22 May Primary School Teacher Wellbeing Ireland
For the last year and a half I’ve had this kind of weird hobby where I have been curious about the education system and curious to see what kind of changes might be possible. If I am honest, this all started when my son was going to start primary school. I had this overwhelming dread of him being shouted at, punished, called bold, brazen, put on time out and shamed for his normal childhood emotions and behaviours. Because I understand how hard it is being human. We are wired to detect threat and the behaviour of this is to be angry and punish. It takes great strength to not be a person who does these things – to themselves and others.
The more teachers I spoke to, the more I realised that actually teachers are very different to the ones I remember, 20 or 30 (ahem..), years ago. The teachers I met are to be held in awe and amazement. Every day they stand in the presence of a group of students (often more students than is optimum) and help these people become the most fulfilled version of themselves. The teachers do this in the face of increasing uncertainty, curriculum changes, pay changes, changes in terms of agreement of work, critical leaders and critical parents. Teachers bridge the gap of inequality for students and regardless of age, sexuality, gender, economic circumstances offer them the option to learn, develop and become a part of society. Yes each situation is different for each teacher, but how amazing are these people who are willing to do this?
From listening to teachers experiences I am beginning to learn how hard all of this is. It is difficult to do this without becoming anxious, angry, self-critical and plain old damn tired. I am delighted that I have been given the opportunity to run a summer course ‘Teacher & Student Resilience’ in the CESC during the summer. Not only will this course nurture our precious educators but it will also be given scientific validation when researched with the University of Derby. This research will be using the most highly academically acclaimed research methodologies and evaluation. What will be researched is the Compassionate Mind Training aspect of the course – the part that helps us create strength, wisdom, tolerance, kindness, non-judgemental attitudes and behaviours. The part that helps us create an inner ally. This can then be taken to the Department of Education to strengthen evidence for teacher wellbeing. My dream is for this to be woven into the teaching training. Together we can make this happen.