Updated: Nov 22, 2022
With everything that is happening in the world today, you could be forgiven for thinking that your own issues are insignificant. In a way, everything has a knock on effect. You see the news and you can't help but feel down. It always seems to be a negative. The dreadful situation in Ukraine, increased fuel costs, increased energy costs not to mention inflation. What happened to the stories of a cat getting rescued from a tree!? Just something to put a smile on my face...please!
All of the above can and does in many cases take a toll on your well-being and mental health. How does this link to teaching then you may ask? You only have to look at the current teacher crisis (no, it hasn't gone away!). Even as I type, there are schools having to close because of a lack of teachers and recruitment agencies are struggling to supply teachers to fill the gaps. It can't all be down to Covid. Take a minute to think about your day in school. I've been there. It doesn't matter what position you hold in school - every day brings a new challenge, an added stress, a strain on your health. Now, don't get me wrong, schools are a wonderful place to work. So rewarding, and that feeling you get knowing you have made a difference. Again, it's so easy to forget about yourself - you're wrapped up in helping those around you. Making sure you are reaching those targets. Is your class meeting the expected standards? See.... you forgot about yourself again, didn't you?
I am not in any way saying us teachers have it worse than anyone else but it is an area I am very familiar with and putting it out there, a place I've been myself! I'm just trying to help and let you know that you are not alone. So, stresses, strains, feeling low and helpless, don't know where to turn, sleepless nights (not just Sundays anymore) are just some of the common signs that you need support. Just yesterday, I was reading a post from a headteacher. Honestly, it was really upsetting to read. A person, who I'm sure signed up to make a difference, to help young people learn and develop, at the edge of despair, feeling they had nowhere to turn and asking for any advice. This, I know is one of many. So what - they get paid enough to deal with the pressure? Some might say! Do we really live in a world where that is the answer?
Well, let's hope not.....
Now for the nice bit... There are so many things you can do. Firstly, and most importantly, you need to recognise you need help. If you go back, let's say five years, in some cases less I'm sure, you would have heard 'man-up' or 'toughen up'. To me, that is just unacceptable. We have come on leaps and bounds recently with understanding people's well-being and mental health. Improvements have been made no doubt about it. It's great that there are adverts on tv, celebrities endorsing charities, websites to visit and our wonderful NHS support and chat lines. However, it has to start somewhere - where? - YOU! I found talking to someone on a 1:1 basis really helped. You start to put things into perspective - what is really important. Yes, getting those reports in on time is important but it shouldn't take over your life. Hopefully, you'll have an understanding leadership team that can support you. Just remember there are trained professionals out there too. I found Education Support when looking through the searches. Oh wow! What a great site and fantastic bunch of people. Please, if you are in need, have a look for yourself....
My wife was a headteacher and didn't spot the signs soon enough and this ultimately led to her leaving the profession. She wanted to continue working with children and took up supply teaching. This reduced the stress and strains on her. Not having the marking, the staff meetings, deadlines, assessment and parents’ evenings (to name a few!) helped immensely. She was able to put things into perspective and focus on the more important things in life. For her, supply teaching gave her the same job satisfaction without the stress and who doesn't want more job satisfaction and less stress? We set up our agency in order to offer teachers just that (and because we wanted to work together - ahh!). Anyway, this is why we understand the teaching side so well and know how to spot those all-important signs.
If this helps just one person, surely it was worth me spending some time writing it?