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Advent Calendars - a window into school life

7th December 2020

Advent calendars are seemingly ever present in the experience of Christmas. As children, many of us remember fondly the days of opening the little doors to reveal the progressing Christmas story. Often this was all that got us up during the dark December month and onto the final few days of school. In this regard, not much has changed. Advent calendars are advanced these days. They seem to only be available with chocolate in … and the Christmas images have been ‘updated’, often with more commercial, secular pictures of squirrels drinking coco-cola. For many children, the chocolate treat is a vital part of the December breakfast routine. I just hope that the gin, pork scratching or other consumable varieties of advent calendars on offer are not essential to staff well-being before the start of the working day!

AdventCals2Advent calendars seem to thrive on the unknown. Whatever the picture, chocolate, gin variety, socks … (the list is endless) the real mystery is the unknown factor. The small element of surprise and reward combine as a daily tonic to help us keep moving onwards, in the face of growing fatigue and lengthening nights. Schools are similar to advent calendars.

Every day in school is different. We do not know what is behind each door.  Whilst we understand the structure, the buildings and the general method of delivery (remote learning aside!) how our everyday interactions play out is different. This is unlike many other jobs. For many of our colleagues, it is this variety that is essential in helping us through the term. The extra set of books to mark, the census details to return, the finance spreadsheets - these all take considerable personal energy and resolve to turn around. We are assisted by the variety and spark of school life. Many colleagues refer to this as one of the pleasures of the job.

As we progress through this academic year’s advent calendar. Let us try to treasure every door. Each daily spark, often led by the children we serve, helps add a little awe and wonder to our world. We all curse (under our breath) the trials and tribulations at times, but in truth we wouldn’t have it any other way. These windows and doors of school life make our profession unique, demanding, exhausting - but ultimately rewarding. No day is like any other, and that helps us keep getting up. Keep providing our best. Keep providing our little piece of wonder into children’s lives.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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