i need kisses on the end of emails

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I have realised that when I feel vulnerable and sensitive, I like people to be super kind to me. I can’t stand professional conversations or emails because I just get this feeling that you’re angry with me.

When I feel vulnerable, a ‘kind regards’ makes me feel rubbish, even if you are being perfectly nice. I know this because yesterday I felt so down in the dumps and no amount of professional commiserations made me feel any better.

And then my mentor wrote to me and put a kiss at the end of her email, and I burst into tears. That little bit of personal kindness was just what I needed. I think it’s funny that an ‘x’ at the end of the email can do that. I wish that we were allowed to do that on all business emails because the world would be a much nicer place to live in.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i didn’t get the job and now i feel crushed

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It feels like wading through sludge,

Watching the others rise to dizzy heights

And not really knowing, where I am going

Or will I be safe, or will I be loved?

I had my interview today and they phoned me back to say that they weren’t hiring me. It feels like a punch to the stomach even though I know I did really well to get to the interview stage.

The problem is that everyone else on the course has had a job open up at their first school placement and I haven’t had that luck. And I know that really it is just bad luck that this has been the situation for me.

I’m trying to spend this evening thinking of all the good things I’ve achieved and all the reasons that they may have chosen someone else (and I have to remember how early on I am in my career and the fact that I may have been up against experienced teachers!)

My number one thing is that I might be realising that working in the same town that I live in might not be the greatest idea and in that respect I might have dodged a bullet. I’m tempted to start casting my net a bit further and trying the next town along. It will be nice to know that I’m not going to be seeing kids I teach when I’m doing my weekly shop.

I just need to remember for the time being that I didn’t get turned down because they hate me or they think that I’m a crap teacher. I will find a home and everything will work out just the way it’s meant to.

Much Love

Rachel xx

everybody loves a scare story…

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I’ll scare you half to death

Because I love that face you pull

With eyebrows raised and mouth an ‘O’.

I want to see your heart drop through

To your stomach, see your fear,

Smell it in the air.

I don’t know why I love it so

But scaring you’s my favourite game.

So, yesterday I garbled a worried post about the school I’m interviewing at. I had been told by various friends and teachers that the school was a bit rough and maybe not the best fit for me. And the more I thought about it the more my anxiety began to rise.

I got in touch with an old friend that I found out was working there and I just thought I’d ask the question. I didn’t think it could hurt to get some inside knowledge. And you know what? She said it’s great.

She sent me a long text, telling me all about the kids and how the reputation of the school seems to precede it. It was very bad in the past and it is in a less than perfect area, but it has a Good on its latest Oftsed inspection, a brand new building and no more behaviour problems than anywhere else in the town.

This brought me back to last August when I told people the name of the school that I was assigned to for training. Everyone looked at me with wide eyes and told me that I’d be eaten alive. And you know what? It was fine.

My point is that I feel like everyone wants to tell you a bit of a scare story. They seem to like it when they see you worry. I don’t always think they’re being cruel. I think that sometimes they really do worry for me and want to watch out for me. But I do really need to stop listening to those people that tell me something is awful and that I won’t be able to handle it.

So much of what we read and what we are told is sensationalized. I need to remember that I don’t need to listen to every piece of advice and take it at face value. Sometimes people are jealous and don’t want to see you succeed. And sometimes they love you and they don’t want you to get hurt. Just take it all with a pinch of salt…

Much Love

Rachel xx

torn

I emailed the lady at my placement school to tell her that I have an interview on Tuesday and I got the feeling from her reply that she has reservations about the school and what the pupils and their behaviour is like.

I know that the school is in a bit of a dodgy area and I can imagine that a lot of the kids are quite ‘colourful’ characters. Furthermore, I’m quite meek and mild so I’m not sure that I’ll be up to the challenge of managing behaviour in a tough school. I get the impression that this teacher is worried for me rather than just trying to put a downer on my good news.

However, this has left me in a tricky situation. The interview is on Tuesday and they offer you the position by the end of the day, so there is a chance that I will need to make a decision straight away. We’re also in full lockdown and I will be doing a Zoom interview so I won’t get to have a look around beforehand.

I’m so unsure what to do! I haven’t even been offered an interview anywhere else so I don’t want to throw away the one that I have been given. Plus, you never know what opportunities might exist at this school. I might flourish and get the chance to rise up in a way I never could in a ‘nice’ school where people stay from thirty years.

I need to make some huge choices in a few days and I don’t have the information needed to make then properly. But then that is life, isn’t it? We sometimes just need to take the leap and hope for the best.

Much Love

Rachel xx

at the risk of sounding whiney

I don’t normally like to open up to people in positions of power. It puts you in a very vulnerable position and I don’t like knowing that somebody high up has something on me. Once I told a boss that I was scared of something and she went out of her way to put me in that very situation, day after day.

I also worry that I might come across as being whiney, going on and on about all my problems. I mean, these people aren’t my therapists so they don’t want to hear all of my insecurities.

However, yesterday the director of our course checked in with me because I’d mentioned that the week had been a bit of a slog. I don’t know what made me do it, but I told her that the job situation had been playing on my mind. I told her that everyone in the English team had secured a job and I was the only one left behind and that made me feel a bit crappy.

And the thing was, she was really nice. She gave me the heads up on a new job that is being advertised and gave me a bit of a pep talk.

Things were really bad when that boss had fun playing around with me and now I’m much more in control, but yesterday’s experience still showed me that people can be nice and supportive. Not everyone is out to make your life a misery.

I made that situation worse because I was drinking and clouding my judgments with all of my stinking thinking. But it was still cruel what she did. I felt like I took a bit of a risk yesterday and it was actually quite nice to just get it off my chest and have somebody higher up tell me that it’s all going to be OK.

I think that’s just what everyone needs in life. To be told that it’s all going to be fine….. even if we do feel a bit whiney in the process.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a slap on the wrist for being so keen

strict female teacher with book pointing at scribbled blackboard
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So much enthusiasm, pouring from teachers

Who wish that those students could be shaped

And bent like willow boughs. But branches break

And so we’re told to bind them straight,

Never veering from the PowerPoints that clog

The servers, written back in 1992.

I wish that I could change the words to fit

My love that shines through light blue slides.

I’d do much better; they would too,

If we were to bend the rules a bit.

Now, I do want to start this post by saying that my mentor at my new school is brilliant. He is really helpful, and I just love his slightly jaded attitude towards teaching. He has done it for so long that he seems to love it and hate it in equal measures; he can’t live with it and he can’t live without it.

However, today I did my first online lesson today and one of the feedback points that I got was that my timing wasn’t great. I needed to focus more on teaching the structure of the story when I spent more time teaching the historical and social context.

He was right, and I did focus on the wrong thing, but it was the thing that I felt was more important. I love the history behind stories and thinking about why the writer wrote what he did. It lights a fire in my mind and it really does shine through.

I don’t think that teachers should have the freedom to teach whatever they want because kids could end up with a really wonky education if they did. But, I think that sometimes a bit of enthusiasm is more important than ticking a box.

I wish I could have spent the whole double lesson teaching them about the things that were happening back in the 1800’s but I only got twenty minutes and I got a slap on the wrist for that. In my humble opinion (and it is very humble as I have only been teaching for a grand total of 15 weeks), the curriculum really does suck.

Much Love

Rachel xx

and just like that, it was over

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When I was working at the Primary school during the summer the Year 6 students came in for a little leavers’ farewell. They were finishing their primary school journey in the middle of a pandemic and so the teachers wanted to give them the send off that they were owed.

They came in a couple of days before the end of the term to collect their certificates and say goodbye to each other. At the end of the afternoon, the teachers lined up in the car park and clapped for the students as they walked out for the last time.

I was working in Yr R and we had a little garden that overlooked the car park so we all went outside and clapped too. It was such a beautiful moment but it was the reaction of the class teacher that hit me the most.

He was standing by our garden fence and he hadn’t noticed that I was standing behind him. When he had finished clapping he turned and wiped a tear away from his red rimmed eyes. When he saw me he puffed up his chest and acted all manly. But, it was too late. I had seen his tears.

It made me heart melt and I knew then that teaching was going to be the most perfect career for me. To care so much, that a football loving, beer guzzling man is brought to tears; well, that’s a special thing.

I had that feeling myself today. It was the end of my first term and I’m moving on to my next placement. It’s been hard for everyone and my tutor group are Year 11 so they have had the hardest ride out of everyone.

As I watched them leave this afternoon, I remembered that teacher that I saw back in the summer. I had this wonderful sense of pride and a tinge of sadness.

Teaching really is the best job out there.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the great staff christmas quiz

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Peacocks ruffle feathers as they show their might

In beauty and in knowledge, it’s their identity.

And without the winning streak they feel

Their power slipping through cold fingers.

They would rather die, or peck you to your death

Than lose to you as they take their dirty dying breath.

It’s coming to the end of my first full term and the excitement is palpable. And then it’s also Christmas so everyone is feeling a bit hyped up, despite the fact that we are all feeling so tired that it felt like we were hanging on with our fingernails.

But we’ve made it! And so we deserve some fun!

So enter the Christmas Quiz.

Staff were asked to stay behind and we were split into department teams. A box was delivered to each team ahead of time with strict instructions not to open it until we were told. And then we were asked to log onto Teams.

And so the quiz began. We had five rounds and we had to email answers in at the end of each round. We also had to build a paper castle in the time that the quiz took and we would be marked on all of the rounds.

Of course, the Maths department became ultra competitive as they always do. The English department sadly produced the worst example of a castle and we were late delivering it to the hall for judging.

We will find out the results in the morning when all of the Maths department will make a fuss because they are contesting answers that they got wrong.

But I love it. After a year of everything being really difficult it’s nice to see everyone coming together and having fun. I know that we were doing the quiz through our computer screens, but it felt normal and we laughed in a way that we didn’t really imagine we could nine months ago.

Aren’t we amazing creatures in the way that we can adapt? The Christmas quiz always needs to go ahead and the Maths department always need to win. And we’ve done that (although English will win, obvz).

Make sure you have as normal an end to the year as you can manage. Laugh at the people taking it seriously and also try to win yourself. We’ve learnt that we don’t know what’s around the corner so love every minute of it.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i only know how to focus on the bad comments

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They’re etched across the eye inside my mind,

Like an ugly smear that swipes across my life.

Those words are harsh and burn through skin,

No matter how they’re meant to sit.

I had a feedback session for my formal observation today. I think it went OK. I think.

And the reason I’m not so sure is because we started with the things I did well before moving onto the things that I need to work on. So, of course, I left the meeting with all of my flaws ringing in my ears; the good bits all but forgotten.

I know that this is something that a lot of people suffer with but I take it to a new level. When I was having therapy my counselor said something really nice about me and when she asked me what it was she had said just two minutes later, I had no idea what it was.

I was aware that she had said something kind but all that was rumbling through my brain was the bad stuff. It was a though my mind couldn’t hold onto the good stuff; it just didn’t compute.

I am better, and at least I know what I’m doing to myself these days. It still takes me a hell of a lot of brain power to tell myself that there were some positives in there. I even needed to get my dad to read my feedback form to see if he could spot good stuff in there because all I could see was the bad.

It’s kind of sad and when I saw what I was doing in therapy it actually brought me to tears to see that I was so horrible to myself. So tonight, I’m going to spend some time going through everything that I do well so that I can remember that I have talents and I’m not a pathetic loser.

I’ve managed to get this far so I can’t be that bad, can I?

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m a little bit better than i first thought

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The flames aren’t lapping at my feet,

The planes aren’t crashing into rooms

Filled with kids who scream in fear.

No. In fact it’s rather pleasant

This world that I create

Inside my haven, my heavenly room to teach.

I have this thing where I think that I’m doing really badly as I lead a lesson. In my head, everything’s going wrong, I can’t find the resources that I need so I’m scratching around for bits of paper, and I’m stumbling over my words.

I was also told that if I were to film myself, I might not enjoy the experience because I’ll be able to see all of my flaws (and, of course, nobody likes the sound of their own voice).

However, I had to record a lesson today so that I can be assessed by my tutor. I was dreading it, but I did it anyway and this evening I sat down and had a look at what a mess I was in front of my Year 8’s.

But the funny thing was that it actually showed me that I’m not that bad. I’m not really stumbling; I’m just concentrating so hard on the few times that I do stumble that I forget about the remaining two hours that are word perfect.

I’m nice to my class, I laugh with them, I have them all quiet so I can’t be too boring! All in all, I’m much better than I thought I was. The exercise that was supposed to make me question myself has actually given me a bit of confidence.

I’m not that bad. I can do this. And I need to be proud of how much I’ve improved in such a short space of time.

I hope that you are feeling confident in something at the moment. Even if it’s just knowing that you can do the cryptic crossword in the newspaper. You deserve a pat on the back!

Much Love

Rachel xx