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.

Be, Say, Do -reassessing

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I haven’t blogged for a long while. This is mostly because somewhere along the way I lost my voice. It became swamped by the strains and stresses of life and I fell silent.

I have just got back from Spring Harvest, a Christian Conference. The theme was – Be, Say, Do. Somewhere over that week I found my voice again. I spoke in discussion groups, jumped up on stage to sing with Andy Flannagan and had discussions with my friends about all we were learning and what we wanted to change.
I have a notebook full of notes that I need to now re read and summarise. I have books to read and I have a desire to hold onto my voice.
Be
A lot of questions have been raised for me about who and what I am going to be. How I am going to be. I question whether in all aspects of my online and offline life I have been authentic. What does that really mean and how do you ensure it? This is something I will be exploring more.
Say
I believe we all have a natural filter, things we say and things that we hold back. I realise now that I have often held back in encouragement. I do and have always encouraged but not enough. I have remained silent when I could have brought words that would have helped and uplifted others. This is something I want to change. I have also stayed silent when I should have made sure my voice was one to be heard. This is also something I want to work on.
Do
I realised when I was away that the main thing I do is work. I know that balance is important but also I have written off a lot of what I do at work as if it is unimportant. I have conversations with young people everyday who are marginalised and feel unimportant and I invest in them.
I also recognise there are times when I have withdrawn and kept myself to myself when I could have been out doing. I recognise now that I have often built things up and felt that doing meant something huge, something really time consuming and it isn’t about that.
I have massively over complicated what is really simple. So over the next few months I am going to work on simplifying and not tying myself in knots.
How do you feel about Be, Say, Do?

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.

Be yourself

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‘Be yourself everyone else is already taken’ Oscar Wilde

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to be yourself. I often comment that I am not feeling myself today, but what do I mean when I say that?

I think sometimes we have this idea that there are people who don’t care what people think of them, experience complete freedom in thought, word and deed, never experience anxiety or worry. This idea that there are people who can go through life, day by day, unaffected by the comments of others or their own analysis of situations.

I think this is a myth.

Deep down, we do care about others opinions of us, despite our protestations to the contrary. We are relational beings, as much as we may strive for independence and to do it all alone. We can’t.
We need other people, each other, relationship.

The thing is, because of this need for relationship we often spend our time trying to craft ourselves into the person we think others want us to be. We have a created ideal.

I need to appear strong, not too needy. I shouldn’t talk about myself too much and make sure I listen. I mustn’t appear too grumpy or angry, but on the overhand, I need to ensure I am not overly emotional. Being classified as emotional is close to be written off in our strange, created ideal.

Where do these ideals come from and why do we insist on maintaining them? Why do we have a natural bent towards criticism rather than encouragement? Judgement rather than grace? Fault finding rather than recognition of strength?

We need to start with ourselves, accepting who we are, what being ourselves means for us.

So I am going to tell you who I am, what being myself is for me.

I am emotional. I have highs and lows. In the highs, I experience euphoria and am able to take on most things that are thrown on me, I can give and give and give and feel no effect. In the lows, I feel lethargic, begin to second guess everything and everyone. I misread situations and withdraw.

I experience stress, anger and frustration. I can be very vocal about how I am feeling and my default expression of emotion is tears. When I am happy, sad, angry, frustrated, tired, I cry.

I love to spend time with people, but I can be affected by the moods and attitudes of others. I worry about what people think, my appearance, finances, health and the future.

I expect the best of myself all of the time and will often beat myself up about the slightest of errors. If I speak out of turn, I replay the moment continuously and cringe at my behaviour.

I giggle a lot, sing at every opportunity and find any opportunity I can to smile.

The authentic me is the person I have described above. I don’t think she sounds too bad actually.

What about the authentic you? What does being yourself mean for you?
Leave a comment, tell me who you are, let’s start destroying the myth and start enjoying being ourselves.

Finally Friday

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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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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?