As happens a lot, a blog post by @oldprimaryhead stopped me dead in my tracks last night. He talked about the impact his role and teaching has had on him.
The thing about teaching is, that it is the BEST JOB IN THE WORLD, but…
If you are not careful it WILL chew you up and spit you out. All roles within teaching are stressful. NQT, Classroom teacher, middle leader, senior leader or Governor. It is not a job that you can put down at five pm and pick up again at 9am. Obviously, there are aspects of physical work, marking etc that you can postpone for a short while, but when you are dealing with actual humans, it gets a little more tricky.
As parents, we are responsible for loving and cherishing our children and keeping them safe. When this goes right it can be amazing and we can see children flourish and thrive. Sadly we are seeing more and more situations where this is not the case. There are more and more children living in difficult circumstances and we are educators, try to do whatever we can to make these children’s lives better. Knowing a child is living in poverty or with a life-threatening condition weighs heavy on our souls. It is not the sort of thing that can be parked on a Friday night.
Teaching now comes with microscopic levels of scrutiny from both within the system and society as a whole. We are bound by high stakes accountability measures in the form of testing and inspections. While there is some argument that these can help school improvement, many a school leader feels the burden of this and knows that a poor showing in either of these could potentially cost them their job. Headteachers are becoming ever more like football managers. Results matter and you do not always get the time to turn things around in the way that you once would.
We are humans we make mistakes.
One of the big mistakes we make is not looking after ourselves. I like many other teachers I expect to live my life in term chunks. I know that have so many weeks to ‘get through’. This is not to say I do not like my job, I do! I can not see myself doing anything else. What I mean is that as the term progresses, I know my exhaustion levels also rise. This coupled with aspects of my own life outside of school can lead to me ‘hitting the wall’, usually about a fortnight before the end of the term. This is particularly prevalent at Christmas and End of the year.
I am not always the best at spotting the warning signs. When I do something it is 100%. After all, I only have this term to get through and I can rest in the holidays…. right?
Except I don’t rest then. I want to spend as much time with my family that I don’t get the chance to during term time. It can be a nasty spiral once you get into it.
I know I need to take better care of myself in term time. I need to think whether the tasks I am setting myself is for the benefit of the pupils and school, or merely an exercise in feeling busy. I need to eat better (and less). I need to enjoy a drink with friends, rather than to wind down. I need to go out more to socialise.
I know all of these things…
I am flawed, I am human and I will probably say the same next year.