Posted in daily writing challenge, Education, teacher, teaching, wellbeing

#Covid19WellbeingEdumeet – Supporting Student Wellbeing. #DailyWritingChallenge Bonus Post.

Teachers have been swept up in a wave of online learning, Google Classroom, YouTube tutorials and emailed assignments. I think we need to take a step back to ensure the wellbeing of our pupils, and worry less about the academic implications.

I am lucky in my current setting. Our head teacher’s take on home learning is to set a document of subject-specific tasks each week and respond to pupil emails as and when. We are working on a rota of some days in school and the others working from home. I have seen other schools that have taken a different approach and are going in on the online learning from a different angle. No one knows who is right and who is wrong right now. The word unprecedented is floating around so much, which is why we can’t be sure that what we are doing is the right thing. This is where student wellbeing comes to the forefront for me.

In recent days, I’ve started to try and see things from the child’s point of view. Our children have had their routine ripped away from them. That familiar classroom and teacher, seeing their peers each day and developing as members of society by interacting with children and adults each day. Children who struggle to focus in a classroom are now facing an even bigger challenge by trying to focus in a setting that is probably normally associated with down time and reward. We’re all living in a world which is alien to that which we know. Children must be terrified. I was heartbroken when I realised (through various PSHE activities) that the vast amount of my children have anxieties about death. Either dying themselves of losing members of their family. For those children now, how petrifying must this indiscriminate virus be?

Parents are trying to work from home and be teachers as well. Some may be handling it well, others may be struggling with their own subject knowledge or ability to juggle their various new responsibilities. So why are we concerning ourselves with setting assignments and chasing them up to be completed?

Student wellbeing should be number one on our to do list. I for one will be encouraging my class to do what they need to look after their mental wellbeing. My weekly home learning guidance includes practical, low maintenance activities to spark joy and creativity. I’m telling my children to pursue a hobby and learn something new. Do you know how to stitch on a button? Can you shine your shoes? Do you know how to tie your laces? Can you fold clothes properly? Do you know how to put a wash on and work the machine? Can you bake a cake? Have you ever planted and nurtured a flower? Can you learn how to knit or sew? Can you build something for your room or the garden?

There is a plethora of life skills that our children could be learning, maybe even more so for the older ones. I believe that the best way to get our pupils through this uncertain time with their wellbeing in tact is to encourage them to use this time to develop as young people and pursue new skills and hobbies. How marvellous will it be when you get your class back and you can share all the new things you’ve learned while you’ve been away?

Posted in daily writing challenge, Education, teaching

#DailyWritingChallenge – Day 6 – Emotion

Emotion.

Noun – a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.

Anxious, frustrated, irritable, curious, frightened, sorrowful, calm, courageous, loved, determined, astonished, guilty, joyful.

These are just a few of the emotions that I have since Wednesday 18th March 2020 – the day that Gavin Williamson declared that schools would close to most pupils from Friday 20th March.

Tomorrow will be 4 weeks to that day, and what a rollercoaster I’ve been on since then! I am trying to pay more attention to emotions, by identifying, accepting and understanding them.

Naturally, I’ve always been a bit introverted. If I’m in a mood, leave me to get on with it, if I’m happy, I internalise it a lot and don’t push my happiness onto others – this can be both good and bad. I’ve never been brilliant at controlling my emotions. So may say I have a short temper, others may say I am very patient. The way that I express and control my emotions in my personal as opposed to my professional life is very different, and I find that an odd pattern in human behaviour.

You hurt the ones you love the most. This is a common phrase, and it rings true. I recall a Twilight on emotional regulation I attended that was delivered by Maria Collins-Donnelly, a psychologist. You can find out more about her here: https://www.collinsdonnelly.co.uk/about. She referred to this saying by shining a light on the way we speak to colleagues when we’re in a mood as opposed to the way that we speak to our loved ones. She highlighted that often, we will take our moods out on our loved ones more often than those in our professional life, and the reason is that we can get away with it. Family and friends forgive each other. I will hold my hands up to the fact that I can be a totally different person to my family, and to my friends, and to my colleagues. I wish I wasn’t though.

I’m trying to practice what I preach a little more, I work with my children and help them to recognise and regulate emotions. I explain how normal they are and suggest strategies that will support overwhelming or negative feelings. Yet, whilst I, as every other educator has, have been adjusting to a new way of working and living, I have allowed emotions to consume me and I haven’t been the person I’d like to be.

This is my pledge, to do better. I have a wonderful support network, for which I am extremely lucky. I owe it to my loved ones to regulate my emotions better, after all, we’re 4 weeks in now, I really should. I truly believe that being back in school on a rota system and having the #DailyWritingChallenge will enable me to cope with this uncertain, strange new world we are all living in. And so finally, to end on a positive note, here’s a song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYi5aW1GdUU

Posted in daily writing challenge, Education

#DailyWritingChallenge – Day 3 – Loyalty

Image credit: Etymonline – https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=loyalty&utm_source=extension_submit

Loyalty is up there with the most important of all qualities that I look for in friends, families and partners. I believe myself to be fiercely loyal and I do take some pride in that. I thought for a few hours about what angle to take with this post. Loyalty to work, family, beliefs, friends etc., and then I read the chapter on imposter syndrome in Kat Howard’s book Stop Talking About Wellbeing. So right now, I’m going to talk about being loyal to myself.

The first time I can recall uttering a statement that suggested imposter syndrome was in my NQT year. I made a comment to the Learning Mentor, who I’m incidentally very good friends with, that I was having these ‘weird out of body experiences where I sort of see myself with my class and think, ‘woah, I’m a teacher, I’m in charge right now and I have 30 children depending on me for a year of their education’. It was simply a passing remark as I went to fetch the class from the yard after break, but it’s always stuck with me. Teaching has been on my radar since I was around 14/15, when I discovered that teaching English as a foreign language was a thing and it meant I could travel and teach, and wouldn’t that just be fabulous? It wasn’t until a decade later that I actually booked a place on a TEFL course and a flight to Thailand that I pursued this dream. It was, hands down, the best thing I ever did. Since then, teaching just seems to have happened and I sometimes feel like I’m winging it.

I hadn’t heard of imposter syndrome until about a year ago, but it’s been niggling away at me since then. I’ve always been modest about my achievements, I don’t like a fuss and I often don’t share my achievements with people, unless they’re significant. Not even my family. That makes me a bit sad, but also I feel like it’s relatively normal behaviour in the British style of not blowing one’s own trumpet.

I have doubted myself for years, I’ve just done it in the background – the imposter that lurks backstage as Kat puts it. When I qualified as a teacher, when I had my first NQT class, when I was asked as an NQT to lead English the following year, whenever I’m asked by SLT to train or work with another member of staff to support them, when I was asked to be a SCITT mentor and most recently, when I went for a job interview at an outstanding school. Needless to say, I was able to perform in all of the above roles and this is where my loyalty comes in.

I would tell anyone that they were very capable of doing any job a senior leader had asked them to. I’ve been the person who’s sat with a colleague and explained to them all the reasons why they’re fabulous. I’ve had the phrase ‘take your own advice’ uttered to me on more than one occasion. I am now deciding to be loyal to myself.

I believe I have been a good teacher, I believe I have been a good English lead (and art lead, after volunteering at a curriculum Twilight!) I believe I have been a good SCITT mentor, I believe I have worked hard to get to where I am and I deserve to feel successful, I believe I deserved to get the job at my new school and I believe that I will continue to flourish there.

I’m loyal to my family, my friends, my partner, my colleagues and my school. However, it’s taken me a couple of years to realise that what I really needed to work on, was my loyalty to myself.

We can choose to see this as a tremendous opportunity. This is a moment to be heroic. To think about others. To serve. To prepare. To keep calm. To reassure. To protect. This is a time to reevaluate our priorities. To ask ourselves what’s important and what we’re working towards. 

The Daily Stoic – https://dailystoic.com/now-is-the-time-for-heroes-2/