GCSE results day is usually the most significant day of the year for a secondary school teacher. We spend hours and hours preparing our year 11 students for the exams – and once they’re finished, there’s a short-lived respite before we’re back to worrying about their grades. But this year was different for me. The Secret Teacher writes in The Guardian.
At the end of the summer break, my partner passed away. It was described as a “sudden and unexpected” death. Beyond the overwhelming grief, I found myself facing a future so completely different from the one we had hoped and prepared for.
My colleagues and students will never know how much they’ve helped me through this time of my life. Smiles in the corridor, squeezes on my arm as they passed, or conversations where I could talk through what happened have kept me afloat. Colleagues have offered to cover my classes if I can’t face them, flowers have been left in my office, people have brought me cake and sent me messages. The fact that I feel that people at school are looking out for me has helped me take one day at a time, and put one foot in front of the other. Being in school has meant I’ve been able to carry on.
When I’m in the classroom, I’m a teacher giving a lesson. My students don’t know what I have suffered and continue to suffer. They moan about what we’re studying or why I need to set them homework. Sometimes they make me smile with their comments. They treat me as they have always done. One of them often asks what I have planned for the weekend – I say “not much”, then ask about his. And no one questioned me when I left the room after seeing a hospital scene on TV, sniffling when I returned. My students help keep me sane in a world where I have cried all the way on my drive in and all the way home again.
After more than a decade working in schools, I’m so grateful I’m a teacher. My school has become a huge family that has rallied around me when I needed them most. My colleagues take me out for dinner, or check up on me when I’m at home. They are like my brothers and sisters, and always offering support.
Read the full article Secret Teacher: When my partner died, it was teaching that saved me
Has teaching helped you cope? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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