The start of a new journey

27th November 2015 at 00:00

I am beyond excited about my new lanyard. Not just because it holds a rare ID photo of me which looks like a human woman rather than Jabba the Hutt in a wig, but because of what it represents: a new start.

After my first day, I was just as optimistic. My boss was welcoming, the staffroom was lively and IT services conjured my online life into existence within an hour of my arrival – an unprecedented phenomenon.

I begin my new college life full of good intentions. My ambitions fall into two categories. The first is to engage with all the digital opportunities I can fathom. I will organise my resources instead of scattering them between home and work computers and scrappy printouts. I will encourage, monitor and conscientiously track my students’ progress – a cross between Miss Honey and Theresa May.

The second category pertains to my own attitude. I have the attention span of a toddler whizzed up on Haribos, but success is all about time management and, this time, I will use mine wisely. No extended sessions of staffroom mucking about just because my chair has wheels. No delighting in idle gossip over who’s at it with whom.

In my last teaching job I drove to work. My only regret is that I didn’t take advantage of the time. I could have been fluent in Mandarin by now. Instead, I listened to Chris Evans on Radio 2. This time, I’m opting to commute by train: I thought it would give me time to get stuck into a bit of reflective practice each day.

At 5.45pm on Day 1, I flopped into my seat and dug out a pen and a hard-backed Moleskine, ready for some gems of insight to emerge. As the train left the station, I clocked the small child wedged next to his sister in the seat opposite. Their mother had the haunted look of someone for whom a full night’s sleep was a distant memory. The tiny boy gazed at the yellow bear embroidered on his sister’s denim dress, then started chanting: “Winnie da Pooh! Winnie da Pooh!”

He soon realised that this sounded not dissimilar to “we need a poo” and his incantation gained momentum. Soon his little sister awoke from her semi-slumber and joined in.

After 10 minutes of “WE NEED A POO” at full volume, I slapped shut my virgin notebook. The comatose mother was clearly spent; it was time to deploy The Teacher Glare.

The chanting stopped. After a pause, the boy took a deep breath, looked me in the eye and nee-nawed: “POO FACE! POO FACE! POO FACE!”

The mother mouthed “I’m sorry” at my shocked poo face. The journey had resulted in nothing but smouldering irritation at my three-year-old nemesis.

On reflection, I may have to adjust my ambition for my new journey from efficiency to serenity. Maybe meditation is the answer. Or a great big pair of headphones.

Sarah Simons works in FE colleges in the East Midlands. She tweets at @MrsSarahSimons

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