I really felt compelled to write this. I am not a teacher, but I am a parent, as well as a trained psychotherapist and coach, and so I want to shine a light on some things I have seen and heard, that I feel are important from a psychological perspective.
We have found ourselves in very uncertain times. This doesn’t necessarily mean all isn’t well, in fact I think some people seem to find themselves, myself included, in going from thinking things are ‘OK’ as there are aspects about the situation that suit me, then I can go into a thought process of fear and ‘what if’, when things feel uncomfortable. This is normal.
It’s likely, that to varying levels, we are all experiencing some level of fear at the moment. Uncertainty and unpredictability can generate feelings of fear, especially when we try hard to be in control, when we just can’t be!
Why is this important to acknowledge?
What I am seeing a lot of at the moment, is fear based reactions and opinions. When we make decisions from a place of fear and misunderstanding, we can make quick decisions that do not necessary consider all perspectives available to us. We can find ourselves getting frustrated, upset or even angry, and this then ends up spilling out and can often be projected on to others.
If they would just do their job properly
If they would work harder
If they would listen to me
They have it easier than me
We all have opinions, of course we do. We all have freedom of speech thankfully, and we all have the capacity to have both of those, whilst still considering others and remaining respectful. As I said earlier, this is my letter to teachers, so I am going to talk about education here.
We are ALL doing our best at the moment. Even if someone appears to you to not be doing what you would like them to be doing, they are doing their best with what they have available to them. I have delivered some virtual sessions around wellbeing in these times to businesses, and there is a very common theme of those who are still working, to be working harder than they ever have! Feeling that they need to prove themselves even more than usual.
There can be an attitude of, out of sight out of mind, which basically means it’s easier for us to completely create our own versions of what people are and aren’t doing. Again this is something we all do, myself included, yet when I take a step back, I can always see another perspective.
Firstly I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all education staff. Not just those at my daughter’s school (who have been amazing), but education staff everywhere. Staff who are still expected to put themselves and their families at a much higher risk, something that some of us just would not do, and they are doing this day in and day out.
One of the things I think we can also forget is that the majority of education staff who turn up to work every day, turn up to an audience. At times a hostile or challenging audience. Thank you for still showing up and facing your audience.
Lets also acknowledge that their audience has increased. For those of you that feel teachers are doing less as they are at home more, well actually that means their audience has increased dramatically. I have seen videos, heard voice messages and text messages from my daughter’s teachers, again I have been nothing but impressed, but also acknowledge that their audience has increased. I have the upmost respect for you all.
I saw a number of social media posts implying that any teacher who is not happy to stream live with students or create videos to adjust to these times, was effectively being incompetent. We will all need to move with the times of course we will, however, even psychologically there is so much to consider here. This is not what most teachers signed up for. This is something that takes confidence building and practise. There will be teachers who are more than happy to stream live, and that great, however there will be some that are not and that is also OK and again in my view should be completely respected.
Safeguarding is also important, and there will need to be consideration for the protection of children when using these new ways of communicating. However, again there was a huge lack of consideration in these posts and suggestions for protection of the teachers. Why? It is similar in my industry (that’s a whole other blog), but why is the teacher any less important as a human being, their welfare matters too, and from a potentially selfish perspective, I would much rather my child is taught by a teacher who feels supported and less stressed.
I am fortunate as I work for myself, and so I can adjust my work to a way that suits me and my clients and finding compromise. However, I would not do virtual sessions with some children. The reason for this, is because some are completely unable to stay focused, and will not engage, but even more so than that, I do not want to be sent around a group of friends as a screenshot. This happens a lot. I work with a lot of children and I have seen this time and time again, they show me!
This generation of children do not use technology in the same way as us. They multi task, they can navigate a number of different platforms, website and so on, much quicker than most adults. This is their norm. Even well behaved and well-rounded children would be very likely to become distracted when faced with technology. Often, when I want to get work done in my business, I revert to good old pen and paper as I can focus with less distraction. There is still a very valid place for these more traditional methods. These are just some thoughts based on my own personal experience working with children, and I would like to add this is coming from someone who is more than happy to do online videos, its 60% of my business. I can see the benefits at times, but there are certainly a lot of things that need to be considered, not just for our children, but also for our teachers. Otherwise we will lose them.
When we are under mass stressful situations, human beings can be so kind and compassionate, but I also see that we can become divided when we believe we are protecting ourselves or trying to get our point heard. This just causes a huge vicious cycle at a time where what we all need more than anything is more compassion and understanding towards each other.
Lets not tell teachers what they should and shouldn’t be doing to be considered a good teacher. Lets embrace our differences. Lets not assume we always know what’s best for our children without considering all aspects (including psychological). Lets show each other, respect and compassion, especially during stressful times.
If you are a teacher reading this now who is worried about how you will manage if you are forced to work in new ways that feel uncomfortable right now, you are OK just as you are. You are doing a great job. It will all work itself out and THANK YOU.
If you are a teacher who is frustrated and even contemplating your future career, as you feel the pressure is getting too much to have this all figured out. Remember people will always have opinions. Some of these will be respectful, some will be fear based. We are all doing our best at any given moment and we don’t always get it right. You do not need to take on other people’s fear based opinions.
Lets show each other compassion even when we disagree.
Thank you for all your hard work,
I appreciate you,