This week was a tough week. Nothing major, and people, I’m sure, are dealing with much worse. Just a multitude of little things all piling up at once…governor meetings to prep for, lots of staff absence, few niggles here and there, safeguarding and social care issues, a high level of cover needed from me. Coupled onto that meetings re a particularly challenging child that then led to talk of a formal complaint and a meeting with a SEN advisory service giving my SENCo a going over (unwarranted) it was a hard one. Stress levels were up, sleep disturbed and tiredness became a little overwhelming.
However, out of all that was going on, there was one thing that tipped it over the edge – the threat of a complaint. It’s like a kick in the stomach. Repeatedly, every time you think about it. Should it come, I think we’re on solid ground and we’ve been giving excellent provision, but it hurts. I pride myself on being open and honest, upfront and straight forward about what we can offer, why we do it and how we think it’ll benefit the children. For the most part, it leads to a very happy school, and for that I’m grateful. Unfortunately though, it just takes one comment to undo all of your self esteem about what has been created in the school. One negative comment can outweigh a hundred positive ones, without question. The biggest thing, the thing that sticks the most is that you’ve given everything – literally all of you at times – and to be told that despite that people feel like complaining can often only feel like one thing – an outright rejection of what you stand for and what you are trying to achieve. It affected my whole mood, like living under a cloud for a few days – noticeable to most. I know we shouldn’t take it personally, but I do, and I am sure others do too. Teacher is an intensely personal job. You can’t remove yourself from the relationships you have to build with pupils and parents, and that is why it hurts, frustrates and disappoints when things aren’t working out.
A quick post on Twitter brought a lot of support and concern – edutwitter at its best. I put out there that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s hard to see that sometimes, but if the time I’ve spent doing this job has taught me one thing – it is there. It might only be the smallest chink of light, but the good thing I find about schools is that as quickly as they can turn the heat up on you and make you feel pretty terrible, they can also do the complete opposite just as quickly. A good comment here, a nice email or an afternoon spent having fun with the the children can put a completely different spin on everything. It makes you realise what you do it for and what is really important and it can give you perspective.
Towards the end of the week, things improved. Was it my mindset or things genuinely getting better? Probably a bit of both. Time, reflection, distraction and changing circumstances can all make that chunk of light a little bit brighter, and once it starts shining a bit brighter it’s much easier to find your way towards it.
However hard it is, look for the positives. Teaching is an up and down job, with such massive highs and lows. However personally you might find a criticism, most of the time try to remember that often it isn’t. Don’t feel bad for being upset – it’s human nature. Besides, if it didn’t hurt, it means you don’t care, and caring is the exact reason we do this job.