changing the language

illuminated neon sign
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A word that’s carved and chipped away,

Still means the same,

It doesn’t take away;

And yet it lets our world relax,

An outward sigh

Erasing thoughts and hateful lies.

I am a literature graduate so I am well aware of the power of the pen and the written word. I know that a strongly worded Twitter post can kill and a spiteful letter could tear a family apart.

I know that sounds a little bit melodramatic, but when you are somebody who feels everything really deeply (and I’m sure there are a fair few of us out there) those words can cut really deep.

So, I’m working really hard on trying to change my language a little bit; just to make things a tiny bit easier. I have a tendency to make life really exciting or really tragic with the way I shape the words in my head.

Last week I had a stinker of a week and that old tape recording playing in my head started up. It told me that I was evil and crap at everything I do. Then, this week I got that job and I was as high as a kite.

But before I flew off the handle, I gave myself a little talking to. I would normally be telling myself, over and over, that I have just got my ‘dream’ job and that life is now going to be perfect.

I believe in the power of positivity, but I also think that we can damage ourselves with some of the words that we use. I think that no job is a ‘dream’ and if you are sensitive to words, then what happens when you meet your first bump in the road? Your ‘dream’ becomes a nightmare.

So, this time around I am making sure I tell myself that I’ve done really well and I have a job that I can be proud of. But it’s going to be difficult and it’s not going to be perfect; but I should try to enjoy that challenge as much as I possibly can. There will be tears along the way, but that’s OK.

Much Love

Rachel xx

they saw a little sparkle

There was something there

When you wiped away the grime

That life had flung against her skin.

There was a little sparkle

That needed to get out.

So, I went for my interview yesterday. I had a tour of the school, did a written task, taught a class and then had a formal interview with the deputy head. This is not the kind of thing that sits well with me as it gives me a lot of time to say something really stupid.

And there were moments when I wavered. I have a bit of a twisty and turny route that I have taken to where I am and I got the feeling that the deputy was getting a bit judgey.

But apparently he quite liked that route that I took, because they pulled me into the office and said that they wanted to offer me the job. They were very open and said that they had already had a round of interviews with people that ‘on paper’ they had preferred, and none of them had made the cut. I was sloppy seconds (and I don’t blame them because my CV is awful), but given a chance I could actually shine through.

So, what a week. Last week I was propped up in the corner crying because I just felt like nobody wanted me, and just seven days later, I need to be scraped off the ceiling.

I know that there are still going to be many ups and downs to come, but I’m enjoying it up here on the ceiling for a couple of days.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when i see myself in some of them

woman holding mirror against her head in the middle of forest
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A shrunken version of myself

Gazing at the board and hoping that

I’ll tell that they are OK,

Their worried glances sent my way.

You’re doing fine, I want to shout

As little bodies bundle out.

There are times when I have little conversations with an eleven year old, I have to stop and remind myself that this is not a little version of me that I am speaking to. It is like going back in time and meeting myself, because there are always going to be the next generation, just like us, coming through the ranks.

I see the boys who are likely to be CEOs of their own companies and the girls who just want to have a beautiful family (sorry, that was awfully stereotypical, but you really can see it from a young age)!

But then I see a young girl that will come up to me at the end of the lesson and ask if they are doing OK. And it’s me, twenty five years ago. It’s the me that still exists inside now.

I had one girl who is brilliant. Quiet, but still makes an effort to contribute; lovely writing; great ideas. And she was worried that I thought she was doing crap. And my heart broke for her.

I kind of wanted to write this because kids get a bad reputation. I sometimes think that we forget they have exactly the same personalities as us, and there are the really sensitive ones that need all that reassurance just to get through the day.

It strangely also makes me feel a little less alone, knowing that I’ve not just acquired these things as an adult because I’m pathetic or a loser. I’ve always been sensitive and I always will be. Now it’s time to embrace that.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

do you think they know?

Do you think they know about the panic inside?

About the tears at night because I feel like I’ve failed?

Do you think that that wobble at the end of a sentence

Is enough to betray the feeling that grips

And tortures a person til their ugly and sick?

Or do they not notice? Just carrying on,

Oblivious to the harm they flippantly cause.

I sometimes stand in front of a naughty class and the terror I feel is overwhelming. And I wonder if they are aware of the feelings that they cause. There are some days when you are just ‘off’ and you really have to put a mask on to speak to these kids, and yet we do it.

I think back to my schooling and I was really studious and I didn’t ever notice a bad lesson. I can’t remember any teachers crying or appearing distressed, but it must have happened.

So I can only imagine that these kids are so wrapped up in their own dramas that my feelings wouldn’t be noticed or recognised even if I dropped to the floor and started howling in front of them.

I don’t know if that thought makes me feel good or bad. I guess today I’m quite glad that I’m surrounded by a hundred people that don’t care that I’m scared.

Much Love

Rachel xx

oh, the shame

It makes my face burn hot, red with shame

As I peer through classroom doors

And see those shouts, the language too.

I didn’t bring them up this way,

To drag my name through sludgy mud

And make that dirt stick to my skin.

Now, I’ve just started my second teaching placement at the same school that my son goes to. He is in Year 11 so I’ve not seen him in lessons but I have been told by staff that he is ‘a lovely boy’. And I’m glad to hear that because I’d feel really let down if I knew he was misbehaving.

But there are some kids that I teach that have absolutely no respect for teachers, they refuse to open their books and get writing, they roll their eyes when you ask them to do something and they seem to think rules don’t apply to them.

I look at these kids and I wonder what their parents would think if they were to come in and watch a lesson. Would they actually care? And what do they teach their kids at home to make them think that their behaviour is acceptable in school?

I wonder if they would feel any shame? I would love to get them in for a lesson without their kids knowing just so they can see what we have to put up with. I wish that they could teach their kids some manners.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. But I am very angry after a day of being ignored by teenagers. God, I feel old!

Much Love

Rachel xx

you make me feel like i’m the only girl in the world

I literally feel, like there’s a great foam finger

And it hangs over my head, pointing me out,

‘Look at her, look at her, what a loser’.

Everyone else has got it together,

The camera’s on me, the lights are on me.

Anyone else feel like this? No? Just me?

I’m giving myself a freaking headache with this job situation and I’m worried that if I keep doing this to myself the desperation is just going to be leaking out of my pores.

I’m thinking of attaching a begging letter to my next application. ‘Just take me on! I have nothing to offer you, but I’m desperate!’ Honestly, I won’t do this, but it is very tempting.

I know in my heart that I have so much time, but I also wonder if there are whispers behind my back. I wonder if the others (who all have jobs) are pointing and laughing when I leave the room.

I need to snap out of this, but I’m also sure that this is as human as feeling jealous or having a crush on someone. That sense of desperation is something that we just have to live with. And I just need to think that when I get my job that sense of satisfaction will be all the sweeter because of that wait.

Much Love

Rachel xx

tiny glimmers of hope

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I hate to be cheesy

But those tiny glimmers of hope,

They’re pretty magical, are they not?

They bounce off anything they meet,

Can fill a room with light, from just a little source.

They may not look like much,

But we should measure them in kilobeats

Or how they warm the heart.

I think it’s really cheesy when people talk about glimmers of hope and light at the end of the tunnel. And then I go and get a little glimmer of my own and I realise that my stone cold heart can thaw quite quickly when I’m the one experiencing it.

I’ve had a bit of a bad run of luck with bad news over the last week or two. Nothing life altering, but enough to make me feel like the world is ganging up on me a bit. And then today I got a ‘good’ in my formal observation.

I have not reached that point all that much yet, so to finally have that validation that I am starting to reach the point that I would expected to be when I’m a real teacher, that’s special.

My mentor reminded me that there could still be ‘requires improvements’ throughout my journey, especially as we move back into the classroom and have to get used to face to face teaching again.

But for now I’m going to bask in the light and warmth of my glimmer. And if you want to use an awful cliche to describe feeling good, you knock yourself out. You’ve earned the right to describe that feeling any way you want.

Much Love

Rachel xx

A year 7 poetry class is just the best

Ideas bubbling in cooking pots

The weirdest shapes and smells

That issue forth from in their brains.

I’d never thought of such a thing

As birds with horns and witchy magic

There to make a better world.

I have just started a poetry unit with my Year 7 class and it is just the best. Something happens at about fourteen when kids become sullen and don’t want to share ideas in case they get laughed at. But before that time, they are just little bundles of energy that want to tell you anything no matter how outlandish or wacky.

I just marvel at some of those fearless ideas that the Year 7s come out with. It sometimes takes my breath away when they come out with something so utterly inspired. I wonder how an eleven year old has just come up with something that I wish I had come up with.

Normally, they are a bit annoying and I kind of want them to just shut up. But with poetry, it just feels like magic. I wish that I could have more of that magic every day. I wish that I could just bathe in it so that it rubs off on me. The last lesson I left positively glowing, and that’s a lovely thing to say about your job.

Much Love

Rachel xx

my shell has been cracked

broken eggshells on a yellow background
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It started as a hairline fracture

Spreading through the fragile shell

While all around would hold their breath

Unsure if the crack would hold

Or if the innards would spill out

In an ugly mess.

I sometimes feel a bit like an egg and once someone has chipped away at the shell for long enough, there’s no putting it back together. It sometimes feels like the dam has been broken and no matter how many bucket loads of water I try to send back, the damage is done.

This week I’ve had several bad things happen. Nothing really terrible, but it’s just a bit like I’ve been chipped away at and my shell finally broke for real today. I was left to teach on my own with no warning several times and now when the kids aren’t handing in work I’m getting an earful from the Head of Department.

I ended up crying for most of the afternoon and having to mute myself between sobs while I taught. Normally, I’d have been able to handle it but that chipping away got too much.

I think that tonight calls for a good book and an abundance of custard creams while I piece my shell back together and make myself strong again.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i need kisses on the end of emails

white and brown short coated dog
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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