I love this theme. I think summer is the perfect time to reflect which in turn heightens your awareness.
To be fair, having been through quite a bit in my life I have developed skills in self-awareness and as someone who has benefitted from counselling, coaching and mentoring, my ability to consider and reflect upon my position is strong.
So what I am more aware of this summer?
I’m aware that last year was horrible. I stepped up to HOD, hated it for a variety of reasons and stepped back down. Things that people said to me and things that people did made me feel utterly worthless and I am fully aware that the reality is that in making such a decision and taking such a stand, I have made myself truly insignificant.
I’m aware that people don’t like me. This is for two reasons: firstly, I don’t shy away from saying what I think or when I feel there is an injustice of some kind. In fact, I’ve been told before that injustice of any kind within the work place is something I really struggle to let go of. It’s true.
Secondly, I can’t fake my feelings. If I don’t trust you – and trust is of paramount importance to me – then, quite frankly you know it because my guard goes up and I make it my business to have as little to do with you as I possibly can. It’s just a self-preservation thing.
In truth, fundamentally, I am that difficult woman. And people just don’t know how to deal with difficult women. They definitely don’t want to listen to them or understand what it is that just makes them a little bit difficult.
I’m also aware that I’m guilty of not always dealing with things in the right way. I can take to Twitter to vent and this can be deemed unprofessional. This happened at the end of last term when all the upset and anger I had within me exploded. I upset people that actually I have more respect for and shouldn’t have taken my anger out on but I apologised and hope we’ve moved forward. I’m aware that actually when people say and do things to me, I don’t tackle these things head on and let them loiter in the air for all to see before there is too much to make sense of and one almighty explosion hits.
Finally, I’m, as Jennifer Webb would say, unapologetically ambitious and hold the highest expectations of myself, simply because, rich or poor, our pupils get one shot at education and we are that shot. I strive to be excellent at what I do. Sometimes people would say I strive too hard, that I’m relentless and that I should just settle. That I am, in fact, overwhelming.
So where does this leave me for a new academic year? How aware am I of my position now?
Well the events of last year have forced me to pick myself up, dust myself down and recalibrate. And summer, as I’ve said is a good time to ponder, to reflect and to think about how you move forward.
Firstly, I know I am not worthless.
There is something absolutely enticing about the Italian culture and the level of confidence Italians have in themselves, which you see most of all in the summer. Whilst, my confidence dipped last year, this summer I end feeling more confident than ever.
I am a great teacher. After 20 years of planning lessons and deliberate practice in the classroom, it would be hard not to be a great teacher and I get great feedback from parents and pupils alike. (And great outcomes as well!) People are great though when they whole-heartedly believe in Wiliam’s famous saying ‘that every teacher should want to improve, not because they are bad but because they can be better’ and I strive to be the best I can be. I read avidly, I attend webinars like some kind of fanatic and I seek advice when I am not sure. I have confidence in myself and my abilities in the classroom to know where I’m strong and where I need support. I make it my business to be the best I can be.
Because of this, I am absolutely aware of my own worth.
But I am also aware that I need to change my own actions and behaviours in order to sustain myself this year.
Firstly, my relationship with my work has had to be recalibrated and I will no longer continue to contribute (mentally, emotionally, professionally) in the same way. Without question, my pupils will get the very best of me but at the end of last year, I felt completely ignored and unseen. Consequently, I re-branded myself as a freelance English teacher 😂 because I rocked up, taught lessons and left again…(although I have to admit the reality of this was joyful as I got my afternoon, evenings and weekends free…and something I will definitely continue into this year!) This year, for a quieter life, I will speak less in meetings, challenge less in meetings, and keep more of my opinions to myself. I’ll share my lessons, my resources and continue to work in a professional capacity with others, but I’ll be more of the silent member that I feel others want me to be. It won’t be easy but ultimately it will matter less as time goes on.
And that’s because I’m going to focus on being busy elsewhere. When you think about it, Twitter is the department of dreams. Having recently reflected and written a contribution to a new book on PD, the opportunities for self-directed PD at the moment are limitless. Feeling as though my contributions are no longer valued, as a consequence of the decisions I have made, has actually freed me up to throw myself into other things and tackle other opportunities – I’m back on CTeach in the autumn term; I’m writing more, speaking a bit more and still thinking lots. I have a gazillion books to read and ponder over. There is definitely no time to be bored or feel that there isn’t anything to contribute to.
Finally, and most importantly, I’m going to continue loving life. I adore where I live, the country I live in. I have amazing friends both in and out of work. I laugh so much, drink the best spritz, eat amazing food and travel. I live the most wonderful life away from work. I certainly don’t feel sorry for myself at all. Life is bloomin’ amazing…
…which leads me to my greatest awareness of all: the playoff this year between the two camps of my life: my professional and my personal life and the question as to whether you can be fully satisfied with one, in order to be able to compromise on your satisfaction of the other.
This year, above all else, I am aware that I am going to have to work that one out.