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Sunday, 30 April 2017

What is your back story?

Teaching is an important profession and as cheesy as that sounds teachers really do have a huge impact upon the future of those that they teach. For a huge amount of teachers teaching is also a vocation, a calling, something they know they were meant to do. For those teachers who do not consider themselves vocational teachers teaching is still more than just a Monday to Friday, 8 hours a day job. The evidence for this can be seen all over social media and, if you look closely, in the pound shops and discount stores, in charity shops and in the stationary aisle of all well known supermarkets. 
But teachers are also real life people, people with lives outside of teaching, people with a back story. This is so often forgotten by politicians, by school leaders and even by themselves. Teaching is a profession that lends itself to an almost Jekyl and Hyde existence with teachers really living in that stock cupboard where their pupils think they live.
But in times when the importance of mental health and wellbeing are finally in the spotlight teachers need to feel free to share their backstory, reveal themselves as human beings, the people they really are warts and all. It is a scary thought I know. I can hear a lot of the teachers reading this inhaling deeply and saying 'What?' 'Are you mad?' 'No way!' But it is important for many reasons:

  • Teachers mental health - talking and sharing is one of the most powerful ways to maintain good mental health and wellbeing. That means talking about themselves, their feelings, thoughts being honest 'I'm having a bad day today' not talking about resources, books etc. 
  • Sharing a back story with others helps remind them that teachers are complex human beings like everybody else, with many vast and varied experiences outside of teaching and that these experiences can enhance what they do, not diminish it. 
  • It enables others to feel free to share their story opening up a really valuable dialogue which can lead an open, understanding culture. One that values, understands and recognises teachers on good days and bad.
  • Back stories do not just relate to mental health but also physical health and can be all manner of things from climbing mountains to deep sea diving. They are varied, complex, happy, sad, individual and often inspiring.
It is important to remember that having a back story does not make for a weaker person or a bad teacher. It actually shows that they have got where they are, as a result of or even despite of, their experiences. This is a powerful message, an example of the values set out in schools all around the country: Determination, hard work, resilience, compassion, kindness, teamwork ... and to their pupils they are rock stars. 
So what's your back story? Check out my other twitter handle to get part of mine @pituitarydi