Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Biggest accomplishment no one knows about...

Day 9 of our Reflective Teacher Blog Challenge!  I've been inspired and challenged by all the blog posts I've read to date - that's just what Beth and I wanted out of this challenge.  Creating a vibrant online community for +TeachThought is also my goal and role.  It feels like we're finally getting there!

I thought a very long time about this post.  There have been many things I've achieved in teaching that no one really knows about.  I could write about those or I could write about something that is happening at the moment and is probably my biggest challenge - and battle - to date.  It's also very personal and I've kept much of it to myself.  If I can achieve this then it could well be my biggest accomplishment yet.

Teaching and learning mean everything to me.  I hope that if I'm known or recognised for anything at all then it is for the way I've given everything I can for my students so that they can find their way, their passions and follow their dreams.  I hope that my passion for what I do is clear and evident in everything I do and say.

That's why the current challenge is so hard.

Last year I was diagnosed with a major brain tumour and the expected outcome following surgery was not altogether positive.  One day I was in the classroom - August 14 to be precise - and the next day I was in the Neuro ward at Auckland Hospital being told that I hadn't imagined the weird symptoms I'd experienced for 10 years, that I had a Vestibular Schwannoma - cool name aye.  It was a benign tumour but was starting to press on the brain stem and had made me almost completely deaf.  To add insult to injury, it was evident on a scan from 2011 but had been 'missed'.  To cut a long story short "Arthur" needed to come out but there was quite a large risk in the 8 hours of surgery and I would also be completely deaf, may have severe balance issues and one side of my face could most likely be paralysed.  Oh great - that's all??!!

Surgery was on September 20, 2013.  While I was now completely deaf, I stunned them all and had absolutely no other side effects apart from some balance issues and went home after only 3 days - instead of the expected 7.  I'm stubborn and determined.  From here the battle began.

I thought I could return to school within a few weeks but was very knocked about by the surgery and really struggled to adjust to being deaf in one ear - you'd think it would be simple.  Not quite like that I found.  I couldn't give my school a definite return date so I did the right thing and resigned.  I was so angry and frustrated that I couldn't just return.  This is a very hard thing to explain to people.  They really don't understand and I can fully understand why.  My brain is absolutely fine - in fact my almost photographic memory has returned, (very helpful!!).  I look and sound fine but...

It's now a year down the track.  I am fighting to return to what I am so passionate about and looking for a suitable position either in leadership or consultancy and I know I will get there.  In the meantime I have the TeachThought online community to develop and I continue to meet some fantastic people online and in person.

When I do, it will be my biggest accomplishment in teaching.  Just to return to what I love.


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