Ever felt like saying to the class:
“Sorry folks…need a little space for myself now… just to take the edge off: see you in ten.”
Or what about saying to the hand that brandishes the time out card:
“hey, can I have one of those too….please?”
Recently I sat through a training session on behaviour management and noticed – in the midst of many words on a slide – the phrase 'managing your emotions'. The words just sat there, all JFDI defiant. I thought: you know what, I get it; I’m on Team Managing Your Emotions but what concerns me more is the toll that accumulates from weeks, months (nay, years), of chalking up managing the emotions whilst at the same time being 'cabined', 'cribbed', and 'confined' in the classroom.
I don’t know about you but for me the toll comes a day or two into what’s still quaintly known as the ‘school holiday’ (aka: extended non-contact time) when your immune system takes a hit proportionate only to Luke Skywalker’s sucker-punch on the Death Star: total evisceration.
Then there’s rumination; that pesky little buddy of cognitive overload. Rumination toots its horn like this: you’re out with your children, your partner, or some other significant other, when you suddenly find that you’re just not fully present; that your mind is elsewhere: perhaps with a certain lesson plan you’re mulling over, or a certain student who always seems to be giving your lesson plan a mulling over. There you are, at the park, vaguely cognisant of the fact that your three year old is sitting on the swing; that you’re pushing the swing; that you are – apparently, hopefully – smiling at your beaming bundle of joy as they experience the rapture of the swing’s giddy rise and fall. But you’re still not fully present. Indeed, if anything, your mind seems to be no more than tentatively tethered to whatever it is that is arising in the present moment.
So is there a solution to this? No, I don’t think there is. Certainly not whilst KPI culture is King. Can you imagine that? Measuring the efficacy of teacher wellbeing? Reminds me of the story about the incurable academic who says: I know it works in practice but what I really want to know is, does it work in theory?
No. What’s best for me is to cultivate my own time out card. The one I got given has ‘Mindful Awareness’ written on it. My teacher assures me I can use it whenever I feel a moment arising.
So there you go: I’ve got permission.
Permission from myself.
And who knows, if it helps me then perhaps it can help my students.
Mindful teacher, mindful students.
Now there’s a thought worth noting.
For more on teaching with mindful awareness and self-compassion, please sign up for weekly postings on my non-striving efforts at www.chrisrecklearninginmind.com