In the last 12 months a lot has happened to my family and my department that has left me feeling I might have done more, but also grateful that there were so many moments of ...
"lucky that happened"
This time 12 months ago, my brother was having a scan of his prolapsed disc in his back before surgery to fix it, and the radiographer noticed one of his kidneys didn't look right. Lucky that happened. He had surgery for his back and then 3 weeks later had surgery to remove his cancerous kidney. No more cancer, all clear, no more treatment. Lucky that happened!
Just before Christmas a staff member had an odd turn but she was fine and her family were all schooled up on strokes and aneurysms. 2 weeks later, she suffered an aneurysm and lucky for her, her family knew exactly what to do and she has had a marvellous outcome.
She was the first of our dept to have surgery in the last 12 months with 4 more to come, including me.
Luckily, just as one person returned from recovery after their operation, the next one would be madly setting relief to go for theirs.
At the end of term 1, I went in for my surgery and had some complications which led me to having nerve damage to my voice box, with just a weak voice by the time I came back to work which was prone to squeaking and disappearing completely. Luckily for me, one of our dept staff thought it would be a good idea for me to use a portable microphone and the DP had it ready for me to use on the day I came back to school which really made a difference to me.
One staff member took leave in term 2 to travel and no-one applied for the job, like so many schools, were in that drastic position of no science teacher to fill the roll. I was still on medical leave and had to set relief for the first week for the reliever, luckily another staff member thought I would need help with that and came into to school to help, goodness knows what kind of instructions I would have left if she has not helped. With the first week of term 2 covered by a reliever, there was a mad scramble to find someone to put in front of the classes for the rest of the term....In stepped a graphics teacher and an english teacher to science, biology and horticulture, including 4 NCEA courses. While they struggled with the content of the courses they were teaching, but like all teachers, they were passionate, enthusiastic, and deeply cared for the learning outcomes of the students. At the end of the term, the students threw themselves into their internal assessments and left me with an enormous marking pile when theirs was added to my own. Luckily for me, I work at a school with the most understanding students and they were incredibly patient with the knowledge that it was going to take some time for me to wade through it all.
In term 3 my student teacher arrived. When you offer to host a student teacher, it is a lottery as to how much support they will need. Luckily, he happened to be one of the best student teachers I have had the pleasure to work with in some time that gave me the time to truly catch up with myself and get back on top of everything. He is going to be an awesome teacher, and he was very good at forming great trustful relationships with the students.
Term 4 rolls on, and my Mum goes into hospital with severe hip pain and decreased mobility. She has gone from working, walking the dog, gardening and being independent to not being able to walk unaided in just 4 weeks, due to a side effect of prednisone. Luckily, she hurt her shoulder trying to get to the hospital ER and so they didn't send her home the next day because her mobility was too compromised, but kept her 2 weeks which gave then time to really sorted out pain management, what was going on, and did a bunch of tests.
On the day Mum was going home, a staff member's partner unexpectedly died while over seas and ERO were meeting with the Board of Trustees, of which I am a parent rep, the same day. You couldn't read about it! Luckily, the DP thought to find me recently retired teachers to do marking for me and luckily, one of our most amazing relievers walked through the door and said she had heard and was available to do all the relief for the staff member for the next 2-3 weeks while she was away to bring her partner home to New Zealand. This reliever knew all the students because she had been the reliever earlier in the year when this staff member had surgery. Lucky that happened. All that was left for me was to set all the relief for the classes for the next 2 weeks. Luckily, the seniors were finishing off some internals and studying for exams, and so I only had to write detailed relief for a junior class.
Luckily for me, I have the most amazing team I work with in my department. They are incredibly skilled teachers of science and warm-hearted, generous, and wonderful human beings. They keep their sense of humour, and mine. This last 12 months has been hard, challenging me and my team emotionally and professionally. But we have stuck together, worked on problems together, and we have come through.