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Zombies, Exam Results and a Generous Dollop of Stubbornness

During the summer holidays, Helen Witty has been watching The Walking Dead.

She sees a lot of comparisons between the show and teaching.

One thing she’s learnt, we’re all in this together.

Helen Witty zombie

You’ll be pleased to hear that I have been so very productive these holidays – in a bid to distract myself from this week’s exam results I have made it on to Season 6 of The Walking Dead. At this splendid pace I’ll be finished in a couple of weeks. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a familiar story – a virus breaks out, spreads rapidly on a global scale, lives are changed, the world seems to have tilted, somehow. Sound familiar? That’s because you’ve lived through that, too; apart from the flesh eating zombies bit. 
I think that if we were to be overrun by flesh eating zombies, we would make a good team. I, obviously, would be a female Rick Grimes and the natural leader. I’ve had adequate training. I’ve dealt with unidentifiable projectiles, including a rotten banana, and various broken pen components. I’ve dodged bullets or – as we would know them – hand sanitiser bottles. I’ve successful managed challenges to my leadership:

  • Miss, can you check this? But don’t do that face.
  • This is the only face I have.
  • Yes, but you look angry when you read. OK, but cover your face with this folder.

Anyway, much wisdom can be found in my new televisual obsession. This wisdom I shall impart to you. As you know, I’m not really one for ‘inspirational’ quotes but quotes from good films and tv, well that’s more my scene.
#1 “If I had known the world was ending, I would’ve brought better books.” Dale.
Ah, good old Dale. Wise words, indeed. Keep reading. Keep those brains active. Inform yourself. Some of you are born researchers, already, so keep going (but perhaps with a different focus).

  • Miss, we don’t believe Mr. Witty exists.
  • Errrr….
  • No, he does, I’ve checked the Electoral Register.

#2 “Have you ever done anything that made you afraid of yourself afterwards?” Michonne. 
Be yourself. Take a risk every now and then if that is in your nature. Look out for others. Remember that words said last forever.

  • Miss, we are talking about this later with Mrs. X, you should come along.
  • Oh, I might, thank you.
  • Actually, no, she takes her job seriously and is well organised.

Sometimes a kind note goes a long way…

Helen Witty letter

#3 “Everything now…just consumes you.” Carol Pelletier.
Life can be a bit like trying to negotiate your way down a tight alley full of ‘walkers’. Sometimes it overwhelms you. Sometimes you have to step back. Sometimes you have to rely on your group. Find help.  
Often that overwhelming feeling shows itself in odd ways. Sometimes you find yourself in Waitrose when you should’ve been on a virtual lesson and ask your teacher to stop while you pay for your chicken sandwich. 
All of this is ok. All of this will pass. Life is turbulent; have resources at your disposal.
#4 “Anything is possible until your heart stops beating.” Father Gabriel Stokes.
You are resilient, you have integrity, and unlimited kindness. You’re going to have an absolute blast as you take your next steps. Chase the thing that makes your heartbeat race. Some of you have no idea how close you’ve already come to the edge.

  • Miss, can we take a photo? Errr…what are you doing?
  • I’m doing my best catwalk pose. *Strikes a Madonna-worthy pose*
  • Aw Miss – you could be a supermodel. You know, one of those fat ones! 
  • …I’ll take it!

#5 “All of us together? We’ll be their worst damn nightmare.” Daryl Dixon.
Some of the best moments I’ve had have been in (or out) of the classroom with my team of survivors. You’ve each got skills. You’ve looked out for each other, and me. You’ve each earned your rightful place at the table. And while in this story you may be dining on a feast of squirrel roadkill – the sentiment remains. 
Finally, as you now head off to build new groups, to share your skills, to take the next big leap, I implore you to simply be you, in all of your…
introvert or extrovert
consistent or sporadic
sweary or non-sweary
stay home or go out
arts or sciences
…glory. Because, to be honest, if you do come across those ‘walkers’ you know the kind that just want to slow you down, zap your life-blood, make you feel a bit iffy, then just remember what Rick Grimes (me) says, “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out that they’re screwing with the wrong people”.

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The author

Helen has been teaching in mainstream education for over twenty years, in a variety of academic and pastoral roles, from classroom teacher to Head of Lower School (SLT). She currently works full-time in an all-through school as Head of Learning Support and is a qualified SENDCo. She has a particular professional interest in ADHD and SEMH and will begin an MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health next year. Helen is an advocate for SEND and Inclusion and actively supports staff, families and young people. Helen strongly believes that the provision of good quality, accessible SEND training can empower and give confidence; she develops own resources and shares information through #SENDSearchlight.

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