Twenty years ago, in my friend Kate’s house in Granton, we sat on the sofa drinking wine, looking out to sea, and I decided I wanted to teach. I had always taught Summer school classes, adult education groups and worked with children making giant puppets, felt making and mixed media treasures; but this was being a big grown up teacher in big grown up school.
Being a lonely artist wasn’t working for me. I was creating colourful felt products in my ‘Curious Creatures’ Business and exhibiting at craft and trade fairs. I loved making and I realised I loved meeting people and sharing what I knew more.
From a naturally quite shy kid, this was a surprise to me, having not expected to find the guts to face continuous rooms of teenagers, most of whom looked older than I did! But that firing squad was faced, time and time again.
Anyone who ever did teacher training knows is not for wimps. Like dogs, Children can smell fear ! And being the new girl in a new school every six weeks, is hard.
The hoop jumping, essay writing, module passing, lesson planning, course writing, behaviour managing, crit enduring…
But somehow you do it..
And eighteen years of teaching later, before my early retirement, I was still in the heart of of a buzzing and happy classroom so I must have done something right.
I loved my job, and had a great rapport with kids. My every waking moment was spent collecting resources.. from shells to pictures to art
materials to plastic pots and cardboard, feathers,
Grades were passed and clubs run, reward ceremonies organised, c.p.d done in everything from hat making to car maintenance, and thousands of children ticked and registered into a room full of colour, plants, masks, pictures, sculptures and ideas.
It wouldn’t be healthy to be too negative about my journey’s end in teaching. I became disabled through years of surgeries and through falling at work on an operation site on my knee. Another operation didn’t work and I was left on crutches, exacerbating arthritis and causing deterioration elsewhere. It was a battle to continue in so much pain but for a long time, I taught on crutches and managed without any support.
The last five years have taught me that the journey’s end you seek might not take you on the planned route. As I sat at my desk pre -disability, wishing I was an artist, living by the sea; I could not have imagined the dragons I would need to fight on the way to get here. Having already done it once to protect my child, the momentum needed to carry on was huge. With Amazing union support , I emerged from that chapter, having won in one sense, but never having had a real story’s end. When you stand up for yourself, there is no carriage clock.
But… that’s ok. It wouldn’t go with the house anyway……… I had experience and a good career which was fulfilling. It made me laugh and cry and at times it was my respite from pain elsewhere. And after all this time, it is now a dim and distant memory, another piece of my jigsaw puzzle and a step into the future which brought us here and now. So, I celebrate my self, as I never heard the words from my friends in the speech I could have had. I was a fabulous, kind teacher and I loved my job! And it was an interesting, challenging and mostly fun 18 years! The other bits.. well. You can keep them. I’ll choose to celebrate the effort it took to get and stay there and the effort it took to get here too. Perhaps I should have been better at feeling proud along the way.. who knows. Age is a great one for giving us tools we could have done with years ago.. But then.. where’s the fun in that?
Happy Retirement to me.
Thanks kids and the true friends I made. You literally kept me glued together
Now for whatever comes next. See you on the beach .