Spring into action

Spring hasn’t quite sprung. In fact, we may have just taken a step back into Winter. However, this time next week we will be metrologically, at least, in springtime and those short winter days will start to feel like warmer spring-like lighter days. More hours of daylight with rising temperatures. And so, the growing season begins.

This might feel a little tenuous but the rhythm of the school year does seem to follow the patterns of the seasons from September through to the following August; bear with me!

Upon our return in August / September, there are still some pickings to be had from the enthusiasm the children and young people exhibit. They are usually so glad to be back with us and we, particularly those of us who teach or work in the classrooms, see some fruits of our labour. We then go into that fallow period. And, just as the farmer works harder turning over the ground, sowing the seeds, spreading the fertiliser, without any obvious or immediate benefit, we must work hard with and for our children and young people. We are laying down the educational furrow, beds and land, hoping that some return will emerge. It feels hard to be working that land throughout this period. We don’t get much feedback; we rarely see any green shoots; we can feel up to our knees in the mud. This period certainly lasts through until the February half term break. Throughout this period, we evidence that we are resilient, we are resourceful and we believe; we believe that good will come from our collective endeavours. After the February half term break, if we are lucky, we start to see those green shoots. That hard work, through those winter months, tending to the fallow pupils/students, might just start to show us that there is growth, that what we’ve been doing has taken. You’ll all be seeing that now – hopefully. Those challenging concepts, that skill which didn’t seem would ever be mastered, that knowledge needed to under-pin further learning, seem to be taking root and, consequently, there’s growth, there’s progress, just a little, but we know it’s there, we can see it! And in these months, just as the farmer picks up the work, picks up the pace, does those longer hours, tending, weeding, fertilising, pruning, we pick up, yet again, our pace, our drive. Those weak, yet still noticeable, shoots of success need our attention. If we are to harvest a bumper crop this year all of our children and young people need us all more than ever. The period to luxuriate is not yet upon the farmer and not yet upon us all in the schools and in the college.

We walk the tightrope between collective success and collective failure. We know that we must do it with our children and young people. We are true to ourselves, as professionals. We are realistic. We don’t articulate that tired and (frankly) unprofessional nonsense about it being whether the pupils and students want to do it or… “it’s their future, they should own it””. They are children, we are the adults. We know what the future might bring, they do not. We understand that we have a moral responsibility to act as their agents of change. We do not, in our community, just expect or accept. Our children and young people learn because of all that we do. Their success, their growth rests with us.

The summer months, where we can all kick back and enjoy, where we can wander amongst our strong and resilient crops and enjoy the warm summer sun, are just around the corner. Those days can now be seen. They will be with us before we know it. If we do the hard yards now, we know that we will be able to relax and rest easy knowing that our work is done and our efforts will bear the ripest of fruits.

‘In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move’. Henry Rollins