As this term draws to a close I hope you are feeling proud of what you have achieved!
In the last week there have been a couple of key aspects of the course that I think are worth touching on and I would encourage you to spend a moment before January reflecting on how they have impacted on you as a teacher:
Mental health and emotional wellbeing
I hope last week helped you consider your own mental health as well as your role as a teacher in supporting the young people you teach. The image of the oxygen mask that Claire shared seemed to sum up why it is so important to take time to look after yourself:
The idea that you can’t expect to look after others if you don’t care for yourself seems a very sensible mantra to take forward to next term.
Talking to several of you, the workshops seemed to raise really important issues that challenged you to think about your own preconceptions about mental health. Don’t worry if the issues covered unnerved you, or if they made you judge yourself unfavourably. I have constantly been humbled in my career as a teacher and been challenged to rethink my views and preconceptions about all sorts of things. I have got used to acknowledging I was wrong and tried to get more excited about seeing it as an opportunity to learn and feel better about myself as a person. I definitely don’t get it right all the time (or even most of the time!) but, by being open to having to change myself, there are at least moments!
Education for social justice
This week you have been focusing on education for social justice and I would encourage you to reflect on how your understanding of this term, ‘education for social justice’, has developed and what this means for your growing teacher identity. Try to take a moment to record a definition of the term, what it means to you right now and what questions you have in your head.
Speaking to tutors, you have done a wonderful job of designing some very thought provoking discussions about issues that are potential barriers to pupils’ success in school. Try not to see this as a ‘job done’ but just the beginning of an exploration into how you can break down these barriers as a teacher.
I was talking to some of you this week and you were saying you want more ‘strategies’ for supporting pupils who are troubled or finding life difficult in school. I can completely understand this sentiment (and these strategies will develop over time) but I actually think, as a starting point, it is much simpler than needing a set of techniques. All you need to do is take the time to treat pupils how you would want to be treated yourself. For example:
Think how you would like to be greeted by someone when they first see you on a day – do you want to be told what to do immediately or would a moment where they just said hello and asked how you were first make a difference?
If you are going through a tricky time what would you want someone to do – do they need to solve your problem and do something specific or do they just need to notice and allow you to have a small moment to yourself?
The things that make the biggest difference to pupils through a school day are often not major interventions (there are experienced members of staff who have these roles and responsibilities). It is simple things that revolve around taking the time to pause and notice, smile and be kind.