B is for Balance

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Balance. The one thing that will get you through your gruelling, rigorous and tiresome year of training to become a teacher. If you can’t find a balance between work and life, planning and teaching or sleeping and making resources at midnight, the chances are – you are going to get burnout. Burnout is when you reach physical and mental exhaustion and find it difficult to do everyday tasks. You reach a level of exhaustion that can’t be fixed by sleep and as a result you become irritable, stressed and feel like giving up. I have experienced burnout twice and I am only halfway through my teacher training course. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say that teacher training or being a teacher is easy, because it’s not!

I like to think I am an organised person, I am a stationary-obsessed-post-it-note-colour-coding Type A kind of person. I thought the time-management part of the teacher training course would be easy for me but I was so wrong! No matter how organised you are, there are not enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do – this is the harsh reality that you need to learn as quickly as possible!

The key to finding balance is to just accept that not everything will get done, your to-do list will never be empty and there will always be a deadline looming over you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘oh I will get everything done, then have time for myself.’ This was my mentality for months. However, I soon realised that the ‘me-time’ I was going to have once I had finished my work, never came. It made me miserable for weeks that my lifeĀ  would be: get to school at 8am, not leave until 6pm, get home, cup of tea, shower, food, then I would work on my laptop doing planning and resources until midnight (without taking a break). Don’t do this. I only realised how unhealthy it was in hindsight once my placements were over.

My advice is to prioritise what needs to be done first. Lesson planning and resourcing should be done before filling in paperwork in your file. Once you have completed the few things in your ‘top priority list’, take a break. Take anything from half an hour to a few hours to just relax and escape from the overwhelming stress that comes with teacher training. I found that towards the end of my placement (when I realised my way of doing things wasn’t healthy for me), that when I took some time to read a book, watch some TV, spend some time with my boyfriend or played my guitar, I was a lot calmer than when I tried to get everything done at once.

Half term is when you achieve maximum relaxation. It is currently half term for me and I actually feel like I have my life back for a short amount of time. I have had time to update this blog, I have the brain space to think of non-teaching related things and I have also had the chance to spent some quality time with the people I care about most. I know that Monday is fast approaching and I will soon be pulled back into the vortex of university assignments, training days and eventually my final placement.

However, if there is one thing I have learnt from my teacher training in the first six months and something I can pass on to those who are thinking about becoming a teacher or are even currently on a teacher training course – find your balance. Your balance will look differently from everyone else’s. Don’t get too caught up on what everyone else is doing. Take a break when you need it. Have a good cry if you must. Enjoy the time you get off and find small snippets of time when you’re on placement to just….breathe. If I can do this, so can you!

 

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Teacher Training Diaries: Learning & Practice.

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Well I made it! I survived my first seven weeks as a trainee teacher. It was a long slog of training, learning and observing. I have had training sessions on Mathematics, Science, English and different types of assessment. I have started my first university module ‘Raising the Achievement of Children’ and had half the autumn term to get to know the children in my home school.

Now, the real work begins! It’s half term now but when I go back I will begin teaching a full class of 5 and 6 year old’s. Starting with six lessons a week, working up to fifteen by the fourth week, yikes! I feel like this part of my teacher training journey is ‘learning and practice.’ Taking everything I have learnt so far and putting it into practice.

I know you have to teach to become a teacher but the thought of teaching a full class, on my own, makes my palms sweat! I know that once I start doing it, teaching will become second nature to me but it’s the anticipation, the worry about what may go wrong that keeps me up at night. I’m not the only one that feels this way. There are twelve other people in my school direct cohort and they all have the same anxieties.

The teacher training course is going to step up a gear as I will have to juggle writing lesson plans, teaching lessons, keeping my files up to date, writing university assignments and pre-reading and tasks for training days. I’m trying to keep a work/life balance the best I can because if I am going to make it through this training year, I need to learn to take a break and have some time for myself.

When I go back after this break, I will be in my home school for four whole weeks and then I will be returning to the old routine of three days in school and two in university and training. Hopefully in my next post I will be more confident in my ability to teach and will have many stories to tell about the lessons I have taught. I will be reflecting on what went well and what I still need to work on, as that’s what being on this journey is all about, the ups and downs of what it takes to become a fully qualified primary school teacher.

Twenty-Four

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So tomorrow is my twenty-fourth birthday. If I could use one word to reflect on the year that has passed between my twenty-third birthday and now, it would be strength. I have found a strength that helps me to get back up when I fall. I have found an inner strength to do what I know I am meant to do, teach. The road to being a teacher is going to be a hard one but I know that my passion, dedication and strength will get me there.

I have also realised the importance of gratitude and appreciation of the little things that make me happy. It isn’t easy for me to be positive but I always try to think of at least three things I am grateful for each day. No matter how bad my day may be or how I feel about the direction of my life, I always try to step back and evaluate the blessings in my life rather than the imperfections.

Some days I do feel stuck, like the world is passing me by, the clock is ticking and I am no closer to getting the life I want, but I am learning now to stop, notice my negative thoughts, then change them. This is something I learned in therapy and I am starting to slowly apply it to my life.

I have to keep telling myself that my life path has its own timeline and what may take someone one year to do, may take me five, but it doesn’t matter. I strongly believe that in life ambition will lead you to success, perseverance will lead to positive actions and positivity will lead you to happiness. I remind myself on a daily basis of my goals and I always see each day as another small step towards achieving them.

My challenge for myself during the next year of my life (before I reach the grand old age of 25) is to start living in the present moment. This is something that I struggle with and is the root cause of my anxiety. With a combination of studying Buddhism, meditating and practicing yoga, I am slowly but surely on the way to learning how to be mindful and just ‘be’.

Another challenge in my path this following year will be balance. I know that when I start my teacher training in September (if I pass this maths test), I will struggle with the work-life balance. Finding time to relax and enjoy life, with the chaotic, stressful and challenging year of studying, working and learning.

Whatever happens in the 365 days between now and my twenty-fifth birthday, I hope that I find joy in the little things, I hope I learn to believe in myself more, to laugh, love and live each day with a positive attitude because life is passing me by and I don’t want to waste any more time worrying about things I can’t control or choosing to live an unhappy life or surrounding myself with people that don’t allow me to be the best version of myself.

Life Is About Balance

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Tree Pose

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English Name: Tree Pose

Sanskrit Name: Vrksasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Tree pose is great for improving balance, strengthening thighs, ankles, calves and the spine. It stretches the groins and inner thighs, shoulders and chest. It can also relieve sciatica and reduce flat feet.

How to do it: Begin by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot, keep the right foot firmly on the floor and bend your right knee. Use your right hand and clasp your right ankle. If you lose your balance don’t worry, try again.

Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh, if possible, press the right heel into the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor. Make sure the pelvis is in a neutral position. Lengthen your tailbone. Breathe. Firmly press the right foot sole against the inner thigh and resist with the outer left leg. Press your hands together in Anjali Mudra. Gaze softly at a fixed point in front of you to help with your balance.

Stay in tree pose for thirty seconds and work towards holding it for one minute. Step back to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with an exhalation and repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed.

Yoga Vocabularly: Anjali Mudra is a hand gesture which is practiced in yoga. It is used as a sign of respect and a greeting in India, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. The gesture is incorporated into many yoga asanas. The meaning of Anjali Mudra is Salutation Seal. It has the same meaning as the Sankrit phrase Namaste.