It doesn’t get easier
I have been teaching for over 15 years. One of the things that struck me this week is how it doesn’t actually get easier.
My first task of the year is to get to know the children and their families. This involves being organised and strategic about how to make sure we quickly make everyone feel safe and secure. It also involves emotional work – reaching out to create connections and forge relationships with a bunch of strangers.
We learn from experience. I think we can get better at this job. I am certainly happy to be able to draw on a depth of experience about how children behave, about what helps them settle, about when to counsel a parent to stay and when to encourage them to leave.
But I also find that the emotional task of reaching out to connect to new people is new every time. I don’t think it is something we can get used to. Perhaps we can withdraw and teach in a less emotionally available way. But when we set out to create a new meaningful relationship, we have to make ourselves emotionally open.
This process does not form callouses. It is new and fresh every time. It does not get easier, because each experience is wholly new. It is not a repeat of a past relationship. So the fact that I have done it many times before with other children and other mothers, and fathers, and aunts and nonni does not really count.
This is a new person. A completely unique new person. And we are going to get to know each other. For the first time.
It can be pretty demanding. I can find myself exhausted at this time of year, avoiding friends and cursing when the phone rings. My energy for people is absorbed in getting to know these new people in my life.
I have been doing this for a long time, and I have learnt a lot. One of the things I have learnt is that this does not actually get easier.