I’ve been gone a long time.
The whole PGCE thing was dragging me down and I’m afraid I had to go into hibernation and forget this blog for a while. But now that I’ve had the holidays to recover, I’m showing myself again.
I’m not posting this as part of the ‘PGCE Diaries‘, although it will have a lot to do with it, but this is a post that’s more personal. I was asked on the 1st January 2016 if I had any resolutions for this year. I responded with:
I do. To be happy.
Something that seems so simple that even this line is clichéd, but…but it’s actually really hard to find and keep a hold of.
The PGCE has been very challenging. I’ve had many ups and downs. Never have I had a romantic idea of teaching and when I began back in Sep 2015 it was difficult from day 1. I had high hopes and looked forward to becoming a better teacher and helping students to learn. But rather than gain all that I thought I would, I began to lose things instead.
Without my noticing I began to change. I had lost myself in my teaching. How or when did I realise? After one lesson late into the term, my mentor pulled me aside and praised me on making a joke in the lesson; he also suggested that I smile more often.
I can say, quite happily, that I am a very smiley kinda person. I don’t need a reason to, but I tend to smile often. But then to be applauded for cracking a joke and breaking a smile…I was horrified. What was happening to me?! I don’t teach by barking orders and nor do I bust out jokes every 5 mins either, but I would never have noticed that I had stopped smiling.
This really bugged me. More than people might think it should have, but it did. Because I’m not that teacher that’s uptight and looks like they don’t want to be there. Even with the worst class I still put in my all. I am aware I must sound like all newbie teachers do, yet it is very important to me. I wouldn’t be doing something as full on as a PGCE if I didn’t care for teaching. Yes, I can ignore this as a bump in the road. Yes, it all makes sense because I’m under great pressure so things like ‘having fun’ or being ‘creative’ in lessons can’t always cut it. Yes, it might be temporary and after a while I can be myself again. ‘Yes’ to a lot of things. But to me, it’s not good enough.
Aside from that time in my PGCE journey I was instructed on smiling (makes me cringe with pain along with a ‘What The Hell?’ face), I’ve had more doubts about teaching whilst being on the course than when I started. Again, sounds totally normal and it is. Yet, I’m talking about the whole ‘nature’ of teaching that has bogged me down. It’s all very businesslike and stifling. I need to tick boxes from a long list of things I need to have in order to prove I was working towards a good lesson. Although the outcome of teaching for the students learning is very important in education these days, my training so far has proven otherwise. It’s more about pushing students through the big machine that is ‘education’ to show results. The content pins you down so much that teaching has become suffocating. The students don’t know how I really do care for their learning, yet all they’ll see is a floundering teacher telling them what they should be doing as opposed to what they want to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wanted to get me for it. After all, the reality of teaching seems to be purging the same nonsense I heard 10 years ago.
Most of my experience in life has been on the pastoral side of working with people, especially young adults. I already know that as teachers you don’t go into a classroom as the student’s social worker, nor do I believe this should ever change. Yet it is this side of working with young people that I enjoy more over the regimented lessons to help teachers and students flow through and fit as cogs in a machine that only knows how to pump out figures and forced dreams.
I have been sooo disillusioned by the experience thus far, and I wonder at times if it’s all worth it. It sounds like this is some sort of ‘farewell note’ but I swear it’s not. I am going to persevere through this crummy degree and hope I still come out with the same face, even if not with the same smile *cringe*
Which goes back to my hope to be happy this year. Not happier. Just happy. I want to enjoy what I do and not fall ill from stress (yes, that’s another hidden bonus I’ve discovered). I’m going to focus on me this year. My health has plummeted since I started on this Adventure Time sort of journey, but I can’t let this cursed degree get the better of me! I’m not happy with things right now. Miserable in fact. But then it makes it all the more important I work my socks off to ensure I look for the silver lining in everything and try to think of how I can make things easier for my well-being. There is only one of me. One body. Heart. Soul. I need to treasure them all a bit more.