This week I returned to sharing my classes in schools across London and I have such mixed feelings about this new academic year.
The last year really took it out of me and come July I thought I was on the verge of an emotional burnout - so I really slowed down over the summer with my in-person work.
I spoke to a number of teachers about this last academic year and we all agreed this was a challenging year, but not being able to be specific as to why. Although we all suspect it was mostly because it was the first year back from going through the pandemic. The children seemed to be suffering so much more with anxiety - I witnessed children as young as 11 and 12 coming to the staff with panic attacks. Worryingly, according to staff this was the norm during the first half of the year. The norm?
Not only should that not be ‘normal’, it made me question whether or not staff are equipped to manage the kinds of mental health issues that the children were experiencing. Staff were putting children in a room and finding another staff member who could sit with them - is sitting with them enough?
My thoughts went to the teachers and how little their PGCE training (post graduate certificate in education) covers on psychology and mental health in the classroom.
Where do teachers draw their knowledge from to manage these issues?
Most of the time, it’s from how they were shown from their own parents, or from older, or first aider staff members. Perhaps there are a minority of schools that might do some light training on this - but this is something I rarely hear of taking place.
So it’s a mixture of strategies and approaches - which then leads me to wonder who is actually regulating this - and can teachers just freestyle their own approaches? They do and I witness that - especially in less funded educational environments.
And I'm afraid to say it's even worse in the SEND schools, where there is minimal training around the mental health and psychology aspect of dealing with students needs.
This is our current reality in the schools but happily there is movement towards more training for the SEND schools - but it is moving at a very slow pace. In the meantime, what happens to the mental health of the students and staff? And where are schools and staff learning the skills they need to manage this for the children & themselves?
Working with children in the educational system becomes personal - working with behaviour with any human is personal - it's the human connection between us all. That's why therapists have therapists to counsel them through all this human connection!
I am definitely not finished on this topic……returning, frustrating thoughts.
Thoughts - from The Thoughtful Wave