How do you want your pupils to remember you?
SPORTS DAYS, assemblies, productions, activity weeks: the list of hurdles over which the tired teacher and their equally tired charges must negotiate before summer is long and arduous. The temptation to stick on a DVD and get the displays down and the new backing paper up so that you don’t have to come in to do it in the holidays is strong. The summer break shimmers like a mirage, tantalisingly out of reach, its inevitability just around the corner.
And now you have made it. When it finally arrives, we sink into the vacation with a sigh of relief. After the first couple of days (weeks?) of being ill and/or under the weather, our unburdened selves return, and we do our best to leave school – and school children – behind for a while, to rest and relax so that we can return refreshed in September.
I would encourage you, however, to pause for a moment of reflection before plunging into the summer and whatever delights that holds for you. I would ask you to think about those students with SEND who have been through your classrooms this year, and think, after all the reports have been filed, about the way that you will be remembered. To teach is a privilege, it is a great responsibility; I wonder, if they had the chance, what would your SEND students write about you?
Would they know who you are? Or would they have much greater memories of the TA who sat next to them and whispered in their ear all year? Would they remember being in your class, or would the corridor hold greater significance for them?
When they think of your class, do you imagine they associate it with joy – or with fear? Will they remember you for the exciting and interesting things they did, or will they, like the lady in her eighties who I met on the train the other day, still remember your name for the way you held up their work in front of the class and made fun of them, humiliated them?
Perhaps thinking about what they would say about us might help us to consider our own reports and construct them with kindness. Because what we say is remembered and the effects of our words can ripple on for years. Nancy Gedge is a consultant teacher for the charity the Driver Youth Trust, working with school and teachers on SEND. She is the Tes SEND specialist, and author of Inclusion for Primary Teachers