I’m a sucker for a craze. Unless it’s flossing, which I think is distinctly overrated. But the current fad for decluttering, made so popular by Marie Kondo, has infected me. I love the concept of only keeping things if they still spark joy. It feels so cleansing.
Inspired, I decided I will declutter my house; I’ll start at the top, and work down.
And so, one afternoon, I find myself climbing up into my loft, braving the spiders and the cobwebs and the gross thing in the corner which is probably just a dust bunny but in my imagination is a dead rat. I heave boxes and open suitcases and find long lost photos and CDs. Lots of stuff goes straight into the pile marked TIP, some goes into the pile marked CHARITY SHOP.
And then, I find the box.
I’d completely forgotten I had it – a relic from my first years of teaching, back when I was still moderately organised. Inside is a bulging evidence folder, with each piece of paper neatly labelled and filed. I remember when even the sight of it would make me tense: it was a reminder of the evidence I had yet to collate, the observations I still needed to organise. Now, though, I actually feel quite sentimental about it: it is a record of the blood, sweat and tears that I poured into getting qualified as a teacher.
Next out of the box is a bunch of cards. All are from students, thanking me for helping them through their GCSEs, or wishing me a happy Christmas. I only manage to read two before I start welling up. It takes something for a teenager to write a thank you – these are precious. Even the ones where (irony of ironies) the student has written thank you for being a fantastick teacher its been immense and then signed their name without a capital letter.
Then, I find a copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Inside, a pupil has written a message. I remember when he gave it to me – proudly telling me that he had found it in a charity shop and instantly thought of me, because I loved Shakespeare so much.
It’s followed out of the box by a mug reading children are maggots – bought on a school trip to see Matilda. The students loved the show – several had never been to the theatre before and were mesmerised by the experience. The mug proved to be a source of much hilarity with my form, too.
Next up, the Blood Brothers album. I am still incapable of teaching this play without crying. Just holding the CD case makes me hear tell me it’s not true in my head. I hastily put it back.
And so, I spend a happy half hour, trawling through the relics of my teaching career. By rights, this should be a box for the TIP pile. I don’t use any of it anymore, I will never need to refer to my evidence folders, I have a cupboard full of mugs downstairs, and the Blood Brothers soundtrack was copied to my computer years ago. But, when I look through this box, it sparks joy. It reminds me of all the great things about being a teacher. All those little moments which stick with you and make it such a fantastic job.
I repack the box, and place it carefully under the rafters. It’s not going anywhere.
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