Begin the year as you ended the last.
Because I am in a Travelodge.
You have no need of innovation, reflection or resolution. Why? Because for all that we stand on the shoulders of giants in this business of teach, I am in a Travelodge so that you might have some respite from the conspicuous changemongering, staymongering and go-back-to-the-pastmongering of this great industry of school.
Due to transport irregularities and a reluctance to carry more than two suitcases across London, I have decided to be in a Travelodge for the next three days. Time has stood still; there is little to do here. My wife is sat at the single desk in our hotel room watching Sue Cowley on Teachers’ TV. We are gathered around the laptop, warming as if at a wood-burning stove.
Sometimes I imagine that I am on an orbital space station (like the one in 2001: a Space Odyssey). I put on my tracksuit and trainers, and run from one end of our corridor to the other, like a Royal Tennebaum. It helps alleviate my thoughts from the fact that I can’t go anywhere. This illusion is slightly spoiled by the Sussex countryside. And the fact that, if I wanted to, I could go somewhere.
Plan if you will, but do not revolutionise: for I am in a Travelodge.
I’ve just ducked over to my wife: the Teachers’ TV clip she is watching is the same one that I watched back in 2007. A year 3 teacher is having trouble with classroom management: he’s trying to use Chinese balls to bring them to silence. I remember watching this episode and thinking that he looked a bit too cheerful for the predicament he was in. At the time, his balls impressed me. Now I think them to be not a patch on my Tibetan singing bowl.
Be present, listen – follow the lips of your children as they speak to you. But avoid nominalisation at all costs, because (as you know) I am in a Travelodge.
Last night, before I entered the time of Travelodge, I watched Ben Fogle on some travel programme. I remember his cheery poshness from Castaway – one of the first television programmes, supposedly, to feature real human beings. He was shadowing a family as they seemingly lived in the wilds of Alaska, watching glaciers collapse into rivers. Ben looked older, more leathered, sunburned, but he compensated for this with an enthusiasm that spoke of impending shore leave.
He has come a long way, but is clearly not happy.
The years passed and we promised ourselves anew. Let the Travelodge stand as a no-place in no time, and teach us this:
We, all teachers, have our time in the Travelodge. Do not take yourself into a false stratosphere of pedagogical silver-surfing – your nose will get cold.
Begin the years as you end the last: sometimes precisely so. For I am in a Travelodge, so that – this January at least – you need not be.