It was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to my colleagues at Davidson High School at the end of last year. As I walked out of the school gates for the last time, my mind was preoccupied with thoughts of cider, holidays and Christmas. Despite being overwhelmed by the generous words and emotions of my colleagues on that last day, it didn’t feel like I was leaving. It was only as I prepared myself to begin my new school, that I started to realise what I had lost.
What had I lost? Obviously, I’d lost many hours of shared experiences and laughter with my colleagues (who of course are really friends, now) but what hit me most was the loss of my students’ future selves. It sounds weird, but I started panicking that I wouldn’t see how certain students ‘turned out’. Would Tom get taller than his sister? Would Adam ace English in his HSC? What about Lachie, would he become the new school clown, performing on stage in SOPA? Of course, you don’t know who these people are, but I do, and as I type those questions out, I get a bit choked up. I know that very soon their names and memories will be swallowed up by time, and replaced by new names and future selves. That kinda scares me. I am grateful, though, for social media – already one student has tweeted me about their new English teacher. Of course, that connection won’t last forever, but it does fill a little Davo void, whilst I work to develop my connections at my new school.
So how is my new school? It’s actually really awesome. This makes me very happy, but it makes me feel guilty, as though somehow I’m being unfaithful to my colleagues and students at Davo. I continue to use the collective first person when referring to Davo, ‘We didn’t have that’ and ‘Our students did this’. I suppose when I refer to Manly in that way, I’ll know that my heart has left Davo, and found its new home at Manly.
One thing that’s played on my mind a bit, is how much of ‘me’ I should be at this new school. Like, how slowly or quickly do I reveal that I’m really disorganised, or that I’m a constant apologiser, and self-deprecating? When do I let it slip that I can be a bit bossy and even arrogant? Should I let my new students know that I panic when writing on the whiteboard incase I make a spelling error (it’s always the double consonants that get me!)? What about the fact that I am pretty forgetful, and bad a managing class time? I guess by now they know I’m an anxious people-pleaser, since I’ve been running around like a nutcase trying to stay on top of stuff.
Most of all, I wonder how I should be in the classroom. Davo is a very different school to Manly. Perhaps what my students loved and respected me for at Davo, the kids at Manly will find frustrating? Perhaps they’ll think PBL is silly. Perhaps I’ll find myself giving them what they want, rather than what they need, simply because I’m anxious to be liked? So far, I’ve not planned any projects for any class. Not one. That’s weird, huh? I feel very unsure. That’s what it is. I’ve just got to find my feet, and then the creativity will come back, my confidence, right?
I certainly now have much greater empathy for teachers and students who have taken that leap and started a new school. If you’re new this year, and you’re feeling a similar way, or you have some tips on making the transition more confidently, let me know! I do know that having ridiculously friendly and caring colleagues at my new school has helped HEAPS. I also know how lucky I am… and I’m happy. I’m just still at that ‘tail between her legs’ stage, lol. Are you?