Thursday, 27 October 2005

I have had a couple of profound thoughts in the last little while but just at this minute they seem to be escaping me. What I am loving at the moment is this beautiful weather. It is so refreshing and energising. I am finding that the daylight peeking in through the blinds in the morning quite early makes me feel like each day is full of possibilities. The reality of my days at the moment is that they are really busy, but a glance outside seems to renew my hope and enthuse me to get on with living and not waste time feeling glum or stressed. Praise God for the prozac effect of a sunny day.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

The last few mornings I have been getting up and going for walks. Very close to our place is a wetlands which has been replanted and now has heaps of birds and is a little bit of paradise in suburbia. Walking through it as the sun comes up and the mist is still over the water is absolute bliss. It is a heady mix of being reminded that my life is really not the centre of the universe but also testament to the way God cares for his creation.

It has also been wonderful to be active. This has been the winter of sloth for me. My energy levels have been at an all time low and I have not been eating very healthily. So with the coming of daylight savings, my enthusiasm for being healthy has been reinvigorated. I love that it really is true that when you do some excercise and eat well you actually do feel better. Who would have thought?

Monday, 17 October 2005

Superwoman syndrome seems to be a rampant disease and one which I am struggling with at present. I have recently begun to accept that I can't do everythink I think I should. This results in me feeling like a failure. I am always sure everyone else is coping and fine and I can't understand why I can't keep up with everything.

I read an excellent column about the issue which stated that women who suffer from superwoman syndrome are often people who seek affirmation and approval from others, who have had to take on responsibility in their families or have had high expectations placed on them as a child. They are often plagued by guilt and fear if they don't meet their own high expectiations. I could see myself in the description straight away.

The columnist gave some interesting advice. He suggested facing up to the trauma that you cause to others and the people you are supposed to care for by saying yes to too many things and burning out. It was also suggested that despite the internal voice which accuses you of laziness and makes you feel guilty for not doing everything, to just push on through and embrace doing less.

One thing I have realised recenlty is that trying to be perfect adn seem perfect is a very selfish way to live. It means that everything you do is all about feeling good about yourself adn not really about others. It also is a recipe for mental and emotional trauma because you can never meet your own standards and always feel inadequate and ironically everyone around you has to make space for you to be so tortured.

The tricky thing I find is working out what realistic expectations of myself are. Sometimes you do have to work hard and be tired but when is it required and when is it because of my need to be perfect? I also think that society today almost reinforces the superwoman mentality by promising everything if you just work hard enough.

I must go and try to be a not so perfect teacher to my very much less than perfect students!

Sunday, 9 October 2005

I was marking some research by my students today. They has to research the life and works of a New Zealand writer. I was reading through the brochures they had put together and was so imspired by the careers of these well known writers. Many of them came to a realisation at some point that they wanted to write seriously and be published.

When I was quite young I used to go sailing with my family a lot. There isn't much you can do when you are sailing except look at the view. I used to stare into space and come up with all these ideas for stories. I still remember on quite vividly. We were sailing from Coromandel Harbour up towards Moehau and there are quite a few islands dotted about. One you can sail very close to. It was a grey day and gusty and I could see cattle dotted about on the hills. I thought it would be a great place to use as a setting for a kids novel about abandoned buildings, with mysteries and lone cattle left by a family who had abandoned the island. I went for a walk on that island and thought about the story even more. But I never wrote it.

I heard an interview on the radio with an author of teenage fiction and she also inspired me. She had a successful career which she had put on hold while she had kids. When her kids were school age she was looking for something new to do. She went to a seminar and a well known author asked her what she wanted to do with her life. She said she wanted to write. He replied by telling her to get on with it, so she did.

So I might get on with it. Even if the writing sucks, at least I will have had a go. Bit scary really, actually doing something. It is much easier to have a perfect dream rather than an imperfect reality.

Friday, 7 October 2005

I have really been enjoying my holiday and hence my absence. I haven't done anything much but what I have been doing has been well with my soul. But now the new term is looming and I am trying to work out how I am going to deal with it. I have been feeling rather luck lustre about teaching. But I have decided to keep at it for another year. I don't want to drag myself kicking and screming back to school and I would love to recapture the passion I has when I first started teaching.

I think I have lost a great deal of self confidence this year. I have felt unable to measure up to my own standards as a teacher and therefore I have felt a bit of a failure. Teaching is rather a conundrum really. If you do heaps of work it is often very exciting and enthusing, but you just can't keep working at that pace so eventually you crash. However, if you work in a way which is purely about self preservation there is very little satisfaction and in the last term I got into a rut of feeling that the job was too impossible and why would anyone bother so that I really felt like a victim of my job. So in order to try to solve this dilemma I think I have come up with a solution.

I am going to downsize my job. Middle management in teaching is a nightmare. Too much to do and not enough time so the plan is to go back to purely being a classroom teacher. I want to get back into creating interesting and challenging lessons for my students, having time to give good feedback and the energy to be creative and improve my teaching practise. I am hoping this down shift will reignite my passion for teaching. I also plan to just teach one subject rather than the two I teach at the moment so that I can focus on one thing and hopefully do it well.

This simplification of my work goes totally against the grain of where my teaching career was heading. I am very much a big picture person and I can always see improvements and changes which I think should be made across my whole school and become very frustrated when people don't seem to be able to make those changes. So I thought by moving into middle management I could be a part of those changes. Well I was mistaken. For some people I think it definitely works but it seems the further up the ranks I have moved there further I get from the students and the teaching, which is supposed to be what schools are about. I have very little patience with school concerns about PR and politics. I think schools should be places where the management serves the teachers so that they can do the best job they can in serving the needs of their students, unfortunately it usually goes the other way round.

So by returning to my classroom and the kids hopefully I will remember the reason I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and will be able to stop just surviving each day at work and instead be excited about being there and what I can offer.