I don’t usually win things. I never won a race at Sport’s Day (in fact, I was never even in Sport’s Day at secondary school), I buy raffle tickets for the summer fayre safe in the knowledge that none of the prizes (except maybe for the out-of-date toiletries that no-one wanted at Christmas) will be winging their way to me. OK, so I won a couple of mugs and a strange shaped hat as a prize for coming not-last in a sailing race once and a teacher-made (hand drawn, no less, none of your fancy-pants desktop publishing in 1985) certificate for disco dancing (I think it still lines the bottom drawer of my desk), but I’m not counting them. My record at Winning Things has been poor, frankly.
So, with that in mind, I was delighted to trot along to the TES Awards dinner and disco on Friday night (dinner and disco really doesn’t do the do – which was swanky in the extreme – justice, but you’ll have to excuse my colloquialism). Knowing that I had been nominated for Teacher Blogger of the Year along with some serious heavyweights in the world of teacher blogging, I had absolutely no doubt that I would have a very nice time, safe in the knowledge that it wouldn’t be me making the long walk up a long ramp in vertiginous shoes, under the spotlit glare of over a thousand people.
Oh, how wrong could I be? There I was, my half-charged phone beside me, ready to tweet congratulations to the winner (it was a very big room, it was dark and there was loud music; tweeting was the only way to contact people on the same table, as @andylutwyche will testify, to much eye rolling of our dinner companions) when what should I hear, in the dulcet tones of Alan Dedicoat (ALAN DEDICOAT!) but my name. Me. The not-winner of anything.
It’s all a bit of a blur. I know that in a moment of madness I took the mike (after being expressly told not to by Greg Davies; oh dear, I seem to have lost the art of doing as I am told) and wagged my finger at the assembled throng, declaring in wobbly tones, ‘every teacher is a teacher of special needs’. I lost the plot entirely when I was interviewed by a lovely man with a camera person and microphone person who I couldn’t hear and waffled on about how strange it all felt in between ‘pardon?’s.
My phone lit up like a firework and gave up the ghost, its poor abused battery lying down in the dust in defeat, and I spent much of the rest of the evening standing by the stairs, people watching, chatting briefly to my lovely fellow nominees who spotted me hiding there. (I had a group hug with @cazzypot and @oldandrewuk and bemoaned the stresses and strains of housemoves with @kevbartle and @hgaldinoshea, as well as meeting in the proper flesh, as it were, @jillberry 102, @Mishwood1, @emmaannhardy, @C_Hendrick, @tstarkey1212, and the lovely @jon_severs and @AnnMroz from the TES itself, so I can’t claim to have been a total wallflower)
And now, now that I am back at home, and I’ve done the washing and ironing and tidied the kitchen, sorted out the school bags and thought about my lessons, apologised to Sam for not being there when he came home from his residential, what do I think of it all?
I am immensely honoured to have been nominated at all. I am somewhat intimidated that this blog has been read by heroes of my past and my present (I’m looking at you, Floella Benjamin, and you Sue Cowley) and far-more-successful-alumni-than-me (that’s you Anthony Horowitz) and others who are, like, serious grown-ups, leaders in their fields.
But above all I am touched, more than I can say that Down’s syndrome, that little chromosomal quirk that is wiped away so often, so feared, and yet so much a part of us all has taken the first First Prize.
This blog was never supposed to be about me, despite the journey it’s taken. It was always supposed to be about him.
Thank you for hearing the voices of the unheard.
Please do take the time to read the blogs of the other teacher blogger nominees – I am honoured to be in such great company.