Sunday, 25 October 2009

October half term

Before I worked in education I used to think school staff didn’t live in the real world; having a week off work every two months meant they were detached from reality. Oh, how different I feel now I’m one of those staff! After four years in a school I have deduced that the real reason behind the frequent holidays is the preservation of staff sanity. Being with teenagers for 37 hours a week can be tiring work – draining, stressful and loud. Every once in a while the equilibrium needs to be re-addressed and the balance re-issued; the slate has to be wiped clean so staff and pupils alike can tackle the days ahead refreshed and with enthusiasm, otherwise nothing of any benefit would ever be achieved.

We are just starting our October half term holiday and I am very glad of it. Last week was one of the more unpleasant weeks in a school with several ‘incidences’ to write up and report, merge squabbles appearing, performance management observations, and not to mention the whole Single Status argument coming to the fore (don’t get me started on that!). Amongst all this, two nice things happened…
1. Ian (the Technology Technician) and I were chatting about our plans for the half term break. He told me he would be spending it on a ship sailing to Antwerp – not for a holiday, but purely for the experience of being aboard this particular ship (The Lord Nelson). 52 years ago Ian was given a book by his father about The Lord Nelson, and on that day a dream was born! Ever since, he’s dearly wanted to sail on a ship as a member of crew and finally this week, his dream comes true.

2. I know Eileen (the Home Liaison Officer) has a teenage son who is a fan of Darren Shan’s books. We’d just finished processing his latest release and I popped it on her desk as a surprise, knowing she’d want to loan it as soon as it was available. Eileen is always polite and well-mannered, but this time she was particularly grateful - unusually so, in fact. The long and short of the story is, Eileen and her son had been at loggerheads for a while and hadn’t spoken to each other for a week. She said the book was just the thing she needed to break the ice and restore harmony to the household.
These two tales came at just the right time; my temper and patience were frayed at the end of this term and being reminded of the difference books can make to peoples’ lives gave me a much-needed smile. On a daily basis I go into battle promoting reading for pleasure against modern diversions such as PSPs, and these two little stories reiterated the importance of books and why I should continue my fight until I win the war. My heart was warmed immeasurably – thank you Ian, thank you Eileen.

Signing out now folks, Cara

PS. If anybody's wondering how I'll be spending my half term holiday: chartership, chartership, chartership! (With a DVD or two thrown in for good measure.)

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