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  • Writer's pictureKaren Caswell

Look Below the Surface

‘All behaviour is communication’ is a belief we hold true for our students, but what about for others in our lives? Do we honour our family, friends and co-workers with the same thought and consideration?

Of course, as adults, we are expected to be able to regulate our emotions and express our needs in an appropriate way. However, at times of increased stress and high emotion, this can be difficult to do. We have heightened anxiety. We are easily triggered. We are more reactive. The start of this school year has been challenging (for reasons I won’t go into – but they are professional, not personal) and I’m afraid that my colleagues only see the withdrawal, the defensiveness, and the irritability. I’m afraid that they look at me and write me off as just being negative. I’m aware that on the surface, this is how it could look, however, there are times when, no matter how hard you try, it is difficult not to default to negativity.

Yes, we should only focus on the things within our circle of control. Yes, we need to be willing to ask for help. Yes, we are responsible for our own happiness and well-being. But sometimes we may feel like we are drowning and these responsibilities seem like a burden too heavy to bear solely on our own – and really, should we have to? Are we only ever responsible for meeting our own needs? Shouldn’t we have empathy for others? If we see someone struggling, no matter who they are, isn’t it showing care, consideration and compassion to offer help?

Our job as educators is often overwhelming. It is easy to get caught up in our own bubble, but we need to also be aware of those around us. How are your colleagues coping? What is their behaviour telling you? Are they leaving their classroom at break times? Are they initiating interactions with others? Are they snappy? Are they lacking motivation? Are they happy and smiling, or do they seem down, emotional, or negative?

It’s vital that we look below the surface and examine the reasons for the behaviour of others. We need to see and understand what is truly being communicated. The lifeline we offer may be the difference between someone sinking or swimming.


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