More effortless conversations and tasty pastries shared between groups of teachers who have met through the internet. We possess an uncanny ability to recognise the look and sound of a teacher, despite us all looking and sounding so delightfully different. It also appears that we are all 'huggers'.
I’m thankful for the comforting familiarity that exists among teachers, like a knitted cardigan that you already know will fit without needing to try it on. We throw our arms around each other with ease; not an awkward misstep, accidental cheek kiss, or uncoordinated headbutt in sight.
You know, small talk has always felt pointless; a deeply unnecessary social interaction that could be skipped with ease. Why waste precious minutes on an entrée when you can gobble down the main course? I’m ready for the meatier conversations with open-minded teachers.
I’ll be asking about your triumphs and challenges; pushing for the proudest parts of your career. Each line of questioning is intended to encourage you to share your most devastating discoveries and epic epiphanies. For we are nothing but our lived experiences. Personalities carved out of daily interactions and attitudes. Not to mention the countless other contributing factors, like gender, age, ethnicity, family, support, and socioeconomic status.
What changed your approach to teaching?
Motherhood. Workplace bullying. Challenging classes.
When did you show resilience, and in the face of what?
Poor leadership. Pressure. Stress. Student trauma.
How are you looking after your wellbeing?
To be honest, I'm not. I'm learning. In the meantime - do as I say, not as I do.
Let’s break down your story into morsels that can be dropped to the ground, leading us with breadcrumbs towards the bigger picture. Repeating again and again, you are not alone in this.
Seeking clarification. “What do you mean by that?”
Asking again in a new way. “How could this have happened?”
Looking for changes in body language. “Can you tell me how you’re feeling?”
And always offering the reassurance:
"I have experienced this too."
"I have a friend who has experienced this too."
"I have had another teacher message me who has experienced this too."
"Teachers around Australia have experienced this too, you are not alone."