Creativity for control freaks

30th June 2006 at 01:00
Peter Greaves shows how teachers can let go without losing it. This week: Pebbles on the beach

Well, just between you and me, I am running out. I am running out of energy, ideas and patience. I remember an athlete once saying that they felt just as exhausted whether they were doing 100 metres in training or running a marathon, because they gave their all, whatever the length of the race. As we approach the end of the marathon that is another year, I find my reserves running low and can sense it in the pupils too. We are filled in almost equal parts with the weariness of a long year, the exhilaration of the break that the summer brings and the promise of next year's new start.

If I had been teaching my desert island class, and a rescue boat had just landed on the beach, I guess there would be that same mix of emotions.

Before climbing in and sailing away though, it's important to take a good look around. I'm sure I learn far more each year than my class and now, between all the must-do jobs and end-of-year clearing up, it's good to take stock and pick up a pebble from the beach as a keepsake.

Perhaps the best keepsakes are the memories of the pupils. They remember the most insignificant, yet precious things. Many are memories of things that are not a result of the hours you pour into lessons or pastoral care, but they would not exist if you didn't.

For example, here are a few of the flowers my class plucked from the meadow that is me and my classroom.

The time I knocked my water bottle all over the art work I'd just collected.

When Zac showed everyone how to make a paper cup out of a piece of A4 paper.

Turning the tables upside down to use as Viking longships during a history topic.

Our trip to the museum.

Our coach driver having a go at me because we were late back from our trip at the museum.

Reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Our States of Matter day.

Breaking one of the lights in our classroom with a "fizzy flyer" on our States of Matter day.

...and the list went on. As we talked about it, for a while, the tiredness of the season was blown away. A cool sea breeze of golden moments blew through the classroom as we remembered good times together.

There is a very small window for this. Once pupils have met their new teacher, and you have met your new class, it's hard for anyone to look back, so firmly are faces set towards the future. So while you can, take a few minutes to reflect. Next week, as we share our control freakery together for the final time this year, we'll think about what might be ahead.

Peter Greaves teaches at Dovelands Primary School, Leicester Email:

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