I wrote this poem to read out at a conference. I talked about how, when I say ‘teachers’, I really mean EVERY single person who works with our children to educate, support and nurture them…
Welcome to the best job in the land – the Teachers’ Army,
Where you’ll need to be, quite frankly, barmy!
In charge of thirty children talking, squabbling, laughing, learning!
There’s enough to make anyone think of another job! Yearning
For free time, peaceful nights, the chance to skip into town and cause a stir,
Without hearing those dreaded, fateful, frightful words, “Hello Miss! Hello Sir!”
Beware of the long nights, the Floss, the dreaded Fidget Spinner…
The Dabbing, the planning, the marking, no hope of a dinner!
Endless meetings, triple feedback, tests and data….colour-coded marking pens!
What will be next? Brilliant blue? Terrible teal? When will it all end?
But of course, there’s so much more you’ll need when you teach!
When you change lives once considered out of reach.
An army of teachers should not suggest conflict, hopelessness, war;
It’s about fighting for acceptance, where everyone is invited through your classroom door.
It’s a chance to show the kids whose lives are crumbling,
That you’ll pick them up when they’re tumbling.
You’ll be the one to give it your all:
Your lessons will inspire, captivate, move and enthrall.
Send them on a journey where they can imagine a better world,
From a seat in your classroom, their dreams will unfurl.
But you’ll need wit, humour, the ability to laugh!
“But you just work 9 to 3!” You must be joking! Don’t be daft!
You’ll also need grit, determination, belief and heart.
Because making children feel safe and loved is a teacher’s true art.
Sometimes you’ll feel you can’t go on anymore; can’t mark another book, can’t step through the door.
Yes, indeed there are times when our army’s felt battered and cheated.
Broken, confused, alone and defeated.
But when we all join together, and trust and support go hand in hand,
We know we can make it, together we’ll stand.
It’s about laughing in staff rooms over a cuppa and too much cake,
Supporting each other through hard times and heartache.
Will you bite your tongue when somebody asks,
“Oh… Sorry…There is just one more task…”?
Will you stand in the cold, dreaming of a mug of hot tea?
Then realise the smiles of your children playing is all that you need.
Will you stand up for the parents who can no longer be strong?
Who work three jobs, try their best but feel they don’t belong?
Can you unlock doors into magical lands and help change minds?
Even when you’re struggling and tired, time after time?
Will you help each child, even if they kick, refuse, cry, unravel?
Help them find the right way on this path they must travel.
Will you show these kids that when their lives are shattered,
That to you, they’re everything, they’re all that matters?
The collective noun for teachers should perhaps be a ‘roar’.
We are brave, fierce, strong: we won’t be ignored.
Yes, to be in the Army of Teachers takes dedication and verve.
If this is you, join us! Are you ready to serve?
Come voyage into a land where hearts are shaped, forged and transformed.
The Army of Teachers awaits you, united, reborn.
by Ian Eagleton, 2019