Last year (maybe more than 12 months tbh) was a year of struggle, personal awakening and loads…LOADS of soul searching!
It was the worst time, it was the best time!
Leading up to 2018 I had a very full life, full of laughter and adventures, full of love and meaning, full of hardships and hurt.
Due to an incident I had when I was 23 my life changed completely, I got my first panic attacks and I learnt for the first time what fear, soul wrecking, happiness devouring, breath stopping fear was! I wasn’t secure in my own body and mostly mind. That led to me hiding in my own life, myhouse, my secure square meters, avoiding friends, outings, life!
I did teach though, it was the only reason I was leaving my house every day. I loved teaching, I loved my kids, I loved having some sort of meaning, some kind of drive! I couldn’t go on holidays in the summer, so I taught, I couldn’t go on trips, so I taught. I wouldn’t go out so I was just working on my craft, reading , learning, creating resources for my class. It was a mix of passion and necessity.
During these years I had many great times and some beautiful experiences but most of all –and I didn’t realize at the time- I learnt so much about me, about the human soul and mind, about human behavior, about understanding and forgiving people. I studied people without even realizing and-let me tell you-it was one of the most precious gifts of life!
I had spent years thinking I’m wasting life because I was a caged bird …but it turned out I was learning! That knowledge helped me be better, get better, fly better and help others do the same. It helped me realize teaching wasn’t just about the sharing of academic knowledge and thetraining of skills, it was so much more! It was about helping students be who they really are, about acceptance, about guidance through dark times. What they say is true…”Sometimes you are the only reason a student comes to school”.
So many of my old students still communicate with me, tell me their successes and troubles. They still call me miss Stavroula in such a sweet way.
Fast forward a year ago. I was lost, so many things had changed in my life, so much of me had changed. All I could see was obstacles and hurt. The worst part though was that had saved me in the past, was adding to my misery instead of helping. I had no passion for teaching anymore. Various factors contributed to that, bad experiences with parents, nightmarish heads of schools etc. I couldn’t fly through teaching anymore, I wasn’t feeling I was contributing.
I came so, SO close to changing professions it scared me. Who was I if not a teacher? Heck if I knew! So I started doing what I had learnt so well! I started soul searching, I needed to figure out what was it that was REALLY draining me of my passion! I used the skills I acquired over the years I mentioned. Happy to report I got to the bottom of it! I had let so many bad behaviors of people who weren’t or weren’t meant to be educators tell me how to teach! Why did I do that? I knew how to teach, I knew how to connect with kids, how to make them come to school with a smile! So I decided! I would never ever again work for schools or people that didn’t allow me to work the way I knew so well how to!
During summer I applied to over 20 schools and turned down – yes I TURNED DOWN – all of them! I was determined to clean for a living rather than teach if it meant I wouldn’t be able to do it how I wanted to! Don’t get me wrong, I really needed a job and money, I had rent, bills etc. But I wouldn’t let my fire be extinguished again. A few weeks before schools started I went on a few more interviews and I finally found a school I liked!
It’s not perfect, nothing is! But it’s where I can teach how I want!
Never let anyone tell you who you are, what kind of teacher you are! Only kids can answer that and if you see them smile, if you see them proud, then you know what kind of teacher you are!
Stavroula Kampakou, ESOL and English Teacher, Teaching Resources Creator
You can find all her resources in https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Stavroula-Kampakou-power-Teaching
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