1700 pupils on one site is the set up where I work. On a rainy day in the winter when everyone stays inside through the lunch break, or at the switch between lessons the building is really heaving with teenagers flowing through from one place to another. In contrast to that the last days and weeks of a school year can have a fantastic sense of calm. Yes there is a lot to still be done, clearing up, meetings, preparation for the next school year and the marking of end of year tests and work. But often in these last days you find yourself simply sitting at the computer in an empty classroom or some other solitary task and you are struck by how wonderfully different your familiar work place feels without the kids.
Don’t get me wrong, I like teaching, I enjoy the company of my classes. But at the end of the school year this classroom silence really does have something of a golden quality to it. Suddenly there is time to take a serious look at some of the lesson material that you have been using and the peace of mind to actually refine it for next year.
There are still pressures of the job in the background though, you know for instance, that every minute that you spend working on your preparation in these precious week or two is a minute less you will spend on it during your forthcoming holiday. There are also those end of year events such as the graduation ceremony that require a certain amount of set design around parts of school to create the best possible impression when proud parent join the pupils to celebrate. For me a good moment to reflect on the work of the pupils’ during the last year in a, for now at least, empty school building.