Time is a great healer, they say and it’s true. Time heals and gives perspective and sometimes when I think back over recent events, I get a little bit sad about what happened from 2013 onwards to my teaching career.
But there’s absolutely no need to be – because my time in teaching from 1987 to 2013 was time well spent. Not particularly for my own health, but for the impact I made on so many pupils.
If I was to draw a pie chart, the shit fest of the final few years would pale into insignificance compared with the great times that went before.
1987 to 1990 working in a church school in Oldham, with the claim to fame that I briefly taught Anna Friel, the actress, before a promotion took me towards the promised land of Manchester and arguably the best staff I’ve been privileged to work with. Not the types you get now, but old school colleagues with a spine and a fierce sense of integrity.
Same in Bolton in the early 90s until Staffordshire called in one of the most challenging schools in the country, as Head of English at the Mitchell High School, where I met Prince Charles, witnessed a headteacher assaulted, lost my front teeth in a bike accident but soldiered on teaching and inspiring this corner of Stoke.
Teaching continued to please until the latter years and, when I was effectively locked out of the profession, it felt like the end of life.
Only tonight, I’ve had messages from pupils I taught years ago, who’ve seen me tagged in social media posts from the weekend wedding of Anthony and Helen.
That’s my legacy.
Respect and lovely words from ex pupils, many of whom still come back to me for references, proofreading and CVs, which I do without payment of course, because I feel pride in the fact that 20 or 25 years on, I’m remembered and trusted.
Ex students often come to me for websites too – they implicitly know I will do them proud as I’ve always done, without ripping them off.
So, at the start of term, when I see former colleagues preparing for school, ex pupils kids dressed in blazers too big on Facebook and give my own children’s shoes their once a year polish, I feel decreasing resentment because my time in teaching was time well spent.
It’s just now I’ve started a new chapter in my life – writing and web design – where I can hopefully forge another legacy.