A Christmas Tale

This was going to be about lesson observations, then I thought, “Sod it, it’s Christmas, who wants to read about lesson observations”. So I thought I’d cheer you all up with a maudlin tale about christmas past.

It was my sons year five christmas play last night. They did Dick Whittington. It was brilliant. Great singing, wonderful costumes, and a very happy boy singing in the car on the way home.

Before the play started I was, of course, fiddling with my phone and saw this:

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Which reminded me of times past in a 12 form entry school. Christmas was wonderful, made special by the traditionally competitive rendition in year assemblies of “The Twelve days of Christmas”. There is truly no joy I’ve felt quite like being among 300 children singing because they want to. I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite so human as on those mornings in the hall.

Schools are like any other organisations in that they are all capable of greatness, and on a day to day basis it is achieved over and over again. It is the intensity of effort from all members of staff in the building that makes this possible. The dark side is that this very intensity can, sometimes, break good people.

My story is slightly different. It wasn’t the intensity at school that broke me, that was something else. We lost a child. Stillborn. The week before Christmas. 

But it was the intensity of school that put me back together.

That year I missed The Twelve days of Christmas. It was, he understates, tough. Fifteen years later, it still is. I returned in the New Year to a group of people full of love and kindness and generosity of spirit. Every last damn one of them. The head, my department  the librarian, the site staff and the kids. Especially the kids. They held me up when I couldn’t do it myself. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty good mission statement for a school – “We hold you up when you can’t do it yourself”.

The next year, The Twelve Days of Christmas was special. I cried, of course, out of loss and sadness, but tempered with the joy that filled the hall.

If you are in a school over the next couple of days, listen to the children sing.

It’s healing.


6 thoughts on “A Christmas Tale

  1. Ah, lovely 🙂
    I couldn’t return straight away to teaching after my own hard times, and for a long time I wondered if I ever would, but you are right. There is something special about those moments that celebrate the community. My favourite was a whole school rendition (unrehearsed) of ‘I am the music man’. Funnest and funniest thing ever.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Mike – found it moving and also uplifting. I really like “We hold you up when you can’t do it yourself”. So sad for your loss, though.

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