Peter Greaves shows how teachers can let go without losing it. This week: Looking forward, looking back
As I scan the seasonal TV listings with my highlighter pen, one genre guaranteed to get a fluorescent halo from me is "Review of the Year". The sporting review of the year will allow the reliving of highpoints and the memory of disappointments and promise unfulfilled. The news review will remind me of stories that seemed so important at the time, but now are long forgotten. Both will bring home just how much can be packed into 365 days and how a single year can change the world and the way we view it. Can we remember the world before the Tsunami? Are we more fearful or more hopeful than we were 12 months ago?
I think it is good to take time as a teacher to do my own review of the year. This year has had its "Ashes" moments. At times, my classroom has felt like a place where achievement, success and enjoyment have gone hand in hand. I remember reading Chris's story and wishing I had a crowd of thousands to read it to. I would have held it aloft and kissed it in celebration at this example of progress and motivation, just as I wanted to organise an open-top bus tour for Alastair and Harvi when they acted with such care and gentleness towards a younger child. As a Leicester City supporter, I have had my home defeats as well. Badly planned lessons which I took out on the pupils, great ideas that turned out to be anything but, and evenings ruined by working late when packing up earlier would have been much more productive.
So, as I head towards a break, if not a rest, I'll look back and take stock of where my class and I have reached. Just like the news review of the year, you can't see the impact of some events until you are looking back at them. Ideas and initiatives have come and gone, some have stuck while others have fallen by the wayside. I've spoken with my class about things we have done which they enjoyed and would like to do again. They remind me of simple things that I've let slip or promises I haven't kept, little things that can make a big difference. I normally resolve to keep things simpler, panning the gold from the dirt that muddies the water. Hindsight can help to separate those ideas that were "of the moment" from those that have lasting appeal. A new term will allow for a clean break from things I no longer want to carry on with.
Just as a year is long enough to change the world, a year in our classroom changes the pupils' world too. I love welcoming my class back at the beginning of the spring term. The break will have done us all good and there is a sense of belonging together that will launch us ahead into the New Year. Whatever you decide to do with yours, have a good one.
Peter Greaves teaches at Dovelands Primary School in Leicester