Sunday, 8 April 2012


You win some, you lose some…

This is a really difficult conversation to have with you. I didn’t want to do it. And the timing is not fair to you.”  
I searched the vice principal’s face.
I know.
Tears fall out of my exhausted eyes, just a few at a time, as a mixture of feelings torrent through me...
Hurt. Failure. And an incredible sense of relief…? 
My brain instantly sheds hundreds of pounds of weight.
I can stop. I don’t have to bring my students’ books home. I don’t have to mark. I don’t have to plan. I don’t have to think of strategies to harness my year 7 science class. The debilitating anxiety can stop. The lonesome, unaided pursuit for solutions and effective teaching strategies, no more. It’s all over now. I can let go. I can stop.
Some tears. I breathe and my shoulders raise and fall with new ease.
While my brain runs through this tangent of thoughts the tall, stern, guilty man before me continues to explain the situation. 
He tells me what I already know.
…“It is obvious that you love and care very much about teaching. No one questions your commitment.
No FUCKING kidding. 
… “Just this morning we were given the opportunity to take on a PE and Science teacher with 7 years of experience and couldn’t pass it up.
Pushing, pushing. Never stopping. I run and run with all my might and there is always more road being laid in front, miles and miles ahead. I can’t seem to see the end. There is no clarity and I’m too slow to get there on my own. I fight to keep up hope.
This negative cycle persists and anxiety and self-blame create a dense fog- worsening over time.
I push and hope and push and try...
...and they give up on me.
Disposed of.
I am an agency-based, long term cover teacher. This status gives me little power and the school little motivation to support and develop me.  Unfortunately, the school failed to see how collaborating, supporting and developing me would translate to developing and supporting their students. A sad, egocentric and deeply disheartening sort of tunnel vision that afflicts many schools in the UK education system.
Miss Lame loves teaching. All she wants is to do it well.
The school's general approach to students was that of control. Maintaining a position above the student was paramount. On the other hand, Miss Lame felt openness, developing mutual respect and dialogue between student and teacher were paramount in connecting with and effectively educating students.
Vice principal: "You are the type of person to give and give and hope that eventually you will get something back. Well these kids will take and keep taking." 
Happy, respected, inquiring, engaged students = Miss Lame joy.
This couldn't be achieved where I was teaching.

The way the “whole-hearted” live…

Seeing my strain and recent hardship my dear friend Nicci sent me along a video clip of a researcher and story-teller by the name of Brene Brown, who she found much inspiration from.

Brene's research attempted to bring clarity to something so powerful and fundamental to our happiness and success- human connection. 
Connection is why we are here. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives.
Shame, fear of unworthiness, “excruciating vulnerability”, these were the qualities at the core of the deconstruction of connection with others.   
Brene identified that people fell into two categories- those able to create deep and strong connections with others and those who struggle to achieve connections with others. She indicated that what delineated these two types of people were their sense of “worthiness”. There are individuals who fear being unworthy of love, not enough, while on the flip-side, there are individuals who Brene designates the “whole-hearted”.  Simply put, the “whole-hearted” are “those who have a strong sense of love and belonging and believe that they are worthy of love and belonging”- a beautiful, positive feedback loop.
Brene’s research showed that people who embrace their vulnerability, had the courage to be imperfect and have “compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others” were most successful in achieving true connections with others.  
As Brene spoke of the “whole-hearted”, I connected with her words and felt hopeful and proud and sad all at once. Through my life I can confidently say that I have been fortunate to fit into the bracket of self-loving, “whole-hearted” folk. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve and move through my life embracing my whole lame self- goofy, emotional, gassy, loving, anal-retentive, “Miss Lame with no shame”. As a result of this authenticity, I have been fortunate to see and experience connections that I know are true and that I am genuinely worthy of.
On the other hand, as I listen to Brene list off the crucial qualities that the “whole-hearted” a sadness tugs at my soul as I realise how much I’ve allowed my recent negative experiences un-ravel my sense of worthiness.
The past 3 months of teaching in an unsupportive, unconstructive environment, I failed myself as I neglected to show “compassion to be kind to myself first and then to others”.  Sleep deprivation and no time allotted for my own thoughts and adventures… Losing sight of the positive, the achievements, the daily successes that I so proudly acknowledge and celebrated in the past…Allowing others negativity to affect me and my perceptions of myself as an educator…  Never shutting off…  No matter what, I wasn’t enough. Insecurity and anxiety clouded my thoughts and perceptions of myself as an educator, a friend and individual- A negative cycle.
As I reflect on this recent hardship I see more and more how this breakdown of Miss Lame’s feelings of worthiness stretched and shadowed over all aspects of her life.  My ability to connect with others- my students, my colleagues, my friends- was deeply affected as I self-doubted.  I recall those moments of shame and incredible feelings of unworthiness, while I ripped through my home after arriving home from work- a negative tornado- hurried, abrupt and tense. The thought, “I’m so unlovable right now”, haunted me as I heard my anxious, strained voice struggle to gain “control” of my year 7 science class. Five hours of sleep. I couldn’t begin to support my students and their learning as I couldn’t even support myself.  
I believe that through life we can teeter on Brene’s line of distinction between those who achieve and feel worthy of love and belonging versus those who struggle with it.  I think it is natural that as we grow and move through life we experience the highs and lows, the fluctuations, in our sense of worthiness. Life brings on new pressures and circumstances that forever challenge our security and how firmly we are able to grip on to our worthiness and build strong and reinforcing connections with others.  This is how we learn and what gives us contrast to better understand and appreciate when life is good and when we are strong.
An example many of us can relate to…
Your first boyfriend/girlfriend.
The beginning: It’s a playful time- Excitement, laughter, learning about each other- you’re buzzing.A few months in you reach a turning point: You’re beautiful, good, bad, ugly is coming out- ALL of you is being spread out on the table. Exposed. You want to cover up- the bad, the ugly
You question- “am I lovable?”… “will Hilda/Bobby/Ethel/George want to continue on in this, knowing all my sides?
AM I WORTHY OF Hilda/Bobby/Ethel/George’s LOVE?

What Miss Lame has learned as she reflects on her recent negative experience and as she recharges with dear family and friends in Canada…
Dear readers- YOU ARE ENOUGH.
I hope you  think so too.
Love from,
Miss Lame