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

on the fly

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The plummet as you realise that

You’re not planned, not organised

And yet you’re being pushed on stage,

The audience waiting ravenously.

You have no choice, you must go on,

But words will stick to frozen tongues

As minds will race to find the path.

So I got up a bit late today and I sleepily logged into my emails with ten minutes to go before our tutor time was about to start. And there in my inbox was an email asking if I wanted to open the class as I was due to take it.

I thought that I was just sitting in and watching so, of course, I had nothing prepared. I felt my stomach drop as I wondered what the hell I was going to do. I even started typing out an email to say, no way was I going to take it because I had no idea I was supposed to. I also considered feigning illness and just not pitching up.

But then I did something different to my normal line of action. I decided to just have a go.

I quickly went into the file where all of the tutor activities are kept and pulled something out at random, opened the meeting and then just winged it.

And I think I got away with it.

Normally, I’d be curled up in a ball crying and this time I actually performed. It was far from perfect but the kids got some interaction and I didn’t look like a complete idiot.

So there you have it. Once again, I have proved myself wrong. I’m not useless and I can perform when the pressure is on. I won’t be making a habit of not preparing, but I know I have that skill if I should ever need it.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the good bits outweigh the bad

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My arms stretched wide like cast iron scales,

The bad bits of this precious life

Will weigh down heavy on the left

But on the right I’ll drop the good,

The shining moments warming hearts

And there we’ll see the gracious pull

Of kindness, praise and little wins;

They’ll always weigh one hundred times

The weight of hate, of sneering lips,

Of whispered words that loving skips.

I had a double with a Year 7 class that I have never met today. I worry about the fact that I have never met these kids and that I’ll do them a disservice because I don’t know them.

These thoughts do weigh heavily on me and it is a crappy part of the job at the moment. But then something wonderful happens and it just totally outweighs anything bad.

I delivered my lesson and afterwards a girl emailed me to say that she really enjoyed it and she can’t wait to meet me in person. Can you believe that? An eleven year old sent me a sweet message full of emojis and lovely words.

I’ve never had a job where there is enough good stuff to outweigh the bad. In my last job, I literally had to scrape crap off the toilet floors. I would sometimes clean the toilets and be gagging because of the smell. Nothing could make that better.

I’ll always try to look for something good in every situation, but it’s really nice to not have to scratch around for that one thing. Today had its down sides, but on the whole, it made my heart feel warm.

Much Love

Rachel xx

avoiding the dangers of a wiki hole

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The swirling vortex always lures me in,

Enticing me with facts I need not know;

Upsetting when I wished to learn crochet

And ended up with Grade Eight cello.

I am back into planning lessons again, and as much as I love it, I have a real problem with slipping into Wiki holes. They are scary because they rob you of hours and I am powerless over them.

Today I needed to find out a little bit about Jekyll and Hyde and lift a little quote from the internet so that the students could analyse it. Three hours later, I knew the story inside out and the advances in medicine at that time and every fact about the emergence of Gothic literature.

I’m sure I can’t be the only person who has this addiction? I struggle with TedEx talks too. I watch one talk on running and then I end up learning about string theory. It’s great to have all this information at our fingertips, but sometimes it’s overwhelming.

I sometimes watch Dawson’s Creek just so that I can remember that time just before the internet really blew up. They don’t carry mobile phones and they don’t take selfies and pictures of their food to put on Instagram. I find that comforting, like a warm hug from an old friend.

I’m hoping to get to bed before midnight, but not before I learn how to play the cello.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a slap on the wrist for being so keen

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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

it’s a sad, sad time

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The room’s in gentle darkened peace,

Sitting by the sole computer, buzzing

Loudly in a corner, when it should be

Drowned by teenage breaking voices,

Hurling dirty words and phrases, laughing

And learning how to be a human life.

They’re not here though,

And so that eerie silent quilt

Is thrown across the room, floating

Gently to a world we do not want.

I went into work today and it was the first time I’ve been in since last Monday when we still thought that there would be a small amount of normalcy. Now that we know that’s not going to happen, it all feels very different.

I sat in a room that was quiet and dark. The chairs that would normally be filled with students and voices that I once would have wanted to be quiet, they were empty.

As I sat at my computer in the eerie silence, I felt really sad for all of those students. I know that some of them must be having a terrible time and the place that they should be, is school. They need that sense of community and the support and encouragement of teachers.

But I also felt sorry for those very teachers. They didn’t sign up for this and yet they are all soldiering on. I know it’s nothing compared to what the wonderful NHS staff are putting up with, but it’s still lonely and sad. The best bits of teaching are those crazy interactions that make you laugh or cry or feel immense pride.

I looked across that classroom and my heart broke a little bit. I hope that things do get back to normal soon. We all need and it, and I don’t think anybody realised it until our world came crashing down.

Much Love

Rachel xx

and sometimes it’s nicest just to float

leaf floating on body of water
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Floating on a gust of wind that came

From nowhere and from somewhere we expected too

As we held a finger up to trace the way it came.

I tried in vain, to predict that surly wind,

To know what would be coming on

The future weather fronts to change

The course of where we blow tonight.

But sometimes we will need to stop

And let it push and pull as we

Let our bodies sag and sigh;

It can be fun, to let it go,

Control we thought we had to have

All our waking days.

I went back into school today because we were told that the schools will be open this term. We are now waiting for Boris to come on the news and tell us that things might be different as of tomorrow.

We all feel like we have lost control as I couldn’t even tell you what my work will look like in the morning, never mind what it might look like in a week or a month.

But as I sat in my classroom, unsure what to do, I just took a deep breath and decided to just see where we all land. I’m a student and I’m not responsible for what happens so there is no point in worrying. I have no control, so why even worry about hanging on for dear life?

I can still put my all into the work that I’m given and all of the tasks that I am given. But the headteacher is the person who is paid to deal with the big decisions.

And you know what? I actually felt quite happy. All that stress suddenly got turned on its head and that fear about the unknown became excitement about the adventure. There is danger and we are all worried, but I can have some fun and enjoy the variation of teaching online and uploading work.

If I can get through this then my NQT year is going to be a breeze.

Much Love

Rachel xx

hello, from the other side of the screen

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We talk through glass and try

So hard to teach a lesson on

The vagaries of love and hate

And all the in betweens.

Impossible, I think,

But that’s the age we’re in.

Anyone who has been reading along will know that I’m in my training year as an English teacher. The year started in September and so I have only ever experienced teaching in a pandemic world. However, that term has been done in the classroom and it has all felt as normal as it possibly can feel, given the circumstances.

I finished before Christmas feeling really pumped. And then I’ve been watching the news over the break and my heart has been sinking day by day. I want everyone to be safe and well but I’ve felt so sad and nervous knowing that the likelihood is that I’ll be teaching online this term.

The news has been steadily getting worse and worse and it’s now Sunday and I’m not entirely sure what will happen tomorrow. This is terrible for teachers and students and I don’t know what to feel about what I’m walking into.

I have been learning to swim with the current and not try and fight it so that is what I plan to do. I can’t control anything that happens and I just need to show enthusiasm and resilience as we all push forward.

However, as much as I’m telling myself it’s going to be OK and we’ll get the kids through another really turbulent year, I am thinking about how on earth we are supposed to teach online. I teach English and although it’s perfectly OK speaking through a screen, I do think so much will be lost.

English is full of discussion and feeling and I don’t understand how we’re meant to get all of the richness through in our lessons. I like to walk around and write on the board and ask questions and see facial expressions and I feel like I’m going to miss all of that and that makes me sad.

I guess it’s a learning curve for everyone and if I can get through this in my training year then it’ll all feel very easy as I get further into my career. This still doesn’t make me feel any less upset about the things we’ll all be losing out on this term.

Much Love

Rachel xx

trying to be 10% braver

Bound with ugly chains that clunk

With every movement forward in

A time that should be full of joy,

Not ghastly fear and heated coals

That burn the soles of eager feet.

We should be flying for the stars,

It only takes a little boost,

The confidence to spread your wings

Is so much less than what you thought.

I’m a chronic worrier and I know that my self confidence has taken a bit of a battering over the years. I’m working on making it better but sometimes things come out of my mouth and it’s only once its out that I realise how awful and self deprecating it sounds.

We have professional studies on a Thursday morning and the mentor makes sure that we have someone in the school talk to us about how to make our teaching better. It is great but sometimes the conversations that open up can reveal some of my issues.

I think the mentor was getting a bit worried that I was going to drop out of the course because she’d overheard a few of my self directed quips. Anyway, she pulled me to one side and gave me a book.

It was called 10% Braver and it was written by a movement called #WomenEd. The book focuses on all of these inspirational women in education and how they had to overcome their fear to get where they are.

I’m sometimes a bit skeptical of these self help type books but this one is a bit more practical. And the message is a bit easier to digest for those of us who are always scared.

Just be 10% braver and see where it leads. I don’t need to be 100% braver and decide that I want to become the Prime Minister. All I have to do is take a small step. Send an email. Ask to meet with someone I admire. Apply for a job.

I’m really giving it a go and it feels so much safer than going all in. I’m never making a decision that is going to change my life, but put them all together and I’m getting there.

What has made it even nicer is that it was a free copy of the book that my mentor gave me. She told me that once I had finished with it I should pass it on to somebody else who needs it.

I may never be a head teacher or even an assistant head, but I could be a role model for someone and wouldn’t it be nice to pay it forward one day?

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