When I worked in Primary and I was super-stressed and pretty miserable, I often sought solace through moaning, ranting and complaining to others . I can’t say I put any real thought into it at the time. I couldn’t seem to stop the words coming out of my mouth. And anyway – it’s good to let off steam right?
This wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t solving anything. All I did was bring myself and my colleagues down.
I had become a school Dementor. I was sucking the life out of anyone who came near me.
Now… I’ll be kind and let myself off. Because I really was so unhappy that I was only a whisker away from clinical depression. And in my new role, despite the many challenges and frustrations that are part of this or any job, I am much less Dementor-like.
Teachers beware; beware of spending time with Dementors; beware of becoming one yourself.
A good rant is healthy and necessary every now and then, but if it becomes part of your daily routine to nip into your colleagues classroom every day at the end of school, and spend half an hour longing for another life, complaining bitterly about school mismanagement and unpleasant kids; about the pile of books you have to spend the night marking when you should be ironing instead, well… just stop. Half an hour a week is two and a half hours – that’s weekly PPA time for many. And you’re spending it complaining.
Instead, you could be rattling off some work and getting home a bit earlier to spend time with your family. You could race off to the gym and get some much-needed endorphins to help you cope all you have to moan about. You could go and sit outside on your own with a cuppa and enjoy a bit of quiet mindfulness. If you’re really unhappy, you could spend that time looking for another job.
You could do something that makes you feel better – not worse.
I know that this is easier said that done, especially considering that most of the time we really enjoy moaning and the company of those who moan along with us. They’re often not only colleagues, but trusted friends.
But this is your life. This is your well-being; your health. And it’s theirs too!
Tell your friends how you feel – tell them that you’re trying desperately to curtail your complaining to help yourself feel happier. Any friend worth their salt would want that for you anyway. Ask them to help you; maybe they can shout, “Chucky Cheese!” at you whenever you unconsciously start blathering on; if they’re a ‘funny’ friend, maybe they will start Irish dancing with a finger up the nose (I’ve never tried that but I know I have friends who would oblige!). Maybe set a day after school when you get together and have a good old moan. Just make sure that you stick to that day!
And if they’re not obliging? Maybe you need to change your working patterns for a while; perhaps your classroom door gets closed at the end of the day; maybe you head home at half 3 and work on the kitchen table. Do whatever it takes to help yourself feel happier. Give it a month – if you’re no happier, feel free to return to your complaining!
With so many teachers leaving the profession, the ones who are staying need to take steps to protect themselves in any way that they can.