I was lucky enough to be able to go back into the classroom this year.
I am a teacher by trade, but had a year out of the classroom altogether, and 2 years without my “own” class. Happily, luckily and lovingly, that has changed recently!
In Australia, we start at our school year in January/February.
So for the last 8 to 10 weeks I’ve been lucky enough to have a new classroom, a new class, a new role, and new responsibilities.
It is uber stressful!
The school I am in is a special-needs school that caters for a particular type of special need. Naturally with special needs kids, there are often additional needs that present; in addition to the need that the school caters for.
I teach the youngest class; the class of little people that haven’t left Mum for a whole day before. A whole class of kids that haven’t been exposed to formalised schooling before. Or what the expectations are, or why their needs are suddenly put on the back-burner as all these other humans compete with sometimes similar, sometimes contradictory needs.
And in all honesty I am completely overwhelmed about 70% of the time.
Less overwhelmed when I choose to take it ‘slower’ in the classroom, focus on one tiny thing at a time.
And then guilty about taking it slower another 20% of the time. Wait, guilty crossed inadequacy, crossed with fear and uncertainty.
This is way over my head!
There is so much I need to learn, in terms of how to speak, so that these students can hear, understand and respond. What to expect, in terms of output, and using what methods under which circumstances. How to structure lessons and days, that cater for diverse and fundamental needs.
There is the curriculum I need to learn… like… what do I actually teach?! Which is difficult in the sense that I haven’t taught this age group before, so I need to learn about what I am mandated to teach. And there is actually two governing documents (because I teach a split 2 year level class) that don’t intertwine nearly as much as I would like them to! But then, I need to explicitly teach students at their point of need, their specific deficits that again, qualify them for this special needs school.
I also need to learn how this education institution works… because that is new too! Which deputy do I speak to, and about what? Which person do I go to before the deputy, and under what circumstances? Is that person just on a power-trip or are these actual guidelines that I need to follow?
I find the politics, the uncertainty and the incredible need for perfection I place upon myself incredibly suffocating!
I find the patronising, although well-intentioned advice of “everyone’s first year here is tough” frustrating.
I find the workload and confined hours restrictive, as I can only do certain work at certain places during certain hours.
AND I AM OKAY WITH THIS!
I mean it. I am okay with all of the discomfort and unease. I am okay with the new-ness and the overwhelm. I am okay with the conflicting need to learn and do, with rest and recoup.
It’s not ideal.
And it’s not something that I would be signing up for indefinitely.
I see it as a process.
How do you cross a desert? One step at a time.
And that is what this is.
Yes, I am totally frustrated that each single step can seem so slow and insignificant.
Yes, I totally rage against the winds that add compounding hours to my workload or confusion to my already lack of comprehension.
And yes, if I could get a quad bike or horse… or even an aeroplane to help me cross, I totally would. But I can’t, and that is not what this is about.
I am okay.
I feel incredibly supported by a simply divine administration. I genuinely feel like everyone wants me to succeed. Even when I doubt that I can. And I know that this is a phenomenally privileged place to be in (with supportive admin).
I need the world to know that I am absolutely still finding my feet. And I can’t imagine how it will look when I do find them. I can’t even imagine it – it seems like such an abstract concept most of the time! 🙂 But I can do this. I am doing this. And I am okay.