Today, I said goodbye to teachers, students and SSOs from Wirreanda Secondary School, where I’ve been teaching for the past couple of years. It wasn’t just those people I was saying goodbye to, however. I was also saying goodbye to teaching (well, not forever but for the next year or so). Tomorrow, I start my new role and it’s not at a school. I’ll be working as a Project Officer in the Department for Education. No school holidays, yard duty, uniform checks, or detentions. No tests, marking, report writing, or NAPLAN. No behaviour management, phone calls home, parent-teacher interviews, or course counseling. No assemblies, music nights, graduations, or sports days. No teaching.
At this stage, when I don’t know what shade of green is on the other side, all I can think about is what I’m walking away from. Although I’ll be glad to be rid of putting students on detention for leaving their locker key at home consecutive days and having to go on yard duty just before an unplanned lesson, I’ll miss the relationships I’ve developed with the entire school community. Having left a school nearly two years ago, I’m familiar with the farewell process but possibly more realistic/pessimistic of the prospect of maintaining connections and friendships beyond the parting hug or shake of the hands. What’s most challenging for me at the moment, I feel, is not the first sixteen no’s I listed above, but the seventeenth. Walking away from the core part of my practice, teaching students, is something I didn’t think I’d do so soon in my career.
My new role is centred around supporting senior maths teachers to develop their own practice through a professional learning program. Although I’ll be utilising much of the skillset I’ve developed (and still am developing) as a teacher, my room will not be full of high school students. Thankfully, I love working with teachers – they actually like maths to start with. And I doubt I could have walked away from the classroom had it not been still linked to the most important part of education – learning.
So, tomorrow morning, I’ll be going to work rather than school. Here’s hoping it’s not too different to what I’ve fallen in love with over the past five years.