Image

Communities

1a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common:

2 [mass noun] the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common:

3 Ecology a group of interdependent plants or animals growing or living together in natural conditions or occupying a specified habitat:

Communities are transient, temporary. This realisation, although obvious, has taken a while to sink in. Thirty years to be precise.

I have been undergoing a LOT of change recently. Reluctantly I think I have to concede that it is not something I deal with easily. I hate having to admit that. Saying that you cannot deal well with change has connotations which I don’t like, implying inflexibility, narrow outlook, lack of confidence etc.

In the same week my parents moved out of our family home after 26 years there. I moved out of the only other home I had known after six years, and I moved south of the river to join my boyfriend in wimbledon. I left my job at a school where I’d been working for two years, in my first job as a teacher. This involved saying goodbye to two groups of thirty little people who, respectively, I had spent my first and second years as a class teacher with. As well as roughly 40 members of staff.

I am entering the blogging world with some trepidation. I have read some intimidatingly witty, compelling, thought provoking blogs and some, which are, frankly, boring. If you are going to subject your musings on life to the outside world, my opinion is that you must, at least attempt to make it relatively readable and entertaining. I realise that the above information about the unsettled nature of my life over the last few months will not be fascinating to many people. It’s not like I have been battling a terminal disease with courage or saving children in Africa. It frankly is not that interesting, unless you are, well, me. However what I have been experiencing got me thinking about communities. I think something you understand more and more as you get older is that all communities and the settings in which these communities exist are all temporary. As my thoughtful boyfriend reminded me when he offered to drive me back to my family home on the moving day to show me that ‘babe it’s just a load of bricks and it will be good for you to see it empty.’

Why are some people better at ‘change’ and accepting that, when you get down to the morbid nitty gritty, all communities and relationships are temporary. Maybe it’s life experience. Never having moved house or area (which I realise makes me sound very unworldly) – does that make it harder for me than someone like my partner who was uprooted to different countries virtually every year of his life? And he really does believe that it’s just ‘bricks and mortar.’ Maybe it’s a female thing, are we naturally more sentimental? Maybe it’s a personality type, some people feel more comfortable immersed in a group of people, a community, with ‘attitudes and interests in common.’

Anyway, I never made the trip to see my old family house. I was too exhausted at the time it was suggested. I was struggling with the commute from south London to my north London school, the admin involved with moving and caring for/attempting to teach the thirty children, who I passionately wanted the best for, in my final few weeks with them. Plus making an effort to reassure my boyfriend who has lovingly and warmly welcomed me into his flat that he has not moved in with a tearful, emotionally self indulgent parasite.

Anyway, all this did get me thinking. In my struggle to accept that all communities and relationships end, some more hastily than others, was teaching the best job for me?
Aside from the usual aspects of the career that I have been battling with: the paperwork, the pressure, the lack of resources, unreasonable expectations etc. I have found the intensity of the relationships you develop difficult. You spend 39 weeks of the year in a very confined space with 30 children, developing a profound fondness for a select few, but feeling responsible, and accountable for all of them, being questioned deeply about their social and academic development by your managers, engaging with their families and problems in a way that few other people would. And, especially in my first year, waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the one who came in with a black eye, or the one who you know gets left by himself in the house at night, watching horror movies alone…..

Then, boom, end of term, leave the school. Nothing. No contact or interaction with these kids or their families again. I can’t help feeling it’s a strange existence. You have these intense relationships with children, you make them laugh, cry, hate you, love you. They make you laugh and cry and you hate and love them at the same time. Again it seems to be something which, as you’d expect, is very variable. Some people seem to move on and give the impression of barely giving it a moments thought. They deal with the change. Whilst others are openly vocal and emotional about how difficult they find saying goodbye to these funny little characters. The older teachers seem much more immune to it. Out with the old, in with the new, get up, do the job, go home. And I have to admit I think about the children outside of school much less now than I did when I first started.

My next role in a school in September, I will not have my own class. I will be teaching eight different classes of seven to eleven year olds. I am hoping it will be less stressful, emotional, and exhausting. But I do wonder how it will impact on my sentimentality at the end of the year and how rewarded I feel. We shall see…

 

Advertisements