Hi Mary, and sorry to hear you have been so poorly. I hope you are on the mend now.
Yes, I identify too much with the kids (they are 10-11, still quite enthusiastic and sweet.) I also have to rein myself in when something is being taught to the whole class- I get enthusiastic and want to add things to what the teacher has presented and it is very plain that is not acceptable to the teacher. So I have stopped doing it. When a child is disciplined, it is my reflex to side with the child! I'm sure this is something from childhood. I myself never needed disciplining- I naturally wanted to please, and always enjoyed learning. I was however sometimes actually disciplined for being too keen, too enthusiastic, allegedly hogging class time and preventing other kids from contributing. This last point is a teacher's issue of course, not a child's. But I recall several occasions on which I was very unjustly put down by teachers. It even happened a couple of times at university. As a teacher myself I never ever made able and keen students responsible for other students' lack of contribution. I was rather fond of group work and feedback as a way of spreading contribution. Anyway, I sound like I'm bigging myself up and I really had big weaknesses as a teacher due to my reluctance to get nasty. I remember being told I was too easy on kids missing lessons and I needed to get harder. The first victim to my efforts was a sixth former who missed a class as her dog was having puppies. I told her it wasn't important enough to miss a lesson. She replied that it was 'important to her.' Good girl- she was absolutely right. I have never forgotten that and it always struck me that 'better discipline' could very easily lead to 'no empathy.' I don't want to be the person who walks over kids' sensitivities in order to run a quiet class.
Sometimes it worked the other way. I trusted and listened to students, and expected the same in return. Just after my dad died suddenly, I saw a student working on the market. I stopped for a chat and told her I would be away for the first few days of term due to dad dying. the girl was 17, in my tutor group. When I returned to college my head of division reported that said girl had missed college having 'returned late from a family holiday.' I had seen her two days before the start of term. I really struggled with this breach of trust. she knew she could go under the radar as I wasn't there. A couple of years later she wanted a reference to apply for midwifery, and I couldn't write it, I was still so outraged! That wasn't good or right of me. But what I think is probably fair is that I used to really struggle to separate my emotional life from my job- I couldn't always leave it at the door, and you do need to. In this latest job, I have actually been struggling with a period of depression, and I have managed to leave that at the door, but maybe I have overcompensated by being very buoyant and jolly. I do remember that my Education tutor many years ago described my classroom style as ' a bouncing beach ball'. But I can unfortunately often feel like a squeaky ball that has lost its squeak. Maybe it is the flat squeakless ball that leads me to occasionally masquerade as the bouncing beach ball in an attempt to keep going.
I still don't know what to do. I'm not in it for the long term anyway, but I do have a loyalty to the children. Not the school, not the teachers, just the kids. My husband pointed out the other day that I'm easy to blame, because I don't fight back. I take it.
I have a wedding today and need to get ready now. Thanks for the message. I think I'm just a bad fit. I should never have been a teacher. I made a bad career choice because of my lack of confidence to try something different, something grown up. I was never grown up enough to teach, and I'm still not. In some ways I don't want to think about this- it is food for my negative side, my internal gremlin. My therapist says I have been running from this vulnerability all my life. Maybe, but for good reason. It is overwhelming.
Hugs, L xx
Hope you are rising from that sickbed. Pinkeye ain't a lot of fun.
Thanks, Steve, am now battling a chest infection in the summer heat. Not a great start to 2019, but hoping the antibiotics kick in soon.
Happy New Year to you!
You continue to remain resilient through many events in life, Mary .... and a beacon to all on that.
Thanks, Steve -- I find many encouraging beacons and examples of resilience all around us in LifeRing. Good friendships over many years.
Happy sober New Year -- let's hope 2019 is kinder to us than 2018 has been!
Thanks, Mary. With Ning by the boards, I expect to start dropping in here more.
Work continues to be frustrating. A month or so ago, I noticed our managing editor, who has lectured me before for not always being the best copy editor, mistook "ring" and "wring" (she meant the latter) in her weekly column. No way that can be a typo. And, you want me to care more, when you do that?
That's a revealing kind of error isn't it? I keep up the copy editing projects but am doing more writing and developmental editing of fiction and memoirs, mostly for international clients from Canada, the UK and Europe as well as New York. But it's a hand-to-mouth existence at times even if I don't have to deal with your managing editor.
Hoping new work opportunities come up for you this year --
I hope you are feeling much better. Conjunctivitis is really miserable and I hope you are over your other infections too. There's something about getting ill in the summer that is particularly miserable- it just feels so unfair.
I handed in my notice at school and will leave at half term- 15 Feb I think. As the return to school approached it felt rather like a prison sentence to see the academic year out. I am there for the grand total of 2hrs 15mins each day and even with such a short time I've always found myself clock watching. I'm not going to feel bad about it any more- I've been thinking of all the people who would make terrible TAs - Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax to name but two. The other day the kids were looking at Human Rights and knowing that the teacher does not welcome my contributions I was not willing to proffer the story of my father-in-law coming to the uk on the Kinder Transport at exactly the same age as the children in the class. And this was not a matter of obstinacy- my previous (occasional) contributions have truly all been received as if I'm a complete pain in the arse. Too bad.
I have been feeling a bit low about it, but today I woke up feeling much better- allowing myself to be relieved! I had a cold last week and that always gets me down as well. It dawned on me a couple of days ago that it wasn't the greatest idea to rush to fill my time the instant the kids had both left home. I've been so occupied with meeting their needs, and last year was very very intense with Liza. I wonder if I need to actually experience the change- the loss, in a sense, and give myself time to consult myself properly on what I want to do next. If I had started the counselling course I may well have felt the same way but for different reasons.
Back to weddings, and the garden is beginning to call- although we seem to be heading into a cold snap. Plus I have a heap of books to read- I've been going through a big reading phase and like nothing more that to get my pyjamas on early and read for an hour before bed.I've just bought myself a floor standing reading lamp for the living room, which is a bit too murky to read without eye strain. It will also be nice not to be tied to school holidays for going away- me and my husband will head off somewhere in June. Probably just Cornwall with the dog to visit friends but it will be good to visit out of high season. I feel like I've been tied to school holidays for most of my life between my schooling, then teaching, then the kids' schooling!
Although it's now almost 5 years since I stopped drinking I still reflect on it being a great achievement to chalk up these difficult experiences without turning to the vino. It has crossed my mind, but for half a second on the far horizon of my mind, if that makes sense. I've come a long way.
Hope everyone is doing well and having a happy start to the year. Hope to check in more often once school's out for ever!!
Five years is great Elsie, a real accomplishment. I was in graduate school when I learned that I really did not like teaching. I learned much later that I did like tutoring - one on one with someone who was really interested - that was something quite different.
Yay for you on five years! I'm not getting notifications so missed this.
Good to cut losses and get out from a place that depletes your spirit and is just a really bad fit. I feel pissed off when I think of how much students might have appreciated listening to a real-life account of someone who came to Britain on the Kindertransport but it's their loss.
Winter is definitely a time for immersing oneself in books and garden plans. And to give yourself time to reflect on the children leaving, the change of roles, the decisions about what to do next. And to just relax, take time for yourself, focus on the relationship with your husband, time in Cornwall.
Those flickers of temptation do pop up every now and again but if I don't give them any attention, they go away in an instant. It's blazing hot here, heatwave high summer, worrying about drought, the garden a dust patch. I'm still battling with the trachea infection and delayed payments so tightening belts etc. This is just part of the freelancing life. And of course I'm desperately worried about family and friends up in Zimbabwe, no telling if the military repression will continue and if the Internet shutdown will be fully lifted.
But on we go, reading the outpouring of tributes to Mary Oliver all across the Internet -- her poems resonated with so many -- slowly drafting out articles on conceptual art, planning autumn planting for the garden if we get enough rain, reading French fiction to keep up my French, bottling ripe tomatoes & peppers. and making a pear galette with just-ripened pears.
So good to hear from you again --