When @MartynReay (blog here)asked me to share a personal challenge for 2015 to do with teacher wellbeing I knew I wasn’t planning to change anything in the new year. It’s difficult to admit that but I don’t plan to prioritise myself any more than I have in previous years. I know this will come as a surprise due to my enthusiasm and passion for supporting others but I’d like to explain why and in doing so share why I am truly content.
We were visited last week by Maj Carboni from Skoleborn magazine in Denmark to look at the things we do in school. We were very proud to share what we do and she was shocked by the hours teachers in the UK work. As much as I’d love the current Danish system of one hour non-contact per hour of teaching I don’t see that happening any time soon.
I don’t believe that we can have it all in the current climate; the hours and the expectations in education are high and we do this as a vocation. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t be doing it for free; but I genuinely believe what I do makes a difference and that I have to make sacrifices to try to be the kind of teacher I want to be.
I make the sacrifices I do willingly in order to protect the things that are most important and I’m comfortable with those choices. Would I like to spend more time with friends, watch more films, go out on a school night, perhaps even sleep a little more? Of course, but sometimes you have to ask yourself what’s most important. For me it’s the choices below:
Family first is a motto I wholeheartedly believe in. Nothing in this world is more precious to me than my son and wife. It’s why people think I’m weird when I say I’ll check with my wife before agreeing to things. She’s a reasonable (and incredibly patient, being married to me) woman but I always want to make sure my choices aren’t having a negative impact on them. So rather than thoughtlessly agreeing to everything I’d like to do and hoping for the best I politely check.
I love my job, I enjoy almost all of my work, which is as good as it gets. I’d like more time to do it but hey, I’m not from Denmark. My passion for education is such that my hobbies include reading educational books, going to additional CPD like Teachmeets and now I’ve added writing about it on my blog to the list. It’s important to me and I’m glad it is; we spend a fair chunk of our lives at work. If you don’t like it or the people you work with you need to change something. I consider myself very fortunate to do something that I enjoy and that makes a difference with people I like and respect for a living.
I may just have an addictive personality and I get a huge fix from running. As well as keeping me healthy and stopping my love of food making me look like a Santa impersonator all year round there’s a great deal of satisfaction in the challenges and achievements. Looking forward to
future events also helps to keep things in perspective when deadlines loom and times are busy.
So why on Earth did I just write this? I wanted to share three pieces of advice that help me stay contented in my life…
1: Know what really matters to you. If you need to make sacrifices it’s best to know what you want to protect.
2: Love what you do OR go and do what you love. Life’s too short to embrace misery on purpose.
3: Find something fulfilling outside of work too. There may not be a lot of time for work life balance but we all need a distraction.
So, I offer no promises and unapologetically accept no challenge to change. What I will offer is the small gift of sharing my secrets to staying content.
Look after yourself.
Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE
A random picture of a penguin dressed as John McClane. Just because it made me smile;)