This has been a year of many challenges for all of us and has had a huge impact on schools. Laura Vance, Head of English at Outwood Academy Adwick in Doncaster, shares her admiration for everyone working in education and thanks them for everything they’ve achieved this year.
2020 has been a real rollercoaster of emotions. Whether you have been working in education for YEARS or are new to your craft, I don’t think that anyone could have predicted just how challenging working in education during a global pandemic could be. But we have done just that. And we should be proud.
So, to mark the end of this term - the most gruelling of our professional lives so far- I wanted to write this blog to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who felt anxious to return to work yet overcame it to support their students. Thank you to everyone who has been that reassuring voice for many of us, staff or student, when we had a wobble. Thank you to everyone who has selflessly thrown themselves into roles and tasks which may not be in their job description but provided much needed stability to colleagues and students. Thank you to… well, everybody. We did it. We got through it. And we are still here. I am proud to be among you.
I’m going to write about a few colleagues who I have seen work miracles. I am sure that these will resonate with you too.
Firstly, I have never known camaraderie like that I’ve experienced with my fellow teachers. I’ve always been blown away with the work ethic of the people I am so proud to call my peers, but these last few months have truly solidified them as heroes. From teaching in class to teaching online from self-isolation, and everything in between – the many forms and formats teaching has taken stand testament to our adaptability as a profession.
Secondly, support staff have truly been the backbone of the school. Teaching assistants will always be the true heart of any school community, working tirelessly to ensure that all students are included in every academic and social activity. This year they’ve made sure students feel safe, loved and able to tackle any obstacle. Attendance assistants have also worked hard to support students’ needs, going the extra mile to ensure that they feel comfortable returning to school. As we all know, the best place for children is school and these magnificent people have worked tirelessly to ensure that their whole community feels informed and supported. Similarly, HR assistants have provided hands-on support to keep classes staffed even when attendance is reduced by periods of self-isolation. I can’t begin to imagine the weight on their shoulders right now, but they carry it with great poise and humour.
We can’t overlook our senior leaders. It is often too easy to forget that those who lead are, in fact, human too. Senior school leaders have led from the front, modelling the love and kindness that we all show to our students. They have ceaselessly driven the increased safety of our schools and have striven to provide remote education strategies to make sure no child is left behind. In the day-to-day hustle of a busy school, they remain a pillar of strength. Never take for granted the work that your leaders do. I will be eternally grateful to my leaders who have taught me what it is to be strong with kindness. This year has been challenging to say the least, but they have more than risen to the occasion.
And finally, I would like to conclude with a huge, heartfelt word of congratulations to every single trainee who has chosen to become a teacher in the midst of this uncertainty. There has never been a harder time to learn your craft than right now. You have remained resilient. You are much stronger than you will ever know and your term first as a teaching professional will have given you skills that you can call on for the rest of your career. You are a rainbow on this rainy day of a year, and you will continue to radiate light throughout your time as an educator. This is just the beginning… and what a dramatic one!
Rest and refuel. You have earned it.