Otherwise known as “My reflections on Pedagoo London”.
Or “How a random busker nearly ruined it all.”
As a child, I was extremely timid and nervous. Very quiet, there were lots of things I wanted to do, but my nerves always prevented me from doing them. I would wind myself up into such a state that I would sob and wail and throw up. I missed out on a lot of fun. So when the time came for me to go to University, I made a conscious decision to sort myself out. No more throwing up or giving in. I was going to go out and enjoy the things I wanted to do.
That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. As a teacher, I often have to do nerve wracking things: assemblies, training for staff, meetings for parents – the longer you teach for, it seems the bigger the nerve wracking situations become. But I have learned to deal with them. Often, it involves a lot of deep breathing and not eating for a while to keep the stomach settled. Not ideal, but it works, and so I have done things that 10 year old me would never have dreamed possible.
So imagine my excitement/surprise/complete horror when I received a message from the lovely Hélène Galdin-O’Shea, asking me if I would be interesting in presenting a session at Pedagoo London this weekend. It was one of those things that I knew I HAD to do, but really wasn’t sure how on earth I would hold it together enough to work out what to talk about, plan a session and deliver it without throwing up or sobbing in front of my audience. It took me a long time to actually pluck up the courage to say “yes,” and even longer to sit down and work out what I was going to talk about. Sitting down and writing a presentation would mean acknowledging I was actually doing it.
But, sit down I did, and I worked out what I was going to say. I practised in the garden in the evening, I practised in front of the mirror (even apologising to it when I had to go and answer the door and turn the oven timer off!). MNQTH and colleagues at work all offered to be a mini audience, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak in front of them.
As the day drew closer, the amount of deep breaths taken grew as the amount of food I ate decreased. I can honestly say, the prospect of it genuinely terrified me. I would rather have stuck a needle in my own eye (and anyone who knows me knows what a state I got in over that happening!!!).
Fortunately, MNQTH decided to make a weekend of the trip, so we stayed in London the night before. I am so grateful for that, as it meant my morning was relaxed and calm rather than having to rush around getting trains. As we approached the IoE in Russell Square, I was feeling ok. A little stressed, but ok. And then, we stepped out of the tube station. A fantastic busker was playing the piano outside of the doorway. We stopped there to get our bearings, and I listened to the busker. He was playing “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. The combination of the chorus lyrics: “Don’t stop me now/I’m having such a good time/I’m having a ball” teamed with the fact that it was the song that MNQTH and I danced to at our wedding nearly toppled me over the edge. I could feel the tears coming, and knew that if I started crying, I might just bottle it! I had to walk away and leave MNQTH with his iPhone, trying to find his way. I had no idea if I was walking in the right direction, I just had to get away from the song!
Anyhow, I held it together, made it to the IoE and got through my presentation in one piece. There were no tears, no vomit, and, do you know what? I LOVED it!! It may not have been as fun as some of the other sessions, or as revolutionary, and there were no free sweets (point to note there – people LOVE free sweets!) but I talked about what I knew about, and I think I did it well. I shared what I wanted to share, I dealt with questions and even facilitated a bit of a debate. I even had to cut it short as we filled the time and there were people waiting outside to come in (I also caught sight of MNQTH in the corridor watching – definitely time to draw proceedings to a close!).
Afterwards, I couldn’t stop beaming. And I have to admit, I very nearly cried. But this time, tears of pride rather than tears of fear. I never, ever thought that I would be asked to present at something like Pedagoo London, never mind actually have the bottle to do it.
My advice to ANY teacher out there who has something to talk about, no matter how big or small – get out there and talk. Teachers are lovely people: they give up their own time and money to go to events at the weekend, and they are there to learn. They appreciate others sharing good practice, and my goodness, you’ll feel amazing afterwards!
Will I talk publicly again? I don’t know – if I have something worth saying, then yes, I’ll say it! And next time, I’m sure there will be nerves, but the overwhelming emotion will be anticipation rather than fear.