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

taking on their pain

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The death of a father weighs on my shoulders,

The mother’s rejection and the alcohol problems,

They all tumble out, one after another

And they cling to my clothes, slowing me down,

Tiptoeing round in an effort to soothe

Problems that can’t mend, whatever I try.

I have always found behaviour management in the classroom a little bit tricky because I’m so soft. The kids like me but if I have a boisterous class they can sometimes walk all over me.

I thought that I would get better at this as time went on but I’m finding it harder and harder. It’s not because I’m getting any weaker, it’s because I’m getting to know the kids too well.

I have a bit of a rowdy Year 8 class and so I’ve had to go digging through their files and phoning parents and it’s uncovered details that I didn’t know before. The problem is that I now feel so sorry for them I don’t feel that I can shout at them.

I even went home after speaking to one of the parents and had a little cry. Being able to feel that intensely can be such a super power in teaching – but it can also make life so difficult, and painful.

I know that those kids will actually really rate me for enforcing the rules and setting boundaries in a world that is probably really overwhelming for them at times. But I still want to give them a hug and tell them that it’s all going to be OK.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i can get under your skin, miss

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I can get under your skin, miss,

For no particular reason,

I just quite like watching you squirm,

Seeing that flash behind your eyes.

I’ll move on next week

To my next one in line,

There I’ll get my fix, one more time.

I have a student who has a lot of behavioural problems and is regularly excluded from school – so I am fully aware that this isn’t just about me. But this kid has said some pretty brutal things to me over the past few days, and I wonder what goes through the heads of these students as they say what they say.

I am finding that I’m tough enough to laugh it off now, but I do find myself walking away and having a bit of a wobble. Today, he asked me if I’d actually done any teacher training because I don’t know how to control the tutor group.

Now, our tutor group is nuts so he’s not wrong in saying that I can’t control them – but nobody has managed to so the fact that I’m not giving up on them says something about me (I think). But still, as I walked to my next class I found myself letting his words get under my skin.

I know that this shows my own lack in confidence, but I’m also left wondering what is going on in his head. Does he want to hurt me? Maybe he wants to see me cry? Or is he hurting and displacing those feelings?

Interestingly, the moment I tried to talk about his feelings, he bolted. I assume there is something niggling away at him that hurts an awful lot when it’s poked – and that makes me feel sad for him.

Much Love

Rachel xx

genuinely thought i’d lose my job

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Those nasty girls

That sharpen nails against my bones,

Giving looks that laser through

To my very soul.

They’re out to get you and

It’s just a matter of the lonely time.

I had a shocker of a day today with some girls being absolutely vile to me. They told me I was an awful teacher, they refused to do any work and then when I gave them a detention they just decided not to go.

There will be consequences for them, but I spent the whole day feeling terrified that everyone would believe their version of events and I would get the sack.

At the end of lunch I had two senior teachers come into my room and ask the students there to leave so that they could talk to me. I held my breath thinking that this was the moment that I would lose my job.

Fortunately, I was very wrong and they came in to say that I had done everything right and I just need to take a breath.

This experience is teaching me that I need to trust people will listen to me. I have a crushing fear that my voice will never be heard and I’ll always be called a liar. But my superiors taught me to listen to my gut today. I’m not always wrong; and yes, there are consequences for that kind of nastiness.

Much Love

Rachel xx

if i’m good from now…

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If I’m good from now, will you let me off?

I know I was bad, I know I shouted,

I know I threw that ruler across the room

And I know I called Jamie a prick.

I know I didn’t do as I was told,

But I promise I’ll be good from now,

And if I am,

You’ll cancel that detention, yeah?

I hate dishing out detentions, but it’s made even worse by the fact that teenagers are so bloody emotionally manipulative. I have students in every year group who behave like idiots until you punish them, and then they shut up and think that will reverse the sanction.

I know that it’s all part of a power struggle and they want to show that they have control. I’m not used to the confrontation so I really struggle to hold my own against them.

I am holding my nerve, but some of them are really pushing every button. I was told early on in the year that teaching students (no matter how old) is like puppy training – and it is so true.

I wonder if adults behave like toddlers when they are in the classroom? If not, I might look for a job as a college lecturer.

Much Love

Rachel xx

feeling the weight of power

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Power is the thing we crave,

We strive for the keys and the clipboard,

To walk the shop floor in a suit,

Picking out things that look slightly wrong,

A tine that is dented, a browning banana,

And with a click of the fingers it’s fixed.

But the day that the keys are placed in your hands,

Marks the moment when life will see change,

And for those with a doubt lodged in their heart,

That power can fester and eat you alive.

When I was doing my teacher training last year, I was about half way through when I hit a real low moment. And I was reminded of it today because I felt an echo of that feeling; not as strong, but still rather uncomfortable.

The day in question, I had a bad lesson with some Year 9 students and the teacher that was observing me pulled me up on my behaviour management. I was fine with everything that she said to me, until she told me that I deserved respect from the kids and they hadn’t given me any during that lesson.

She must have hit a nerve that I didn’t even know was raw and exposed because I just burst into tears on her. And it wasn’t a few delicate tears rolling down my cheeks; it was full on sobbing and struggling to catch my breath.

I remember the thought that ran through my mind was ‘I don’t deserve respect from anyone. I am only worth my job at the petrol station and that is where I will have to go back to at the end of this training.’

It was a horrible thought and it was all consuming. And I felt a little bit of that today. There was no sobbing but I wavered when some students were really rude to me. I felt like I deserved to be treated that way.

After 36 years of being in the lowest paid jobs where nobody respects you (sadly), it’s going to take me quite some time to really believe that I am worthy of respect.

If you are struggling to believe in yourself, I’m here with you. I’m hoping it’s just a case of practice makes perfect – because that negative voice in my head is really spiteful!

Much Love

Rachel xx

she lied through her teeth

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Her school skirt rolled up, so short it was obscene,

As we sat in the glowing classroom, tapping pencils

On the glossy table tops, trying to ignore

The gnawing in our adult bellies, knowing it’s all lies.

She smiles lopsidedly, knowing how to work the crowd,

Her voice that shouts at me in normal times, is sweet,

A honey smear across the air between us. Strange

When normally the books are thrown in graceless arcs

And looks are shot in painful icy stares. She lied

Tonight before her worthy jury, saying words

Programmed from her primary days, she knows

Exactly what to do and I… I’m clueless,

My stomach crimped and cramped with fear.

I had what we in the industry call a ‘restorative conversation’. I put that in air quotes because I don’t feel like anything has been restored. I feel like that student is going to give me hell in the next lesson.

I really like the idea of restorative conversations rather than detentions because I think kids deserve a say, and it also gives me a chance to tell them exactly why they have been held back and what we can do to improve in the next lesson.

However, it also gives students the chance to lie through their teeth to people higher up the food chain. I had a meeting with my head of department, the deputy head and the student and you would have thought butter wouldn’t melt from the way that she was speaking.

Even I was almost fooled, and I’ve been on the receiving end of her nastiness for two months now. I guess only time will tell.

Much Love

Rachel xx

could i have done it before?

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Feeling a bit fragile with cracks forming fast,

Would I be able to seal them all up

With inadequate glue sticks and duct tape for strength?

But everyone sees that breaks that afflict

And so it’s quite easy for them to unpick.

Now I have tools, and suitable glue,

Delicate resin to hide the fine cracks,

Keeping me strong in pressurized times,

Getting back up, when life hits me hard.

When I was in my twenties I tried several times to climb the slippery corporate ladder – and quite unsurprisingly, I failed quite badly. And it was because I was too wobbly and fragile. I couldn’t handle the knocks that came with the added responsibility.

I did my teacher training because I felt that I had been sober for long enough and I had had enough therapy. I’m still wobbling all over the place and, if you read my post on Monday, you will know that I still cry (probably a little too much).

I do sometimes wonder if I could have done all of this any earlier in my life. I feel like the answer would probably be ‘no’.

Yesterday, I had an awesome conversation with the Head of House and today I had a great lesson with the problematic class. I know that come Friday something else will have knocked me and I’ll have to go about picking myself up again.

But I can pick myself up these days. And I can hold that in my mind, that the dark bits of life will pass.

I hope you have had a lovely day, and if you haven’t, I hope that this post has given you a little bit of hope.

Much Love

Rachel xx

PS I had a fourteen year old tell me to go f**k myself this morning, so today was still far from perfect – but I’m holding onto the wins.

my child is angel

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There once was a student who behaved like a saint,

A better picture of academia you could not paint

Or at least that’s what his mother would say

When I phoned her after bad lessons each day,

So shocked was she that she could quite easily faint.

I have this child in my class who is a terror. He throws things and shouts across my class and then when I ask him to leave he refuses. I wanted to give him an after school detention today but I have to get permission from a parent. So I duly gave the mother a call and came away quite shocked.

Apparently, he has no problems in other lessons and it’s just me! Apparently, he is an angel in every other subject and she has never received a call from any staff other than me.

I told her that I would review the situation in a week and keep in touch with her but he got out of that detention because she disagreed.

Half an hour late, he was supposed to be in my lesson and he was late. I didn’t say anything as I just wanted the lesson to run smoothly. However, it turns out that he had run into a colleague’s room and turned off her computer so that she had to reboot the whole thing and this ate into her lesson time.

So it turns out he’s not so angelic.

Hopefully that mother will enjoy the call from the Senior Leadership Team once that incident has been reported.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i am justified

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Did I come down way too hard?

Did I nit-pick?

Did I strike unfairly or

Was I justified?

Sometimes all it takes is one

Person to confirm your thoughts,

That it was wrong the way

That person acted in your class.

You’re justified,

So take a breath

And never fear that you are bad.

I sometimes worry that I am picking on a student. Sometimes we get off on the wrong foot and it can be easy to think that person is bad for the rest of their lives. So it really is relieving to hear someone say that you were justified in your actions.

I have one student who is really disruptive and I sent her to another room because I just couldn’t teach with her in my own. She made out that I was rude and picking on her and I questioned myself for a moment.

However, when the other teacher brought her back for a restorative conversation she was pretty shocked about this student’s attitude.

It was really helpful to hear this other teacher talk to the student, and also to know that I was justified in my actions. Sometimes it just takes one person to tell you that you are doing things right and you stop feeling like you are horrible or that you are doing things wrong.

I guess this is applicable in so many areas in life. To hear that you are doing OK is all that is needed to push you onwards.

Much Love

Rachel xx