Moving on

by Nichola @Nichola80

'I’d like to offer you the job'. The best sentence I’ve heard during lockdown and possibly the best one for a very long time. Doing an interview in the middle of a pandemic was strange to say the least. No shaking hands, no tour of the school or teaching a group, sitting in a room socially distant from the 2 people in the room and a 3rd member of the panel via video. But ultimately I’m still me, still the same passionate teacher. Turns out they thought so too. So in September my new challenge begins.

15 years ago at the end of July was the last time I heard those words. I was in a very different place then. I was 25, engaged to be married, no children and had only stepped foot in a special school during my training when I did a placement there and it had ignited that fire in me that special was where I wanted to be. I had been absent from my previous school due to workplace bullying, had quit with no job to go to and was considering leaving the profession after just 3 years. I remember looking around the school with the head and thinking this was where I wanted to be. A sponsored conga was happening so we tagged on the end! I was so nervous. I didn’t have the special experience apart from that short placement and some summer work. I knew I wanted to be there, though. Thankfully the head thought I should be there too, and so my adventures in special ed began just 6 weeks later.

I’ve had a very varied time over the last 15 years. From reception to Y6, from first days in Primary to moving on to secondary. From those with the most profound and complex needs (my personal favourite area of special ed) to those with moderate learning difficulties and a whole spectrum of things in between. I have laughed (a lot), I have cried (a lot!) And I’ve been proud of my pupils so so many times. I’ve seen children walk for the first time (though I would never tell the parents I saw it first, just that they were so close today you may want to try when you get home tonight!) But most of all, I’ve been able to be part of the lives of many amazing children and their families and made a difference.

People have played a huge part in my life over the last 15 years. I went from a TA joining me just a few hours a week to being line manager for 3 full time very experienced TAs! I really believe that there should be more work on managing staff in teacher training, and by more I mean any! It’s such a huge part of the job, vital to the smooth running of any classroom. Not only that but I had to learn that other services were equally important in special school life. Physiotherapists, Occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and sensory impairment staff would also play a regular role in my life as a teacher. It was a huge learning curve but one I loved. It was hard and I had a lot to learn but many of these additional adults became life long friends and for that I am so lucky. They have shaped me to the teacher I am today and for that I am truly thankful. You know who you are.

I have also helped others on their way. From students coming for placements and deciding that special ed is something they’d like to consider, to TAs and teachers starting out or struggling with something specific. The delight of passing on knowledge as others have done for me.

So now it will soon be time to say goodbye to so many of those things that are familiar. The faces of the children and adults I see and know well; the grounds; heck even the commute! That last one I really won't miss! I struggled through huge building projects on the motorways, closed off roads for months at a time and endless hours stuck in commuter traffic! My new role is closer to home, within the same local authority that I live in so hopefully not completely different school hols to the boys any more!

I am so excited, and a little nervous, to be the new girl again. To bring my skills and knowledge and enthusiasm to mix with a new staff team and some new fabulous special learners. I hope to make new friends and learn loads from new colleagues and the from the children and young people.

Bring on the new challenge, September is calling!

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