Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Don't Panic!

Well I had to start with a classic line didn't I?

Right, first an admission so pull up a chair and form a circle.

My name is Chris and I suffer with back to school blues.

I know, shocking isn't it! Especially for teacher but it is true I dread the start to a new term - any term - and it can make me feel very down. Luckily this does pass but it made me think back to my NQT year - not many happy memories there - and wonder what advice that was not to do with the teaching and learning side of the job might have helped me?

Now this is not a definitive list in fact I expect some people will disagree strongly with a few things I put down here however it is a list of 5 things that regardless of teaching ability, subject or school might help. Who knows non-teachers might find something there that helps. You may find nothing of use at all and that is fine. It is literally just a few things that I find help get me through that rough time before everything is up and running again.

  1. Alcohol is not the answer! I try not to drink during the week purely because I find when I have a beer I get very little work done. I may have a whiskey before bed - especially in the Winter - but that would be all. I know some people will massively disagree with me and might be able to plan or mark with a few glasses of wine but personally speaking I can't. So for the sake of staying clear headed and focused I stay away from booze when there is work to do.
  2. Everyone needs sleep. Your body is pretty good at knowing when it needs to rest. Don't try and survive on caffeine and plow on regardless. There is nothing worse than trying to do your job while you are tired. Make sure you rest when you need to, after all you still have to function again tomorrow and I find being tired significantly affects my ability to deal with things. 
  3. Its good to talk. Talk to people about how you are feeling, but be prepared to listen to what they have to say. Seek out help and don't be afraid to admit you are struggling with something. Most people will be more than willing to help you especially if you are trying to improve your practice. Be warned though people will very quickly work out if you are just trying to get them to do bits of your job for you! It is also good to talk to people about stuff not related to your job - when suitable - as it helps build that sense of unity which I find really helps make you settle into a place. I am not saying you need to be best mates with you colleagues but being able to approach them and talk to them when you are having a rough day definitely helps. From a teaching point of view it also helps to be able to see how students are in different subjects or techniques that you can 'magpie' and use in your own teaching. What I find important is to remember if you don't ask they can't help you and they probably don't know you need help unless you tell them!
  4. Music helps. I find music helps in many ways but it is - for me - much less distracting than having the TV or a film on while I try to work. I find that in the car on the way to work a good sing along helps set me up for the day and equally on the way home I find it helps de-stress me no end. So yes music really helps set my mood. 
  5. It is only a job. The hardest one to remember and the one I certainly need reminding of the most. As hard as it is, as stressful as it can be at the end of the day it is a job. Regardless of how much it seems like it is the be all, end all. Most of the times I am really fed up or stressed is because I have work to do that I know I should have done. When the work is done and I am clearly planned I find the stress levels much lower and the job much more manageable (strange how that works eh?). Remember though that you can't do everything - something on my NQT I could have done with being reminded of. Just make sure you have done your best and that you have communicated with people anything you are having difficulty with so you are covered. 

There you go, highly controversial and decadently subjective. 

I hope someone out there can find something in there that makes sense to them!

That post (believe it or not) was rewritten 3 times and during the pondering and rewrites I probably could have made a significant dent in my to do list...

Oh well always tomorrow I guess!

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