Showing posts with label valentines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label valentines. Show all posts

Sunday 14 February 2016

Broken Hearted (On Vulnerable Love And Finding A New School)

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

- C.S Lewis, The Four Loves

It's probably worth reading the quote again before I go on. In fact, it may be worth reading it again, then closing this window on your browser - what am I going to be able to add to the words of a literary great? Well, perhaps I can elucidate on how the quote might pertain to teachers.

It's that second sentence - 'Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken' - that rings so true for teachers at the moment. Hearts are being broken; hearts once in love with teaching, in love with being so instrumental in the lives of so many children, in love with the creative nature of the job, in love with the fact that no two days are ever quite the same. The pressures placed on us by the ever-changing demands of the government, the fear of Ofsted and poor leadership (in some schools), not to mention the workload generated by all of this, are wringing hearts dry. Teachers are losing the love, many against their will, because the job does not love them back.

And Lewis' suggested solution? Don't love anything. Don't love teaching. But the consequence of that? Your heart will become 'unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable'. Lewis is saying that love is worth the risk of being hurt.

We must love teaching despite its riskiness. By loving teaching we will weather the storm, even though it'll be difficult. By not loving teaching, and by trying to protect ourselves by becoming indifferent, our heart for the job will grow cold and we will enjoy it less and less. We must go on loving the job, exposing ourselves, being vulnerable, but so that love itself continues. So that children go on being taught, nurtured and shaped.

It may be that working in a particular school is, in this analogy, like being in an abusive relationship, but this doesn't have to mean never loving again. A new school or situation and a fresh start can reignite love, and through making oneself vulnerable again, great love can be found. The job can love you back; it is the experience of many. I know a few teachers who, having considered leaving the profession, rather than 'locking away their hearts', have moved on and found the love again. One told me:

At my old school I felt unsupported... I felt angry about new things which were rashly implemented in the school and which I strongly disagreed with... I felt like my opinion didn't matter and an overwhelming fear that I would be the next teacher bullied and forced out of my job. There was a severe lack of organisation which strongly impacted on workload. We were often given pointless time consuming tasks and ridiculous deadlines such as the next day or a text message on a Friday night with a deadline for Monday. This created unnecessary stress.

I did consider leaving the profession as when I spoke to some teachers at other schools they too were unhappy but I felt that it was not to the extent that I was. I wrote my letter of resignation before even applying for any other job as I knew I could no longer work there. It was the first time I had ever applied for another teaching job. 

My initial impression of my new school was that the head teacher was much more personable and the teachers appeared much happier and said things like 'You'll love working here, it's a lovely school'. From day one I was given the chance to develop my career in the area of my choice and have had so much support. I also feel that I am greatly appreciated and the head often sends emails or personally thanks me for things such as putting on the harvest play - which to me means a lot! It is nice to belong to a school that I feel proud of again. Good organisation from the management means that I have a much better work/life balance and less stress as I am given plenty of warning about deadlines and I'm always given help and support if I'm unsure about anything.

Moving school is the most drastic of solutions, aside from leaving teaching altogether. If you are seeking a love of education, and your current school situation isn't loving you back then maybe extreme action is needed; another school could be reciprocal in the love you give. Another school could mend your broken heart. 

If you feel like leaving your current job would be too radical, then I wonder if some of my other blog posts would be of use to you. I have found ways to remain in love with the profession and I'm desperate to share them - I mourn the fact that so many feel unloved by this job and long to help others to a place where they are once again feel like they're in a loving relationship with teaching.

Saturday 13 February 2016

Date Night

Tonight is date night. I say that as if it's a regular fixture in our calendar but it's not. It should be though. My wife is a stay-at-home mum of three and has recently set up her own baking business. Our evenings are taken up with book marking, macaron making and house cleaning, amongst a whole host of other chores.

Evenings out are what works for us - getting out of the house is important as it stops us thinking of all the jobs that could be done and we are less likely to be distracted by technology if we're in the pub or at a restaurant. We consider going out for a meal a luxury as we can't always afford it, and it means finding a babysitter too. Tonight we're benefitting from a kind Christmas present of Zizzis vouchers and my sister is doing the honours with the children. We're really looking forward to enjoying some good food and quality time together.

Even though we don't always get to go out, we ensure that we have a weekend night together to watch a film and have a glass of wine. We also try to spend the last half an hour of each day together, just to catch up and wind down. We've learnt that if we don't do this things get strained between us and communication breaks down. The time together is essential.

If you are a teacher in a relationship then you have to prioritise time with your significant other. Thankfully I have a super-supportive wife who understands the time requirements and the pressures of the job and she enables and encourages me to use time at home effectively. But this understanding is part of a give and take relationship - sometimes I have to put the work down  clear the schedule and make time for what's important. If I never did this I don't think my wife would be inclined to be as supportive, and she'd have every right not to be! 

Having said this I know that this is the first time in five months we'll have been out for a meal together - that is not good enough. This half-term holiday I pledge to make time for more regular date nights during term time - we can't always wait for holidays! Who's with me?

Photo Credit: EJP Photo via Compfight cc

Friday 12 February 2016

A Love Story?

It wasn't love at first sight. And only those who really knew me believed it would work out. I wasn't even entirely convinced myself. The first letter wasn't even written by me; I asked a friend to write it for me. When we decided to give it a try, to see how things went, I was surprised at how well-matched we were. It seemed my qualities suited the demands of the relationship and, whilst I was nowhere near perfect, we surprised many who would never have match-made us.

I suppose I was gradually falling in love, but I didn't know it. For a long time I thought we just got on well, and that I had a general affection. Inevitably, times weren't always easy, and there have been bumps in the road, but we're still an item. The problems are rarely between us, but as a result of others meddling in what we have together. As with any partnership we grew to understand each other's quirks and we both made compromises. Compromises which have led to a symbiotic relationship - we're good for each other, and we're good to each other.

Who knows how long it will last? Many others in similar relationships have been through painful break ups. Others just manage to keep it together, often through dogged determination and commitment. Thankfully, things are still easy for us, we work hard to remain together but it's not a struggle - it's something I'm still willing to work at, not because I have to, or even because I want to, but just because I do. I'd like to think there's a great future for us - maybe we will continue to prove the doubters wrong. After all, we started out that way, why can't we go on in a similar vein?

'Is this love, is this love, is this love that I'm feeling?' Bob Marley. 

I'm not sure it is love, but as I've said, we do naturally get on and we work really well together. And that's worth something. That's OK with me. I think I'll stick with teaching.

Photo Credit: sowjanya_venugopal via Compfight cc