Updated: Nov 12, 2019
This is my eighth year of teaching and I haven’t cried in my classroom for at least four years. So you can imagine my shock, when I felt the hot tears build up from my chest, into my throat and then over spill from my eyes. During my processing of the whole situation, it signified a few things to me:
a) I am human
b) I have feelings
c) Even for teachers and leaders of the classroom, things can get too much.
It was extremely humbling, because 2019 will be year I got the highest GCSE results but also be the year where I cried for the first time at my current school.... #whomp.
It was a poignant reminder that there is no point in your career where you can feel like you know it all or get too complacent in your knowledge. Yes you may be comfortable and know the ropes, but I forgot that there is always a lesson waiting for you.
As an educator, sometimes the best lessons are the ones you didn’t prepare, but life prepared for you. in midway of the sobs, I kept saying, “Jesus, help me get a grip”.
And actually even as I reflect, I think it is good to admit that sometimes we BARELY have a grip and actually what I need to do is to look back to ask, “how did I get here in the first place?”
It is essential for any leader, public speaker, manager, worker, to ask where did it go wrong? And thank God for our colleagues who encourage us, and tell us we didn’t do anything wrong, that’s just how it is. But there's always lesson to learn.
One of our key phrases as an educator is, ‘learn from your mistakes' or 'failure isn’t a mistake not learning is’. But for me, I had to take stock, because if I didn’t, I could end up in same place again not understand how. It allows us to dig a little deeper in ourselves and uncover a new level of humility and grace. Yes, even me, I bleed, I feel pain, I am not perfect and I don’t know everything.
It can be super intimidating to admit when things DO go too far. It is extremely vulnerable to admit, I went about this in the wrong way. But we know, growing well rounded students is just as important as their grades, and sometimes more so. So, what do we want our legacy to be? What culture do we want to create in our classroom? I didn’t realise how easy tit for tat was, until I started working with adolescents. And just like young babies and toddlers, students learn from what we do and not what we say.
High standards is learnt through the standards we set, kindness is shown through the treatment we give to them. They pick up resilience when we choose not to give up on those difficult classrooms and hardened hearts.
The first person I have to comfort and help is actually myself. Reminding myself it’s okay make mistakes, it’s okay to feel let down and disappointed. But after that, it’s then pushing forward to solution. And as educators, we need to move away from ‘oh they’re so great for me’ but actually ‘I will help you, this works for me, perhaps we could use it here’. Asking for help doesn’t mean weakness, but actually it’s another chance to show the values of a strong community.