But this one isn’t about Mick. He’s gone anyway. And neither is it 2000 navel-gazing words about myself. It’s a proper goodbye.
Being a teacher is a privilege. Each new year you get to make (at least) 30 new relationships. Not friends, but relationships no less important or meaningful than friendship. What is essential in teaching – despite the ever-increasing technicalisation of the profession – is being human: being a good person with other, smaller people, so that they can continue to grow as people. It is a privilege to have this role, on whatever level. To be trusted by the families (who are, after all, the first and last teachers) is an honour, but more important is to be trusted by the children themselves. I know all too well how difficult it can be to let another into your life and influence you, so to have a class full of children do that year after year is, when you actually think about it, humbling.
But it works both ways, as any relationship must. To be a person with other people means to open oneself up to their influence: to be changed. And this is what makes teaching the most privileged of jobs – to be able to go to work each day and be a person, not a function, means always being open to change and growth, to reinterpretation, creativity and more positive ways to view oneself and the world. It means never having to lose the childish joy in the world, and never forgetting how vitally important the present moment is. It is this that I am most afraid of losing on leaving the profession.
I have said my goodbyes already many times – to friends and colleagues, to my class, to the parents and families at school. But my final goodbye must go to all of the children – the people – I have known over the past 8 years. I would not be who I am now without them. My gratitude for what I have learnt from them is boundless.