Teachers are under pressure, under fire and under-appreciated. They are the front line for so much of society’s needs. And, as a social worker, I marvel every day at what they do.
We social workers are not always popular among teachers – I know this, as I used to be a teacher. It’s understandable. They want the best for the children in need they see every day and expect us to have all the solutions. Unfortunately, budgets, resources and legal complexities mean we cannot always help as much as they – and we – would want. It’s frustrating for us all.
But when I go into schools this never gets personal. Rather than bringing criticism and arguments, teachers go out of their way to make my life easier. It can be the smallest of gestures: the teacher who makes me a cup of tea each week, sometimes two if I am really lucky. Or the deputy head who has an endless supply of Kit Kats when chocolate is the only solution. There are those members of staff who will go above and beyond to make sure I feel valued and supported in my role, and daily I am grateful to each and every one.
Recently, one such person, a teaching head of year, made my life a hundred times better. First they lent me their photocopy number: this might seem like a tiny act of kindness but getting a photocopy number in a school is often much more challenging than you could ever possibly imagine. They then brought me a bacon sandwich at break time. I was really hungry and very grateful.
I then had some concerns around a young person in their year so went to find them. Instead of saying they were too busy (I could see that they were completely snowed under), they made time to listen and understand my concerns and took my advice. I told them the things I thought would help support this young person and together we wrote an action plan that involved key members of staff working with the individual.
This included them talking to the young person in a joint session with me to relieve anxieties she was experiencing relating to school, and giving them other appropriate staff to speak to in my absence. It also involved offering somewhere for the child to go if they were struggling. They even attended a home visit with me to discuss concerns with the young person's family.
This made a significant difference to this case. It allowed processes to be sped up, it allowed school to develop that valuable relationship with family, it gave the young person someone they could turn to.
Ignore the media, ignore those parents who criticise you constantly, ignore the government which loads you up even more: teachers, you are doing a fantastic job and I am grateful every day for the kindness you show me.
All names and some details of the story have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. The other blogs in this series can be found in the related links below.
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