A significant thought occurred to me many months ago and has come back to me recently. A local Headteacher refers to her students as ‘my love’ in normal conversations. It is surprising considering her position as the authoritarian figurehead of the school, but also not surprising considering her caring nature and genuine affection for the students in her care. The effect of these two words is hard to quantify, but it is certainly impactful. It softens an instruction or request; it gives value and affection to the recipient and often reduces potential conflict. Much needed, not just in Education but in all areas of life.
I found it challenging. Do I use such a phrase? Not often, perhaps only with my own children or wife. Would I use it in my professional context? Probably not. It crosses a boundary of familiarity I feel I need, in order to have respect and authority. I have been teaching in secondary schools for over twenty years and have seen the chaos that ensues when there is a lack of respect. Any boss or line manager has to get the balance between approachable and caring and respectful authority. A tough challenge!
Before I went into education, I had a chance meet with my old drama teacher from middle school. She knew me well and was thrilled that I had chosen education as my profession. She offered me one piece of advice that has never left me and has proven to be extremely valuable. She said, “whatever you do, you must be yourself” A fairly obvious statement, but I have often reflected on what it actually means. I took on the role of a teacher, which meant I behaved the way I thought a teacher should. I watched others and was given advice, I had successes and failures and over many years began to discover what worked and what didn’t. I learnt to handle frustrations and pressures; I began to understand that is possible to not take things personally. Most importantly, I discovered the direct link between my view of myself and my ability to connect and positively influence those around me.
This brings me back to my thought! The opposite of fear is love! The reason I would struggle to use any sort of endearing term to anyone other than my family is for fear that it would seem weak and disingenuous. The issue is fear! If I am not seen in a certain way I won’t be liked or respected. I will not be good at my job and therefore my value decreases. I have to rectify this, or fear will be the determining factor in my life. I am going to refer to myself as ‘my love’ not aloud, in my own head. The impact could be further reaching than expected. I may be more inclined to look after myself, to value my health and put relationships first. This may not be the solution, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. It softens my view of myself, reminds me of my intrinsic value and helps me to see others in more positive way. I will endeavour to refer to those I speak with as ‘my love,’ again, not necessarily aloud!