I have so many things to blog about that I didn’t quite know where to start, and I am not sure that I want to wade into the depths of blogging about blogging. So, I came to the conclusion that I should try to map out the last term from a personal perspective first of all. The last term has been a bit of a blur, but I want to ensure that I do not become sentimental or dramatic in my approach to reflection. This is purposely disjointed- I didn’t want to edit for fear of it losing the tone of my entire term; chaos!
September to December has proven to be a period of ahhh’s. I have lost count of the moments of realisation where the penny has dropped in response to the advice that I was given by teachers last year. The priceless nature of time is one of the most monumental to me; in the midpoint of this term, I almost felt that my life had become periods, lessons- units of time. I would constantly feel that I was ‘wasting’ time or trying to reach a decision about the best use of a unit of time. The school schedule had now begun to govern every minute of my life. I felt that I was constantly torn about whether to spend time with my son or work. To food shop or sleep. To mark or plan. To complete data or make a resource. You get the idea… I was being ruled by a school timetable to an extent; I could never decide what the prioritise because I had become so aware that there was a limit to my ‘time units.’
The ridiculous expectations that I was placing upon myself were not going unnoticed; friends and family tried to gently nudge that I might be doing too much, that I needed to sleep or take time for myself. Anyone that knows me knows that to approach the preposterous ideas of doing less to me is not going to receive the best of receptions. Do less? How do I ‘do less?’ My Dad was brave (foolish) enough to say in passing, ‘sometimes you just need to leave stuff.’ My reply was exasperation. How? No one else will do it. No one else will plan lessons, empty the dishwasher, clean, cook, make sure the child has his pants on the right way, attempt to plan a house move. What do you mean, ‘I can leave it’? Don’t be absurd. This is the girl that has decided to paint a room at 11pm because it was that or waste a weekend. Don’t talk to me about leaving it.
No one can be perfect all of the time. Who knew? The only person that has that expectation is myself. Once you remove yourself as a critic in this hectic race to be the best of the best of the best, things lighten up a bit. However, a mindset is not going to take the human form of a housekeeper/lesson planning dogsbody/ patient mother.
The tiny decisions were the ones holding me up from all the bigger stuff that was truly important to me. I food shop online now. My son has hot dinners at school. I iron as I go. I say no to people. We read Harry Potter every night before bed, even if my eyeballs are burning. I don’t always make weekend plans. I force myself to leave the house on a Sunday, even if it is freezing cold and hideous outside, even if it is just to go for a walk. I will make sure I have my nails done, always have a hairdresser’s appointment booked, and do something nice in half term beyond planning next term. I will keep up my PGCE resolution of going to the theatre more than 5 times a year.
The teaching profession is the most explicit of contradictions. It attracts perfectionists that consistently demand the highest standard from themselves, but it is physically (and psychologically) impossible to deliver at that standard day in, day out, week in, week out for a sustainable amount of time. I now try to remove myself from conversations about either the good old days or how this job will continue at this pace, because it is horrible not to have the answers.
Having come from a management background, and worked within jobs that offer very little job satisfaction on a personal level, I have no desire to progress to middle management or beyond. I have personal goals relating to my teaching, but I do not seek to move towards a more senior role to achieve them. My realisation is rooted to the fact that I struggle to juggle because it is the priorities to my classes and students that I am juggling. I guffawed a little bit at a man who said, ‘ if it isn’t about the children or the learning, I’m not interested’ last year- mainly because I thought it a little corny. I eat my guffaw with a slice of humble pie. I now see that if I do not hold this at the forefront of every single to do list I construct to quell any anxiety that I may have, I could quite easily lose sight of why I am here in the first place.
So there it is; my own clonky reflections of what it is to be a teacher at the beginning.