Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Resilience - Easier Said Than Done
Being in a new school is tough. There are so many systems to learn, people to meet, kids to connect with, different units and assessments to understand. In addition to this change, I have had a lot going on at home. I have felt with all of the changes, I have lost a bit of passion and excitement in my teaching, and a considerable need to be resilient.
Last term I found myself chatting with students from many of my classes about anxiety. Many times I walked away from conversations feeling emotionally exhausted supporting these students as they felt anxious, stressed and were struggling through a variety of things going on in their lives. I felt like an unqualified counsellor, a feeling I had often at Tamaki too. Twitter was timely and I came across a couple of articles to think about, as well this webinar/course about accidental counselling (which I will be completing on Sunday).
Relief washed over me when I stumbled across this reflection by Nycol Didcote about the difficulties of teaching and how to find a balance. It is well-known we work around the clock, and give and give and give, and as a result many teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching. Didcote was real. She spoke about the behind the scenes struggles, and I felt relieved it wasn't just me! "So if you’ve lost your sense of purpose or feel as though your efforts aren’t worth it, know that you are not alone. But before you consider leaving the profession – really think of what you leaving behind. You’re leaving your mark on those you serve everyday. You’re making a difference." This gave me the boost I needed, and was looking for to move forward.
I also found this article about how to confront anxiety, which discusses how feelings of worry can affect a child's ability to learn and function at school, and they cannot do the normal developmental tasks of someone that age, when the feelings are excessive. Anxiety needs to be recognised and supported, because if it is attempted to be eliminated, the more it increases. I know this myself! The article includes an interview with Lynn Lyons (social worker and psychotherapist), whom suggests we need to find ways to help our students to problem solve, to learn to take risks and to build resilience - we can't do it for them. Reading this really stuck with me, because I often try to help my students feel better and solve their problems, because I care for them and want them to be happy. However, upon reflection I feel I may have given some of my students a disservice, as I have not given them steps to support themselves to increase their resilience - something I will keep in the back of my mind moving forward.
Mrfallickpe wrote about the fear of getting something wrong, the fear of judgement, the fear of being in a toxic school environment. He reflects on the importance of the teachers believing in their students, not giving up on them, even though sometimes they make mistakes. I read this after the least enjoyable day I had last term, when I'd struggled to motivate some of my Year 11 students for a few weeks, and then clashed with them. I found this article refreshing, and a great reminder to take each day as it comes, and consistently have high expectations of students to TRY, even if they make mistakes - as that is how we learn! The comment I took away most from his blogpost was
“We may say a comment or a sentence that we feel is not important to us however for the student it may be the most important message they hear and might stick with them for life”.
Resilence, and the ability to manage change, is coincidentally what the first Year 12 Health unit was. So I was teaching, implementing and discussing various strategies with the students about how to be resilience and manage change - right as I was doing it myself. Some strategies included having a nap, playing simple games and colouring in! I still have a lot to learn, but am feeling like the busiest and most difficult time has passed and I am excited to start Term 2 with a bang!