X amount of people around the world suffer from it. Many of them teachers. Teacher. Teaching. My new job. It keeps finding me.
I am teaching again in high school and learning just how difficult, as well as rewarding, the profession can be. I am from a family of teachers; both my parents were, as well uncles and aunts. Romantically speaking, it’s in my veins. However, I distinctly remember my sister and I one dinner time during our teenage years poking snide fun in the direction of my mother about how undeservedly long holidays teachers have. These remarks, without wanting to sound clichéd, really are coming back to haunt me. I’m currently visualizing my mother’s “told you so” expression. Furthermore, remembering my own teenage brattish attitudes towards teachers back at Hall Green School make me feel that there’s a huge cloud of karma hanging over me.
No matter what they say, teaching is a 7 day a week profession. In your first year, it eats you up. And from what I’ve read, it’s not just the first year. Planning, grading, studying class management strategies, handling parents and administration swallow the bulk of the time, and I am still at the stage of taking three hours of obsessing over a plan for a class that will only take an hour. Weekends and evenings with your loved ones disappear leaving you with a sense of guilt, and the panic over whether your students like/respect you, how to cram a lot of information into what feels your tiny head and delivering it in a motivating way in front of 30 judging eyes, consumes your thoughts and sleep. “Am I being too rigid or too soft?” Someone give me an answer to this balancing act! I have been told to be myself. Is that really wise for a loose-mouthed brummie? You regret things you said or activities you prepared and self-doubt rears its ugly head to jump on your head, no matter how much mindfulness and breathing activities you try.
You might think that I am torturing myself somewhat; my wife frequently tells me so. It’s a learning experience, and buggering up and failure are part of the process. I know this, and I have been telling myself positive thoughts, listening to Marisa Peer‘s YouTube videos about how to manage self-talk to bring success to your life, and trying to find time to exercise. However, when anxiety comes knocking, it blows your routine apart and turns you into a person you don’t particularly like. I now fully appreciate the role of a teacher.
This time though, it’s for keeps. I am at a very good teaching establishment in Tegucigalpa and I am very grateful for the opportunity. Teaching has found me. I do enjoy it; I almost cried the other day when I found “Mr. Rogers rocks” written on the white-board. I am fed up of floating from job to job and profession to profession, being made redundant and wondering what the next avenue of my life will take. There comes a point where one just needs to smile and stick at it. I know I’m not a bad teacher because I put the hours in, I care about my students and I want them to progress. Of course, there is far more to teaching than that, and this I am learning. Along with prostitution and slavery, teaching is one of the oldest professions I suppose. Suffice to say, I am glad to have not picked the former vocations.
I am now understanding the meaning of “fake it to make it”. I criticized the statement on this blog a couple of years ago. I’m now learning it was a very good piece of advice. Even if you don’t feel like it, just tell yourself you’re the best and work very hard to correct your flaws. I am the best.
Now for a little poem: inspired by an anxiety attack at 3am this morning. It’s free verse. I hope you identify with it on some level. Enjoy.
Why do you exist?
What do you want from me;
My balls tight in your fist?
Why the student’s faces?
Why the vivid sounds?
Why wake me at 3am?
All day tomorrow; head in the clouds.
Why tell me now
That I have to be more organised,
That students see through me,
And my flaws aren’t disguised?
A little prayer before bedtime,
The magic of a little white pill,
Breathing in and out deeply,
The whisky bottle; a little swill,
Yet the fan spins too loud,
And I’m coated in greasy sweat from heat,
I can almost hear my food digesting,
There are no cures that Señor Anxiety can’t beat.
So why do you do it, Anxiety?
Why make me toss and turn?
Why wake my poor wife while you’re at it?
Why insist on making me burn?
Whether you’re disguised as my demons,
Or more realistically a figment of my imagination,
Please just let me be.
You’re job is done, I am fucked,
Now give me dreams of glee.