Saying goodbye

It’s a funny feeling, almost new each time I experience it, an anticipation of loss that is somehow fresh and exciting, even though the loss that is about to follow is familiar and regular. I am talking about saying goodbye to my students, as I do every year in early July. It is the same, and will be different. It is different and will be the same. They will come in looking exhausted and elated, somehow bigger than they did before, and we will talk to each other as equals , though they have been equal to me all along. There is a sense of completion entering the room as they enter it, smiling, laughing, not quite believing they have made it across the threshold that says ‘qualified’ and ‘teacher’. I will sign their final forms and hand out a letter that I have written to each of them by hand. They will stash these hurriedly in their bags, showing them to no one. Then they will write letters to my next group of students, who will read them on day one of the same and different journey in September, a lifetime away. There will be jokes about gin and lack of sleep; and more serious lines about making friends and not wasting the early days of the course when they don’t realise how lucky they are. Then I will make a speech in which I will remind them how amazing they are, how proud of them I am, and how much I am looking forward to hearing their stories as their careers develop. I will finish by reading them this poem, which I wrote for every one like them, in another year that was completely the same and exactly different, filled with amazing people, the name I use at the start of every email I send to them, because we need reminding sometimes, of our uniqueness, and that someone bothered to notice it.


With thanks to all my readers.

I am taking a break now and will return in the autumn.


  1. All I can say is I wish you had been my tutor on my Secondary English PGCE. Marvellous, wonderful and perfect beginning to my day.. Lucky, lucky students to have been encouraged out into the Post university world by you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for saying this Madeleine. I did not know you did an English PGCE. I hope people like you are still out there in the classroom. With best wishes as ever, Anthony


  2. Anthony, the time you take to encourage your students, and so many others, is a precious gift. They will remember you. Thank you for your poem.

    A few days ago, I sent these words to my son on his birthday, and I am struck by the similarity of the images you and I both used. I guess words of encouragement are free for the taking, free for the giving…

    What You Have Taught Me

    Just like you, each spring, I await the rioting of snow geese,
    and the blaring of wildflowers through the woodlands
    on pink-scented mornings

    By the rushing stream we dance with the
    fiddleheads playing tunes in the shade
    of a vast, ineffable orchestra

    We are always together, beside the windblown lake, the
    shoreline waving blue flags, partridge drumming
    on logs we cut down years ago

    You are my positive feedback loop, held
    like sunlight, shimmering
    in a spider’s web.

    Enjoying a soft, summer rain, Jerry.


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