Monday, 26 June 2017

My Spirit Animal is a Duck!

It is a strange title for this blog post, however, it is timely as I reflecting on nearing the end of registration.  With two terms to go, I am three quarters of the way there and am looking forward to the remainder of my time as a PCT.  I had written in a previous post about sharing my story about how I chose to come into teaching so thought I better make good on that promise!

The initial passion for teaching came from doing a special topic paper at the end of university where I helped create a pilot programme for the pastoral care of International Students.  Part of the criteria for the paper was to design and run weekly workshops for groups of 10-15 students on aspects of university life for example, how to use the systems at the library or how to set up your printing account.  While to an outside eye, this was probably mundane - I really enjoyed seeing people growing in confidence.

Working in admin type roles after graduating, I decided that I wanted to explore both this aspect further as well as the world so combined the two and that is how I ended up teaching English in Japan.  I bounced around different schools in Tokyo before settling into one in the suburbs bordering the city centre.  Due to its location, I ended up teaching children from the age of 2 (yes, you read that right) to 13 when they moved into the adult classes.  I moved into the lead role for the school during my time there for the children's learning programme and opened two junior schools before leaving to come back to New Zealand.

It was my intention to go back to university when I came home, however due to the time of year and financial reality, I took a job for a corporate and fell into a career pretty quickly.  The passion for education was still there but it had morphed into an appreciation for capability and training and I found myself excelling in roles where I was supporting others be their very best.  Towards the end of my time in the organisation, I even stepped into a leadership role to gain experience and realised that this was a different set of skills required for this and was fortunate enough to build my knowledge about coaching and mentoring.

An organisation wide restructure helped me stop for a minute to reassess where I was heading and opened up a few home truths about how I was feeling (this is where the title comes into play!).  I have picked up my work ethic from both my parents who had run and operated their own businesses for most of my life.  I was fortunate enough to work alongside them (not that they would probably say that at some times!) and saw that in order to make things work, you had to put the effort in.  At work, I tend to agree to things and would find myself spinning lots of plates.  On the outside I appeared that I was under control, however like a duck gliding along the water, no one sees the legs kicking like anything to maintain that graceful glide.

That was me and it had caught up with me.  I nearly burned out and ended up going to counselling for a while to help put strategies into place to help me restore the balance.  Finding the moment to breathe is key if only for five minutes in the day.  Stopping also made me realise that I was not following my passions anymore and hence came the call to resign from work and go back to university to become a teacher.  You know the rest as my teaching journey started in this blog.

Now this is when you could say: "Heath, you realise that teaching is no different from your previous job.  If anything, it is probably going to be just as busy, if not more."  Others did and looking at it, they are right to a certain degree.

The reason behind this post was that a few weeks ago, the wheels did fall off and I found that I had been reverting to old habits to get through.  If I am model how to be a learner to my students, then I do need to live true to what I tell them about asking for help when they need it.  I also need to more transparent with people so they understand what is going on, rather than me just bottling everything up.  This transparency is a key factor to collaboration and being my best self as both a teacher and a person.

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