We all know that the weeks before the summer holidays are full of shit. Data inputting and analysis, reports, gathering of children’s records (not hashing them together last minute, obvs) Last minute phonic assessments that will unlikely be meaningful come September (or at all…ooh controversial!), pre-school visits, home visits, transition visits and remembering key information for 2 classes at a time. It’s all quite a mash up of stuff and it’s no wonder teachers across the country go bat shit crazy. There’s just too much to remember, too many last minute thoughts and not enough time spent being ‘as usual’. But nevertheless the same happens year after year after year. I don’t get anymore organised and neither do my colleagues. I don’t change my habits to make it easier because I simply don’t have the mental capacity to do so. Instead us teachers deflect our overworked frustrations into the chocolate box and become school night drinkers to help us get through. Why do we have to do some of this stuff?!
If you’re a working parent or a carer for someone else then it is, in my opinion, somewhat harder to function during the Summer term. My head is a constant to do list, and it runs a bit like this:
‘Ah 11pm, you crazy cat, best get you off to bed’
*set 7 alarms (just in case) and close eyes*
*wake up because child #2 needs a wee, so I guide him to the toilet only for him to overshoot. I pick him up, get wee dribble down my pjs and put him to bed. On goes the light and out comes the bleach. While I’m down there I clean the skirting. The dust is immensely thick. I wash my hands and return to bed.*
*close eyes. Fall asleep. Dream of child #1 crying because I abandoned him outside Sainsbury’s because I have too much work to do. Wake up. Check both children. Back to bed. Now awake. Start thinking about the things I have to do. Decide to write a list. Remember that I have not washed child #1’s polo shirts. Pop the washing on. It must be more economical washing overnight?! I google this. Back to bed. Close eyes. Open eyes. Check alarms. Close eyes again.*
*wake up with child #2 staring me right in the face. Stealthy bugger. Return him to bed. Promise to check on him. Return to bed. Wait a few minutes and check on him. Repeat four or five times. Fall asleep.*
*Wake up after hitting snooze a few times. Notice child #2 is in my bed and has wiped his bogey on my pillow. Shower, dress, pack his Nursery bag, empty and refill the dishwasher, put polo in the drier, check Child #1s bookbag, write a fake note in reading diary (he’s a fluent reader and we have two bedtime stories every single night. He also reads everything in sight, so Biff and Chip can fuck right off, twats.) Wonder why I bother to write a fake note. Perhaps I should write about how I don’t believe in homework, but decide to be supportive of his school. Feed children. Dress children (disclaimer: husband does this also, but his outfits are questionable). Listen to husband complain he never has any clothes. It’s probably because every time he buys new shirts for work they’re identical. Take the dog to doggy nursery…arrive at work.*
*Search frantically for the booper that opens the door, eventually find it wedged between a dinosaur and a furry cracker in the corner of my bag. Walk to classroom, turn everything on, open door…ensure all is reset, get reminded of something I’m supposed to have done…kids in, full pelt teacher mode…*
You get it. It’s not just *Go to sleep, dream of Cillian Murphy, get up and go to work* like the good old days. So your brain becomes a bit of a mosh pit.
Mix it with constantly changing goals, the insecurity of low intake numbers, the ethical dilemmas that come with being a parent-teacher, the worry of being an undesirable teacher because of UPS and budgets, learning walks, observations, well meaning parents and working mum guilt and I know I won’t be teaching forever. It’s no wonder there are few teachers left and few fancy taking up the profession.
Give me a world where teachers are more than statistics, where children are more than numbers and a where government respect professional opinions, and not just a select set of professionals, a variety. Dare I say it, give me a world where government can analyse honest data. Give me a world where I can work and not be judged for being a mother who works. I love my job but I love my children more and for whatever reason society has created a stigmatism for working mothers and fathers alike.
Why the drone? You ask. Well it’s a fucking good question. Who knew I felt so passionately before I wrote this post?
What I actually wanted to remind us all of was that teachers are in fact ‘actual real life’ humans. It’s quite a secret, but it’s true. You can be a human to your own tiny people or a human to other people’s tiny people, but you’re definitely and certainly a human. Without you, those tiny people we talk of will not have a human at home or at school. For some of those tiny people you are the only person they can truly rely on. Please take the time this summer and actually, for the rest of this year and next and the ones that follow, to stop giving yourself shit about the stuff you have to do. You’re trying your hardest and you need to look after yourself. I’m not talking (top fucking tip) replace your craving for chocolate with a piece of fruit. That’s bull. I’m taking about your mental health. Your mind fuckery, if you will. In 2017 it was reported that half of teachers were struggling with their mental health. I wonder what the stats are now? That’s probably because we are humans, not facilitators of that factory in that little video we always watch. The one we watch about education and talk about during staff meetings. The one we all nod to when we hear the words “Why do we do that?” (If you have no idea what I’m on about listen here- it’s defo worth a watch) https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms/up-next)
Always ask yourself “why do I do that?” Challenge your SLT when they ask you to generate something you don’t believe to benefit the children. Be part of changing the way teachers work. If you’re in Early Years read about the adult world and the children’s world – read Can I go and Play now? by Greg Bottrill (Can I go and play now?) Philosophical beauty mashed with balanced workload. Check yourself when you ask for shit from other teachers. I know I’m guilty of saying “I know you’ve got loads on but please could you give me a copy of your outdoor learning work for my file.” Why do I do that?! Create a schedule for leaving early, schedule in study time and put your phone away between pick up time and 7.30. Plan days out, take stupid selfies, postpone bedtime and go for a late night walkies, dress your dog up, treat yourself to some UV Harry Potter glasses even though you’re out out with fully grown adults, drink on a Wednesday! And more importantly, if you’re struggling with life, reach out and talk to someone about it. Message me, message someone. Because your mental health is vital. It’s fucking hard sometimes to be human and it’s harder to be a human to 31+ tiny people.
Your tiny people need you now more than ever.