Is your school a firework, a steady Eddie or the one?

Teachers have different relationships with their schools – will your passion for the place last forever or burn out?

Sadie Hollins

Teacher wellbeing: As a teacher, what sort of relationship do you have with your school?

Life is full of different types of relationships.

Romantic relationships, friendships, relationships with colleagues and bosses…but perhaps one of the biggest and most significant relationships that teachers have is with our schools.

And sometimes it feels like these teacher-school relationships are becoming more reflective of modern dating: fast-paced, short-lived and easily replaced.

Long gone are the days when you would settle down and find a school that you could grow old with. Instead, we may find ourselves in any one of the seven types of relationships described below:

The relationships teachers have with their schools

1. The firework

This is the school that blows you away at first sight. It seems to tick all of the boxes. It’s exciting, interesting, listens intently to your needs, woos you…but the passion is short-lived.

You soon realise that it’s not the school you thought it was, you start to bicker and moan frequently to your friends about it. After the initial bright lights, the fun quickly fades.

2. The steady Eddie

Safe, reliable and maybe somewhat boring. This school will continue to tick over for years to come. Come 2040, it will likely have a lot of the same furniture and even some of the same teachers.

You know what you’re going to get with this school and have to decide if you’re happy to settle down, or if you’ll always be wondering if there’s something better out there...

3. The rollercoaster

Some days you walk out on a high, other days you literally have no idea why you’re still there. Changes take place quickly and unexpectedly, and you have to buckle up and hold on if you’re going to stay for the ride.

Holidays offer a good chance to reset and remember the "good times", but your feelings towards the school continue to change like the wind.

It's exhilarating, but, like with all rollercoasters, you want to get off eventually.

4. The mismatch

You’re not entirely sure why you’re at this school because you had a feeling from the start that it wasn’t quite what you were looking for – but you were open to trying something different.

You don’t quite understand the decision-making (or humour) of the leadership, but you tell yourself it’s OK to be different.

While the philosophy of the school never quite seems to align to your own, you’re willing to make do for now.

You live in optimism that one day you’ll click, but every year nearby "fireworks" tempt you elsewhere.

5. The one you keep coming back to

You’ve tried to leave before – you told yourself it was over and set out for greener pastures. However, shortly after moving on you realised that you’d made a terrible mistake.

Your new school just didn’t "get you" in the same way.

You begin reminiscing about all the good times you had together, and seek out the opportunity to patch things up and give it another go.

After all, you never really stopped loving this school and it could easily turn back into "the one...for now".

6. The grower

From the outside, this school seems a little dated and behind the times, but it’s ruggedness has a charm to it.

Every year you come to consider whether you are going to look elsewhere, but something keeps pulling you back in.

You think that maybe you might want a "firework" – after all, it’s been a while since you’ve had some excitement in your life – but you know that these things never seem to work out.

You’re a little older and wiser now, and you think maybe a good trusty companion is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

7. The one...for now

This one just seems to click with who you are. You feel at ease immediately. All of the staff seem to enjoy being there (and have been for a long time).

It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and every now and then you wonder "how did I get so lucky?".

But the winds are changing and external forces are beginning to threaten… you start to worry if it can really stay this way forever.

With the recruitment window on the horizon, and in incredibly challenging times, now, more than ever, you need to think before you swipe right. On the one hand, leaving a secure job to begin somewhere new is always a risk.

On the other hand, without taking a leap of faith we all risk getting too comfortable or overstaying in a school that isn’t quite right for us.

Perhaps a new question to ask when applying for jobs this year is: will this be a school you can endure a pandemic with?

Sadie Hollins is head of sixth form at a British-curriculum school in Thailand 

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