I can still remember the moment I decided I wanted to be a teacher.
I was three months into a job working as a TA at a London independent school. The Year 3 teacher, still a good friend, asked me if I would go into the adjacent classroom to fetch his guitar. I did, and handed it to him. His class, a small, well-behaved group of fifteen, sat silently in front of him on the carpet as he carefully removed an elegant, sea-green acoustic out of its rigid case.
“Ok…” he said, tuning the strings slightly. I noticed that the children were absolutely silent.
“I’m going to ask someone to choose a song for this afternoon, seeing as we’ve been working hard.” He ran through a list of songs, the names of which I can’t remember. After each one, a group of three or four children would let out a “Yeah!” of pleading enthusiasm at a volume they knew was just about acceptable. After the song was chosen, the class went straight into a singalong, the children hanging on their teacher’s every chord.
That’s what I wanted to be – someone to inspire kids into taking up the guitar, easily convince kids that singing wasn’t uncool, and be an all round good teacher.
It hasn’t happened. It took an observation and devastating critique of my planning and organisational capabilities to confirm my worst fears – I was failing, and failing hard. Last week, in small, cold room sat uncomfortably on chairs made for five year-olds, the phrase ‘there is a real concern’ was repeated several times at me, and I knew, really, that I had reached the end of the road. The day after, with my voice cracking, I told my mentor, school link tutor and head teacher that I had decided to withdraw from the placement.
I’m not going to start a list of all the dramatic highs and lows I experienced over the course of my placements. My year and a half of teaching I will see as a brilliant experience, seeing only a glimpse, though, sadly, of how brilliant it might have been to become comfortable and settled.
My only regret?
I never, not once, took my guitar into school and played it for the children.