Running and learning #4: Progress is Tough

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*Note: Mental Health Awareness day was on Wednesday 10 October. 

Progress is hard. I came last in the bleep test and I didn’t improve my 5km time this week. Pretty miserable. Enough to get you down. Also, the job. That can be tough. “Here is a class of seventy Yr 11’s that you don’t normally teach. Could you supervise during a PSHEE session?” I wasn’t in the best of moods when I went for a run this week. Perhaps understandably my state of mind affected my physical exertions. So what do we need to do when the going gets tough?

For me, I always find it useful to remind myself why I do it and what it is I am striving for. Bad days will come, and it is in those moments we need to remind ourselves that no one ever achieved anything of note in a matter of moments. Goals worth striving for will inevitably cause us to fail at points. A great achievement is great partly because it’s hard to attain. To steal a phrase from one of Mark Fisher’s favourite authors, Murakami: “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” Is my vision or purpose strong enough to see this temporary pain for what it is: a reminder that I am trying to do ‘something’ well.

As well as reminding myself of my vision or principles, I also remember that thoughts are only thoughts. Thoughts come and go like clouds. Behind the clouds is blue sky (not ‘Bluesky’. That would be horrendous). The wind will push those clouds and by embracing a moment at the start or end of the day we have the power to appreciate that a thought is just a figment of one’s imagination. The power of the mind. You created that thought. You have the power to change it or make a new one. It’s probably not too surprising to consider that most people are in control of their minds – as scary as that might sound, it is also very liberating at times of stress or anxiety.

Finally, I always try to remember my support circles. Teachers are amazing. Having done numerous other jobs, one of the greatest strengths of our profession is the staff room. The hierarchy is flat, people are approachable, every teacher (regardless of their seniority) has been in your position, and every teacher became a teacher because they cared. Be greedy and ask someone for a chat. My chat with Amanda after my run was enough to remind me that I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I hope the chats that I have had with Dave and Caroline this week have reminded them that even for senior leaders teaching shouldn’t be a lonely experience. It is important to remember that we are all trying to the best in our current situation.

Should you need further support ‘Worklife Support’ can be contacted on: 08000 856 148

If anybody would like to try headspace then here is the link. Ten minutes a day is all you need (every day). https://www.headspace.com/

Finally, here is a link to a TES blog that offers some tips on teacher stress: https://www.tes.com/news/10-ways-teachers-look-after-their-wellbeing

If all those fail, a Sam Kidd assembly will cheer you up. Wednesday’s at 8:40 in St Mary’s Hall.