What the future holds…

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As I sit and write this post I am jobless. I resigned my teaching post during my maternity leave as my request for part time hours could not be accommodated.

On 6th June my maternity pay ends and I am yet to find a new job.

You see, the thing is after nearly 12 years of being in the teaching profession I don’t know if it’s for me anymore.

I haven’t become old and jaded but I’m not sure I have the same passion that I used to for it. I am passionate about young people, about them feeling empowered and safe and nurtured but not about targets and grades and performance management. I am passionate about investing in the lives of young people but not about making them jump through hoops.

I have worked in mainstream, PRU, Alternative Education, SEN and within each it is only a matter of time before it becomes about everything else but quality time with the students and to be honest, that’s never what I signed up for.

I am torn, don’t get me wrong, this has been my vocation, my calling for 12 years, I have eaten, breathed, slept teaching for the majority of my adult life.

Right now, I question if it is where I am best used. I question if my heart is still in it, if I can inflame my passion for it again. It’s frightening.

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how everything is going to work out.

I do know that the world looks at me differently now I am a mother. I do know that many will question why I would sacrifice a career.

My perspective has changed, my faith has changed. I have been given skills, abilities and passions and I am called to use them to make a difference.

The question is where?

I haven’t ruled out teaching, it is almost synonymous with who I am but I don’t want to just go through the motions anymore.

So yes, I resigned without a new job to go to. Yes, I stuck to my guns about wanting to work part time and yes, despite the uncertainty of it all, I feel it is one of the most sensible decisions I have ever made.

I don’t know what the future holds but one day I will, for now, it’s about holding fast.

Wednesday Woes

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Have you ever had one of those days where you can’t do right for doing wrong?

Today, I had to go to our primary school to observe potential students for September.

I should have known when I left the house in the rain. My boots leaked so my feet were soaked by the time I arrived at the bus stop. I then had to wait 30 minutes for a bus.

I was chilled to the bone by the time I arrived but the observations went really well.

Work was another matter lots of moaning behind closed doors and emails flying around.

When I went out to do lunch duty, I wanted to burst into tears. A combination of no sleep and a constant barrage of negativity from colleagues had taken its toll.

At that point one of our lower functioning students grabbed my arm, tapped me and ran away. I realised he wanted me to chase him and we played it for the rest of lunch.

That one moment saved me today. That student who cannot communicate verbally recognised that I needed help and offered it through playing it.

It almost broke my heart. That he had sensed so much and yet, grown adults who should know better didn’t or just ignored.

I had my appraisal, it was very positive.

I got back to my computer and had a number of emails that nearly sent me over the edge.

What upsets me the most, is that I am approachable. I had a meeting with a staff member after school to listen to concerns and offer advice and some practical solutions.

One of the emails was verging on the abusive. The other I was cc’d into about an issue that had not been raised with me and they were going above my head with.

It makes me sad. I have cried this evening out of frustration, disappointment and exhaustion.

The best thing is to get a good night’s sleep and a fresh perspective.

Tomorrow is an early start to travel across London for training.

That student’s kindness will linger with me, it pulled me back from the edge, just enough. Just enough to take a breath and manage the rest of the day.

Two days out and then the weekend will help.

New week, new start from Monday.

I started the day posting:

‘Sometimes the only one to encourage you is you.’

Luckily for me, I had encouragement from another source.

Finally Friday

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“Image courtesy of [James Barker] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Today, I went to work dressed a pirate. Children in Need, meant that we had a fancy dress day. The students gave me an A for effort and it caused a lot of amusement.

I then spent the next four hours hiding away in the meeting room, with the HLTA, writing medium term plans for our new curriculum. I had the radio on and they were playing Christmas songs, plus I was sat in a Tri corner hat with red feather edging. It was a surreal day to say the least.

Being in Ofsted ready mode is taking its toll. There is so much that needs to be in place, paperwork that needs updating, plans that need adapting, new courses that we are implementing. It feels never ending.

Today, I felt I could breathe and it was also acknowledged what I have been doing and that I am making good progress. Extra support has been put in place in terms of time and resources and I feel we are getting somewhere.

Next week, I am only in for two days, I am visiting our primary school to observe students who will be joining us in September and then on Read Write Inc training. My week will be quite disjointed and I am not sure how that makes me feel.

Sometimes, I think I am the only person who can’t switch off. My mind is like a constant treadmill.

Tonight, is Friday night. I finished reading WarHorse for book club a couple of hours ago. I am looking forward to a few glasses of wine and a good discussion with friends. This will put me more at ease, help me to transition into the weekend. Help me to relax.

Our Internet is fixed, so we are back connected to the world.

The John Lewis Chrsitmas advert has just been on and set me off again, have already cried my eyes out reading WarHorse.

I am definitely on a journey to be more accepting of myself, my emotional nature, my quirks. I need to learn to let things go, to pause, to rest.

Thankfully, I know that He who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion.
I have the weekend to spend with those who nourish me, support me, remind me that the me I so often beat myself up about being is the me that they love.

Have a great weekend.

Busyness

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‘Beware the barreness of a busy life.’ Socrates

I read this quote yesterday and it really hit home.

Recently, I have felt quite overwhelmed by the amount of work I seem to have piling up, by the fact I have no free weekends until after Christmas and just by the fact that I don’t feel I have time to breathe.

For the past two days we have had no internet at home. This has meant I have not been able to work at home. It has been unnerving but in a way quite freeing.

Tonight, I even read some of my book we are discussing at book club tomorrow night. I might even get it finished in time.

You see, I have lost perspective, become blinkered and it needs to stop.

At our senior management meeting tonight, I said it as was, said that I was concerned about the lack of evidence I could find of paperwork and  student work. Concerned by the lack of support from staff when there is an incident.

I was listened to. Offered support and strategies and it was recognised that I am constantly problem solving for everyone.

Part of the problem is that I do try to do it all and I can’t. The other thing is, I now need to practice tough love.

This is where I need to work on my courage and strength.

I have been over emotional this week and not myself.

Tomorrow night, I have book club. This is something I started and run to ensure that I remember to still have a life outside of work.

Saturday, I am off to The Southbank to meet friends and go out for lunch.Making sure busyness does not leave me with barreness.

Sunday, I will be at church as Godmother to my friends daughter as she is dedicated. I am still moved and taken a back that I was asked.

Sometimes, I wonder how people do life without church. The support network and depth of relationship I share with people there is something that I could not live without.

The fact that I know I have people upholding me in prayer each day and people checking in on how I am on a daily basis.

Even when it is hard, I know I am not alone.

I will continue fighting the barreness of a busy life.

Teaching Tuesday

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Image courtesy of [Carlos Porto] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Everyone was tired at work today. The Post Parents’ Eve slump had well and truly kicked in.
There were the usual rumblings from people about feeling ill, preparing for days off tomorrow no doubt.

My tolerance levels were low today. My ability to hide behind smiles was pretty much non existent.

My students were aware that all was not right. Sometimes it frightens me how they can read me like a book!

Lunchtime, I played football with some of the boys. These are often some of my favourite moments with the students. Being out of class and having fun. They have accepted I have a level of skill now and let me have a turn in goal!

We had a pilates session after work, first of a series of sessions that have been organised by work to help us manage stress. I am glad I signed up, I think it is going to do me good.

Prior to that, I managed to fit in a twenty minute meeting with a member of staff who needed some reassurance.

Times like this, I get very frustrated with myself. I beat myself up about not doing the best for my students, in that they can pick up on my mood and I am not getting things done at warp speed as usual.

I don’t like having to accept that I have limits. I don’t like having to admit I am human at times.

In my mind, there is always more that I could do.

That’s the thing about teaching. The students get under your skin, they linger in your mind.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. The moment that stops, I know it is time to stop.

Until then, I live to fight another day. Roll on Wednesday, what do you have in store?

How are you feeling?

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It is also quite interesting coming back to write a blog after a couple of days break. I feel I have lost my groove somewhat.

This weekend was very busy. Saturday we went to London to stay in a hotel and to see Les Mis. I had won a competition and this was the prize.

Sunday morning, I was leading worship so we left the hotel just after breakfast and then after church, It was time for planning and making resources.

I haven’t been sleeping well recently, waking up in the middle of the night remembering something that I need to do and then not being able to switch off.

When the alarm went this morning, I was less than impressed. As well as teaching a full day, it was parents’ evening. I don’t dislike parents’ evening. I do dislike it on a Monday.

I probably share the thoughts of a lot of you regarding Mondays. It is a time to get settled into the week, a day to set your pace for the week. I feel like I have been thrown off kilter and will spend the rest of the week catching up.

The evening went well, I had books for parents to look at, half term assessments, I was able to talk in detail about the students.

Yet tonight, I sit here barely able to keep my eyes open. A few of my students asked me if I was ok today, one if them gave me their analysis of how I was feeling from reading my face.

The truth is, I don’t know how I am feeling. I don’t feel myself. I feel faint and lethargic and drained of all energy. I appear pale in my complexion and am unsteady on my feet. Part of me has concerns that my fainting and blackout episodes are going to start again.

Times like this it would be easy to spiral, to almost give up. This is when I have to cling to my faith. To focus on what I know and not how I am feeling. My feelings are fickle, changeable, unreliable.

One of my favourite verses is from Jeremiah ‘I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and hope.’

When I begin to feel as though I can’t go on, or life is overwhelming, I read this verse and hold on to the truth.

I have a future and hope.

Tonight I am thankful

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Today, I spent some time in the office, managed to get some paperwork done and had some positive conversations.

I realised how little I do it, as when I went to do my lunch duty the students exclaimed ‘Miss! We haven’t seen you all day!’

There have been a lot of good moments today. I have spent a lot of time laughing with the students, talking to them, listening to one of them in crisis, allowing them to vent and then bringing them back to a point of being able to smile.

I think my students are the best people I know, they teach me so much about myself and about life and what is important.

After work, we visited some friends. It was a proper catch up and really good for the soul. We chatted and prayed for each other. It is great to be able to share my worries and the things I am struggling with.There is something releasing about talking it out.

We were then asked to be godparents, one of the best moments of my life. I am completely overwhelmed and touched.

Tonight I feel refreshed, renewed and full of purpose.

Tonight I am so thankful.