I love teaching I really do. It’s the reason I gave up my role as a Vice Principal this academic year, because I missed being in the classroom. Missed the rush delivering lesson after lesson. I might sound mad but I’m telling the truth. But I think we can all relate to how exhausting it can be.
I recently watched Elizabeth Gilberts Ted talk ‘Your elusive creative genius’ for the 10th time over the last couple of years. What I love about this talk is she argues that there is enormous pressure on artists to be geniuses. She describes how after the success of her first book she was frightened that nothing she wrote would live up to that ever again. She promotes a different perspective. That rather than ‘being’ a genius, artists ‘have’ genius within them. That they separate themselves from that genius in a healthy way. Ask for it to show up but don’t tie their identity to it.
Yes I am comparing teachers to artists, because in all my years of watching these magicians at work I really do believe holding the attention of 30 individuals and transferring knowledge is an art form. But when we become the job we have a problem. You see as teachers we believe we ARE the job not that we DO the job. I’ve heard people say it over and over again, teaching is a vocation, but I think this comes at a terrible price, one where our self esteem hangs by a thread on people’s perception of us.
But what if rather than being an excellent teacher we all believed that we hold excellence inside of us. That we must nurture it. And embrace that it comes in volumes. In a 6 or 7 period day it may come loudly in P3 and then go for a short rest in Period 4. Do you think we’d be kinder to ourselves in that way?
So how will you nurture your genius this week? With a hot chocolate on the way home one evening? By going easy on yourself if you don’t stick to the lesson plan? By taking the time to have lunch sat down. Whatever it is, recognise that it resides in you.