Schools Closed, Exams Cancelled…Now What?

by Katie Ridgway @MissMeeks14

‘What-if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’ move erratically through my mind. Tonight, sleep eludes me, like it will be for many of my colleagues in the education sector. I have an anxiety disorder and have recently completed a course of CBT, but right now my breathing pattern strategies are of no help to me.

I make lists, weigh pros against cons (as if I’m considering something so much more trivial) for as many eventualities as I can think of in the dark as the minutes tick by.
At this point I decide to write a blog and pick up my phone to make a note of everything: my emotions, my questions and maybe even some strategies.

I feel sad, frustrated, confused, shocked…and I cannot imagine how some of my Year 11 and 13 students must be feeling. I’m sure a handful will have jumped for joy, but so many have worked so hard and the next 10 weeks or so could have made such a difference for those on the fence.

We have been left floundering with so many questions:

- Who counts as ‘key workers’?
- How many of these children do we have?
- We’ve already closed, how will the plans be communicated to us?
- Surely two days is not enough time to organise all of this?
- How will we be expected to report on student’s attainment and progress?
- As a Professional Mentor how will this impact upon my trainees?
- How will our pupil premium gap be affected by all of this?

- I’m asthmatic, if schools are requesting staff to go in to support vulnerable/ key worker children I want to help, but should I self-isolate?
- What about my @WomenEdNE event?
- With my husband on stand-by in the armed forces, will he have to go away again?

Eventually I drift off, amid the uncertainty and anger stemming from the half attempts at direction from our government.

This morning however, it’s bright and sunny so I put on my #10percentbraver hat and strive to think positively. I remember one of my therapy strategies about challenging negative thoughts so I start the day by listing my feelings and rating them 0-100% and consider the facts that support and also disprove those emotions before coming up with more realistic, balanced perspectives-counteracting my thinking errors.  I flick through Twitter to see many people feeling the same and I tap onto @lamb_heart_tea’s beautiful list of tips to reduce self-isolation anxiety:


I continue by creating a schedule: structure is really important to me and if I don’t feel in control, my anxiety spirals. I book in time for some marking, emails and checking NQT reports but also wellbeing activities: a walk with the dog, housework (a tidy home = a tidy mind), reading and a run or some yoga all in one-hour blocks to chunk my day.

I have to stop and remind myself that I am not alone in feeling this way, and neither are you if you are sat reading this, finding yourself agreeing or feeling in a similar mindset.

I turn off the news, which has been on for over an hour, turn on some music and vow to not check the news again until the update later this afternoon. I open my laptop and albeit hesitantly and with lots of pauses, back spaces and frustration, I try to cathartically pour out my feelings and change my (and maybe others) outlook.

Who knows what today will look like, let alone next week? All I know is we are not alone. We are in this together because as much as times like this bring out the worst in people, they also have the capacity to bring out the absolute best in us as well.

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