I have been working in education for many years. I have ups and downs with it, working in some fabulous establishments and not so great places. Every end of year forces me to review how I feel about a place and also where I see myself the next academic year.
I started my current job in November 2016. It was a change of direction for me from the previous roles I have had but it was a direction I wanted to go in. It has not always been plain sailing, there were some incredibly hard days and some amazing days. Days where I question what I am doing and then what others (parents, government, colleagues) may be doing.
I realised that where I worked was pretty special with the end of term celebrations at Christmas, I was well out of my comfort zone but I was having fun whilst helping others. Easter was much the same, with a massive end of term celebration to send us off for the two week break. I knew the end of term/year celebrations would be amazing.
The celebration assembly was two weeks before the end of the school year, prizes were given out and we celebrated diversity and pride.
The last day of the year is known as Wow Day. There is a theme and this year it was the Wild West. I had heard a lot about Wow day but I needed to see it for myself.
We collaborated with another college, them as cowboys and us as native Americans and we decorated our college areas accordingly. My outfit was purchased and I dressed as a native American along with the rest of our college. Days were spent preparing the sets, with tutor groups doing their thing with tasks I set for them, such as making dream catchers, mini totem poles, masks and animal pictures. The days leading up to the last day was filled with painting, cutting, costume making, planning and replanning. I made a huge totem pole, wooden signs a pretend fire from tissue paper and fairy lights. I had students make things to hang from their teepees, tumble weed and native drawings. Colleagues made cactus from cardboard and other things to compliment the whole set up.
Finally it was Wow Day, I pulled into the car park and saw fairground rides being set up in one place, bouncy castles in another, a bucking bronco and a bungee run in another.
I could not believe my eyes.
All hands on deck for the morning whilst the kids competed in events outside. We set up our set, the corridors were buzzing with a great atmosphere, the end of the year was close and we were putting on a show.
Students were called in and we had a short amount of time to get them ready and the rest of the rooms set up.
The idea was that the head and executive head (wearing headdresses) would be pulled along by a trolley made up to look like a canoe, the students would be banging drums to a beat, the canoe/trolley would then stop outside the college office where silence descends and a native American prayer would be read and a drink served in a wooden bowl. Then one of our tribe would be kidnapped by the cowboys from the other colleges and a mini bow and arrow/gun fight would take place before the head and executive head move onto the next college. Once done it was all hands on deck to clear away and get the after party started.
And oh what a party, looking back I still cannot believe I was part of it.
I was given a large water blaster and as I walked out into the open I could see students and staff alike with similar contraptions.
Never have I had the opportunity to chase down staff members and my students and soak them. I was soaked in return and I recall chasing members of the PE department at one point to get them back for an earlier attack. My mate and I tagged teamed and got the English department and various other kids. The foam cannons went off so the foam party took off, I danced to the DJ music under the foam with students and staff around me. There was fun and laughter everywhere, for me it was like a release after a strange week and a full on year.
After a while of chaotic activity the music changed a countdown started and the gallons and gallons of paint came out. There was electric in the air as the kids realised what was about to happen. I grabbed a paint gun and loaded up bright fluorescent orange into it. The music changed again and just at the right moment we unleashed the paint onto the waiting students and then staff around us. I was covered in pink, orange, green, blue, yellow, I looked like a rainbow. My hair was like dreadlocks, my war paint added earlier was now different hues and I had not laughed as much in such a while.
It was time to see the students off, us staff stood by the gates and clapped them out wishing them a safe summer break, they looked as colourful as us.
The drive home was interesting, still covered in foam, water and paint I was certainly getting some odd looks from other drivers. A quick shower and I was back to normal but with some added happy memories.