So the 1st two blog posts of this 12 week series have been pretty positive all about life before teaching, my foundations and the start of me exploring this fabulous world around us.
Like I said in the last blog - the next few posts in upcoming weeks are about my first few years of teaching and we start to move from the sunshine and rainbows into a few darker shades and tones.
Kind of like moving into the later movies in the Harry Potter series. For the non HP nerds it basically means I started to face some nasty monsters, deal with lots unexpected challenges and start to uncover parts of myself that I didn’t know existed (the good and the bad).
We are going to dive deeper into these areas and this week we are exploring them through our theme - accountability.
So let’s begin, we are now in 2014, I have just come back from a fabulous trip exploring Europe with Rob. We took the train all around exploring different countries and cultures including Copenhagen, Slovenia, Croatia and Budapest.
If we were in a Disney movie this would be the transition in the Lion King where Simba is singing Hakuna Matata, turning from cub to adolescent adult and reality starts to hit!
To set the scene. I was a 21 year old, starting my first year of teaching, brain still forming myself, only starting to navigate life and pretending to the world I was an adult who had all the answers especially for the children and parents in my care. (Some days I feel like I am still doing that...)
My first teaching post was in an inner city London school, this area was in the multicultural borough of Hackney.
This brought about some fabulous opportunities because I was able to experience and get insights into a range of cultures with 100% of my class register from different ethnic backgrounds including Polish, African, Turkish, Indian to name a few.
I loved this because we were able to create authentic experiences bringing in each other’s heritage and perspectives. We visited temples and churches and shrines in religious studies. We spoke about traditional foods and clothing. Making the most of our family communities who could come in and speak about their routines and traditions. Looking at our similarities and understanding our differences.
However, there were some challenges within our area too as there was a lot of crime and gang culture throughout the surrounding neighborhoods and this had negative impacts on some of the students within our community.
My eyes were truly yanked open to the horrors of life and things were happening to my children that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
This is where I learnt the hard way about accountability and active acceptance. In this clip with George Couros I talk about “empathy but not at the expense of ourselves.”
My poor brain was taking every little thing that was happening to my learners home with me.
In my teacher training we were told to leave our emotions at the door and not to let our personal life effect our professional life. But what was I suppose to do when my professional life was having an effect on my personal life?
I use to think “teacher Naomi” and “outside school Naomi” had to be completely different people - leave me at the door but now I have come to realise that bringing my authentic self to the table is one of the best things I can do for me and for my learners.
I was trying to hide the struggles I was facing. Bottling it all up until it would explode and normally not at the people who deserved it (sorry Rob).
That’s why accountability is one of the pillars I am most passionate about! I love this quote from Angela Duckworth in her book Grit. I was hiding my struggles because every one around me seemed to be “coping” with life and I felt I was a failure because I wasn’t handling it “right”.
But now looking back there is no “right” or wrong way handling teaching, especially in the first couple of years. There are some strategies that work better than others for certain teachers and learners but the more I was trying to be like other teachers the more I was failing at being my self.
Over the years through my research, coaching and training as a phone counsellor. I have been lucky to been to have experienced different forms of accountability for myself as well as helping others hold themselves accountable.
So, as part of this week's takeaways I wanted to give you something I use with adults in my communities. I have used the 6 pillars of #Empathetic_Educators to share 6 different strategies you could look into further to see if they might work when having coaching conversations or approaching challenging relationships or just to give a different perspective to your space.
One of the areas that has changed my way of thinking the most is the takeaway from the "Accountability" Section of the image - The Johari Window Model.
Have you ever heard of it?
I love this because it allows you to look at yourself and gain empathy for you. Although I advocate for having empathy for others, I believe this all starts with having empathy for ourselves.
So, the Johari Window encourages you to look at yourself from four different perspectives -
1. What is known to yourself and others - things you share openly and freely
2. What is known to yourself but not others - things you know but set boundaries for and do not share freely with all
3. What is known to others but not known to you - things that you may not realise you do but others see it. Which is why seeking critical and informative feedback in safe environments with people you trust is vital
4. What is not known to you and not known to others - this is where your potential could lie, trying new things, putting yourself out of your comfort zone allowing yourself to grow.
Looking back at these photos I don't think this Naomi knew what was coming her way when she stepped into the classroom for the first time.
But I am glad for all my experiences the good and the bad. I think that is a big part of accountability too. Some times life just sucks. Sometimes life is beyond magical. Sometimes life is pain old boring.
I think as I decide which photos to add into my posts I think about how can I visually share the process of my journey. I enjoy sharing happy, smily Naomi because that is such a big part of me. But I believe there is another side of the process that I am sharing in my words, the ups and the downs. And the next stage of my journey is navigating how I can share that visually too.
I hope these resources and insights may help in some way.
I am really enjoying reflecting on my journey so far! I would love to hear about you and your journey along the way too!
Next week we will be jetting off to Norway as well as looking at probably one of the most difficult years I have faced to date.
I am excited to keep sharing with you.
Remember our choices have an impact - What impact are you going to have?