usually when you work in a school there are patterns to the day. Bells ring, pupils move around corridors, lunch time arrives and people gather, kids in the dining hall, adults in staff rooms, in safe spaces, each to touch base with friends and colleagues and have a break. It is relentless. When I first worked in a High School, the bells drove me slowly mad. I have missed those bells this half term.
Everything is different. We look at each other across our face masks, transferring feelings with eyes only. I have seen stress, sadness, anger, hope and humour in the eyes of my colleagues this past five weeks. Pupils, en masse, the life blood of this school are seldom seen. They are safely ensconced in bubbles, staying in one classroom, while staff move between. Staff rooms remain empty, people hurry in to fill a kettle and then move to their classroom, everyone is scared.
We are all learning. Learning new ways to do things, learning about our own fears and how we react to this new world. I suspect some of us will never be the same again. For some this will be a change for the better, for others not so much.
I have learned a lot. I have learned that I am more fragile than I have ever admitted before. I have learned that I need people, I need to hug and to live entirely in the world. Sadly a garden, a good book and sunshine are not enough.
I have learned to be vulnerable, to find the words to explain the feelings. I have learned to let go of my cheerfulness and at times to succumb to tears and fear, that it is ok to not be ok. I don’t like this much.
I am learning to be kinder, to take a minute before replying to others. I have learned to step away from things that I cannot influence or fix.
So, we get to the end of this half term, and find ourselves in lockdown number two. Five days in, I have begun to write again. For so long the words refused to come, they would stay in that spot between my thoughts and the keyboard, and steadfastly refuse to move through my fingers and onto a page.
Encouraged by friends who want to read my thoughts, I tried again and this time I know there is much to say. I have so many ideas and am thankful that I have remembered to begin with a word, then write another, and let the stories flow.
From thoughts in my head that move through my fingertips and onto a page, the words will speak for themselves.