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What keeps me awake at night

We must stand together or we'll break apart

We must stand together or we'll break apart

Picture the scene: you are nestling, wine in hand, in a corner of the local pub with your fellow teachers and a beloved boss. The inevitable topic of student-teacher interactions comes up, causing one of these fine colleagues to comment: "It's them or us. And that's something we've all got to learn!"

What this person meant was that, as teachers, we must always support each other against the children - because they will push, manipulate, manoeuvre and maul at our souls as we battle desperately against governmental pressure and other educational storms.

I don't agree with that view. I am aware, as J M Barrie so beautifully put it, that children can be "gay, innocent and heartless", but that is what makes them the most vibrant of all life's colleagues. Children, students, young people, human beings - they are what it's all about. They are the reason we get up at 6am and don't rest our heads until 1am. They are the reason we are constantly training, retraining and renewing ourselves and our understanding of learning through CPD. They are the reason we get up and go to work in the morning, even when it's cold outside and our eyes won't open and the admin is building and our sense of guilt is growing.

But it's not just about them. And it's not just about us, either. It's about everything we can achieve together when we foster an environment in which we all feel supported, encouraged, comfortable and renewed. It's about knowing you've got someone on your side when no one else will give you a shot. It's about being broken and emerging as a united force, stronger at the broken places.

It's not the staff who get me out of bed in the morning and it's not soaking up the glory of my outstanding observations, either. It's the fact that I can be myself - my true self - in my classroom, with my students, more than anywhere else in the world.

The writer is a teacher in the South East of England

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