Surrender or getting angry: choose the best solution. This is a story to help come to terms with not getting in your own way and let go of anger.
I still occasionally teach in primary schools and I was on a supply day’s recently. I run my own business too and I have two children, I sometimes wonder why I’m tired!
Anyhow, I was in the classroom with year one, they are 5 to 6 years old, and I’d been with them over an hour and break was coming up. I got them ready for break and as they were lining up, I was sent a message that it was wet play, which meant they had to stay in the classroom.
This was my second day in this school and I was quite tired, it was Friday, the end of the week. And I just had one moment of complete anger, thinking ‘what am I supposed to do now?’ And I did call to another teacher, I could see one bringing students back from the playground. I asked ‘What am I supposed to do? What’s happening to break?’
I had two choices there, the first one was to make my own life a misery, and I was getting quite tense with the kids, because I needed a break. Then I thought, ‘Well, actually if I had a break that would be great, but I haven’t got a break, so I may as well be easy on myself and enjoy being with the students.
They all took their coats off, I told them they could play, they took some toys out and started playing and I sat there and started playing with them too. Making faces, laughing, talking to them. And you know what? Once I had decided there was nothing I could do and I needed just to surrender, just to calm myself and just go with the flow I relaxed and I wasn’t half as tired, I didn’t need my drink now. I would have been pleased to have a drink then because you get thirsty when you teach, but I could wait.
By the time break was over I was ready to start again, then suddenly someone turned up and said ‘I’m here to relieve you so you can have a break.’ I thanked her, gave her some work for the children and left for 10 minutes. But what was amazing was that if I’d been annoyed with the kids, carried on wanting my break, pushing and getting annoyed, I would possibly have shouted at the children, made myself feel bad, upset the children, and it wasn’t their fault, and by the time someone had turned up I would have been really, really wound up. But I chose the easiest solution. Just to surrender. To think ‘Ok, let’s all have a break together, let’s make the most of it. Just enjoy being together’.
The kids were having a good time, they weren’t misbehaving, they were lovely and I even gave them a few more minutes play. So they were happy. And I think that’s quite important when you want to think about expressing yourself. If you find the wrong time to say what you feel, I could have been really angry, and get really annoyed with the kids and the school. But because I decided not to and I decided I was going to relax my whole body started to relax. I didn’t feel as tired and although obviously I needed a break, it was less urgent. And it is something that’s quite important when you start speaking or when you’re in front of other people and you have to speak.
Often, it’s better not to worry and just take one thing at a time. Hold the faith, think that it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be alright. And realise that if you push too much you are going to make everything miserable, you and the others around you. Also, what do other people need? The children needed a break, but it didn’t really matter where it was. They wanted to play and that is what we did. Because they were allowed to play and because I relaxed, they were happy.
I think this is a really quite important lesson to learn. To just relax and surrender. To just think ‘OK, I can’t have it all my way, and does it really matter? As long as we, as a group we are making progress.’ That’s what counts.
So, I just want you to think today about the analogy between that situation in the classroom and times when you might have talked to your team, you want them to do this and that, you just barked orders at them instead of trying to see what else they need. “Are they ready to listen to me? Is it the right time for them? How can I engage them? How can I treat them so that they respond? Can I really control the whole thing? Shall I forget to try to get my own way?
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