Felicity King
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Myths about teacher wellbeing.

Teaching is hard work, there are pressures, There are variables. Usually 30 of them in front of you at any one time and if you’re a secondary teacher, it could be 6 or 7 different groups of 30 variables in a day. That’s no way to run a science experiment! This is the reality. It’s one big, on-going experiment with no control and in some cases no hypothesis to test. So add these experiments together in the week, along with admin and the other tasks prescribed, the result is invariably demanding and often exhausting.  Bring on Friday and the biscuits are flowing, the finish line is in sight. For many of us, Friday brings the Eutopia of the weekend, the peace, freedom, family time and respite from the hullabaloo of the job we love. Time to restore and briefly forget.

This short story isn’t to make more noise about teacher workload. Your voices are calling time on it and the volume is building. This is more to tell you my own realization about my wellbeing, where I found it and the numerous wrong places I have looked. I was barking up the wrong tree.

Wellbeing isn’t the number of green smoothies you drink in a week, the spin classes you attend or the times you set your alarm for a moment of mindful calm. Of course those commitments can bring their own virtues, but not layered on top of one another and as part of another to-do list of target and judgement. If natural wellbeing isn’t already in place, these healthy suggestions are simply more emotional burden and another way to numb. In my most stressed out times I could get through the weeks worth of green juice in a morning. It wasn’t chocolate or Sauvignon that day, but it could have been and there were plenty of those as well.

I thought I was a broken. Inadequate and not enough. But thankfully a good friend suggested some coaching and I found my wellbeing had been there all along. My coach gave me the space to see that I was creating my experience through thought. Oodles of them, layer upon layer of thoughts. Clumping together and clogging up my consciousness like a toffee-thick tar.

So these days, thoughts come and go. I say hello to them but don’t linger with a microscope. The quiet behind the noise is where my wellbeing is at. My place of clarity, energy and knowing. Knowing I can trust myself to find a way, be brave enough to ask for help and kind enough to show some empathy for my team. Who daily do their best, with what they know and what they see, through their eyes, their thoughts and in their own incredible experiment. Unpredictable, without controls but where the sparks fly and the magic happens, where new discoveries are made.

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