I am Helen Pengelly and I have been there...
In 2002 I was an NQT going through a messy divorce. I had 3 young sons and serious health problems. I was running around putting everyone else’s needs before my own.
I felt like a fraud. I was trying to be perfect and was afraid to ask for help in case I was ‘found out.’ I was bullied and my confidence was at rock bottom. I was worried what would happen if I was seen not to be coping.
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in. My energy levels were the lowest they had been in my life. I was dangerously anaemic and I weighed about 7 stone. I looked anorexic.
I almost had a breakdown but I had to keep going for the sake of my children. At my review at the end my NQT year my headteacher praised me for my tenacity and said many people would have given up for far less!
I gave up full time teaching after 3 years when my request to reduce my hours was turned down. I signed up with a supply agency for a while then opened a business. In 2008 I lost a lot of money due to the crash in the financial markets. I closed the business in 2010 and had to sell my house to pay off my debts. I went back to work as a supply teacher and this time my experience of teaching was very different.
The life lessons I learned on the way though have made me a stronger and better person. In 2006 I went to a workshop where I came across meditation. When I woke up the next morning to the usual chaos and noise in a household with 3 boys I felt calm like I never had before. I knew I needed more of this in my life!
This was the beginning of a new journey which still continues. I have invested thousands of pounds on personal development coaching, training, courses and retreats that have taken me all over the world to places as diverse as India, Swaziland and San Diego!
Then it occurred to me: ‘Why on earth hadn’t I learned this when I was doing my teacher training?’
As a supply teacher I have worked in over 50 schools with all ages from Early Years to Sixth Form as well as in PRUs and with EBD. I saw what was really going on in schools! I knew I wanted to help teachers. I wanted to transform our education system and help school leaders create Conscious Schools where everyone – pupils and staff alike – could become the best version of themselves so I trained as a leadership coach.
In 2014 I started to spread the word in schools. I ran workshops, I gave talks and presentations at TeachMeets to raise awareness about the benefits of mindfulness and the importance of taking care of teachers’ wellbeing. Hardly anyone else was doing it at the time. It was frustrating because I felt as if I was waiting for the world, in particular the education system, to catch up.
I received amazing feedback from my workshops and presentations. I could see schools were wasting so much money on supply cover – because I was one of them! More teachers were going off sick, for longer and with more serious conditions. Many experienced teachers were leaving and it was difficult to recruit new ones.
It’s not rocket science:-
Happy Teachers means Happy Pupils!