I’ve been teaching for a number of years now and since that time, each first day back in September begins in a similar way.
On that first CPD (Continued Professional Development) or INSET (In-Service Education and Training) day – the name varies from school to school – it usually begins with the whole collective of staff coming together in one room to discuss the school’s GCSE and A ‘level results. In our school this involves everyone from the catering team to our Learning Mentors (Learning Support Assistants or Teaching Assistants in other schools) as we realise the significant positive influence adults with a number of different backgrounds and experiences can have on a student’s experience whilst at school. This is one of the reasons why all staff who work here are a form tutor or co-tutor – including the Head Teacher’s secretary and the team who work in reprographics.
After the initial buzz that inevitably comes from colleagues seeing colleagues for the first time in six weeks dies down, the Senior Leadership Team present last year’s successes and the new school improvement plan – better results, more focus on student outcomes, improved student progress (!) The day is then broken into meeting after meeting. The first, a pastoral one, (usually involving discussions such as: who in the year group needs pushing, who’s new around the table, what’s changed regarding the sanctions and rewards, uniform, pastoral staffing – something always has!) and then a subject meeting (along the lines of: who’s teaching what and when, pleas of ‘could we please keep the office a bit tidier this year?’ from the Head of Department).
The day is full of questions: ‘how was your summer?’ and fuelled by cake and adrenaline. It’s always exhausting, regardless of your role within the school, and I always find myself with a to-do list at the end of it which never really gets any shorter until the final few days of the summer term in July. It’s a dash to get exercise books, text books, rulers, glue, planners, board pens and class lists and, of course, planning your first lessons that will (hopefully) enable students to be engaged, enthused and actually learn something.
However, although I am one of those teachers who actually enjoys CPD/ INSET days, it is only when the students return that I am truly able to find my feet again. Ultimately, it’s why I chose to be a teacher: to have daily interactions with students and to help them learn about the subjects I love myself. The difference between the first day back when the students are here and the one that preceded it always strikes me. The teacher world is full of calm conversations, coffee and a wealth of experiences that, although useful, often make things significantly more complicated than they need to be. The student world is full of noise, colour, laughter and excitement which, as you have chosen to go into education too, you must find as infectious as I do. It’s only when all of our 1,000 + students are in the building that I remember why I chose to do this.
5th September 2017