Teaching is an Emotional Rollercoaster

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shutterstock_164605790 BARCELONA - NOV 1: The Dragon Khan, a famous roller coaster of the Port Aventura theme park on November 1, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What pushes you over the edge when you’re having a bad day? What can also do the opposite; and have a long-lasting impression on your professional wellbeing?

When has a colleague stepped in above and beyond, to go out of their way to support you in personal circumstances? In teaching, I can imagine the response to this question would be incredibly high. Teachers by default are nurturing individuals – of students, colleagues and sometimes self …

 Breathe deeply, breathe slowly; remember, emotional intelligence at all times.

I’m not one for a cold-stern face, nor am I one to bear a permanent grin. I’m not perpetually on the brink of an outburst or about to burst into floods of tears. But, I am human. We all suffer from bereavements, illnesses, accidents and stress. Emotional well-being in the classroom is all about balance. I have witnessed some surprising emotions in all types of teachers, from the cold, unsympathetic types to the kind-fluffy-caring types; the young and the old; the wise and the naïve.

We are only human …

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Image: Shutterstock

In my new role as a deputy headteacher, I ‘have the ears’ of many colleagues and their personal circumstances. This position is a responsibility, as well as duty of care by the employer to ensure all staff are fit for work. Over the past 12 months, I have discovered even more and more about teacher wellbeing; the situations I have blogged about before, the life-events that can have an impact on you personally, and also in your role as a professional/teacher.

It is more and more pressing in today’s climate, to support teacher wellbeing and offer staff support and flexible working arrangements if needed. In the next term. I hope to be able to share our plans to raise the profile of staff wellbeing and how we aim to take emotional wellbeing and work-life balance very seriously.

A few headteachers may scorn at those who bring their own life circumstances into the classroom; but the finest headteachers I know, will accept that even the best of us can wobble. It’s how we overcome these situations, whilst remaining constantly secure in our own classroom practice, that is paramount to you and your students.

Role Play:

So, imagine this scenario.

Your headteacher’s P.A has just frantically searched the school and has located you. They sit you down in a quiet office to deliver some devastating news. You are 15 minutes away from teaching Year 8 after break. You are clearly in shock, but failing to recognise the indicators. You are advised to go home immediately.

How would you respond?

shutterstock_158274488 Two women comforting crying girl. Close up of crying girl, who covers her face with both hands

Image: Shutterstock

We’ve all been there, but how do you deal with the emotional roller-coaster?

  1. Consider your options. Teach or not to teach? If it’s the latter; who needs to know and how can you tell them quickly?
  2. If you do decide to teach, will you adapt your lesson plan? Will the change create additional stress? I once continued to teach whilst I absorbed life-changing news. It took me an entire lesson to filter the information.
  3. If a student senses a mood change or thinks you are hot under the collar, how would you deal with this?
  4. If your voice trembles when questioned, pause. Bite your lip. Squeeze 2 fingers together (hard)!
  5. If all else fails, ask students to ‘carry on’ with their work whilst you gather your thoughts; step outside the room or ask for a colleague to step in whilst you gather your thoughts.

What would you do? What have you done? What would you do if you had to deliver some devastating news to a colleague?

Teaching Tip:

Always have a box of tissues in your office and classroom. You never know when you (or someone else) might need it; and please, look after yourself!

You can find more in this book …

100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Lessons


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