oh, the awkward conversations

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I used to get so nervous in certain situations that I’d start to struggle to follow conversations and my teeth would chatter as though I was really cold. This hasn’t happened for probably three years – and it happened today.

The application that I filled out yesterday, came good. I received a request to interview this afternoon, but they also contacted my Head of Department for a reference. I really didn’t expect that to happen so quickly and it was a little bit uncomfortable when she came to talk to me.

I was then told that it may be a good idea to go and see the head teacher so that I’m being transparent with everyone. By this time, I was going into panic mode and the teeth were chattering. My friend literally had to walk me up the stairs and give me a pep talk on the landing so that I didn’t faint, be sick or just run away and never come back.

But the point is, I did it. I was brave and the head teacher actually said she rated the fact that I had come straight over to speak to her.

I didn’t need her to say anything positive about me, but it has made me reflect on the changes in my life over the past five years. When you are drinking you are not on the same plane as everyone else and the social and professional mistakes you make can be epic.

Those situations that once were baffling, are still really scary, but I realise I can do them and I come out the other end looking and feeling like a half decent human.

So, really I just wanted to toot my own horn and say that I wore my big girl pants and did something brave. And it felt pretty cool (although I’m emotionally wiped out right now).

Much Love

Rachel xx

feeling too attached for my own good

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The bonds are like the rubber bands

I wrap around the homework bundles

Cutting into paper edges, tight

Uncomfortable but also comforting

A paradox, if ever you have felt that way?

But sometimes they must snap away

Stinging skin but making room

To breathe and be myself again.

I don’t know about other people but, I get really attached to places once I get involved and it really surprises me how strong those bonds are once they have been wrapped around me.

I have a job possibility that has just come up, really close to home so there would be no need to drive. It is also a nice small school and the behaviour is much better than where I am.

I asked Noah what I should do and I didn’t even manage to finish my sentence and he had said ‘go for it’. That tells me that maybe this could be a good move – don’t forget I drive for an hour a day and petrol has gone up by over 50% since I started my job last year.

I wish that I didn’t have this need to please people who probably don’t care all that much about me. I really do like the people I work with but I have no best friend or impending promotion, so why am I procrastinating? Why do I find this so bloody hard? Do you feel unbearably attached to workplaces or teams when there’s little to keep you there?

Much Love

Rachel xx

a gentle dig that hurts so much

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It’s hard to believe that the nastiest part

Of my long Monday took place outside

The grotty Year 10 toilets where a throng

Of teenage girls shot me horrible looks

And giggled behind hands as I passed.

I’m a teacher, for God’s sake

And yet still my heart takes a silent beating

As I pass with my head low, wondering

Why I came back to school for more

Of this horrid abuse, that most fear for life.

Today felt really bad because of one moment caused by a girl who is fast becoming my worst nightmare. I lost my Year 10 class because she was so unpleasant to me and she obviously blames me for the fact that she has been moved to a class where she is apart from her friends.

She has obviously gone to her friends and told them all about how awful I am and when I was passing them as they were queuing for the toilet one of her friends gave her a nudge and nodded in my direction. This girl sneered at me and said ‘ugh’ as though I was something horrible that she had stepped in.

Now, I know I’m an adult and I’m probably being a bit snowflakey, but I felt like somebody had stabbed me in the heart and it genuinely made me feel low for the entire day.

I have been told that my skin will get thicker but it still hurts so hard. I know that it stems from my upbringing where I knew that I would always be wrong and nobody would believe me. Now that I’m an adult I still fear that my boss will believe a fourteen year old over me.

It’s amazing how the things we are told as children can shape us so totally as adults. My colleagues think this girl is an idiot and yet still that fear that they believe her over me is so real.

More therapy, anyone?

Much Love

Rachel xx

the school dance show

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Lights down as curtains swish

As parents hush each other, rustling

Their programmes handed out

By eager twelve year olds, at the entrance

Smiles and welcomes to the show

And then the music starts, as lines

Of leotarded girls step out

With canes and top hats in their hands,

A Year 11 sings New York New York

And parents tap along to trumpet sounds

The final notes and jazz hands wave

While parents jump to tired feet

Applauding all the smiling kids.

We had a school dance show today and the kids were so excited to tell me all about it. I didn’t stay to watch but I was leaving the school just as they were all coming in at about 6ish.

A girl has already showed me a video from last night’s performance and it was bloody brilliant. She allowed me to watch their rendition of New York New York, complete with top hats and canes and a full live band.

I knew that they were also doing a number from the Matilda musical and a Bollywood dance and it was lovely to see them all so excited about performing. Kids can sometimes lack any motivation to do anything so I feel all warm and fuzzy when I see those that have put all that effort in and are really putting themselves out there and getting involved.

I bumped into three of my favourite Year 7s in the car park as I was leaving, and they were all dressed up in their scruffy school uniforms and their hair was all back combed. They came running up to me and asked if they looked like Revolting Children as that was the song from Matilda that they were dancing to.

I told them they looked like the kind of children I would never want to teach and they ran off laughing, satisfied with my answer.

Well done to all the kids out there who just give it a go. You rock.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the pe lesson outside my window, may thirteenth

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I hear the teenage girls screeching

And the thwack of the ball hitting the bat,

The team cheers as she scores a rounder,

Firing up my projector and wishing

For a sunshiney afternoon on the field,

Fresh cut grass and sunglasses on

As the boys play dodgeball and someone screams

So angry that another boy cheated,

My books go out onto plastic top desks

Print out materials flutter to the floor

Catching the light and the cries of gulls,

I wish that I could be out there too

As I stack up the novels and dream

Of netball or running or a swimming pool hour

I listen intently to the PE class sounds

Outside my window on May the thirteenth.

the surprise visit

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The man at the back of the room

With the briefcase and the suit

Looking important and taking notes

Totally unexpected, like an unwanted gift

Sent to judge and assess,

And no one quite knows the result,

Hoping for answers to come in the morning

For the scary inspection that came with no warning.

I am not very good at being watched when I work, because I always feel as though I am being judged so that the company can use their findings to get me fired. So, when I have an unplanned observation, I go into panic mode.

When I got to my room this afternoon there was a man in a dark suit with a briefcase and a notebook waiting for me. He was one of the school governors and he assured me that he just wanted to see the school’s new behaviour policy in action, but that wasn’t enough to push down my irrational fears.

To make matters worse, the headteacher then walked in as I think she was concerned about what the governor was seeing in a new teacher’s classroom – after all, I guess her job depends on him being happy.

I think it all went fine, given that I was teaching a class of low ability boys whose behaviour is never normally all that great.

Now I just need to wait until the morning to see if I have a note from the headteacher on my desk, asking me to come up and see her for a serious chat. Keep your fingers crossed for me guys!

Much Love

Rachel xx

taking a little responsibility

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Take a look at the things you do,

The rings that spread outwards

And ask what effect you have

On the shores of the lake

And how could you change

Yourself for the better

In a selfish world?

I’m struggling with a few students at the moment, because they just don’t seem able to control their behaviour. And I am left wondering if these students have the ability to control their impulses.

When I first got sober, one of the most important steps was to acknowledge that there were issues and that I had to learn to control my behaviour. I could have just continued the way I was because it was easy, but I really wanted a better life and so that involved taking responsibility for my actions.

Some of the children I teach, seem unable to accept that their behaviour is unacceptable and they seem willing to blame everyone and everything else, rather than take a deep look at themselves.

Perhaps they are too young to understand and as they mature, they will learn that it’s not fair on the people around them. But I hope that this does happen because I strongly disagree with giving people an out because they have ADHD or anxiety or whatever other issue they have.

The only way to live a full life is to learn to control those impulses, and sometimes that can be really bloody uncomfortable. But it must be done.

Much Love

Rachel xx

at the hands of the mean girls

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They stand at the edge of the field

Sniggering sharply, behind hiding hands,

Not willing to shout, but too cool to cheer.

One day they’ll grow, and know how it feels

To suffer their dagger and barbed little words.

For now I will dance to the beat of my drum,

No letting girls in their sour teenage years

Pull me to pieces in the prime of my life.

So, during my first year of teaching I have found that I really struggle with older students (those of around fourteen to fifteen). It’s surprised me that I gel with the younger ones, while I tend to bring out the worst in a Year 10.

There was one group of girls that particularly upset me early on, and the class was taken off me because they were really being nasty. However, I still have to see these girls around school so I’ve really had to grow a slightly thicker skin for when I pass them in corridors and they give me withering looks.

Today, I took part in the school triathlon, and I’m not exactly a sprinter so I was bringing up the back of the pack during the run. It was done at lunchtime and we ran straight through the middle of the school grounds so that we could have a marathon vibe as we competed.

Of course, these girls were at the side of the route and I saw them laughing at me as I passed. But you know what? I kept on running and waving at all the students who were cheering me on.

I know that 15 is a tough age and I really hope that in a couple of years they will look back at their Mean Girls ways and cringe a little bit. I just hope that my little Year 7s stay nice and I never have to feel embarrassed running past them.

Much Love

Rachel xx

slightly confused introvert

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Rest

From people

Constant chatter

Draining inner batteries

But sometimes I

Surprise myself

And prove

That I am wrong

Confused.

I am an out and out introvert and I often tell people that I hate being around people – they just drain me. I can feel physically sick and tired if I have to socialise, and work, and take part in clubs etc. I sometimes feel that I need to sit in a dark room with headphones on.

But the strangest thing happens every so often – I actually enjoy company and maybe even thrive on it.

Today I had my first ever face- to- face parents’ evening and I was pretty nervous for it. But once I got into my groove and started working through each family, I started to find it really enjoyable.

It helped that I have top set Year 7, so their parents were lovely to talk to and really receptive to everything I said. But the fact was that I was having a blast just talking about books and writing with people who really cared about it.

It just goes to prove that even the most die hard introvert, who actually makes herself sick thinking about social events, can have moments when people are beautiful.

Much Love

Rachel xx

getting them on their own

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They fly around the classrooms like

Tornadoes, destructive to the masses

As they push and chase and shout out loud.

Yet once you have them on their own

They’re different children, quiet,

Obedient, complying to your every wish,

With reams of work flying from their pen.

I have started to tutor some of the Year 8 students who missed lots of material due to the lockdown. So many children just didn’t have the right environment for learning and so I believe that it is really important we give them the helping hand they need to catch up with what they missed.

I was a bit worried because some of these kids are a bit mad and they can be quite the handful when you teach them in a normal environment. In class, there are so many distractions and these kids have their mates who they want to show off to. It can make them highly unlikable, when actually they are really lovely kids.

I did my first session with a kid who I end up putting in detention after almost every lesson. He’s not malicious but he has so much energy that he just doesn’t know how to rein it in.

Anyway, I was absolutely blown away with how wonderful this kid was during our session together. With a bit of undivided attention, these kids have the ability to achieve so much. And this is attention that their parents should have given them – and for whatever reason they couldn’t. I just feel really sad that they haven’t had that.

I do just want to point out that I don’t blame the parents as so many things can be taken out of their control, including sickness, domestic abuse and other children with behavioural issues. It’s just sad that for whatever reason it is, there are some lovely kids that are suffering as a result.

Much Love

Rachel xx