It’s always a little daunting to ‘walk in another person’s moccasins’ and be invited onto ‘their’ territory. And that’s how it felt this morning.
I was welcomed to school by smiling faces in the office and asked to sign the visitors’ book and wear an identification lanyard around my neck. I was then shown into what is still, for me at least, hallowed and mysterious ground – ‘The Staff Room’. As I walked into it this morning I ceased to be someone in my early fifties and regressed, once more, into a nervous student from Mrs Palmer’s class!
Staff Rooms are where ‘other’ people go – not me! Well, I was made a cup of tea by a kind teacher who said ‘you look absolutely terrified’! And I sat and observed teachers buzzing in and out looking at the two enormous white boards with all the daily notices written on them – it was obvious that no two days are quite the same with things being both added and subtracted from the published timetable.
The noise outside in the playground was rising to a crescendo as more students were arriving the closer the clock got to 9am. The School Secretary (who seemed to me to be a really important figure!) came in and gave the teachers a message from the Head – sounded a bit like a three line whip. And then at 8.55am the place became deserted – an old fashioned school bell had been sounded outside and it was registration time – so all hands on deck.
I waited a little while and then wandered down the corridor arriving at the back of Year 3’s class at the prescribed time. To my slight shock we waited a few minutes before a second Year 3 group joined us – now there were about sixty eager faces looking up at me.
I showed them some objects – including a chalice. I asked if they knew what a chalice was. Back came two surprising answers: the first student thought it was a mini font and the second answer (which I admit made me chuckle inside) suggested it might be a ‘pulpit’!!
We looked at some slides of ‘what I do’ and then some dressing up using the various stoles I use in liturgical colours. We ended with a PowerPoint story of the Lost Sheep.
It was such a privilege to be there – the group never stopped asking questions – and I realised, maybe a little too late, that dressing up gets them rather over excited! All too quickly it was 10am and time for ‘Singing Assembly’. As they made their way out various students came up to me and told me about their christening or the fact they knew the story of the Lost Sheep because, surprise surprise, they have it at ‘their’ church too! Lovely.
Last week at our COTHA Lent Course we were talking about vocations. Well I have nothing but respect for those who have found their vocation in teaching. Every day they help create the best of environments in which these young lives can explore and grow.
I won’t forget this morning but I’m glad, in a way, that I don’t have to go back to school tomorrow. Neither, for that matter, will I forget the answer to one of my opening questions to Year 3: did anyone know a more common name for the clerical collar I was wearing? Up went a hand from a boy half way back – ‘a dog lead’ he said!! I think he'll go far!
With best wishes,