Posted in Education, Teachers

An Open Letter From A Teacher

Dear World,

On Monday afternoon, I huddled around my interactive whiteboard with two of my colleagues listening to our Prime Minister and his instructions about what on earth we are going to do now the whole world is facing a pandemic. 14 days of isolation if anyone in our household gets symptoms. The idea of social distancing and becoming more and more isolated from each other. I received texts that night from friends, basically saying, ‘see you later’ and ‘make sure you’ve got plenty in.’

It felt kind of distant from me. I saw it on the news of course and read about it in the media, but it wasn’t impacting me at that point. China, Italy, Spain, France. They’re all so far away from my door step. Maybe I just didn’t understand the severity of it. Or maybe I just didn’t want to. I look back to two days ago and remember thinking, ‘Well, I’ve got a job to do and that’s it really.’ I’ve done that but today it’s changed. If only doing my job was that simple.

We are living in incredibly difficult and strange times, there’s no doubt about it. The media is full of chat about the big C. Social media is full of it too. This is bordering on too much. It’s creating anxiety for everyone, especially when we consider the more vulnerable amongst us.

Two days later, we have an announcement that schools will be closing. For me, it’s about the students in front of me. They’ve worked so hard. We’ve changed their mindset, gave them hope and resilience. This is all very much a work in progress still. They are young people after all. But, today standing in front of my classes showed me that the young people are confused and scared. I’m just as worried and I don’t have any answers to make it better. I feel just as lost as they do. I keep saying, “It’s business as usual kids! Let’s do this!”

My team and I are still teaching normal English lessons. We have a curriculum to deliver, a curriculum I’m passionate about and have spent three years creating. Year 7 and 8 are reading non fiction, Year 9 are looking at a modern novel, Year 10 analysing unseen poetry and Year 11 focusing on preparing for their GCSE exams. I think now about the things we should be covering in the next few weeks, the incredible books we’d be reading and the writing styles we’d be experimenting with.

I’ve had emails from worried Year 11s who are self isolating desperate for work. How do I reply now? What on earth can I say to them? The announcement today means their Year 11 experience and their school days essentially end on Friday. There’s more questions than answers. The need to protect them, lioness like, stirs deep within me. I could cry.

Currently the emails are left unanswered because I just don’t know what to say. I have a class of Year 11 tomorrow. Who knows if they’ll have any motivation left to turn up. How do I know that I won’t just burst into tears when I see them? How can I safeguard their futures? More importantly, for those most vulnerable students, how do I know that they’ll be ok now, without the safety of our four walls around them? Questions. No answers.

Despite this turmoil, I’m really overwhelmed by people at the moment. The kindness in supporting the older generation at supermarkets. The camaraderie on the streets. Doing everything we can to help our colleagues in the NHS who are working tireless to keep people healthy and safe. We really are pulling together to support each other. I truly believe we show our best in times of great need. I knew this day would come where we would have to close. I just didn’t quite realise or process everything that meant. Teaching is my whole life. My students are everything.

Amongst this utter chaos and desperation, I’ll be on the ground tomorrow with my fellow colleagues, reassuring the students in my care. Despite the clichèd rollercoaster of emotions I feel, we have to be calm. Our young people are worried about their education, their families and their own health and well-being. It’s our job to reassure them. Likewise for my team who will be worried about their own families and friends.

To the rest of the world, stay safe. Talk to each other. Send messages. Read something you’ve always wanted to read. Visit open spaces and breathe in the spring air. Have we even noticed it’s getting lighter? Check in on those vulnerable people around you. Take up a new hobby. Do the jobs at home that we’ve been sat on for about three months. Regardless, we are all in this together. This. Will. Pass.

Yours faithfully,

Posted in Holiday

School’s Out! 


Hi everyone!! 

I’m so sorry I’ve not been around. I’ve been exam marking (more on this later) and desperately hanging onto the thought that it’s summer soon and I can finally stop and recover. It’s been a really hard year at school so I’m absolutely exhausted, like every teacher! (Fairly accurate visual representation below!) 


I was having a conversation with someone at school and I said “This year has been horrible.” Which I realise now, sounds rather flippant. It’s been difficult: workload, new GCSE, unknown grading, bright boys not wanting to work, difficult decisions that effect morale, staff leaving, new changes etc. He asked me if there’s been any good. I immediately replied with “No!” 

Now, in hindsight, that is absolutely ridiculous and I’ll freely admit I’ve been a fool here. So, I made a list of all the positives that’s happened this year. I want to share them with you all because when things are difficult, we tend to miss the good bits. If any teachers out there are feeling like myself, like they could sleep for a thousand years and that still wouldn’t be enough to feel human again, focus on what has made you happiest this year. I did and my perspective has changed. The hard work was absolutely worth it. 


Successes of 2016-2017

  • Year 11. Now I always have a love/hate relationship with Year 11. This year I’ve felt even stronger because I could physically see very bright boys struggle with the new, harder GCSEs. This meant that every success we had along the way meant even more. We were a team; they’d know I’d do anything and everything to help and support them. In return they gave me excellent lessons, where despite adversity, we still laughed and learnt ways to approach the new system. We learnt it together.
  • Prom. I always go to Prom because it is really lovely for staff and students to have a nice meal, take millions of selfies and celebrate the fact the year is over, whilst anticipating what is to come: college and results. This year was no different. I spent most of my time with my students and close colleagues. It was a really privilege to win an award from the boys: most helpful teacher. It was a night I won’t ever forget because of the people. 

  • Linked to the prom is the prom video. I work with some amazing people who make a video for the students every year. It’s the highlight at the prom as the kids see us in a different light. This means we usually dress up which is lots of fun. This year my floor dressed in the school uniform! The least said, the better. 
  • At my school we have a prize giving day where students receive awards for academic excellence and to reward those who have been a credit to our school. This year, for the first time in the school’s history (apparently) I got a personal mention. I swear my heart stopped for a second. The pride I feel every time I see prizes and celebrations is immeasurable. So, to have my own mention was such a surprise on a really important day in the school’s history. It was just a reminder that all the sleepless nights, the worry about the happiness and progress of my students was worth it. 
  • Linked to the above: “Thank you.” I’ve heard these words a bit recently and you should never underestimate how much they mean to you. The words I’ve received will stay with me for the rest of my life. I always keep cards anyway. But the ones that have hit me the most are: “I don’t think I could’ve made it if it wasn’t for you.” “You’re obviously a part of our family now.” “You’ve been an amazing teacher to me, the best I’ll ever have.” I obviously cried my eyes out when I read these messages. 
  • Strengthening relationships. I’ve only been in my current school two years now but this year I’ve really strengthened my relationships. I’m so pleased I’ve got such a good network around me. It only takes one person to change your life; I’ve managed to find a few. You may have remembered my post from my weekend away in Belgium. That really was an amazing trip with some fabulous people. 

  • Finally, I learnt a lot about myself. I’ve learnt that I will sacrifice my own happiness and time to get whatever needs to be done for my department and students. I’ve learnt that despite there being difficult times, I’ve become more resilient and I won’t let anything beat me. There have been times where I’ve just wanted to give up altogether but I didn’t. I’ve been exam marking which was particularly horrendous; the hours were relentless. Despite finishing my quota there’s still thousands of questions left to mark so I’m fairly sure I’ll mark more because that’s a child’s hopes, dreams and ambitions on that page. I don’t think I can ignore it. 

I’m sure there’s more but it’s taken me three days to get this far! I’m tired and emotional and trying to recover. I’ve got big plans for this summer. I want to read and visit new places and spend time in my beloved Stratford upon Avon. 
So, whenever you’re feeling sad or like the bad outweighs the good, spend a couple of days evaluating the full picture. There’s always good in there somewhere. We just need to keep hold of it. It’s probably one of my worst habits so I need to continue working on this really. 

Big love all xx