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2015 in review

So, I’ve almost completed my first year of blogging.  I never thought I’d keep it up, but I’ve got the bug.  My aim for next year is to increase my readership further.  So, my new year’s request to you is this: please share my posts.  I promise to go back to writing more regularly,  so please pass my posts on!

Thank you.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Family, Observations

Recharging our batteries

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Teacher wellbeing has been a huge focus over the past 12 months, with the creation of movements such as #teacher5adayThe Guardian Teacher Network even published a report which stated that teachers needed to relax over the Christmas holidays to avoid burnout.

I have written before about the difficulty  I have in forgetting about work over the Christmas holidays, but for once, I have listened to the advice of others.  I have completely switched off over the last week and a half, having done absolutely nothing work related,  and haven’t even felt guilty about it.

When I tell people I’m a teacher, invariably one of the first things they say relates to the amount of holidays we get.  We are indeed lucky to have 13 weeks holiday each year.  But my goodness, they are needed,  each and every one of them.  This
year has been a challenge so far, I am unashamed to admit.  There are many difficulties in my class, none of which I can share here, but each of them makes life a little less easy for us as a class.  Each of them wears me down a little more and takes a little more of my energy.  At the end of a very long term, I am not ashamed to admit that I was on my knees.  MNQTH was equally as exhausted, so my poor (also tired) children had to put up with parents who were drained and grumpy.   As a family, we had been ill for weeks, as we didn’t have the energy or strength to fight off the coughs and colds.  Physically,  mentally and emotionally, I couldn’t have carried on much longer in class without a break. I will even admit to having shed a few tears when I got home at the end of my last teaching day, purely from relief because I knew that the  holidays were almost upon us.

The life of a teacher is, without doubt, an exhausting one.  I don’t know how it compares to other “normal” 9 to 5 jobs – I’ve never had one – but I do know that a teachers couldn’t do their job without the regular breaks.  And not just “doing school work at home” kind of breaks, but completely switching off and doing no work.  Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to spend the whole holiday doing nothing for work: I’d spend the rest of the term playing catch up, but a few days off does no harm whatsoever.  For me, I’m going to have another couple of guilt-free days off to make sue my batteries are full charged ready to face all that the coming term will undoubtedly throw at me.    

Observations

Opening eyes

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  When I started writing this blog almost a year ago, I didn’t really think through why I was writing it.  I think in reality,  it was just a bit of a project – something new to try.  As time has gone on, I’ve used it as an opportunity to share what life in a classroom is really like: the challenges, the successes and the rewards.

I haven’t posted much this academic year.  It’s not because I have nothing to say: quite the opposite.  I have much that I could write about. I am facing many, many challenges this year which I would love to be able to share, to seek advice, to give support to others,  and mostly to get things off my chest.  However, I can’t,  as too many confidences could be broken and identities guessed by those who know me.  I miss being able to write – as time goes on, I am sure there will be many positive experiences and successes that I can share. However, without betraying any confidentiality, I talk to my family about what I experience in my classroom and in the school.

Today,  my dad gave me a card, signed from “a proud dad”.  He told me that he was proud of all I have achieved in the past year, with my blog, my personal experiences and how I deal with all I am faced with at work.  His words really affected me. He said “I didn’t realise what teaching is all about.”  Nor do many, many people.  Sadly, it’s not just about standing in front of a class and teaching them.  That’s what it should be about.  But nowadays,  it’s about pastoral support,  social care, providing children with stability, sometimes providing them with the basics like food and clothes, providing them with a friendly face and someone who cares.  Giving them someone they can talk to, tell their troubles to, let out their anger with.  Getting to the bottom of why they are angry or scared or unkind, rather than just punishing them for lashing out.  Getting the balance right between supporting the needy and working with those who just get on with it.  Making sure that no one is overlooked or left behind.  And then worrying about getting the children to where they should be, identifying gaps, planning interventions, monitoring progress and then doing it all over again. 

If I’m honest, when I went into teaching 16 years ago, I didn’t really know what it was about either.  It was a different job back then.  Perhaps my rose-tinted  glasses have got rosier with hindsight,  but back then, it was just about teaching.  Yes, there were children with different needs to the rest, children with behavioural difficulties and educational needs.  But for the most part, children just got on with it.  As the years have gone by, I have had to learn new skills, develop new strategies and, if I’m honest, become tougher to help children to deal with their own challenges.  As a 21 year old NQT, there is no way I would have had the resilience to deal with this year’s challenges.  I would have fallen apart within weeks.  As an experienced and well respected teacher, I finish every day exhausted, worn down and emotionally drained.  But I face each day with new energy and resolve, and a vow to  support these children to the very best of my ability.  Do any of us really know what teaching is about? I don’t think we do.  But I do know it’s no longer just about teaching.