I am not sharing how many years ago I left school but my last day at school involved the obligatory assembly, shirt signing, notebook messages and a lot of photographs taken with a camera. One of those cameras that you wound on with your thumb and it had a roll of film in the back that when it was full you would send it off in an envelope, wait a week for them to come back, only to be disappointed! If I was back in the UK I would dig out a couple of photos from my last day at school and post them – so it’s a good job I’m not.
Two years ago before I came back out to south-east Asia I got into technology and I used various applications for movie making and sharing photographs, particularly for celebrating sports days, achievements and sharing international themes in school assemblies [see my YouTube channel for a small selection]. I usually managed to rope a handful of staff and students to feature where I could, and give them their fifteen minutes of school fame.
In 2010, I had taken on the ‘class of 2014’ they were in year 8 and although my role had changed by the time they got to year 11, my colleagues and I had grown rather fond of them. Still working so close with many of them every day, either teaching them PE or supporting them in one way or another it was fantastic seeing them developing into confident and ambitious young adults.
Their final year had been the first as a vertical tutoring and house system. Colleagues and I had worked extremely hard to change the culture and create a family ethos across the school community, as you can imagine it was a huge element of change for year 11 after four years of horizontal tutor groups. They adapted very well and this year had been brilliant in terms of staff morale and community across the school. I had been heavily involved in the restructure and wanting to create a legacy – I was leaving for Malaysia – I decided that we would create a farewell video for our year 11’s. So to keep the ball rolling with the staff morale we decided to cut one of our whole school meetings short so secret filming could take place. Colleagues got together and choreographed routines, it was great fun!
We certainly were not the first school to create a video of staff dancing and miming to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and we weren’t the last. We were certainly all up for it as you can see, and the reaction from the year 11’s as our very own Vice Principal Mr Jull dances down the stairs and mimes in time (just!) with Pharrell in the first few seconds was priceless!
Following the assembly of stories of their journey (accompanied by their photographs!) the motivational farewells, good luck wishes and the video of course, we proceeded outside into the sunshine and released house coloured balloons all together, we ate house coloured cupcakes, signed shirts and had photographs – but no camera with a roll of film to be seen – it was a fantastic afternoon. I think the year 11’s thought the same, as we couldn’t get rid of some of them!
As teacher’s we know that it is all about the relationships we have with our students that get the best out of them. To show them you are human, to laugh and to have fun is so important in developing a rapport. To be able to share the memories, achievements and wish them success and happiness is why we do it. I know the class of 2014 will always remind me of good times.
To all year 11 leavers this year – good luck for your futures, and as I told the class of 2014 “take risks and step outside your comfort zone.” I wonder, two years on, how many of them have.
Watch our video here: