Don’t Fall Down the Rabbit Hole
"What rabbit hole?!" I hear you ask! The biggest one of all in the teaching world… NEGATIVITY!
I started my first teaching job as an NQT in September 2013 like every other newly qualified teacher, with hopes and dreams of making a difference, of really revolutionising the way in which mathematics is taught and of being that person who can really connect with teenagers to help them develop a love for the subject and the logic that it holds.
Despite the thinking of the vast majority of teachers, these hopes and dreams can be a reality.
Yes, teaching is hard work!
Yes, teaching is stressful!
Yes, children can be unpredictable!
Yes, there are never enough hours in a day!
But yes, you can be the teacher you always wanted to be!
Behaviour is probably the biggest reason for negativity - Remember to not take anything personally and to focus on those children who are a pure delight to have in your classroom. We work with children who are learning to grow up, to deal with their emotions and are learning right from wrong along with consequences. That is the key, they are still learning, and it is our job to help them on that journey.
Workload is another reason - Remember the perks of the job that we have. We have 13 weeks a year where we can do what we want! Yes, we deserve them and yes, more often than not, we will spend a lot of time completing work, but we can choose when we complete the tasks that we need to do! Yes, we have meetings and marking etc. but some days we can leave work earlier than others, not everyone is so lucky. And my personal favourite perk, no two days are the same! There is always something that happens to make you smile.
The perception of the teaching job is completely misjudged from the outside and that can be ridiculously frustrating - That is fine! Let people continue to judge, let people think that because they went to school, they could do the job. If it was so easy there would most certainly not be a recruitment issue. Also, compare it to other jobs, people will judge an office manager, for example, for sitting down all day, but do you really know what they need to do every day? Do you fully know why they are mentally exhausted by the end of the day when they ‘haven’t done anything’?
In every school there is a person, maybe a group, who can be rather negative about our work. I could have a good grumble with them about the pains of teaching, but it has taken me 7 years to really learn to just ignore this and put a positive spin on as much as possible. Because that is exactly what your thought process is, a choice. A difficult choice, but a choice, nonetheless.
And the best thing about this small change? I am happy at work again!
The rabbit hole of negativity is not where you want to be, not only can it make your workplace unbearable but think about the impact that can have on your well-being and ultimately your mental health. I talk from experience here! I must deal with anxiety issues on a day to day basis, even after a recent blip, I feel more in control than ever and I am in a much better position to help the students I work with. The support I have received from my colleagues relating to this has been phenomenal, I am one of the lucky ones and so I am extremely grateful, but my outlook has changed for the better. I am more positive. And it is rubbing off in my classroom, despite dealing with some students deemed 'challenging', since the positive thinking, I rarely deal with issues, not even answering back! You see, the problem with this rabbit hole is that it can turn in to a vicious cycle, however, flip it on its head and enjoy a cycle full of rewards!
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein clearly knew what he was talking about. Please remember why we are teachers. Most recently, a member of SLT asked us to write down one success we have had in our career that keeps us going. I wrote down one name from my first year of teaching. A student who was on track to fail, who hated me, who somehow, I became a champion for, who I won over with persistence and determination that I would not let her fail, who finally learned to trust a teacher. On results day she screamed with happiness and excitement over the fact that she had passed her mathematics GCSE, she could go to college and go on to do whatever she wanted with her life. And she said it was down to me. I remind myself of this on a weekly basis, she did the hard work with support from me. I was able to provide a platform for her to be confident to learn from mistakes and then for her to be confident to succeed. I was a teacher with hopes and dreams of making a difference. That was one of the times I made a difference.
From this point forward, on a weekly basis I will be making a note of something I have done to make a difference and something that has happened that has made a difference to me. We are teachers to help students learn and develop a love for learning, but we learn just as much from our students and develop our love for learning further. Maybe you could do the same.
Maybe we could all be part of a positive movement and change the outlook on teaching together.