A “Career” in Education?

As a newly appointed teacher after years of trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life, what my “personal legend” (Coehlo) is I have come across yet another crisis in what I thought I was thinking to be the right thing. If that makes sense.

I should mention that one of my favourite accidental pass times is to constantly challenge my own beliefs and thoughts and if I find one which is more “ego” vs “self” driven or it is based on a misconception about myself or the world I love to challenge it and get to the root of it.

It’s just what I do. That is how I keep learning, keep getting deeper into myself and my spiritual connection with the world around me.

Tangent. Focus.

Recently I attended a term-changing conference that helped me connect with why I chose to be a teacher in the first place. Let me set the scene. Disclaimer: Words may seem far more dramatic than an outsider’s perspective.

The story up until now is one that I shall save for another blog post, but the short of it is that I have been appointed my first job as a full time permanent teacher. I finished my course last June and was having a lot of difficulties in finding work and working casually until I received a phone call offering a position 3 days from the first day of Term 1.

Forward to 5 weeks and I lack sleep, lack nutrition, my eye muscles twitch, my mind is constantly switching focus between 100 items, I am also running around all day, getting my resources, dealing with the spot-fires that occur in the school day/ per class, and of course dealing with things going wrong.

It has actually been a blur. By the time I get my head around one class, it’s already over and I need to think about assessment, creating engaging opportunities, satisfying outcomes, ticking things off, evaluating myself, keeping track of what I have to do… list goes on and not much gets ticked off!

BUT, it takes one smile, laugh or cute gesture from a kid to make it all worth it. Is that sad? is that good? I am not yet decided, but it still is draining. But that positive impact does fill up the batteries a bit and masks the symptoms of exhaustion.

So back to the conference- in all these dealings I realised I had no time to reflect on the purpose of what I was doing. I was doing something, but I had forgotten what the true nature of what I was doing actually WAS. I walked into a room with teachers similar to me and I was a part of an adult community of professionals who thought like me and who had dreams like me, and overall who cared for the kids as much as I did. The issues we discussed were part of a bigger problem that we are trying to solve, a bigger issue that we as teachers feel alone in, such that 30% of all teachers leave the profession in the first 3 (or 5) years. That is really sad- I am sure that all those teachers are amazing teachers. Teachers who are probably alone and just purely exhausted and thus leave the profession.

Lucky for me I have amazing mentors and people to look up to who help to guide me and also to vent to when I need. Already I can see the fruits of such a valuable resources. It also helps that those mentoring are genuinely amazing individuals.

This figure does not seem to reflect the social media world of teachers. Teachers I see posting the things they do in their classroom, or trying these breakthrough things at school or attending these huge conferences or trying to show everyone else the newest idea in education. All of this- I think is great and so amazing, but after a few conversations with teachers and hear-say from students regarding the monitoring and displays to educational institutions on these techniques- I am beginning to wonder; Is it appropriate to call the educational profession a career?

Do all methods and do all participants in these educational ventures truly benefiting our kids in the classroom? (i.e One size fits all so we should all do it for the sake of it?)
After spending 2 days with adults I came home with a fresh inspirational outlook and felt as though I might not quit this “career” path I had chosen.
But now I am thinking…. was I looking at this the wrong way?
I don’t want a career in education if my objective is “opportunities for progress”. Yes, of course I constantly want to learn, and always will be learning and striving to do better- but not for me or my school or my paycheck- They are all second; and yet they take up more time away from planning for, assessing and really providing quality feedback and building rapport with students!!

The first and most important objective is my kids. Each and every individual student who comes to class.

Restructuring the way teachers do things may provide a motivation for some teachers to grow or to progress, but it might also motivate them to take shortcuts, use other teachers and again become recluse in their practice.

In my next mid-term crisis, I am sure I will have a clearer picture, but that conversation I had today really made me question education as a “career”, and how different it is to other professional careers. It is a serious profession; yes, it is severely underfunded even though we are practically raising children to some degree; yes, but we mustn’t forget that it is not a profession that benefits from competition; rather thrives with collaboration. It is the “collective genius” of teachers which allow teachers to create the work/life balance and quality lessons. A balance in the life of a teacher ensures that he/she brings him/her BEST face to class to face whatever issues, to model good, moral, happy behaviour and stay enthusiastic.

I hope for a better future and more mutual support amongst the teaching community. For this we will always say we need more “time”. And then we are back to square one.

Please note: I didn’t edit this- Yes I usually am a perfectionist- that’s why I don’t edit a flow of consciousness.

Have a nice week.

 

 

Hope love and lessons learned…And it started with Churchill

This isn’t political.

This isn’t about being historically accurate.

This isn’t a statement about what I feel about him as a politician.

This is about the hope.

This man is just one example of the hope I was looking for!! And you know what, that makes all the difference for me on my journey. It should for you too. If it’s possible to fight your physiology; he shows us.
He died at home with loved ones in his life… It is possible. It’s possible for people to understand you. See you through your struggle, celebrate with you when you feel crazy happy.

Me….for me….for me it is possible too.

Just because you give doesn’t mean you will receive. There are a million billion amazing quotes that remind you to know your worth.. And when you are ready…you’ll know when to make a decision best for you.

I have epiphanies all the time…but it doesn’t matter so much if I share them unless you can a) feel it on your skin and relate or b) you’re ready to do something about your current situation. But I will share them anyway in case one person reads it and feels LESS alone and enlightens some positivity.
I come to these epiphanies through deep thinking about myself and others because I always wonder why and look for patterns. I want to live a full life because I truly love people. I want to get them… And to get them and be a good person I need to get me and be good to myself.

Ego driven goals or expectations from life are a big turn off and unhealthy! …and unfortunately I have a difficult time with people who are done growing. But I get it. Baggage is sealed and they don’t want to leave that comfort zone. Their habits and ways and wants are established and there are “no other” (quotations because this is a choice) perspectives left. This is why sometimes people need to want to help themselves before they can take the steps (even if they have seen a dr so to speak). Whatever “reward” (psychologically speaking) is to be had is their own, and even if others around them feel the impact, it’s “our” (family, loved ones) job to support until ready. To my dismay if I felt like that it would be disheartening and would make me depressed, I don’t find comfort in misery unless I am in depression…. And to be honest that’s not desired. I met people like this on my camino… And I must say I felt very bad one day when his beliefs begun to irritate me and so I stopped to change my shoes…

My big stink about RW is really over. Now that I feel how tired he must have been I get it. I do…but I also get that not everyone who recognises their black dog is going to end up making that decision…

Churchill has been an inspiration for me since about 2008… His quote “if you’re going through hell, keep going” was the beacon of hope, and I was only to discover there was so much more. It didn’t offer any promises or sparkles…it just said something that my physiology in my brain betrays and tries to fight back….”carry on.”

Carry on…because there is always hope. Always. Hold onto it like a rich man to his jewels. That hope is all yours and it should be a reminder.

I read something today or maybe it was a YouTube video : that accepting death (I really should reference this) doesn’t mean you embrace it or you don’t grieve…it simply means you can carry on without thinking “why” or “why is this happening to me?”

People in my life give me strength not because they comfort me…but they have taught me skills and awareness. Awareness about myself, the good things, the signs that something is wrong and above all to be kind to myself and forgive myself. Along with my effort and persistence I’ve made a change. Doesn’t mean my demons will never try and infiltrate…but whose doesn’t…there’s no need to feel ashamed when you need help, can’t cope or are struggling…carry on and look at how you can fight to keep realistic perspectives. Life is about support and community and focusing on what’s important… Rather than wondering who you’re supposed to be -> just be…

Takes practice and a lot of it. Like ridiculously…. It never goes away..it’s a daily battle but it’s a worthy battle and yeah I do need people like Churchill or Andrew Solomon to show me otherwise…. I’m grateful for that.

So get up… Be aware/mindful of yourself…accept certain things (this part you must do) and carry on…

You can retrain your brain… Hormones (females) and neurotransmitters might betray you from time to time…but equip yourself and you will recover.

It’s ok to lose control sometimes but be aware that you have and that you’ll get past it…just like every other time because you my friend…are a survivor …. You are resilient…. And you have grown.

I’m a WHAT now?

Perfectionism..

What do you relate this word to?

Someone who is particular about their work and makes everything they do perfect or their best work?
Someone who always has neat and tidy writing?
Someone who always colours in between the lines?

No, no and ohhh heck no!

Instead it’s someone who is something who wants everything to be perfect but is afraid :  a) to put in their all in case they fall short , b) of their own high expectations  or c) knows their high expectations can be reached but unsure if they can maintain these expectations. Basically you are fooling yourself either way…
Who would have thought I fit into this category. I am speechless and somewhat annoyed. How is it that I have caged myself  here?

Well apparently I am a perfectionist, but that doesn’t always guarantee that you do not settle for less with the quality of work you can produce. It means the opposite. And if you could hear me now, I am laughing my loud, continuous laugh. Laughing out loud to say the least, because this is hilarious to me. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I have non-perfectionist tendencies, and that is when I am MOST happiest.

How ironic, I wonder who comes up with these. Whoever they are, they should go beyond just labelling and identifying idiosyncrasies such as these and tell us what in the world we can do with it. I guess I have two options… 1) Own it and make it a part of who I am and 2) Don’t own it, and change your thinking.
Personally I think it is silly, I don’t know where it comes from- I mean being a high achiever all my life, shouldn’t it just be second nature to just continue doing so? Perhaps it is something that has developed and will go away.

What I find interesting is it isn’t just me that has been branded with a label written on bright  fluoro sticker and stuck to my chest. We all have these quirks and such that put a name to our behaviours. And it seems that everyone knows it before I do, even though I over think everything.  I wonder if Perfectionism  is just on the outside to more deep seeded issues. If it is, then honestly you should learn how to take it easssyyyy. Or else it COULD become harder.

All I know is there is a way to beat it. Basically you just say no.  No… this is just a name and maybe I might be feeling like a perfectionist for this one task but that shouldn’t define who I am. Defining behaviours that I might do here and there shouldn’t be the reason for everything. In some ways I think we would be liberated if we didn’t have these shackles of labels even though at the same time understanding your behaviour can be liberating as well.
We can all help each other, instead of calling each other names. Honestly if I labeled my friends’ weird behaviours every time I pick up on them (and believe me, I do) then I would be basically putting them into a box instead of the dynamic individuals I see them as.
When I remind them of who (else) they are, at a time when their perfectionist parrot perches on their shoulder, they no longer think about the standards they think is expected of them, and they act according to who they are. They gain confidence in who they are and the decisions they make because those decisions are based on their OWN expectations. Not expectations they are trying to measure up to. Expectations they/ we guess the recipient is going to have.
Truth is, everyone will look at your work differently. Sometimes there is no rounded set of rules and standards- not everyone will like your work. And if there are a set of rules and standards that are explicit, well there’s no need to stress out, make a checklist and get through it one by one.

Procrastination is good sometimes, because you discover a whole world of inspiration and resources on the net and your whole house is sparking clean (haha) but at the same time it can be debilitating. Work out the reason for your perfectionism in each situation separately. If you feel you are a square peg- then this isn’t going to bother you as much, but if you aren’t it is going to cause a conflict of interest. In which case you can embrace your differences, or struggle each time you sit to work at a task you feel you interpret differently. Just do it, let it develop and as a wise friend told me today… Live it. Embrace it. Cherish it.

You are what you are- not everyone will like it, but you can create your own niche 🙂

Remember:

BEE        YOURSELF

Robin Williams… turned my world upside down

I don’t know Robin Williams and I especially don’t know his struggle.
But I know depression.
I know the feeling of losing all control of your own feelings.  Not knowing how to control them or tell them they’re irrational.
I know not knowing a solution or a way out. Not knowing how to fix something you don’t even know how it broke.
I know the feeling of being all alone in what you feel. There’s no other way.

I know the feeling of other’s around you feeling sad, helpless and feeling sorry because they cannot understand you, help you, pick you up.
I know the feeling of other people’s frustrations because they can’t help you, or they make you feel that doing so is a really big deal.
I know the feeling of people making you feel that a click of the fingers can fix the problem or feeling paranoid whether those you love see more to you than this? or not?

I know the pain the ones you love go through when you crash and fall.

But I also know how it is to be strong.
To pick up and just keep going until again your black dog barks its way into your life again.
To be strong every single day and to be fighting demons you can’t see or hear or put your finger on or comprehend or rationalise or understand or to just put a stop to it.
I know how much effort it takes to pick up and continue.
I know how much harder it is to do everything, even normal things because you feel ailed by that invisible force that holds you down like the heaviest lead weights.
Pulls on your hands, your neck, your shoulders. Grabs you and pulls you backwards, downwards, behind.

I know being alone in these feelings and others suffering as a result. I know that treatment is long and arduous and slow and painful. I know that doing what makes you happiest doesn’t make sense to others, or feasible in a world of “you should do …”
I know that we are one in a million and for the price of depression we are blessed with other things. Other feelings, intuitions, sensitivities, appreciation and love.  Other really beautiful amazing things. R.William’s was what he gave the world, what people will remember him for.

And I also had hope. Hope that this will be the last time that I experience this inexplicable dip. This is the last time that I would take this climb.

But today something happened and crushed my dreams. I realise that it is the action of ONE man. But it is so much more than that. It is the action of him and so many others like him. It comes to a point that they- with all their resources, the time and money they can afford, they chose to give up.
Does that mean there is no end to this ? Will this state of being never diminish? Are people bound to this condition? Is there no way out rather than death? Will their families (As much as they miss the departed) be at more ease now their loved one doesn’t suffer depression and no longer affects those around them?
Is this what it means?  Where is the hope when someone who has achieved plenty, has plenty, is loved and has so much potential for change- any kind of change gives up. With so many options… Did he try them all? did he? He surely can afford it more than others, he can also afford the time to take off to recharge and rehabilitate… but did he? Why do I need to know?

I may not know him, but I too have laughed thanks to him, laughed and cried in his dramatic roles. And I respect all the sentiment people have towards him.
But today he killed my hope. It wasn’t my hope he lived for, that, I know 100% but what message is this? Is the only option suicide? 63 and still suffering a disease no one can see or hear for decades. Is there no relief from it? And for that I am angry. I am furious. I am so so angry.

People always say “oh dear, depression is awful” but then what? What about when you know someone with depression? Do you batt an eyelid? What do you say ? Get over it? Pick yourself up and go? Do you think it?

A person with depression doesn’t need pity or empathy or sympathy or any of the sort, because no one can ever ever go inside a person with this condition. When people are seen with it we say dig deep and push yourself. Get over it, get past it.

What if there is no “past it” …  What is it in the mind that makes a person feel: with all the material needs around them, that there is no way out? How many times can a person handle “getting over it?” As many times as it takes?
Does anybody know?

What I do know is there are our heroes: Andrew Solomon, Kevin Breel, Winston Churchill, Sherwin Nuland, Jim Carey, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie and all the others who suffer silently and make it through each day at a time.
Whether they are big stars or just people with amazing thoughts, who have taken steps, spoken about their experience, made difficult decisions. But they didn’t give up. I don’t say this as a judgement, and everyone IS different… but what is the line? what is the boundary? what is the push?
Each person we lose, we lose them to a battle  we are all fighting… An artist in all his sensitivities is just as valuable as anyone else, his or her black dog need not be their death sentence… nor be it the thing that defines who they are.

And that’s why it makes me so angry when one of these occur. It makes me angry and frustrated.
It shouldn’t be the solution.

Rest in Peace Robin…. I really really hope you are… I don’t hate you and I won’t be angry for too long. I truly wish both you and your family find the peace you were after.