Saturday, 19 September 2015

Be patient with teachers too!

Back to School

We are three weeks in to the school year and there have been some short tempers and tantrums as we all get a bit tired and overwhelmed with our new timetables, routines and homework. On Friday especially there was far more dysregulation, arguing and hyper behaviour than usual. It was mostly from the pupils of course but everything I just said is true of the teachers too.

Even in a secondary school which is making an effort to be trauma aware we sometimes mess up: as a school and as individual teachers.  Cornered by a parent on Tuesday evening, as I was rushing home to take my own Lad to a medical appointment, there was an expectation that I would have a very full knowledge of her daughter's needs. Of course this pupil's notes are on the system and I will have had a quick look but realistically I am learning the names and needs of over 200 children, all of whom are new to me, and the temptation to come out with a comment like:

"In the short time I have known your child I believe she is a girl with brown hair."

is huge. I will get there but we are only three weeks in.

Then there are the times when I make mistakes in the classroom.. Teachers, like parents, sometimes run out of empathy. Even those of us who are the most trauma aware get tired and stressed. We may react to a situation without thinking, we may get frustrated and raise our voices. I try to always model appropriate behaviour in my classroom but I have bad days when I overreact. If I realise in time I will apologise to the class and admit my mistake or if it is an individual pupil I have dealt with badly I will try to find them later and restore the relationship but I have a full timetable and it's a busy school - I don't always have time and then the opportunity is lost.

You know those days when, as parents trying to do it therapeutically, our children push us to the limit and we react in a way we regret? Teachers can be guilty of this too. We have 30 children in front of us and they switch every hour 5 or 6 times a day. We do mess up, that doesn't mean we don't care about your child. Please be patient with us.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Growing Up Too Late

After almost six months of living alone I share the house once more with a long-legged, football-obsessed, fridge-emptying 21 year old lad. The evidence is all around me in the casually kicked-off trainers, the discarded cigarette papers and unwashed dishes that seem to be an integral part of living with a typical, young, male adult - except unlike a typical person of his age almost everything he does is in response to fear.

A stranger would describe him as attractive, confident, streetwise, a bit of a charmer, someone who knows how to look after himself, the life and soul of the party....that isn't the side of him I see at home and he knows himself, and on a good day will occasionally admit, that it is a fa├žade that he has created. The real "Lad" is the boy who sat across from me at a picnic table, after blowing off his college interview, and while trying to wipe away a tear that I wasn't supposed to see he admitted ...

"I was in prison when I should have been growing up, I didn't get to do it. Now all my mates are grown-ups and I'm still a kid. I won't lie to you, I'm scared."

Think for a moment how frightening it must be to be an adolescent with the appearance of a large 21 year old. Imagine that for the last 8 years every single thing has been done for you and suddenly everyone has expectations. Try to envisage the people you meet every day - on the bus, at the shop, in the doctor's surgery, at the job centre - expecting you to be able to behave like a fully grown twenty-something and having no patience or understanding when you don't measure up. Then visualise keeping up the image of a streetwise, confident, charming young man when inside you are scared, confused and overwhelmed. Growing up is tough.