Friday, December 05, 2014

Teacher feature

"So, what made you want to go back to teaching after nine years out?"

It's a question I've been asked quite a few times since I made the decision to leave my employment by a charity connected to the Jesus Fellowship and return to the chalk face (or whatever we call it now it's all white boards, and interactive ones, no less).

When I made the decision, those years ago, to leave teaching it was absolutely not because I didn't like teaching. I loved it; I flowed in it; it was "me". I walked out of Blue Coat School that day with my tears blowing on the wind. But there was a need for my skills in the church's charity, and I sensed a call to do that. I loved teaching, but the church of Jesus was - and still is - my first love. I don't regret that decision, and I can reflect with some satisfaction on what I and my team have achieved in those years, in areas as diverse as media communications, through biblical theology, to safeguarding and policy.

But I never stopped dreaming of teaching. Literally. Dreaming. At night. I'd wake up and feel gutted as the dream faded. Because I wasn't really in the classroom; I was heading for the office.

"In the night my heart instructs me," wrote the psalmist. There was a teacher inside me, in my heart. If that sounds a bit over-precious, a touch pretentious, all I can say is that it didn't stop - all those years.

I kept going at the charity job out of, among other factors, loyalty to its leaders - and the leaders of the Jesus Fellowship are, quite simply, some of the finest, purest, noblest human beings you could ever meet - and because I still had plenty to offer. But I was starting to dry up. And now there's a time of considerable change coming for the charitable side of what we do - some of it driven by the straitened financial climate - and after careful, prayerful consideration, I decided it was time for me to move on.

I pushed gently at the door of the school at which I used to teach - basically just asking for a reference - only to find that door fly open and propel me into a job. I'm already back in the classroom. As it says in the same psalm quoted above, "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places". I'm grateful to the Blue Coat leadership for giving me that chance - and I'm grateful to God.

And just to make this clear - because some people have taken away the wrong impression - I'm as committed to my beautiful church, the Jesus Fellowship, the heroic, brave, colourful, outrageous, exciting Jesus Army, as I ever have been. Indeed, one of the other factors in my recent decision was to enable me be more available to the local, Coventry arm of that church than I was when I had a central role.

So it's back to the classroom for me. Back to analysing WWI poetry, back to Leo Dicaprio's Romeo, back to Animal Farm, back to assemblies and marker pens, and reports (shudder), and parents evenings. And I'm running hard to get up to speed on Quality First Teaching, and SEND reforms, and cross-curricular literacy, and Controlled Assessments, and, and, and...

But I'm flowing. And God is in it.

An ex-student piped up on Facebook the other day with these remarkable and encouraging words (all the more remarkable when I consider how hard it was to get written work out of him back in the day!) With them, I'll sign off:
"If you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of reprobates like myself, you can make a difference in anyone's life. Blue Coat just got back one of their greatest ever assets of all time. I'm certain that there are some stressed out, depressed young people already there now that will look back and thank God for the day that they were taught by Mr Stacey."


Anonymous said...

james your passion for teaching screams out through this post... God gives us seasons on our life and you have come to another season enjoy the beauty of it... SO PLeased for you. Looking forward to you being back teaching on a sunday morning at some point. dee

Aidan Ashby said...

*years, not year's

Simon Knight said...

I've been working with one of your students down here in London - he speaks very highly of you. :-)

n0rma1 said...

Ha, Aidan, I couldn't resist correcting that, but I'll leave your comment here as a gesture in the direction of humility... ;-)

Joe Morriss said...

Well done james I am a bit moved by this you are a special guy. Thank you for all the help you gave me with the open doors prison articles back in the JL days. May the years bring you plenty

Peter Taylor said...

I understand... tho it can sometimes drive you bananas, teaching gets under your skin

Andrew Gale said...

It is great to read of a teacher who speaks of his work as a calling, a vocation. As a school governor I see the pressures teachers face, I probably add to them. It is that sense of calling, this is who I am, I am a teacher therefore I teach, which makes the pressures bearable

Lee F said...

I thought that it is wonderful that your teaching and I think you will do a great job. There lucky to have you as there english teacher and i think you will learn them good.

(spot the grammatical errors)

John Vagabond said...

Bravo. Teachers teach. It's what they're there for. I thought I'd had enough two years ago, then was 'propelled' into a job in Jerusalem. I said I'd stay for a year. My final hurrah.