Are you singing yet?

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How many times do we tell people we are fine? How many times do we reply to the question of how are you with fine? It’s all just fine isn’t it?
Well maybe it’s not.
Strange week in education for me and I suppose one of those weeks where I saw lots of teachers who were clearly not fine and just existing because it was easier than admitting that their soul wasn’t singing.
I can’t imagine how hard it must be to carry on day in and out feeling so frustrated and just being fine.
There were a lot of conversations like that this week.
One of them was with one my students who decided that the profession wasn’t for her. She was knackered, done in and just had no joy. It wasn’t just exhaustion from the preparation, teaching, course work etc, it was exhaustion from being sad and unfulfilled. Her mentor in school was such an incredible support to her and spoke of how she had stopped smiling. We had a laugh at how a lot of the senior management never smiled as they were stressed out most of the time whereas most of the staff were smiling as they we happy being in class ( and let’s be honest, study leave. Say no more)
When my student told me she just wanted to stop, you could see her physically relax. She still wants to work with young people but not as a teacher. I think she has a wee song but she’s not quite singing. Understandably lots of people were a bit surprised and were telling us that she should just stick it out. What, to be another of the “fine”brigade? When challenged about retention and completion numbers, all I could offer was that I was more concerned that my student was ok and that she had made the right decision for her and her family. We don’t have inspired learners if we don’t have inspired teachers with their soul singing, no?
Another of the fine brigade was a teacher and friend of mine who clearly had not been singing for a while. It was a hard conversation as it always can be with friends when you ask about work.”aye it’s fine, going ok” I’m sure it is, and I’m sure you’re bored out your nut. do you wake up and feel excited going to work?”
I always feel sad when the answer is no.
Am I one of only a few people who wake and think ya dancer?
Here was a teacher with a wealth of talent but scunnered and a bit ground down. Not with the learners, but with the paperwork, the admin, the huftae elements. We talked round the areas of teaching and learning that made our soul sing and what had inspired us and more probably who. Stripping it all back raised a smile and it was almost like watching a light go on. ( just the way my student had physically relaxed) I suppose sometimes I am a bit too cut and dried (and as I’ve written before, -50 shades of black and white as one friend describes me ) but I genuinely believe if you are not happy,you can’t give of your best to the wee people who need you to. However, the decisions to whether you are just going to continue to be fine is a hard one. It’s probably an easier one but not really something that helps you to grow or sing.
Coffee and chocolate helped the conversation, doodles of where to go next and some oasis playing in the background made for a different kind of informal professional discussion but a productive one.
Calculated gamble with the cut and dried discussion paid off. A bit of reflection, a bit of action the next day and a proper pedagoo moment that saw this teacher do a bit of a victory dance ( oh yes) with the class. Soul maybe not singing just yet, but most certainly humming the tune.
You get what you give as the new radicals said. Given the amount of time we spend at work, it’s important it makes your soul sing,no? šŸŽ¼šŸŽµšŸŽ¶

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