All of a sudden, the air is cooler and the evenings are starting to close in. Autumn is here. Soon we will have amazing colour and leaves will drop from deciduous trees.
That emotional claustrophobic feeling is familiar. The two seem to coincide. It is a mixture of anticipation and excitement.
Some students may feel very confident, some not at all. Others might be a little scared, wondering if they will make friends or sad for the ones they have left behind.
Teachers want to do a really good job. They want their students to excel
Students changing schools or moving on to the next level can have all these feelings. They might cope better if they realised that teachers can have these thoughts too.
Some of our colleagues will have changed jobs or retired. Teachers want to do a really good job. They want their students to excel and most importantly they want to reach every student in their various classes.
The cohort of students – especially in exam classes and early college years – have suffered and will have collected some scars from the last 18 months
COVID-19 restrictions have put a lot of pressure on the student-teacher relationship over the last 18 months. The parent-teacher interactions have been reduced too. It has been a difficult environment. The cohort of students – especially in exam classes and early college years – have suffered and will have collected some scars from the last 18 months. Teachers and principals are acknowledging and understanding this and I’ve no doubt that schools will do everything in their power to support students in the transition back to normality.
Still, life moves on and classes have changed.
The Leaving Cert results came out last week marking the end of post-primary education for those students.
Meanwhile, the first years are getting to know the system. My niece Kate started secondary school in Mount Mercy last week. She looked so grown up in her new crisp uniform. She is my youngest niece and marks the end of an era with all nephews and nieces gone from the primary system. I’m going to enjoy this journey with her, supporting her where I can.
An expensive time
The last few weeks have been busy for households with school-going children. It is an expensive time and must be planned for each year. You think you have everything under control once the school uniform, shoes and books are sorted.
In reality, the outlay of money has only just begun. It’s when young people go back to school that the bills really start to come home. Each subject brings with it a new list of things that must be supplied immediately.
Generally, a teacher will give time for such supplies but no student hears that. They want it tomorrow.
I remember the mad dashes into town after school and the panic at not finding the item. I wanted to make sure that they had everything required for school in a timely fashion. No fingers would be pointed at my children and so, like most parents, I went above and beyond the call of duty.
Getting the bag right is another nightmare because students want designer ones
I learned as I went along to have that spare set of markers in the press, to have an extra maths mechanical set hidden and to have computer ink and paper stored. I covered all their books meticulously with contact. A big roll of that is a great investment and can serve the household for years.
Getting the bag right is another nightmare because students want designer ones. My niece must have the prescribed wheelie bag. It is a great idea for their backs and joints which is not high on the student agenda.
Although An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced the lifting of most restrictions; it is not that simple for schools.
It is challenging when pupils with additional needs – who may also have health vulnerabilities – are in question
Most of the safety protocols will remain in many schools for the foreseeable future as many pupils still have to be vaccinated.
It is challenging when pupils with additional needs – who may also have health vulnerabilities – are in question. The priority is the delivery of education.
As teachers, we continue to innovate and work with the facilities that we have at our disposal. Those include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, See Saw and Google Classroom. There are many others and schools have found the mix of technology that is best suited to the student cohort. The extra space required for the safe delivery of education while still social distancing will continue to be an issue. It will be some time before all classes are face-to-face again. Still, we teachers work towards it, looking forward to a successful school year for students, teachers and families.