Catching up with my classes
Back to lecturing for me…
What questions are my students going to ask?
Biography of a nobody day 63. March 4th 2021
I have been nervous about this if I am honest.
My return to teaching...
On Monday I returned to work and met the staff. I embraced the questions and replied honestly. It was a worrying moment every time someone asked me ‘how have you been?':
Are they being polite?
Do they really want to know how I have been?
Do they want to know, and do I want to tell them?
I figured that people are aware that I was off work- not particularly why. I decided I could either shun it and leave people guessing or I could give them honest answers… though younger me would have told everyone a different story just for fun so that no one really understood. Though I did feel that would take away from the power I hold in this circumstance. The power to not only lower my burden by sharing it- but allowing people to feel comfortable to share their burden or see that in talking about it I am clearly and noticeably feeling better.
I didn’t then go full in with ‘here is my life story’ to everyone who said ‘hey, how have you been?’- I attempted to gauge people’s actual interest then I either told people the brief version or the longer version. I am finding that my social perception is not quite what it was before lockdown- as I, like many people, am completely out of practice.
My first day back teaching…
Now colleagues have no right to your personal information, share it at your own will- but your students should be completely shielded from your personal life and information. There is a difference between sharing personal experience to assist them and sharing personal information. You also have less of an idea of what experiences or trauma your students have had than work colleagues or friends due to younger people being inherently more defensive of their own experiences- especially when bad.
What do I do then when my learners ask me the same questions as above? Because they will…
That is the question though, isn’t it? For their own safety and future I want the learners to feel more comfortable opening up about their issues- not particularly to me- but seeing therapy or talking to their family as a path towards strength or healing rather than something weak people need. Understanding that there is no award for struggling alone- as I have said many times now.
There is another reason that I am more worried about this conversation with students than my colleagues.
Adults, I have found, react in one of three ways:
They applaud you for speaking out about it and offer encouragement.
They have felt similar and find your honesty empowering.
They write you off as emotionally weak and/or unstable and unreliable in a bind.
It becomes easier to ignore the latter people as you can personally either write their reaction off as never experiencing trauma or them pretending that they don’t need help. Telling myself that helps.
My learners, I imagine, will react in similar ways- the main difference being that you need to retain an element of respect. If the learners react in the latter way, it is incredibly likely that they would maintain less respect for me- the issue with that is that without that respect a learner is less likely to remain engaged in what you have to say or believe that your lesson is worthwhile.
I think though that I have made a conscious decision to take the disrespect from smaller minded people in order to hopefully empower the people who may well find what I am saying relatable. I may lose a little respect from some learners, but I will hopefully be supporting many more. Since my experiences were pretty high up on the scale of ‘high stress’ life events… I think I should be able to maintain enough respect for my lessons to remain fruitful to all. At the end of the day, I have still had a successful career in the field they wish to pursue- and have heavy industry ties to high-end companies to possibly get them apprenticeships… I will be fine. I should be fine.
So, I had it wrong.
I don’t know whether or not they had been pre-briefed of my particulars and why I had been off- I doubt to much detail- but my welcome was to cheers. The students were grateful for my return and are looking forward to getting some practical done next week when education once again opens its doors.
I caught up on their Christmas breaks, asked if anyone had achieved anything, they feel is a personal goal in this lockdown. The last lockdown I encouraged things like learning instruments, streaming, exercise, whatever they enjoy, pushing it or learning a new skill and I was happy to hear some of them had achieved.
Others declared they had just slept… yep… I get that. I have done A LOT of late nights and later rises. It is never a sign of a good thing- usually part of you giving up the care for any reason to see the morning. Or innate laziness and lethargy. I have felt all of that over the last 3 months- but I am proud to say I feel pretty great right now.
Once I had caught up with them all I started the lesson- I have this group for 4.5 hours- Now the catch up is done- let's get on with preparation for practical lessons. None of them have a welding machine at home and three months off the tools is going to have damaged their learning- but I soon found it was not irreversibly- they remembered a lot!
Well, that was tiring…
Quite a comedown from nearly no social life to engaging in conversations with a large bunch of people for four hours. I feel a bit like returning from an all-night party. Yeah, it was great… but now I just want to sleep. I had again been overly presumptuous that anyone had dwelled on my absence. Since that isn’t true- my return is welcome but the reason why I was gone isn’t a big point of contention. Plus, fewer people noticed my absence than I realised since the lockdown as everyone is out of sorts and lots of people are missing for different reasons.
I guess I can rest tonight- tomorrow I am off work and then I have the weekend with Alex, Bee and Rusty. Lots of things to look forward too.