Marking Time

During the 18 months that I have been writing this blog, I have never written about my profession. So I shall do now. In my daytime exploits I am a Secondary English teacher. It is now 5.18 am on Sunday Morning. I am swathed in blankets, full of caffeine and listening to the subtle sounds of Bath’s early risers greeting their day. My lovely Four Year Old Son will wake in less than an hour, and jump up and down on my chest until I wake and get up. Having been awake since 1.03am, I suppose I should feel angry and frustrated by sleep deprivation. Yet I do not. Although my body feels drained, my mind is calm. Almost sated. Why? Well, I have done my marking, you see.

I woke with a cold sweat a little after midnight, after having a distressing ‘school dream’. Fellow teacher readers will perhaps nod sympathetically here, but allow me to elaborate for those not of the profession. My typical teaher dream (aka night terror), involves imagined missed deadlines, dissapointed faces, stern reprimands lost exam scripts and piles and piles of unmarked books, rising from tabletops like brooms in ‘The Sorcerors Apprentice’. I jolted awake drom my dream with three words seared phosphorescently on to my eyeballs. YEAR 10 BOOKS. The same 32 books that are now extensively marked and neatly stacked in my kitchen.

Once this thought had taken root, sleep became a pure impossibility. The ever-present spectre of marking guilt is never, ever far away for teachers, and mine was giving me a psychological atomic wedgie and taunting me with images of blank, unannotated pages.

So I got up and marked the books. All of them. Thoroughly. Which I actually enjoyed. You see, this is what us teachers do, and beneath the drudgery of plodding through the painfully gradually growing piles of marking, there lies a kernel of magic. We get to know. To really know our students. I have learnt of one pupil’s love of the ocean (something close to my heart). Another student, one I had resigned to the category of ‘belligerent, sporty and lazy in lessons’, described his lifetime love of Rugby so elequently that it almost made me cry. I enjoyed marking them immensely.

Now here is the heart of this blog entry. I want to salute all fellow teahers, worldwide who rise in the night to enhance what they do in their job. To all of us who, at times, burn the midnight oil to fulfill promises of deadlines to colleagues and students alike.  To my colleagues who know and feel the proud achievement of finishing a set of bookmarking. Brothers and sisters and all other genders, I salute you, and hope that you will soon be sleeping as soundly as I plan to in 2 minutes time, once I have pressed ‘Publish’ on my phone screen. Happy Sunday, all xx

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