Last Summer I was invited to speak at a school’s conference in North London by John D’Abbro. I soon realised that this was not going to be a normal event. John challenged me to speak to the teachers attending about some of the most difficult times in my working life.
The conference theme was “Stepping out of your Comfort Zone” and I certainly was going to be doing that. For the first time publicly I spoke at length about some of the most painful and darkest times I have faced in teaching. Exploring the true lows I faced during 2010 and to a room full of strangers. I had lost sight of what my comfort zone was!
I learned a great deal from sharing those stories. It proved a really important emotional turning point for me and as delicate as they were to share, the process proved cathartic and significant. I spoke of those people around me, my amazing wife Helen who propped me up everyday and Neil Hopkin who cooled acidic moments with his unwavering support.
I had no script, no previous version to draw on – just the emotions from those days and some distance that enabled me to weave something meaningful for those who were listening. I tried my best to keep it together.
It is close to two years now since I had mornings when I had to pull the car over, on my way to school, and try and stop crying. Hard as those times were I reach back into that darkness now with a steady hand and draw strength from getting through those days.