The fourth workshop: college CPD
I hope this April is treating you well. This is probably one of the busiest Aprils I have ever had with multiple projects on the run as well as my upcoming exams, which have priority (I am also acutely aware I do not want to turn opportunities for my portfolio and CV down as having found it hard to gain work after my first degree, it would seem a waste not to take advantage of these opportunities but plan them in effectively). Universities seem to like you spending all of your time either on work for them, or telling you that you should be involved in every extra curricular and project going (or get this jist! What an annoying mixed message). I'm hoping I am striking the balance right for me this time, as I do not want to shunt any opportunities prematurely.
On Thursday I completed my first workshop for a education trust in my local area, making this the fourth workshop I have run in total. I went to visit two dear friends of mine (casual shoutout) up in Grimsby whose opinions I value and who are hoping to foster children in the future - thus I ran a past session for them and asked for their feedback in return for them having 1hr free CPD with certificates. I really appreciated their feedback, and one of the things they suggested is going to form the core of this post: teachers behaviour and language. I must add in no way that I am criticising anyone in this post, more describing my experiences and the emotions and feelings that accompany these experiences.
I always used to find teachers confusing, I don't know how they do their job, how they 'crowd control' nor how they engage. I have to admit I have enjoyed learning more since I have had the reigns myself on aspects like speed and clarity in understanding what I am supposed to be doing. One thing I used to find particularly challenging was changes in teachers' moods, behaviour and outward expression: one minute being really happy and open, the next being so fumingly angry and causing such tension that it could be cut with a knife. I have to admit I was always very quiet and scared of everyone at school: pairing this with not understanding why the teacher was changing their mood one second to the next, especially with certain teachers where it wouldn't even be linked to class behaviour but something seemingly invisible and erratic. I have to admit, this scared me. I found learning very difficult with these teachers, did not take their subjects longer than I had to or in the case of swimming lessons at primary school, tried my hardest to get out of them. How on earth I didn't get removed from these swimming lessons was beyond me as being homeless in a foreign country was less stressful and sickening than these. I gained nothing apart from a hate for a teacher that was a twin of the Trunchball in Matilda who was a bully and did not comprehend autism. She should have never been a teacher.
Back to topic: I found the erratic behaviour very difficult as I did not know where I stood with these individuals. I could not tell what pleased them or made them tic, as my behaviour remained stable and the lack of consistency in their behaviour not only confused me but severely distressed me with the abruptness of response and change. The class being slightly rowdy with these teachers really agitated me and used a lot of my energy through controlling fear and anxiety. It used to really tire me out, just like anxiety does to me now with certain of aspects of university like getting grades back (last time I nearly threw up when I signed into Moodle to get grades. I've stopped since.) As I have grown older I have learnt that teachers are not perfect and I projected my perfectionist ideals onto them in the past and expected only the best from them: you must provide the best for your students and not emotionally contaminate the learning environment. I know now that is not possible, teachers are humans with feelings and agendas of their own. How could they read my fear and anxiety when I am so internalised and non-expressive in this way? How can they keep class control, and must they do it at the expense of others? It's a debate of individual vs. group psychology with the assumption that if a verbal command or emotional command is not relevant to the individual they will ignore. But that is not the case for me.
I used to, and still do, take shouting and anger at groups very personally, on a one to one level rather than at a group level where I can subscribe or unsubscribe. I didn't, and still don't, have an unsubscribe button for group interaction on an anger response level.
Language used to confuse me too, when teachers and students alike would use a lot of idiom in their day to day speak. I still get this at postgraduate, and really frustrates me when people do not use language that is clear to me or using words that mean one thing in one context but another thing in their own context. This really winds me up. It's almost to me as if people are trying to confuse me by speaking a foreign language: please, I'd understand better if you actually spoke German! I have learnt some idiom per se through general life experience and learning languages, but this has been more like learning mental arithmetic rather than naturally just picking it up - you need to figure it out. I find this very frustrating, given I study Autism (I get mega face palm in these scenarios, or should I say face-wall!) It's almost like I am being set up to fail.
The one thing that has helped is the ongoing help of my parents, who are my translators in crime, tour guides and advocates. I may be in need of a dictionary for the future! At least as a former languages student I know how to use one.