One of the best things about Twitter is that it not only provides the best free CPD you will ever need, it also consistently reminds us that we are not alone. Teachers are very often targets from all areas and if there is one thing that we need to show to each other it is compassion and empathy. This post has been written as a result of conversations with student teachers worrying about whether they are coping, with probationary teachers terrified of being unable to pay their bills and experienced teachers who feel isolated and in despair. It is mostly, however, deeply rooted in personal experience and I make no apologies for the tone. That’s okay, isn’t ?
It’s okay to think that, sometimes, you can’t do this job, to feel overwhelmed, about to be swallowed up. Those moments when you think that challenging class isn’t working out no matter what you try. When that problem student seems to be reacting badly to everything you do. When you believe that everything is personal. When the marking and preparation are starting to get the better of you and that’s before you’ve even begun to think about those reports and that rapidly advancing deadline. Every one of us feels like that at times. We all do it. It is okay.
It’s okay to, occasionally, have a night off. Even though you have that marking and those reports. Even though, in the back of your mind, you know you might not be totally prepared for the full day. That family meal is more important. The walk in the park on your own, the visit to the cinema, the uncharacteristic collapse in front of the TV. When you mistakenly – or so you convince yourself- forget to bring home that pile of essays that is fairly urgent. No one will die. You won’t be fired. They will get marked. So take a night off. Now and again. We all do it. It is okay.
It’s okay to disagree with management and speak up about it. In fact, it is not only your right but your duty. If they’ve any backbone they’ll welcome your points if they are couched in an alternative. Yes, management are there to make decisions and we are there to, more or less, follow them. However, we are professionals and a climate where educated adults are too afraid to express an opinion is unhealthy and, ultimately, self- defeating. Be informed. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to do so. We all do it. It is okay.
It’s okay to miss the occasional deadline. Despite what you’re told. Schools and departments don’t grind to a halt because you haven’t filled out a class list or ticked a few boxes. Of course you shouldn’t make a habit of it. Of course you want to be a reliable member of your Department. But there will be times during the year where something has to give. Your classes take top billing. Your PT will forgive you. If not, then they’d have found something else to be annoyed at anyway. Things get done. Sometimes not on time but they get done. We all do it. It is okay.
It’s okay to console that kid with a hug or even a wee touch on the arm. You know the one. They’ve just failed to get into the Uni of their choice. They’re having a particularly terrible time at home. They can’t see an end to the bullying. Perhaps they’re just struggling with school in general. The important thing to remember is that you’re not an idiot. You know when it is appropriate to console and better to leave well alone. But these are kids and sometimes they need us to show them compassion and humanity. We are not machines and neither are they. We all do it. It is okay.
It is okay to feel frightened of change. It is okay not to be the smartest person on the classroom, to not always have the answer. It is okay to occasionally sit in the car and weep just before you go into school. It’s okay to get things wrong from time to time. We all do it. It is okay.
You are a human being.
You are a teacher.
And that is more than okay.