My brain has been processing a great deal this week. I’ve had a massive couple of weeks. I’m really tired lol.
I started to pack my office yesterday and move my things to the English staffroom – where I started in April, 1999. A young, idealistic, passionate teacher. More cynical, old, but still passionate these days. I left my school in 2008 for six months and taught elsewhere, and it reinvigorated my practice. I also started to believe that I was a good teacher.
Today, I say with contentment and confidence, I am an exceptional teacher. Exemplary. And an exceptional leader. I have matured into myself, enough to realistically assess my strengths and weaknesses (areas for improvement lol). Imperfect in my perfection 😉. And, I am grateful for all of this. It has taken years of commitment and dedication, tears, ongoing learning, mistakes, courage, stubbornness, tears, laughter, fighting, resilience, and then more tears. And more love than I ever dreamed would be possible.
But I need a break.
The system is nowhere near as competent as I have become. It’s changes have negatively impacted its constituents. It’s growth has not been as significant, and its stubbornness/courage has not yielded the best results for kids. I could keep going but there is no point. If you aren’t a teacher, I’m just whinging, and if you are, you know.
My investigation was resolved, two days prior to hitting 42 weeks. Paradoxically this year has been my best and my worst in teaching. My best in the classroom and in leadership, my worst in confidence, doubting myself, and shame.
It took from March to July to find out what I was under investigation for. And from August to Tuesday this week, for it to be resolved.
During the last couple of years I have relived the tortured feelings of an abused child, culminating in being called a liar and self-serving by two women who have never met me and whom, realistically, did not conduct a very thorough investigation. I am guilty of the charge, and I own that, did so in my response to it, but I am not self-serving or a liar.
In the world of contemporary education, it has become mandatory to report the behaviour of other adults. I was charged with failing to do this. In the world of contemporary education, it has become mandatory to extend a duty of care to all students. They say I failed to do this by failing the first part. I say, we cannot ever know this for sure. The context was muddied.
They say I receive no consequences, an acknowledgement of the difficulty inherent within the context. Apart from the anxiety and shame filled year I have had, that has resulted in one of the proudest and most capable public education teachers, resigning her union membership and needing to take leave from a job that once filled her joy with love, to heal.
My union failed to support me, failed to provide me with a welfare officer when anxiety filled, I reached out to them. I was instructed to speak to no one. When I did reach out to people, my job was threatened. Forty one weeks and five days. The gestation period of a human being. It’s a long time to have to hide and to be voiceless, to not own the narrative of your own life.
But, it’s over. Shackles withdrawn. Lips unsown. Healing can start.
What a week. Starting with a funeral, another reminder that life is short and should be filled with moments and adventures that bring us joy.
Resolution on Tuesday. Reaching out to friends as I stood on the ledge, wishing it all to end, as I read the words liar and self serving. Words existing because of the lies of others and their perceived greater integrity. Not the way I would describe my work in education over the last twenty four years, or my commitment to the children in the schools in which I have taught.
Wednesday brought anger, lots of it.
Thursday, great disappointment. In my employer, myself, others. We should never have been in this situation.
Friday, yesterday, the realisation that we are all just victims of the choices of others.
Today, understanding that we choose our lives. We choose how we deal with hardship. We choose whether we remain a victim or become a survivor. We choose how we let others treat us, marginalise us, betray us. We choose … everything.
I will move forward. I’m an amazing teacher. I love my kids. I love being in the classroom, motivating my kids to be more, to live more, to dream more. I love empowering them to achieve, and to believe. I love seeing them embrace all that they can be. I love being the smallest part of helping them to make that happen. Their success is their success, and it brings me joy.
This will be my legacy. And it lives in the lives that I have touched. Everything I do is the result of love, even my mistakes.