THESE three little words have the ability to strike fear into the hearts of teachers around the country. At this very moment, laminators are over-heating, printers are malfunctioning, and education websites are crashing.
Teachers young and old, novice and seasoned, are panicking the night before they return to the classroom as they realise they have forgotten everything they know over the summer. Their ability to teach, their years of service, all seem null and void. Some are even considering a return to the training colleges at St Pats or Marino — a little refresher course must surely be on the cards.
It seems like only yesterday they peeled the blu-tac off the wall and cast aside the flashcards with glee. Discarded lesson plans for holiday plans. They tried to hide their grin as people jibed at the length of their time off. Justified with “Oh, it’s not a full two months…what with... em..” Followed with a quick distraction — like cake or chocolate.
But where did that summer go?
The tables have turned. Those three words have been following them around since mid-July. Standing over their shoulder. Invading their space like a stranger on the Dart. The media like to flaunt it in their faces lest they forget or actually unwind for the summer.
A stream of slots on school uniforms and ideal school lunches clogs up morning TV. The supermarkets are in on the conspiracy too. No sooner has the bell rung out the school year than the shelves are stocked with ‘Back to School’ paraphernalia. It’s no wonder half of the teachers head for the other side of the world — it’s quite simply an avoidance tactic.
For some the avoidance tactic works — for a while. They are distracted by the ‘surprise’ of the Irish summer and get used to going to the toilet whenever they need to. Some may even let out the odd swear word. But just as their bladder settles into its new routine and they stop storing red pens in their hair, those three little words get louder.
They start to accept the summer pardon is coming to an end. Some may risk a glance at their class list and wonder how they are going to learn another 32 names by the end of week one. At 3am some teachers are still wide-eyed fretting about table plans, yard duty, hand sanitiser, and the first time they have to sing in front of their new audience.
They unzip that bag stuffed right at the back of their wardrobe labelled “school”and rummage through those crumpled clothes trying to find the ideal school uniform. The one that creates the right impression on both parent and child — only to remember that such an outfit doesn’t exist. Off to Penneys it is so, to find a respectable looking outfit. The one that a parent will take them seriously in — but the one that they also don’t mind getting covered in paint or snot… or worse. Before they go into full panic mode they go to their happy place and repeat the mantra — “Only eight weeks ’til Halloween”.
But for now, it’s back to retraining their bladders, designated toilet breaks. Half-slurped cups of coffee. and blustery yard days.
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