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20/09/2021

Opinion: Unflappable sense amongst school staff that ‘we got this’ - Hazel Curran

Opinion: Unflappable sense amongst school staff that ‘we got this’ - Hazel Curran

“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour.” Hal Boland

As a teacher, I can’t help but wonder if the new year begins on the first day of January or on my first day back to school after the summer holidays?

For me, there has always been something incredibly nostalgic and symbolic as I watch the autumnal winds blow vitality, strength and energy into fallen leaves. Their fresh green uniform of spring has been replaced with many colours, as they embrace both the external and internal changes that have occurred over the passing months. They take to the air with a confident grace, spontaneously rising and falling as they dance to their very own beat. 

This year has brought many unexpected challenges and experiences and without doubt my green uniform has been replaced with a colour that represents who I am, as I voyage into the ‘magic hour’. Tomorrow, I will confidently step into my new classroom along with my school bag bursting with new knowledge, a lunchbox filled with vitality and a pencil case brimming with that same strength and energy as the fluttering falling leaves in the breeze. 

Like my colleagues, I experienced an intense term three. So, this summer I threw caution to the wind. I reconnected and reminisced with friends and I took it upon myself to explore the Emerald Isle. I swam in many beaches as close as Lahinch and as far as Portrush, I wandered aimlessly through the cliff walk of Ballycotton and took a 6am hike through Cuilcagh mountains, often times called the Stairway to Heaven. I also attended the wedding of my dear friends Aoife and Kevin on a perfect cloudless day in July. The sun shone brightly and my heart brimmed with a profound joy as I watched them finally get married; having had to cancel their celebration numerous times due to Covid-19 restrictions.

On further reflection these many summer excursions and encounters have only reiterated the fact that all we need is right in front of us; restrictions will not disconnect us, fear will not separate us and power of love will always prevail.

Similar to last year, I have followed my usual routine of ensuring that I am fully prepared for the day ahead. I have set my alarm for 6.30am. If past experiences are anything to go by, I will be hitting the snooze button by Friday morning. Tonight, my pencil case looks like a treasure trove exploding with this season’s stationary must haves. But to be perfectly honest there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back in Easons topping up my supply by the end of term one. I’m also very proud at my attempt to give Jamie Oliver a run for his money with my colourful chicken and pomegranate salad. But, to be perfectly honest there is no doubt in my mind that these exotic lunches will be replaced with soup and brown bread by the start of week two.

However, unlike other years, I am very comfortable with the fact that these mini school year resolutions will not last, they are simply a different textured stepping stone that enables me to balance one step at a time as I attempt to skillfully transition from summer holidays 2021 and journey into the new school year. Regardless of the universal presence of Covid-19 there are some school year resolutions that have remained unwavered throughout my teaching career and there is no doubt in my mind that I will do my utmost to continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all the children in my care. I will strive to ignite a lifelong passion for learning and I will aspire to assist children as best I can as they journey through the challenges of life.

Through casual conversations with teaching friends there is a sense that the lingering cloud of uncertainty as regards Covid-19 no longer looms perilously over us. There is collective satisfaction with the measures that individual schools have put in place under the circumstances and there is an unflappable sense amongst all school staff that ‘we got this’.

Interestingly enough as I attempt to consolidate my final thoughts on my return to school, Ice Dance by the legendary composer Danny Elfman rises from my favourite Spotify playlist. For me the elaborate arpeggio runs between viola and cello, the hauntingly beautiful voices of the choir and the sustained percussion sounds emulate the wonder and awe of childhood dreams and yet somehow speaks to the very core of my being. Filling me with a lingering intense emotion and a heightened awareness of the ups and downs of life and every so slowly rousing in me that no matter what we can achieve our hearts desire. 

Surprisingly enough the image of swirling, dancing colourful leaves floats into my head and at this very moment a smile crosses my face because I have just realised that we as a school community no longer wear the fresh green leaves of spring. We are now the many colours of autumn leaves and although we still carry Covid measures into the new school year of 2021 it is very evident to me that all school staff members and pupils alike will begin the year with vitality, strength and energy like that of the falling leaves in the breeze. 

We are all unique. 

We are all special. 

We are all loved.

So, let us all embrace the magic hour that is autumn and take on the ups and downs of a new school year with the confidence and grace like that of the autumn leaves and enjoy the wondrous journey of life. 

For no one really knows where it might take us.

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