Half way through my work experience placement

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I now have a new teaching mentor in my work experience placement. And, to be honest, he has put me off teaching. It feels difficult to say these things because I am grateful to have a work experience placement and I appreciate that people have been kind-natured despite me being dropped on them. But I feel like my new mentor has opened my eyes to how teaching is very different in theory to practice (NB/ that’s a very good lesson to be taught).

I am glad I found this out now, rather than later.

I was under no assumption that teaching would, in any way, run smoothly. Nothing does. But there were things I expected as a minimum; like a briefing and to be risk assessed. I went into a room with a trigger and I went into a room where I triggered someone else. OK many triggers are unpredictable – I get that – but these could have been avoided if someone took the time to speak to me.

What I have found about teaching is that people just expect me to muck in. I am willing to do that, but I need to know that’s what’s expected of me and I need to be familiar and feel safe. I did not. However, when I spoke to people about teaching before the placement I felt that I would have more guidance. And from teacher/teaching research and training, I had been led to believe teaching had more proactive elements than I have witnessed. My latest experiences have felt nothing other than reactive.

Additionally, I had begun to find my feet with the other groups I had worked with. I was feeling confident and happy. Then I was moved to another group and I’m learning all over again. From my conversations with other members of support staff, this is the norm. I spoke to three different members of support staff who said that days vary widely. They support lessons as and when they are requested to. This method may be ideal for some folk – I hear many people say that that no two days are the same and they feel constantly stimulated by the changes. My perspective is slightly different. I feel lost. I admitted to my mentors that I am an overthinker – I want to be prepared. I felt snowflake-ish, and that I was wasting others’ time, when I mentioned wanting to have more information.

I have fifteen more hours of work experience placement left. And I’m trying to encourage myself to get out of my shell – I feel vulnerable and unhappy. But overall I feel like I have learnt a lot. Also, being a bad teacher (or teaching-shadower, or classroom assistant, or sitting-in-the-corner-person) does not detract from my other skills. So I cannot let this failure colour my views of myself.

PS – Don’t worry – I’m OK, we’re OK. I wrote an addendum here.

NY

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I had a great birthday. I have been writing and submitting to journals. And painting a lot. I was given tonnes of chocolate over the holidays, and visited many people I love. This month sees me return to college to do my counselling course, and as an elected officer. I hope to submit many more pieces of writing. Happy New Year folks.

Girl Boss from Fizzy Pigg

Girl Boss from Fizzy Pigg

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2018 in Review

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I saw this post on Gala Darling‘s blog and I thought I’d like to give it a go (I used to love doing surveys like these in the early 00s).

What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before? I got a promotion of sorts which allowed me to work part-time (but with a decent salary), I completed by PGCert in Inclusive Arts Practice, I was given an engagement ring, I submitted writing to creative writing journals, I got a classroom assistant-ish work experience placement and discovered the joys of having a humidifier.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I can’t quite remember what they were and I tend to have resolutions through the year. My constant resolution is to keep putting my writing out there into the world – without fear of rejection.

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Fortnight

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It’s hard to believe I have been in my new flat for a fortnight. I feel comfortable, relaxed and grateful. My flat is overwhelmingly pink, except for the kitchen which is lime green. I can’t remember if I blogged about the décor before… my move date was delayed so many times and I had originally viewed the flat in the summer (I think). I lose track because everywhere has felt like it’s full of change.

I had a fall earlier this month, I missed a day of my work experience because of it. I flopped right outside of the gates of the college. It hurt so bad and my ankle has felt delicate since. It happened the day before my Name Day. I didn’t celebrate it this year but the following week I booked myself in for a portrait photograph (for my writing portfolio!!!) and contacted a local tattooist for a consultation. I feel like I’m proper adulting now.

My line manager has a new manager at work. It’s an exciting time because whenever leadership changes we get a new injection of enthusiasm and activity. Plus I now have an office which I share with Peer Mentoring so there is a real sense of progress and purpose around me now. I get opportunities to research and write reports in my role. I also now have an office on the floor above a potential research advisor, so I physically inhabit a space where I feel inspired.

Another thing that has happened is that I have witnessed my own confidence grow in my work experience placement in the local college. I feel much more able to bounce back from rejection and address challenges. In my first few weeks I was spending a lot of time wondering how to respond/behave. Afraid to make mistakes. But, you know, I realise I am not perfect and I know nobody is but I felt like I should be when it comes to supporting people. I used to relive errors in my head for days – beating myself up for not explaining myself clearly or thinking about how I should have made a task more exciting and meaningful. But I turned up the next week and most of the learners were kind to me and seemed happy to see me. I felt a lump in my throat.

My college also elected me so I am the new equalities/liberation officer.

 

Moving

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Tomorrow I move into a new flat (still rented, still Folkestone). And I have today off work because I  a m  f r e a k i n g  o u t.

The past month has been fun, but a lot of upheaval. I submitted some writing to Mslexia and I have a work-in-progress for Sexy Little Pages. I missed the deadline for Dear Damsels and I’m indecisive about B¡tch (mainly indecisive about my pitch). I started another blog about my research into static caravans – it’s over at caravanmaam.edublogs.org.

I started my More Pathways to FE placement and I am in love with the role. But it is hugely challenging. The levels of alertness I need is quite exhausting, and as a person with regular bad mental health I am finding the balance difficult. I am happy with exactly half of my teaching/support ability; half of the groups I work with seem happy and engaged and half of the time I feel present in the moment. The rest of the time I am fighting off the urge to withdraw because I don’t know what I am doing or because I’ve reached out to someone only to have them deflect my support.

One of the things I am constantly questioning is the line between encouraging someone who does not feel confident and acknowledging their feelings. As a creative person, and a person with mental health difficulties I appreciate the need to reflect on my feelings – even the bad ones! But as a person who cares about others, I want people to feel good. So when someone is hard on themselves, I have conflicting drives – a drive to tell them they are more than the obstacle they are facing but also an understanding that we feel the way we do and sometimes we need to sit with it for a while.

Another thing I reflect on is independence. If someone doesn’t want to interact with me and they seem content, I feel OK. I feel like they are doing well. But then I have an awareness of how unequal I divide my attention between learners; I feel that one group want my input but that other group don’t. So you could argue that I am giving both groups the attention they have signalled that they want. However, I am aware that it might look like favouritism and I am aware that just because someone has said they want to be left alone that it doesn’t mean they actually feel that way.

Of course I know there are no answers. I just need to become more resilient.