Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been… 5 months since my last blog!?
Though I can hardly believe that length of time has passed, it also feels like 10 seconds since I last sat here and pressed ‘Publish’. Things have been pretty hectic, in both my work life and my personal one.
I suppose I should start with the very exciting news that J and I reserved a house together just before my last blog post went live, and in October, after a very lengthy road to exchange and completion, we are now the owners of our very first, and absolutely stunning house.
It has not been without its issues, and getting any house builder to fix all the problems they have said they will fix is not an easy job. But we adore it. And this obvously means I can get my puppy really soon, because now no one can tell me I can’t!
I wish I could say that this exciting news is what has kept me away from my blog, and in parts very quiet on Twitter too. And although that was the case for a number of weeks, it would be a lie to say it still is. This is a post that I sometimes get the urge to write on a Sunday evening, after finishing my work, and then going on Twitter to compare myself to all of you wonderful human beings. That urge often dissapates quickly, I can shake it off and realise all of the amazing things I am doing. But over the past few months I have found that harder and harder to do.
In part, this is due to time. My new role is incredibly demanding and across the school, particularly in the last half term, we have had a lot reasons for picking up extra lessons and classes, sometimes short term and others long term. It has affected all of us in the leadership team in Maths quite substantially and when I get home I just want to eat and sleep. But quite often I have various admin tasks to do, or books and assessments to mark. Or I have to ring 50000 different people for house admin/chasing up repairs when I DON’T have books to mark. I am often on the go until 9pm, which is no good at all when you get to work shortly after 7am.
Tiredness is not good for me. It is one of my triggers. This, combined with my job and new house stresses, has really knocked me off balance. My anxiety is back and in full force.
So recently, when I scroll through Twitter, I see people that I adore, respect and admire and want to curl up in a ball and hide. Because I am not able to do any of the reading I want to do (academically or for pleasure), nor am I able to take new ideas and form them into a well written and useful blog post, and I am not able to then use that to purposefully impact on my practice in the classroom. I have felt like I am in ‘survival mode’; my lessons are just about good enough in terms of planning, I do most admin incredibly close to deadlines, I put on a happy smiley face for the students I teach.
Keep calm and carry on, as they say.
So when I don’t have to keep up appearances, I haven’t. At home, I swing between total indifference to everything, to over-emotional wreck and panic attacks so bad I think I’m having a heart attack. This hasn’t been good for me, my family, J or my friends. But this post is not so much about the personal side of it, in those respects…
What is has meant in my ‘professional’ life is that have stayed quiet on the ‘Arithmaticks’ front. This has not gone unnoticied, and I have usually told people it is because I am ‘just so busy’. Which is accurate but not entirely truthful.
I have lurked like I used to in my early days of using Teacher Twitter. Because I simply don’t feel good enough. Because anything else makes me feel like a fraud and an imposter. And even on the days I have felt OK, I have quickly gotten overwhelmed with all of the ideas I’ve seen; how do you decide what is most important to focus on… Cognitive Load? Pedagogy? Resources? Sequencing of topics? Pastoral care? And when you have, how do you find the time to research it properly, and then really put it into practice?
I have hosted some #mathscpdchats – mostly in the interests of putting on a brave face while my mind attacks itself. These have genuinely been lovely and reminded me why I love teaching and the community I have around me online. But the only reason I have felt it is OK to do these because I am asking questions and facilitating, not offering many ideas myself. Then I have spent hours afterwards dissecting my lessons which have become ‘not good enough’ because someone else had a great idea… A double edged sword of invigoration and intimidation in my unkind brain.
I’ve also kept up with planning #TMMathsIcons because I know that it will make me feel exactly the same as the twitter chats. I’ll be with ‘my people’ discussing the thing I love the most. But those feelings of inadequacy at having been asked to organise such a fantastic event creep in constantly.
The worst thing about having anxiety is that I know that most of this isnt true. I am a GREAT maths teacher. I have FANTASTIC ideas about running my classroom, planning and delivering lessons. I am INSANELY organised and my life is less chaotic than I think it is. I have been trusted with and am planning an AWESOME conference for #TMIcons. I have written a very well recieved article for the NCETM Secondary Magaine, and continue to host chats that help myself and others with their CPD. I am (usually) an AMAZING friend/girlfriend/daughter/sister – I am kind, thoughtful and occasionaly funny.
I am not a fraud. I am not an imposter.
But my brain is unkind.
New Year has made this worse for me. I’ve read a number of blogs this morning with resolutions and promises for 2019. I usually write one of those myself, infact I write two – one in September and in January! I like to reflect and to push myself on, but this year they propelled me into further panic. So this year, the blog is very different.
There are contrasting views that have resonated so deeply. I always very deeply connect with the things Becky Woods (@shadylady222) says, especially regarding mental health, and her most recent blog is no exception:
I know there are people who don’t like New Year, I don’t, and it is probably all down to that very reason. We reflect and we hope and both together can be overwhelming. I shall be reminding myself that it is just another day, it begins and ends in the same way as any other. Tomorrow is another day too. The sun will rise and night will be at the end. So just do what you want to do, read a book, watch trash telly, or join me in eating lots of cheese. Don’t feel like you have to make lots of resolutions. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do things you might not be able to do. See what happens and you might achieve more than you imagined.
Until I can get my anxiety back under control, I expect I’ll stay quiet. But please encourage me to share your passion with you, because it reignites mine when I feel like a pretender.
I hope that things will get better each day, and I can stop feeling like I am just surviving soon. I am just one person, capable of wondeful things. I have bounced back before and I will do it again. But like Becky says, no pressure just yet. I’m going to take it slow and try to heal before I jump in trying to be the best teacher in the world.
There are some lovely things on the horizon (most importantly the likelihood of a puppy in the summer!)…. and others I cannot even imagine yet. Hopefully 2019 will surprise me, and I’ll surprise myself…