It’s the night before school returns, and I haven’t finished the school development plan, I’ve got a Tes column to write (at least that’s underway!), we’ve probably not got enough food in the fridge to see us through the week and I have no idea how I’m going to get up at 6am after weeks of considering 9 o’clock an early start. I suspect I’m not alone as we all drag ourselves back to it.
Unless you’re very unfortunate, the fear of the return is probably not as bad as it can sometimes seem. The loss of the lazy mornings and the copious free time is a pity, but getting back into the job, seeing the students, catching up with colleagues can all be positive really, once you’re over the initial hurdle of getting up. By the end of the first week, we’ll all be talking about how distant the holiday seems, and working out the hall timetable for nativity rehearsals.
Chances are, it’s been like this for generations. There’s no doubt teaching’s got more challenging over the years, and the demands are higher, but the rewards are still the same. I’ll enjoy seeing the children, hearing about their holiday adventures, and getting stuck into a new academic year. But one thing that has changed is the technology – and don’t you notice it in September?
First, there’s the entry code for the front door. For the last few weeks in July, you typed it in several times a day without even thinking: and there’s the snag. You didn’t give it a moment’s thought, and now you can’t figure it out. Cue four teachers queueing at the front entrance hoping the site manager wanders by and spots them.
What's my password again?
Then it’s the classroom PC. You know you have to change your password every 90 days, but before you can put in your new one, you need to remember the old one. Maybe you scribbled it down in the back of your diary? Or is that the one from the time before last. Did you just reuse an old password with a 1 on the end? Or maybe a 2? Can anyone remember the number for the IT support desk?
The good news is that once you’re in, you can access all the files and folders in the cloud, so all the preparation work you put in last September will pay off as you can reel out the old materials and make use of them again. If you can just track down the folder you put them in. Or remember vaguely what filename you gave them. It’s bound to be there somewhere.
As soon as you’ve found them, you’re ready to join the queue for the photocopier. Apart from the spritely NQT, who came in for three weeks over the summer and printed out everything she’ll need between now and Christmas, everyone is in the queue for the photocopier. An opportunity to catch up, hear how everyone’s holiday was, attempt to make yours sound more interesting than it was… only to realise that you don’t know where your photocopier card is.
Finally, you’ll feel like you’ve got everything ready, you’re set for the first day and ready to wow the kids as they make their return to school. Just turn on the interactive whiteboard and… wait, what? Why is the screen blue? Inevitably, during the summer deep clean, the vital cable has been unplugged and left. And now it’s your job to track it down and work out how to plug it back in.
Always best to have a few extra biscuits in the staffroom for that first week: it’s a long one!
Michael Tidd is headteacher at Medmerry Primary School in West Sussex. He tweets as @MichaelT1979