In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “We Can Be Taught!.”
What makes a great teacher? I was, a grade 1 ‘outstanding’ tutor of post 16 education for a number of years. Does this make me a great teacher? No. I could play a very good game for 50 minutes. Did it enhance my teaching? No, if anything it took away from my ‘greatness’. Did the observation and grade make an ounce of difference to my students or the perception they had of me? No. So what does make a great teacher?
After 13 years of teaching. I would quite easily answer this question with a bullet pointed list.
• Listening – how many teachers listen? I leant all about my students by listening and observing, I may even go further to say I cared!
• Addressing the students by name – in the over populated classrooms in England some students are overlooked. I always felt it was important to address each student by their name from the day they enquired about my courses. After all, without them I had no job. They needed to know they mattered.
• congruence. I would always work along side the students. I would do the collage, painting, printing. I didn’t dish out orders, I was involved. I demonstrated and let them make their own learning by being part of it.
Will I be remembered for my Grade 1 ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED? I doubt it. From what my student say to me even months after I left the ‘rat race’ of teaching is that I was someone who ‘cared’ to me. That is the best teacher of all xxx
If you have followed my blog you may know that one of my utmost important values in my life is honesty. I have walked away from many a friend or family member who found it impossible to be honesty. Dishonesty by omission is not excluded in this value.
I can write a short blog post or Facebook status, but it would never perfectly described just how integral this core value is to me. I won’t go into the several reasons that could account for this lack of trust as, in truth, what would it solve to drag up past experiences that have shaped the person I am today? Today I try to live honestly in a sadly dishonest world.
The sad thing is I still have that childish belief that other people hold honesty in as much importance as I do. Awareness is marvelous until it extinguishes the hope that people feel the same way. I never cease to be amazed at the behaviour of humans and I came to the conclusion last night that some people are so afraid to live honestly in this world.
Art is a therapy, a friend. You can always trust in creativity and it never lies. Where else could you feel such love, such happiness than being completely and utterly at peace with a collograph or painting?
Definition of Honest from Urban Dictionary
A divine attribute we often wrongly assign to one we admire, but sadly, like telepathy, honesty is a characteristic not inherent in humanity. To be truly and completely honest with someone, one must first be truly and completely honest with one’s self. Since our species is incapable of seeing past its own fears, desires, prejudices, convictions, emotional attachments, memories and flawed perceptions, man is not capable of viewing an unfiltered reality. Every single conclusion a person comes to is first carefully screened and reviewed through a series of subconscious unrelated facets of collective reasoning and thus all humanity is blind to all truth. Thus, no one is truly and completely honest with themselves and thus cannot be truly and completely honest with others. The most anyone can hope to give is their honest opinion. But that’s all it is, an opinion.
I can’t be the only creative person to buckle up in the morning and face the rollercoaster of emotions throughout a day? I never cease to be amazed at how I can so easily be affected by another person’s opinions or behaviour.
I give away my power to people who will probably sleep like babies. They would not give a second thought about the candle of hope that they have distinguished with their thoughtless comments.
Is this a trait of the ever creative, sensitive specimens of life? My Aunty would say… ‘Paint your frustration Becky’ but I just climb into my cave and wait…… Wait until I feel safe…….. Wait…. Peep to see who is still around……. Wait…… And then emerge, sore but ready to buckle up again.
Today I’ve re-emerged from licking my wounds of unsolicited advice. The type of advice that makes you feel belittled or incompetent. The type that lingers like a monkey on your shoulder that whispers to you such comments such as; ‘who are you trying to kid?’, ‘you?, an artist? A designer?’ Or the old favourite of ‘you are not good enough, forget your dreams, don’t be so ridiculous’.
When I give thoughts like this time to take root, I’ve lost. I have to dig them out immediately, talk them over with someone. Someone who just wants to listen.
Whilst on a personal development course I learnt that everyone generally needs 4 C’s in their life.
Cheerleaders – these are the people who are encouragers. These are the people who believe in you even when you don’t.
Confidants – These people are the ones who listen without judgement and that you can trust wholeheartedly.
Challengers – (my least favourite) These are the people who positively challenge your thoughts and behaviours. These people are not easy company but give you a different perspective.
Coaches – (my favourite) These are the people who help you to find your own answers, direction and solutions. Those who walk with you side by side.
I revisited this last night after doubting whether I was being over sensitive or reacting defensively or negatively to a ‘challenger’. I don’t believe today I was. When I read this last night the word ‘positively’ stood out. I allowed the person to influence my mood negatively. I wasn’t given a new perspective in a manner which was uplifting and I literally felt myself deflate over a matter of hours.
I was left in self doubt about myself, my artwork and questioned whether I was really being ridiculous. What a complete drop from the exhilaration I felt a couple of days ago, where I was absolutely certain that I had it in me to be successful. What a roller-coaster.
Do I dare to dream? Of course I do. I’ve come this far and I’m not about to start listening to the monkey that tells me to forget it. I am going to surround myself with coaches and cheerleaders who believe in me. Those who love me enough to let me make my own discoveries in this creative world. I will trust my confidants to be there for me, as I am for others. And finally I will welcome the challengers who positively help in my awareness and help me to gain a different perspective.
Maybe then It would be more like a gentle fairground ride rather than the highs and lows of a roller-coaster.
What a day! It amazes me at times how much faith people have in me as a person. As a friend I am considered loyal, honest and loving. As an artist, I have been considered gifted, talented and original. As an Educator I have been given the accolade of ‘Outstanding’ or as my students say ‘The best’. It’s wonderful.
I’ve tried dressing up my new business into a catchy name, creating a brand thinking that I, in myself, am not enough. I have come a long way since leaving the rat race but so much of myself hid in the labels assigned to me. I was a teacher, a behaviour manager, a colleague for 13 years and when I decided to leave that role, I floundered for a while not really knowing what or who I was.
I know I’m probably not alone in feeling this way. It has taken me a while to find happiness without being dependant on the social status and pride wrapped up in being a professional tutor in FE. I felt naked for a while but thankfully over time I have dressed myself in new clothes.
I have been guided by people who knew how to handle and be gentle with this chrysalis. The caterpillar who needed time to lick her wounds and to re-evaluate her life. I needed to reassess what was important to me and to develop the strength of becoming strong so I was able to break the shell and emerge into the person I am today.
There is still work for me to do and tonight has been the start by getting rid of the gimmicks, the names that hide me as me and get to the core of who and what I am. I am Becky Field and this is the start of my story.
This was said to me almost a year ago. Being the impulsive person I can be, I submitted my resignation after a (bleep) senior manager threatened redundancies at, my then, place of work.
Have you ever done something that was impulsive? This episode in my life highlighted to me that the rat race was no longer for me. A profession I had worked in for 13 years had diverted from my original idea of ‘making a difference’ to ‘making profit’, I knew it was time to make a change.
How did I know? That inner feeling that you feel when your values are challenged. The sense that all is not well. Now call it what you like. instinct, God consciousness, awareness, gut feeling, whatever. You know. And I knew.
I didn’t know the exact value that was challenged at that time, but I knew I wasn’t willing to play a part in the catastrophe that I could see happening. Fight or flight? I hung up my gloves.
‘Morals are good Becky, but they don’t pay the mortgage’ my manager said. She accepted that I wasn’t prepared to dance to the tune but she did make me see sense. I saw that being irresponsible, by acting on impulse, meant I wasn’t fulfilling my responsibilities and she gave me the gift of time to make a decision, rather than an impulsive reaction.
The grand gesture I made and the determination in which I handed in my notice soon melted and I agreed to stay until I found another job. Now don’t get me wrong, it was as much for the place that I worked as for me. I was an ‘outstanding tutor’ who had the ability to work with all types of students. I was, if I say so myself, outstanding.
However, I was tired. I was tired of fighting the behaviour when all I wanted to do was teach in the hope of making a difference. I was tired of being surrounded by paperwork when all I wanted to do was be with the students and listen whilst we drew/painted or designed. I was just tired.
In November, I eventually stopped fighting. I gave up and over a period of 3 months, I decided I could no longer be anyone’s puppet. I wasn’t prepared to dance to a tune I no longer enjoyed, so I decided to write my own.
It wasn’t easy. I first had to find out what my values were. Then I had to look at what would match these values and not conflict against them. On doing this I found the reason why I was discontented in the rat race. It went against my values. The main ones being honesty and kindness.
During the last few years I did not find the rat race to be an honest environment. Nothing was ever straight forward. Dishonesty and ego were hidden amongst abbreviations and jargon which was like a secret code I wasn’t privy to. Kindness was found in individuals who were few and far between and usually, such people, were highlighted as weak or were taken advantage of.
When did people lose sight of the qualities that are free? We weren’t born unkind or dishonest.
Today I surround myself with people who share the same values. I have challengers who make me think about things, but I no longer fight them. Today I have a choice in what I do. I pay the mortgage (just) by doing things I enjoy, by working where I want, when I want, with people who I want to work with. What a freedom that gift of time gave me.
I will be forever grateful to that manager, who is now a friend. Morals are good and I can pay the mortgage and be true to them.
There’s an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting,
so it is hard to get around it.
Yet, we squeeze by with,
“how are you” and “I’m fine…”
and a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.
we talk about everything else
except the elephant in the room.
We all know it’s there.
We are thinking about the elephant as we talk.
It is constantly on our minds.
For you see, it is a very big elephant.
But we do not talk about
the elephant in the room.
I am sure there are many blogs today about Robin Williams and the sad news of his illness. It would be wrong for me not to acknowledge his passing but also to raise him up higher than any other human who suffered with depression and sadly also took there own lives.
The elephant in the room can be any form of mental illness which debilitated a person. Depression just seems to be the most diagnosed. I am a sufferer and can relate to the thoughts of escape but thankfully I have never actually taken it further than a thought. Am I lucky, yes.
I grew up in a home where we danced around several elephants in the room. There was no mention to anyone of the happenings inside our home and although it was not a deprived childhood, it wasn’t normal.
I learnt from an early age to answer correctly, I didn’t know any different until I started to suffer myself. I didn’t know that depression was an elephant in the room and that it explained many behaviours that sadly affected my self esteem, trust and dependency from an early age.
I had always been creative and as a child I would write poetry rather than speak about anything that didn’t make sense. I hid behind a guitar and microphone trying above all to be the best Christian I could be. I walked away from church (not my God) when I started to feel emotions such as shame and guilt. These emotions I was carried for many years and I am sure contributed to the depression I felt in 2006.
Life has been like a pond. If you watch a pond, it is still. Occasionally something will come to the surface and will need to be fished out. My experience has been that aspects of my past have come up when they are good and ready and thankfully I have had people around me who carried me until I found my feet.
I have dealt with many issues over the past 8 years and I have learnt through bereavement counselling for both parents that it is always best to talk about the elephant in the room. At times I can wind myself up to the point of total depression and unmanageability. At this point nothing makes sense and I fail to trust my own thinking let alone the advice of others. Left to my own devices God knows what I would do. Never say never.
So today I make sure that I don’t suffer anymore, that I welcome the elephant and introduce it to my friends. Eventually it will be finished with me when it realises that it has no chance against the support I have around me.
It will return and try again from another angle but thankfully I know that I no longer have to hide anymore, that I am free. My friends can usually see it before me. Those that have walked away due to ignorance I can only hope never experience the illness themselves.
I am grateful for those that have stayed and for the new friends who have been part of me finding me. I dedicate this post to all who didn’t make it.
Karen W. Terry. Linda. Paul. Marita. Robin W. God bless you and your families. Xx
If you have never read the book ‘the woman who went to bed for a year’ by Sue Townsend, then look away now.
This book appealed to me initially because I was fascinated about how a woman could go to bed for a year, albeit fictionally. The thought of doing such a thing quite often goes through my mind I must admit. Sometimes it feels far safer for myself and others for me to stay in bed and keep my mouth shut but sadly, I am not a kept woman. My man needs feeding and dog needs walking.
The book is humourous in many parts but after a while the seriousness of the mental decline of Eva becomes apparent as she barricaded herself in her bedroom and minimised contact with her family and friends.
Towards the end of the book she asks someone to board the inside of her window after her view of a beautiful tree was destroyed when it was cut down. Her contact with the outside world then became so minimal that she relied on people to feed her through a small hole in the door and she lived in darkness.
Eventually strangers became that concerned for her welfare that the door was eventually kicked in, her mother bathed her and she was sat in front of a fire. It wasn’t until the end when she said ‘It’s kindness, isn’t it? Simple kindness’ that I truly felt so sad.
Call me ridiculous, but isn’t that what we all want people to be? Kind? It costs nothing. I often said to my students that manners cost nothing and treat others like you would want to be treated. Not because I’m a saint, but because I would expect to be treated with decency.
Why do I write about this today? Well it has nothing to do with my work but more to do with me and the journey I’ve been on. Today I met with someone. A prearranged get together. I sat, bought tea and cakes and watched my ‘friend’ crochet. Just simple kindness would have been to just give me 30 mins of time. Not to listen to a monologue (which I can do when I’m in self) but to share in the experience of being together.
When I first read the last line in this book I looked back on my expectations of people closest to me. I realised that many of my disappointments have been because I expected kindness from them. Did I expect too much?
When the tree was cut down in the book, Eva gave up hope. My interpretation was that the tree symbolised to Eva the beauty around her despite her life’s experiences. When this had gone, so had Eva.
Eventually she allowed herself to be rescued as ‘Life was too difficult to travel alone’.
Thankfully I have met friends who are kind, together we give our time to each other. After periods of darkness and isolation (usually when some of my best artwork comes about) I have been rescued by their kindness and concern for my well being. I have been carried through difficult times and bathed in love when all I wanted was simple kindness.
A lot of my work is a combination of metaphors and representations of periods of my life. I have a very small circle of trust and quite often I find it easier to explain my art and the messages within than to explain my feelings. Art is a remarkable tool in which to speak. It gives me a voice when I need it most and more importantly it is always kind and generous. For that I am truly grateful.
Life is too difficult to travel alone and I am grateful to be travelling it with others who feel the same. Welcome to all who read. Keep with me!