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'Four reasons to look forward to the new term'

Does returning to the classroom fill you with dread? Sarah Simons offers reasons to be cheerful about the new term

Don't be sad about the end of the holidays

Does returning to the classroom fill you with dread? Sarah Simons offers reasons to be cheerful about the new term

I’m all of a doo-dah, time-wise. Traditionally I hit peak-Christmas on 24th December having simmered with excitement since August. The down side of such a run-up is that my interest takes a vertical plummet just after the Queen finishes wittering on. By Christmas pudding time, I'm ready to rip the tinsel off the tree and punch anyone who utters anything festive. All I want to see is clean surfaces and an organised calendar. But this year is different…

I had a bonkers busy December struggling to keep up with work, study, and family stuff so didn't really settle into the "sitting completely still" portion of the hols until Boxing Day. The new year’s here now and for the first time ever, I’m not ready to go back to work. What I really want to do is remain deep in my sofa-nest for the foreseeable, with a bucket of leftovers and the telly controls, thank you very much. But, as real life beckons, I’ll have to grudgingly shift.

So, if like me you love your job, but you'd rather sit on your arse for a few more days (weeks), here are a few reasons I've dredged up from the depths to try and give us both a jump-start. Good luck and happy new term.

The most wonderful term of the year?

For those who follow a linear teaching pattern (mine are roll-on-roll off programmes, so this one isn't even for me. Bloody ‘ell.) this is the term where there’s a bit more wiggle room to be creative and experimental. The first term is all about getting to know ‘em, setting boundaries and routines. The third term is often exam focused. But in this one there’s chance to throw caution to the pedagogical wind and try stuff out. I’ll be honest, I do this most of the time anyway, as I learn more and repeatedly change my mind about how to get the best from my students.

Two times the freshness 

Out with the old and in with the etc. Are you making lists of what you are going to do differently? How in sparkly fresh 2019 there’ll be improvements beyond recognition? How you'll become "YOU 2.0"?

I'm not. I’ve decided I just can’t be frigged with new year's resolutions any more. I’ll have broken them all within the first week anyway, so what’s the point in making a plan which will result in me feeling crap about myself? 

Eh, I can do daily ones though. Sometimes. Let’s make that a thing. New day resolutions. You may call it lowering standards, I shall call it renewing resolve. That’s a reason to be cheerful.

Also, we edu-sorts are really fortunate in that we get two runs at a new year, every year. There’s the actual one, y’know, this week, then there’s the new academic year starting in September. So if your year goes a bit tits up, you can begin again in less than nine months. Bonus!

A rollercoaster of a whirlwind of a year

Its been 400 years since David Cameron tipped a cheeky wink at Boris, his bestest Bullingdon frenemy, then casually opened Pandora’s Ballot Box (aka Brexit). What? It was only 2016? Seems longer.

The resulting sea of Brexit confusion has sloshed over every news report since that day and it seems that still, even now, no one knows what's happening or what the impact will be. So that’s fun.

What this means for us is that getting comfortable with any recent or proposed policy changes that affect what we do might be a bit premature. Looking on the bright side, FE is renowned for its ability to shape shift and fill whatever void that presents itself. So if there’s any sector who can square up to whatever surprise remit the country will be presented with, it’s us.

Here comes the sun

Oh, shurrup. I know, I know, I’m scraping the barrel. But still… It’s dark when I set off to college. It’s dark when I set off home. On the days when I teach, I don't see my house in daylight. I have about an hour’s drive through Sherwood Forest to get to work, which in daylight is like a magical Disney wonderland and in darkness is like the first act of a horror film. I prefer the daylight.

As well as the days getting lighter there’s the excitement that cataclysmic global warming brings. There could be a winter wonderland in July or more likely, we could all be sweating cobs in our summer pants by next Tuesday. Who knows? And yes, our great grandchildren will probably be living in a Mad Max-style dystopian nightmare where water is traded like blood diamonds, but on the positive side, I can probably plan to pop my deckchairs on the patio come March.

Sarah Simons works in colleges and adult community education in the East Midlands and is the director of UKFEchat. She tweets @MrsSarahSimons

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