After school I went to Durham University to study Geography in the mid-1970’s and then on to Bath for my PGCE. Six years teaching at in Brecon were followed by six years in Sherborne and then the same time as Head of Department at Tonbridge School. Then I enjoyed 18 years as Deputy Head at RGS Worcester where I was in charge of pastoral care and co-curricular attacks. I also examined at GCSE and A levels and was an ISI inspector.
Why did I go into teaching and why did I move into pastoral care? Simple - my love of people, my deep curiosity in human behaviour, my desire to help people to become more balanced, more content and more fulfilled. I suppose I’m a little nosey as well!
Although I called myself a teacher I know full well that for 18 years I was really not a teacher. I was a manager who taught and I recognised that I was more and more unable to know what it was like to teach full time with every year that passed. This gap was not always easy, or possible to breach.
Teaching is a demanding role and has become increasingly so over the years I think. Government initiatives, financial cutbacks, a reduction in the perceived status of the profession, parental demands, an increase in society’s expectations from the education system, pupil issues, social media, the rise of the celebrity culture, and the growth of management have all played their part in this change in teaching.
These changes, and others, have coincided with a large increase in teacher stress, teacher disillusionment and also in the number of teachers leaving, or looking to leave, the profession. There may be a link between the two of course!
My own realisation that I was struggling arrived suddenly. Overnight I became extremely ill which took time, effort and much support from family and friends for me to overcome. Stress played a huge part in this I believe. Not surprisingly, perhaps, I retired a little early and moved with my wife to Devon in 2014. Since then I have been busy in the field of emotional well-being where I work with individuals, families and companies.
As a long time meditator I know its value. I began teaching it many years ago to pupils, staff and even parents! I now teach individuals and groups face-to-face and online how to be mindful and how to relax and resist stress. In addition, I’ve led evening classes as well as day and weekend retreats.
Since retiring from teaching I also offer help to people who wish to sleep better, to be more mindful in their communication, to be less negative, and to bring mindfulness into their businesses. I’m also keen to support business owners who are looking for ways to enhance their employees well-being and emotional resilience. This help is given in person (via talks, workshops or 1-2-1), online or via books and online courses. But whatever the platform, the advice I offer is always practical, appropriate, easy to follow, and supported by modern science. Also, whether it be the spoken or written word I try to ensure the language used is always accessible and free from jargon!
Books on how to reduce exam and revision stress; what is meditation; and how gardening is a metaphor for life have been written (and are on sale on Amazon!).
I love being retired but I also loved teaching and felt it an honour to be part of a variety of school communities and play a small role in pupils’ lives. I talk to many teachers still and it hurts to hear how many good people are thinking of leaving the profession as a consequence of stress and workload.
I want to help teachers rediscover or enhance their love of teaching because it really is a hugely important role in modern society. Influencing the next generation to think, to be curious, to be empathetic, to believe in themselves, to be good global citizens is not easy. At all, especially today. But it is a joy and is what brought so many teachers into teaching in the first place. If I can help good people feel better in some small way then they, their family, their colleagues, and their pupils will benefit.
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