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

#DailyWritingChallenge – Day 8 – Flexibility

I have dipped in and out of yoga for a number of years now. I always envied the girls in PE who could touch their toes without bending their knees and do the splits. Admittedly, I wasn’t interested in extra-curricular activities as a child. I didn’t do dance or gymnastics, and to be honest I was pretty lazy. That probably hasn’t helped my muscle development and flexibility.

After lockdown began and I started to experience some anxiety and stress about everything that was going on, I turned to yoga again. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I discovered ‘Yoga with Adriene’. I’m 4 days into a 30-day yoga programme called ‘Home’. I’m making sure I wake up and do it first thing every morning, I’ve been in a good routine so far, and it’s really helping me to cope. Practices such as the breathing and the idea of grounding yourself physically and emotionally can be easily transferred to real life. There’s been a few occasions now where I’ve taken a moment to breathe or to allow myself to become aware of the space I’m in and how my body feels. The flexibility comes slowly but I can already feel my body changing and growing to this practice. This is supporting my flexibility in other areas of my life.

I’m writing this post as I wait for the children to arrive for a day of child care. I have lots of fun activities planned which, although fun, took a bit more thought and effort than you would think. As a teacher, I’ve found it challenging to plan a full day that:

1.       Caters for a wide age-range

2.       Is enough for a small group – they get through things pretty fast

3.       Is engaging for children who are probably just as anxious as me

4.       Doesn’t have a WALT or specific objective, other than to occupy and entertain

5.       Finds a balance between being ‘just child care’ but also uses my skills as an educator

Flexibility has been key here. Being able to take holidays at different times so that every member of staff gets some semblance of a ‘break’. Working in a school that seems to be stuck in an endless INSET day loop (that’s how the atmosphere strikes me anyway). Working remotely and utilising email and video chat more often and efficiently (I have a Zoom meeting with my new head today).

It is vital that we as educators remain flexible for the foreseeable. I have a sinking feeling in my gut that we are going to be operating in such a flexible manner for a long, long time. I have a feeling that the way society operates will be different after this, how can it not be? For that, we must be flexible.

I have found that practicing yoga daily is having a positive impact on my mental and physical health. For me, that trickles down into every aspect of my being, thus supporting my ability to be a flexible and accommodating educator during these unprecedented times.

It is better to bend than to break.

Proverb
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/