Student-Teacher Chats Part 3

Have you ever noticed that when you are mentally and/or emotionally exhausted it makes you feel physically exhausted. However when you are physically exhausted it does not always translate to mental exhaustion, only sometimes.

I think teachers experience everything all at once, that if you were to ask what type of exhaustion they are experiencing, it would all be one and the same thing. So much happens in a single day from running up and down the stairs, to sitting in staff meetings and then dealing with parents, to being excited about learners who understand the work but simultaneously worried about those you don’t quite get it yet, because you might have messed up a lesson one day then fought to recover the next day, all within the time bounds of the national curriculum. If you read that all in one breath then that was exactly the point! phew!

Here is the topic today:

Teaching as an Emotional Act

Professor Jansen once said in the opening of the 2020 Jakes Gerwel Summit, [paraphrased] that if you are not feeling “kaput” – drained and tired, almost defeated at the end of the day, then you haven’t done a good job.

There is no way a teacher can get through the day completely “neutral” or unaffected by their surroundings and the people they see on a daily basis. Remember, there is no such thing as a neutral teacher. Your students won’t even allow you to be neutral. They will ask you to pick a side or to fight for them. They will need you to sympathise with their situation even if you gut feeling is telling you that something is not quite right. One child will want to share their achievement with you, while the very next child will want you to help with their downfalls. It is a crazy mix, because you never know what each learner will need from you each day, but also you must be able to discern whether you are able to completely give all that you can to ensure success in each child. To let them know that you care about everything that they are.

The emotional rollercoaster that each teacher rides on everyday is, well, an emotional rollercoaster! I would say the catch is that you do not see the next loop or the next peak. Sort of riding blind and hoping your seat belt is tight enough to not fall off the wagon. It is pride and joy, tornado and explosion all wrapped up in one beautiful package. But as I keep saying, you feel some sort of fulfillment at the end of it all, as though it was all worth it.

I do not have enough experience to have been able to see things through from the start of the academic year right through to the end. However, these 3 weeks have really exposed me to just a snippet of what it might really be like. With each planned lesson that does not go completely according to my hopes, there is a slight bit of panic that is felt on my side and it is because of the amount I care that I feel. I really do feel the emotions in the room and within myself, to want to be better and do better with each delivery. I believe at the end of they day, if you do not want that as a teacher, then you are not doing it for the right reasons.

Of course, one has to learn to not burn themselves out. You need recovery strategies for yourself. Time to just switch off and recollect your thoughts. Never neglect self-care, no matter how much you do care for your learners. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

No one can prescribe what is best for you, only you can do that. My suggestion is to find what works for you as soon as you can. Plan days out maybe with friends, watch a series/movie, go to the spa on your teacher salary (budgeted, of course). Whatever is good for the soul, do that!!

That’s my 2c for today. Thank you for your time! Comment below your thought, like and share with others!

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