A letter about … self-worth

Recently I’ve been having conversations with friends around mental health, and I’m about to embark on a small series of lessons looking at advertisements and society expectations of beauty. I’m hoping to get a discussion going about mental health and self-worth in these lessons.

One thing I’ve noticed in my conversations is the amount of times we “compare” our worth to someone and we get caught up on not feeling worthy. And yes, I’m guilty of it. I compare myself to another teacher and I’m getting annoyed that my active teaching time isn’t at that standard. Or that my worksheets weren’t engaging enough. Or that my classroom is too noisy. Or this, or that, on and on my comparison goes.

I was sharing my concerns with my mentor recently, when he just turns to me and goes “how long have you been teaching? A year? See, exactly. You’re doing really well.”

And he’s right. I’ve only just starting on this teaching career; I’m bound to make mistakes and then grow from the lessons I learnt from then. It’s good to observe other teachers, pick up pointers but it’s not healthy to compare myself with them and get stuck on it and let it become the basis of my self-worth.

So, this is for everyone who needs a reminder – you are important.

Yours,

Sophia

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Reflections: Two Months into Teaching

Tomorrow will mark 35 days of my first (almost full time) teaching gig. To say it has been great is … well, it fails to really describe what it’s like.

I never understood exhaustion until I became a teacher. As a teacher, you’re constantly ‘switched on’; physically, mentally and emotionally. You’re fielding 1001 questions, whilst making sure kids don’t get hurt. Whilst providing extra support or challenges to those who need it. Oh, and problem solving all along the way. I’ve been so exhausted, my feet are dragging and my bones feel like concrete – but the minute I step into the classroom, that all disappears.

Being a teacher, especially a graduate teacher, it’s taught me not to take support networks for granted. Loved ones who rock up with food in their hands to a gathering or a catch up. Friends who just sit and listen to a barrage of nonsensical words of an issue (or two or three) that’s been worrying me. Partners who make you a cup of tea in the mornings. It’s the little things that make you feel not alone as you’re drowning in paperwork, lesson plans and marking.

Working with teenagers who are great one day and grumpy the next has taught me about the diversity and fluidity that are human beings. It’s taught me that rigidity and structure are great support, but it’s nothing without flexibility. It’s no use dragging kids (metaphorically) to get work done if we don’t care for them as well. I was sitting in a workshop and one of the key learnings i took was “allowing different pathways”. Sure we need a structure of a plan to achieve shared outcomes. Yet we all learn differently, and we all walk a different journey. Why not let there be different paths to achieve a shared outcome?

Self-bloody-care. I harp on about this but nothing reinforces the importance of self-care until a rough day in a crazy week as a teacher. You can’t look after and teach people if you’re not looking after yourself. As a friend put it, (paraphrasing here) “you won’t be on your A game if you’re tired from working late and not looking after yourself.”

One thing I’ve noticed is how the more I have to manage behavior, the less I can focus on teaching, and the more my confidence takes a hit and my anxiety/doubts starts to kick in. Am i actually doing the right thing? Are the kids actually learning? Am I liked? Yet like my friend and fellow teacher, Katie said: “We just need to be sure of ourselves. We do know what we are doing and we do it well!”

So, out of all this here’s the one thing I want to take away: Believe in yourself, have faith in your capabilities. You’re stronger, wiser than you know and it’s not being popular amoungst the kids but being there in the classroom everyday with the kids and guiding them.

I can do this.

Yours,

Sophia
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