Who am I?

It’s been so very, very long since I’ve written a post on this blog. I suppose my only (accidental) readers are those who have subscribed long ago (Digital Revolution anyone?) and those bored enough on their school holidays to click the link to this post. So why am I writing here, for you few readers? Well, I suppose I can blame Lady Whistledown… right not I’m on a plane bound for Cairns, watching Bridgerton to distract me from my catastrophising. Oh, anxiety don’t you love it? Well, she’ll be appearing again soon in this random post whether you love her or hate her.

It turns out I don’t have an answer to my titular question. I don’t know who I am. Or maybe I don’t know who others think I am… or even what I am. Human, yes. Always. But given my change in role over the last 18 months, I’m not sure who I am, or where I’m going. I once was known – right here on this very blog – as a teacher. But am I? I just don’t feel included in that role anymore. It’s so very weird. TBH, I’ve been drinking some rather lovely sparkling wine and I’m way up above the clouds (literally) so I guess that’s got me pondering and just vomiting these thoughts. If I’m in a non school based teacher position… am I really a teacher? And what does it even mean to be a teacher? And why do I care so damn much?

Chatting to my psychologist (yes, I actually have one because 16 years of teaching can really fuck a gal up), and she got me thinking about who I am. Or at least how I define my identity. Stupidly I wrote teacher first out of everything. I can’t stop thinking about that unconscious slick of the pen. Why write that above mother, wife, author, human?! I guess that’s what teaching does to us, right? It just takes over our very being. And when you’re not in the classroom anymore… what then? I literally don’t know.

I do know that any time I speak about school I start to get very teary and a bit jittery. That’s anxiety again. The bitch. Super dumb, but I can’t help remembering how it felt to be there and how useless, ineffective, overwhelmed and (honestly) scared that I felt being in that space. I knew I had lost it. I dunno what ‘it’ is but it was gone. Proper gone. Maybe it was hope, optimism, joy, passion… who knows?

So I got an escape and I really feel valued in my current role but it’s not *me* forever. I don’t know who I am, or where I’m going. I don’t know if I’ll return to the classroom even though I fucking love being with teenagers and I cry… literally cry… to be back in the classroom with them. I don’t think that’s going to be viable. Not any time soon. So where to next, right? I don’t know. I really, really don’t know.

Who am I? Where am I going? What will be my contribution to the world? *Shrugs shoulders; glugs sparkling wine*


8 thoughts on “Who am I?

  1. Great post and has got me thinking – probably would also have said ‘teacher’ first if you asked me who I am. I know I’m a whole lot of other things as well but it’s hard not to put that part of my identity first as it does take up such an amount of time and brain space. I think being a teacher is more of a mindset than a job title – when I was a coach and not in a classroom of my own, I still very much saw myself as being teacher and suspect that would be the case in any of myriad of roles within and on the boundaries on education.

    Enjoy your sparkling wine, enjoy your break and I look forward to continuing to learn from you through your twitter and blog musings – see, very much a teacher after all!

  2. Hi Bianca, thanks for the post and the honesty (as always). I am not surprised that you put teacher first as who you are, I would have! Our profession is all consuming and our passion and commitment to our students and learning is paramount in so much of our day. Honestly from the moment you wake up until you go to bed, teaching and school consumes our brain so that everything else can get blinkered as a result. It was this overwhelming nature of our work (even in the corporate space) and the impact on those we love and who we should put first that resonated with me in some of the banners, tweets and posters from the latest MoreThanThanks strike action. I do still see myself as a teacher, even after 4 years as a NSBT – how can I not after 35 years in the profession? My experiences in a variety of schools and classrooms drives what I am doing – to advocate for teachers and to make the best support resources that I can for teachers (and from their our students) in order to make their load just a little bit easier. I loved being in school and working with teenagers and colleagues but I know that I will not return to the classroom in a permanent capacity before I retire. I am okay with that now but it doesn’t stop me seeing myself as a teacher – I now teach teachers and that is also an awesome space to be in. In a couple of years, when I am retired, I wonder how I will see myself? Probably I will still say I am a teacher but I also hope I will say I am an advocate for mental health health and disability, a photographer, world traveller, poet, as well as a proud and loving wife and mother and a good friend. Maybe the order of identification will change, maybe.

  3. Provocative post. Makes me wonder what it would take for a classroom to be something you’d want to walk back into, and feel positive about being in. Perhaps not necessarily a question you can, or wish to answer right now. But I’m curious.

  4. I did corporate roles on 3 occasions and gave myself full permission to replenish my energies again fully before returning to schools. I’ve been back in schools for years now and love it – I urge you to enjoy the weird in-between zone that is corporate, to the full, rest and revitalise yourself. You are a wonderful human.

  5. It probably doesn’t help much but I feel exactly the same way. I absolutely loved teaching for the 15 years I was in the classroom but I had to take a break – before it broke me. Now I’m in a non teaching role I question all kinds of things about whether I will be able to go back, whether I should go back, and what I can contribute. I miss all those wonderful moments with my students where they ‘get it’, challenge the status quo or find themselves. What I do know though is I will always be a teacher in some way – even if that’s just in the way I encourage and support the young people in my world. Cheering you on in your journey as you work out who you are and where you want to be.

  6. I question myself daily about being a ‘real teacher’ because I have chosen to stay as a casual. I then tell myself how valuable what I do is to the school and to other teachers and shake it off. What you are contributing is important. Teachers are not just in classrooms 5 days a week, they are helping other teachers do their job and bring up the next generation of teachers. My psych helped me figure that out too 😄

  7. Gill here already touched on this. “Teacher” is indeed a mindset, a necessary part of being human. Only problem is, humans professionalize this human thing into a form that makes it hard for healthy humans to do for very long. As our identities grow, we want more from this role than the classroom can provide, and it starts to hurt us.

    You will never NOT be a teacher, Bianca, and you’ll never stop craving having excited learners in your presence. Your depth of understanding for that professional role will make who you are today of enormous value to that profession, and bring you satisfaction beyond what you know now.

    Life is weird. Enjoy your travels, and especially the bubbly!

  8. Hi Bianca, I’m not sure what it means to you or for you but your blogs and having a chance to actually attend one of your workshops made a huge difference to my teaching practice. I love teaching, I’ve been a teacher (in one role or another) for 30 years this year. I was a HT English when I found your blog. I’d been a HT for a while after being on a fast track with projects and I was starting to feel stale and jaded. I was looking for something new. Your blog helped me see another way to ‘do’ English. It was timely because a few years later my school moved to integrating STEM across every subject area. My faculty was already on board – it made it so much easier. It’s influenced how I see the job of teaching in many many ways. I’m sorry you are struggling. It seems to me the last few years have been incredibly hard for many people I truly hope you will find your way through this and out the other side. Best wishes and thank you for what your teaching and learning gave to me.

    Michele Cooper DP Eden Marine High School

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