bug on their desk because it bugs me!’) has died a death – everyone wants the bug, so nobody speaks French any more.
To add insult to injury, that great new ‘to-do’ app has crashed, and taken a whole year’s worth of schedules, projects, tasks and contact details down with it. Plus, your laptop seems to have developed a penchant for fatal exception. For the first time in years, you go out and buy an actual diary. For the first time in years, you go out and buy an actual pen.
It’s not winter; it’s not spring: it’s just a nothing time of limping drudgery. You feel neither alive nor dead and yet on you teach and on they learn. Somehow, each day happens.
And then, into this monochrome fug, slaps a bright new thing. The mists part to reveal the shiny front page of a new magazine – Primed Magazine. It’s full of enthusiastic, half-familiar voices chirruping about the great stuff that can be done in your classroom: like how to set out an inspiring art copybook or how to combine Maths and English (and improve both).
You try a couple of things from the magazine (a Venn diagram and the Socrative app), and perk up a little.
At the same time, Twitter explodes into song. Little birds sharing their lesson plans, their spangly new schemes of work and their new displays. There’s a tangible optimism and excitement in the air. And it is contagious.
I am midway through the second half of the school year here in the Southern Hemisphere. September is my cruellest month. And your optimism, your ideas and your fizzing curiosity has hit me in the nick of time. I have been swept up and now gratefully tumble along in the wake of your enthusiasm. Thank you, Northern Hemispherical Calendar teaching teacher.
Southern Hemispherical Calendar teaching teacher
PS: if and when the chips are down in your cruellest month, I promise I shall be there for you. If not with a lesson plan or scheme of work, at the very least I shall be a chirpy little voice to tickle a smile and wrest you from your listlessness.*
One of the happier aspects of globalisation – of global communication – is my increasing awareness that somewhere on Earth, at any given moment, the sun is shining full in the face of a revitalised teacher. It might not actually be sunny, but your energy is apparent and infectious.
*Subject to terms & conditions: there is an outside chance that I may actually be quite annoying when your chips are down.
PPS: I’m rather chuffed to be celebrating my 100th blog with a bottle of beer and a bag of crisps. Cheers!