Old Friends, New Friends and Good Days

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a truly good day, but today was one of those days.

Year 12 sat Paper One of their HSC English exam today and man was I nervous. Not only that but I also thought I would be finding out whether I got the Year Advisor position I interviewed for the day before, so all round it began as a pretty anxious day for me.

I got to school to find out that I did get the position. Which is great, but I also am aware of friends who applied for the same position and weren’t successful, so it’s a double edged sword in many ways. I almost feel like it’s good to know I could get the position, but now comes the piles of work for very little extra pay and very little extra time off. I’m excited to take on the role though, I’ve always wanted to be involved in the welfare of the students, and I have always aimed to take that road in my career so I’m thankful for the opportunity.

10 minutes later and I’m with year 12 discussing their feelings and preparations before they enter the hall to sit their exam. The atmosphere was adrenalin filled and anxious, but the kids seemed to feel quite good about going in and getting into it. On the other side, we see the exam paper and it’s all about Belonging to Place, which if you’re not an English teacher won’t mean anything to you, but to us, it means some students would’ve struggled and some texts didn’t fit the question as well as others. On the whole the consensus was that it was ok, not as bad as they were expecting, but still a challenge which is not too bad considering some of the HSC papers from the past.

The rest of the day consisted of teaching two of my excellent classes, Yr 8 and Yr 9, and hanging with some of my great friends at school for lots of laughs. Tonight I will be catching up with an old friend from a past school and I can’t wait.

It’s days like these that make me feel like my life, at some point, might return to normal after the shocking year I’ve had. It’s days like these that I will always be thankful for. Normal days in my life where I feel like I might be ok.

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Every year for the rest of my life

So my year 12s are currently gearing up to sit their HSC. I’ll be spending tomorrow and Thursday with them at school, during the school holidays, doing everything we possibly can to prepare them for these horrific exams.

Every time one of my year 12 groups/tutees sits the HSC it takes me back to what I thought was one of the most stressful times in my life. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders as I prepared to sit my exams, while my dad was in hospital, my mum was expecting great things and my teachers were reminding me how important these exams were. What is so important to remember, if you’re a HSC student reading this, is that it is most definitely not the be all and end all of your life. If you screw it up, you’ll be ok, I promise.

It’s hard because I have to find the fine line of validating their emotions and stress during this time, while still trying to show them that I survived the HSC and looking back now, it was not a big deal at all. Since losing my mum and my grandma in the space of 7 months, the HSC looks like a walk in the park. Yet every time my kids sit it, I feel just as much pressure as they do, in some cases more which is kind of worrying.

Before their HSC though, comes a great day of celebration and photos, that is their graduation. It’s the time when you can tell them what you really think because lets face it, technically, you’re no longer their teacher. For me, it was a day to make sure they knew how proud I was of them, all of them, well most of them, for becoming awesome and mature young people.

It is a day when they too can tell you how they really feel about you, which isn’t always a good thing. This year though a student said something to me that I will never forget and while it may not be true in the next 6 months, it was true to them at that particular moment and I think that’s enough for me. This student, who had come a long way in the last 2 years that I had known her, we had grown close and been through a lot together, she turned to me and said, “You’re my hero Miss.”

Now to this I replied with “Find a better one.” She assured me “You’re the best one.” I couldn’t believe it. No one had ever said something like that to me, and as I said, even if now it’s not still the case, she felt that, at that moment, I was her hero.

That’s why I keep going to school. That’s why I keep giving 150% of myself to these kids. That’s why we teachers take the crap pay, and the societal beatings, and the media beatings. In the hope that one day, a student will turn to us and say “You’re my hero Miss.”