staff room moments

red coffee kettle and red ceramic cups
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We sat together on the sagging chairs,

Faded blue with years of window sun.

His leg would move, touching mine, as we ate

Muffins, croissants, birthday cakes,

The sound of teenage shrieks, floating

On the summer air, with the thudding

Of footballs slammed against the painted wall.

He brushes crumbs that feathered both our laps,

So innocent, but also really not.

Another teacher hums a tuneless tune,

As the kettle screams, and steams,

Unaware that in our corner, on those chairs

Stained with tea and deep blue boredom,

A moment’s passed between two colleagues,

The start of something vast and wide,

Far too high to climb, it’s love.

Do you think that kids ever realise how scared we are?

I was sitting on the sofa, almost hyperventilating as I prepared for another online lesson. Deep breaths, in and out, trying to calm my racing heart. And I wondered whether the kids ever have even an inkling that we adults are sometimes scared.

I know that I’m probably a slightly more nervous person that the average but I sometimes feel that I’m about to pass out with the nerves when I’m just about to stand up and take the lesson. It’s even worse online, because we have all that technology that could go wrong.

I have listened back to some of my lessons and I seem really calm and in control which doesn’t match up with anything that I am feeling on the inside. So, can a kid really know that I’m quite literally dying?

Sometimes I think that we are unaware how much kids do pick up on, but on the other hand, I think that sometimes we worry about nothing. I’m there worrying that the kids won’t learn the inner workings of Romeo’s mind, when actually they’re chatting on another line and not even listening to me.

I’m not kid bashing here, but I am writing this to tell myself that I’m not the centre of their universe. A lot of them don’t care and those that do (yay for them!) are really busy jotting down notes. Literally anything I say is useful to them! I just need to remember that.

And if you are worried about what people are thinking about you, you are in my thoughts because it’s a horrible feeling. But the truth is that we’re not really all that important to them. And if we are important to them, then they should love us anyway.

Much Love

Rachel xx

being left up the creek without a paddle

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I’m drifting from the bank and yet my oars

Are snapped and sunken to the bed.

I’ll never make it back but I

Can hope that someone kind will reach across

And hold my hand before I tip

Over edges of the falls,

The rushing rapids I must face

Before I reach the finish line.

I am in a bit of a situation at the moment. I’ve been left to do a lesson on something that I have never done before and I’ve had very little help. I literally had a PowerPoint sent to me tonight with the expectation of teaching a GCSE class tomorrow.

I have no resources, no videos, I’ve not even been told how much of the lesson I’m expected to take. And I feel a little bit like I’ve been cast out adrift with no paddle.

It’s a bit scary as it’s a difficult class and they are Year 10 so they could eat me alive, and that’s not me being dramatic.

I’m sure that I’m worrying about nothing but it kind of annoys me when a lot is expected of you and you haven’t really been given the tools to deal with it. The main problem is that when I was drinking I would kick up a big fuss and make a drama out of it and it always ended really badly.

Now I’m sober, the last thing I want to do is cause all that trouble, but the worries that caused my bad behaviour are still there, bubbling away underneath a calm facade.

It’s a line that I still haven’t found and I think I’m still going to make a lot of mistakes in trying to find where it is. At the moment, I’m drowning in worry without piping up about it. One day I’ll know what to do; I just wish that I had the life manual that everyone else seems to have!

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m a little bit scared of parents

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They roar with twisted features

Hands held up like vicious claws

And I am left to wonder if

I’ll ever get away from here

With my life in tact.

I had a situation a couple of years ago when a woman came around to our house and verbally abused Noah. It transpired that her son had hit mine and I think he knew that he was going to get into trouble so he went home to mum and told her that Noah was bullying him.

The abuse that she hurled at an eleven year old was disgusting and we ended up having to get the police to visit her. Nothing like that had happened before or since (thank God), but it kind of left me a little bit scarred.

The thing is that parents always seem to think that their kids are angels and sometimes they will get so aggressive that it needs the law to step in. I went straight to the school when it happened to ask if they knew what had happened. If that woman had done that it would have saved a whole load of trouble.

But now that I’m in the sphere of teaching I’m going to have to put up with parents and especially the ones that think the sun shines out of their child’s behind.

I really don’t know if I have the strength of character to deal with a parent that is violent and aggressive. (I was signed off work for three weeks after what happened that day).

I just wish that parents could be a little bit more understanding and maybe open to the fact that their kids can have bad days and do some pretty shitty things (we’re human and we all say some things that we don’t mean). But kids learn from their parents and it scares me what we are encouraging the next generation to behave like.

Perhaps, if your child’s teacher has done something you don’t understand you shouldn’t go into school screaming and threatening violence (don’t go in crying so hard that you can’t breathe either, because I looked like an absolute tit that day). Sit down with the other person and have a conversation. Behave the way that you would like to see your kids behave.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on feeling nervous about what i can actually teach

I’d like to talk of things that cloud my mind,

The things I wish I’d known back then.

But something tugs my words back down,

A second thought that must be formed

For fear of causing trouble.

I’d love to tell them all about the ups and downs

They’ll face along the way,

But all that I’m allowed to do

Is teach curriculum.

I suppose it’s quite normal to feel this way, but I have this nagging feeling that I’m going to say something that will offend and then get me in trouble. Things have changed so much since I was in school, and we have to be careful that we’re not going to upset someone.

The other day I decided to play a video in class, and I really feel like it added to my lesson in a positive way. But I think the fact that I was so worried about it spoke volumes about where we have got to.

The video I played was about the making of the song ‘One of Us’ by Joan Osborne. I remember hearing the song as a child and just being blown away by it. I also remember people being very angry about it, but to me it was just interesting and thought provoking.

Some of the best lessons I’ve observed have been the ones where the teachers have opened up something about themselves or about the big, bad world that we live in. I think it’s necessary that we open these kids up to these truths and we don’t shelter them too much. What happens when they leave home and that shelter is ripped away?

I wish we could be a bit more free. I wish I didn’t have to worry so much about everything I say. And I wish I could tell the students exactly what lies ahead.

Much Love

Rachel xx

congratulations on completing your first half term

cream ice cream in cone
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It was like a finish line that loomed

In distant reaches, never sure I’d make,

But eager to undo the past,

I knew that I would battle on,

I’d make it and enjoy the fact

That tides can turn and luck can change;

I can be what I dreamed.

First and foremost, congratulations to everyone working in schools on making it to the end of term today. We are now, thankfully, going into the first half term break (although I know I’ll be busy doing my first assignment)!

But this is a particularly special achievement for me because I have got through it without any tears or any visits to a doctor or the hospital. I’ve only once or twice felt so overwhelmed that I’ve literally wanted to drop everything and run. And for me, that is such a huge step in the right direction.

I once tried to be a recruitment consultant and by the time I was seven weeks in, I was regularly crying on my way home from work, dreading the day on the drive in and even getting chest pains with the anxiety that I felt. I was scared that I would be equally as stressed doing my teacher training, but so far so good.

I know that the workload is going to go up each half term so I’m not going to rest on my laurels; but I’m in a good position and I’m thankful for that.

When the bell rang for the end of the day all of the teachers went out to the entrance and we were all given an ice cream and enjoyed a socially distanced social. It was so lovely to feel that we had all achieved something together. But I felt particularly proud of myself and the other two trainees that I work with and who I have come to see as good friends.

Well done to everyone else who has just finished their half term. You are all legends for getting through a pretty crazy start to a pretty crazy year.

Much Love

Rachel xx

possibly the scariest thing on the whole entire planet

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Those sounds that echo through the halls,

Reminding us of what’s to come.

The drill,

The chisel,

The screams of agony.

And then they call your name.

You walk so rigid,

The bluish ghost that floats in front

Leads you down your dark green mile…..

Yep, I had to deal with the scariest thing out there today. I had to go to the dentist. When I was doing my ultramarathon last month, my tooth just chipped away and I have been in agony for at least the past two weeks.

I put it off for as long as I could but I finally plucked up the courage and booked an appointment.

I sat in the waiting room, nervously, as dentists in blue scrubs and masks whisked by in a flurry of activity. I felt sick as I sat waiting for my name to be called.

When it was called I felt like I was walking the green mile. I was a dead lady walking. And so I followed the dentist to her room and seated myself in her torture chair.

I was handed a pair of red safety goggles which actually had the effect of making me feel as though I was in actual Hell. I sat back and waited for the bad news.

She confirmed that it was decaying and I’d probably have to lose the tooth, so I agreed and she set to work. Unfortunately, my tooth had become infected and the pain in my ear was so great that I couldn’t help but scream as she tugged at my poor tooth.

In the end I had to leave the surgery with my mouth heavily anesthetized and a temporary filling plugging the gap. I have been prescribed a course of antibiotics and now I have to see an oral surgeon which sounds even more terrifying.

I arrived at school after a good cry in my car, with blood and drool dripping down my chin, all ready to teach…..sort of.

I bet your day was no worse than mine.

Much Love

Rachel xx

uncoordinated

photo of vehicle on asphalt road
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The feet, they work in harmony

And hands can also do their tasks

With simple ease and accuracy.

But put the two together then

They lose their usefulness.

They flail about without control

And no matter what the brain may do

I feel that it will never find

A way to bring the pair as one

To do what others do with ease.

When I was learning to drive I was absolutely awful at clutch control. As soon as I mastered that, I paid for my test and passed on the first attempt. But that first few months were a real struggle and I spent some time thinking that I would never master the skill.

My problem was that I had no bloody co-ordination. I thought about what my hands were doing and ended up forgetting what my feet were doing and vice versa.

And I have found that I am having the same issues while learning to teach. I would concentrate on one element and then realise I had let another one slip. So then I would quickly change tack and address the problem only for the other thing to go down the toilet.

Normally I would have panicked that I was never going to get it, but this time I’m really embracing the challenge and working at it, just as I did with my driving. And you know what? I’m starting to get it.

I’m still really early on so I probably am really crap, but I’m noticing improvements in the way that I handle things. It feels like the muscle memory is improving and I have to concentrate less on some things, freeing up some brain power to experiment with other things.

I know in my heart that I will get this eventually. I need to stop worrying about not being perfect on the first attempt and enjoy the process of seeing myself improve. After all, it’s pretty bloody exciting!

Much Love

Rachel xx

on making a teacher cry

opened notebook and silver pen
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Their words can cut through loving hearts

Like schools of fish with sharpened tips

That slice the swimmer daring to

Grace the waters in their shores.

But what of gains that come from this?

The cuts bleed out in scarlet streams

But these fish just flutter further on,

Oblivious to pain they cause,

Just a flicker of their twisted pride

As they see the tear within your eye.

I went to a classroom today to give out some homework. I felt optimistic as I bounded up the stairs, but as I reached the door I realised that something wasn’t quite right.

The cover supervisor who was looking after the class was already standing at the door and as I approached she told me that she had to go immediately, that she’d had a bad lesson and she couldn’t stay in the room for a moment longer.

I could see that she had tears in her eyes and she looked really distressed so I let her go, even though, as a student, I’m not meant to be left alone with a class (especially not in week 5!).

The room was silent when I stepped inside but I didn’t want to ask any of the students what had happened only to have it all kick off again while I was on my own. So I doled out the homework and dismissed the class.

I bumped into the cover supervisor later in the day, and thankfully, she looked a lot better than she had done when I last saw her. She apologised profusely and told me what had happened.

There were two girls that had given her loads of attitude, they had been picking on several of the kids in the class (throwing things at them and making really disrespectful comments) and they had generally been really disruptive.

I had a run in with these girls when I was on break duty and they gave me attitude too, so I could only imagine what trouble they had given her for almost two hours.

I just wanted to write this post because I find it shocking that 11 year old girls can be so nasty and so confident with it. I wonder what they get out of it and whether it makes them feel good about themselves? Did they think about the teacher they made cry when they went home this evening? (I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say ‘no’).

I felt so sorry for the cover supervisor, but I also feel oddly sorry for those girls. What is going on in their lives for them to think that their behaviour is OK? What is their home life like? Do their parents treat them like that? I have so many questions that I’ll never know the answer to.

I think that these girls will be in my prayers this week, because there is obviously a lot going on for them to feel the need to act like this. I hope that they can see a better way, sooner rather than later.

Much Love

Rachel xx

aaaaarrrggh!! part deux

The pressure chamber squashes minds

And also squashes shining lights

That started with the best intentions

And now they peel away to dark and gloomy places

Where their dreams will shrivel up

Because those stresses proved too much.

I feel like I’m internally screaming most of the time at the moment. Yesterday it was because nothing seems to go right and today it is because of outside pressures.

In case you didn’t know, I’m in my first week on teacher training and we have had a colossal amount of paperwork and reading dropped on us. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system and I feel like my head is imploding!

That said, the reason that I have started training is because I’m sober now and I have a whole array of tools that I can use to deal with the stress.

Ultimately, I know that the people who are running the course have our best interest at heart and so they want to see us pass. I know that making a mistake or asking a silly question is not going to get me into trouble.

When I was drinking I sincerely believed that if I made a mistake people would be willing to kill me for it. It sounds funny to write now, but at the time it was quite terrifying.

So, yes, I am screaming inside and I almost cried on my way home, but I’m going to be OK. I’m like a little fish that always tried to swim against the current and now I’ve learnt to swim with the river.

I hope you can do the same too.

Much Love

Rachel xx