Yesterday’s blog about the hours worked by teachers and thus the importance of the holidays was, I feel, something most if not all teachers and school staff could relate to. Today I’m writing the second part to my three part post on the importance on holidays on something a lot more personal: emotional investment.
This is a lot harder for me to write about as I can’t be so sure that this will be a relevant to some people as much as yesterday’s post. However, I can only write about my own experiences and feelings on such a topic.
So what do I mean about emotional investment? Simply, if you’ll excuse the wishy-washy wording, I mean the parts of our hearts and souls that we pour into school. By school I suppose I would mean the children as ultimately, it is them we are working for. And that’s it isn’t it! It’s the children we work for and not the headteacher, not the local authority but those little kids that drive us up the wall and inspire us to keep going.
I left the school I was training at to commence my NQT year at another school slightly more local to me. I trained via the School Direct route so was in my class pretty permanently and was, at least during the summer term, their class teacher as I built up my teaching hours to 80% (an NQT teaching timetable). So it’s fair to say I saw these kids as ‘mine’ even though they were ‘someone else’s’. It’s weird how possessive we (or at least me – again I’m not sure how the majority do relate to this) we get over these kids. I do refer to them as ‘my kids’ and for me it feels like having 30 children that I’m trying to develop through the being a teacher. Yes, some of them were a pain in my arse but even then I still loved them in as much as a teacher can love a children that is ultimately not their own. I WANT them to do well, I WANT them to succeed and learn and I WANT them to be happy and fulfilled in their lives and the investment I put into that is simply exhausting.
When they struggle, when there are issues outside the classroom I can not control, when they’re feeling unwell, I genuinely worry and I take those feelings home with me. On the other hand, when they do succeed, when they do ‘get it’ and when they are happy and you can tell this, you do feel as if you’ve had some, if not small, contribution to that and that as well can be exhausting.
So given all those feelings, you can begin to understand why it isn’t just things like the physically hours that we work that end up causing us to burnout but July. So how do we try to resolve this and move forward? As I mentioned, I will no longer be working at the school I trained in and the day I left was a very emotional time. I cried, and cried and cried some more. Thank God we were off timetable (given it was the last week of term) so I didn’t have to teach. I knew that I’d not be able to pull myself together and teach! Was that an appropriate reaction? Am I unusually emotional? Should I have maintained composure? I’m not sure – maybe. But that is also what I am to improve in myself.
This whole project we are working on (please see the ‘about the project’ page of this blog, is about how we use mindfulness, coaching techniques and reflective practice to be able to handle being a teacher. Not just workload and hours, but just that emotional investment that I’ve just ramble on about for the past 600 words.
My NQT year will be focussed on me putting into practice these things, along with the other members of this project, to help manage those intense feels of pride, despair, hopelessness, stress and overwhelming joy.
Teaching is such a rollercoaster of a career and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love that it makes me feel!