Teaching definitely feels surreal at times. There are days that are like soap operas, and others that are closer to a Hollywood disaster movie.
And sometimes the job is like a song, whether that’s a melancholy epic or a feel-good hit. Here are five lyrics that sum up my teaching life perfectly:
“School's out for summer/School's out for ever” – School's Out, Alice Cooper
When that bell rang on the last day of summer term, the sense of relief was palpable. We’d been dreaming of lie-ins, BBQs and beer gardens for weeks and then, finally, that golden six-week stretch was here. Endless days to fill and enjoy, free of the cares of marking, planning and classrooms. And with 45 or so of them, it can feel like school’s out for ever…
“'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try” – (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
You’ve been doing a creative task with glue, magazines and coloured pencils and have ended the lesson five minutes early to get your classroom tidy before the next one.
The floor looks like a pack of chimpanzees have been let loose in Paperchase and your plaintive yells of “pick up those scraps!” are falling on deaf ears.
Then the next class arrives, and the process starts again. Will this classroom ever be tidy? Probably not, but you’ll try and try and try and try…
“If you see me walking down the street…Walk on by” – Walk on By, Dionne Warwick
Teaching is a full-on job and we really need our holidays. During them, most of us just want to be ourselves rather than “Miss” or “Sir”.
So during these six weeks of supposed rest and relaxation, bumping into students can be quite stressful – particularly if you’re with friends or your own children are kicking off.
When you see one of your students walking towards you, you may be inwardly muttering don’t stop, walk on by…
“Oh I heard it through the grapevine/Oh I'm just about to lose my mind” – Heard It Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye
There are always hilarious rumours going around about teachers. My favourite ones I’ve heard about myself include that the beauty spot below my eye is a prison tattoo and that I was once engaged to Shakin’ Stevens. Bizarre to say the least.
Us teachers are like mythical beasts to kids and the past lives they imagine for us are probably much more interesting than what we have actually been up to.
I do love listening to their rumours for the comedy value. But when I ask them where they heard it, they’re never quite sure. It’s like an urban myth or maybe they heard it on the grapevine…
“I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour/But heaven knows I’m miserable now” – Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now, The Smiths
And then, in the blink of an eye, the summer has gone. No more weeknight gin and tonics, no more binge-watching whole series on Netflix and sitting in your pyjamas till lunch. It’s back to early nights, break duties and collapsing in bed after the news at ten.
A miserable prospect. But the misery is short-lived as we meet our new classes in September, to recommence the most rewarding job in the world. And anyway, it’s only 35 school days until the next break.