My friend Dorothy recently shared this beautiful bit of writing. It’s so beautiful that I wanted to share it with all of you
I haven’t worked as a teacher in two years. I’m very lucky my last week in a position of responsibility was in a great school in Sutton working alongside two exceptional teachers getting the girls through their exams. It’s a great school because nothing is below the vice principal to do. I’ve seen her unclog a jax and deliver speeches and mop sick. I’ve heard her say sorry when she was wrong . It all runs so well in that school because of her.
I thought I hurt my foot because I was walking funny but little did I know all that week microscopic parts of my brain were dying and taking their buddies with them.
I remember being very happy. I took photos out the window on the train every morning and got coffee in the little Shop with the duty free fags under the counter. I walked the seafront on my breaks. I watched the girls and maintained order throughout the week and helped in my way of unconditional positive regard that I was fine tuning. Being a teacher was me. Being an artist was me. They weren’t separate from my identity. I loved helping learners become. Sometimes people are mean to me and say what makes you a teacher? Just because I’m disabled and not working. It’s just to put me down but I hold my lip and let it go. Being Ms Murphy was a performance that I loved. I studied six years in college while becoming Ms Murphy. It was hard and broke me. I crawled out and grew became. It was a transformation. Where there was chaos came sequence. Processes and end products. Fluidity in organisation. Records and records of records! Clutching my parchment I thought id never be poor again. Funny that.
So society being merit based I have this piece of paper that states in Latin that I am a teacher. I have another small card that says the Teaching Council of Ireland recognises my status as a teacher. I wasn’t born a teacher. I was born a learner and I always will be. I worked hard becoming a teacher. I broke and rebuilt myself doing it. They are just bits of paper. Helping learners become is a feeling in my heart that I can’t show you.
I wonder if I knew that was my last week would I have done anything differently. Not fucking fell probably smile emoticon but what’s done is done. I’ve always acted with integrity.
There’s a hole though. As a teacher you observe. You get to give to the learner who has not. Be it a breakfast, an idea or praise. Or a listening ear to parents and learners and colleagues. sometimes it’s just having a pack of pads for a girl that’s stuck. You get to use your full metal jacket of great human being skills all in the one building.
So what makes me a teacher?
A deep yearning to help people and the skills to do it.