The Student Room Group

Working in a school with a physical condition

Hello,
So i have a hidden physical condition which can affect my balance, strength so climbing up to do displays, carrying heavy stuff (even a pile of books to some extent) can be difficult. Is this a hindrance when working in schools. I've mostly been okay bit some parts happen or i struggle with something that perhaps is easy and I'm like i should be able to do this and if i can't that a failure on my part. Today was sports day i mean the head chanted me so i was on the 'easy breaks section ' butnow almost felt guilty. I'm only 24, i shouldn't have difficulties.
(edited 10 months ago)
It's absolutely possible. I have a mixture of physical and neurological disabilities and I taught for the best part of fifteen years. I was a good teacher, even if I do say so myself. As with anything in life, you adapt and figure out your own strategies. Your able-bodied colleagues will be going through exactly the same process - being an NQT is a daunting experience for almost everyone, and it's very common for people to feel that they're much slower than all the other teachers, that they'll never get on top of all the things they need to do, and so on. Moving past this requires you to understand that teachers don't all come out of the same cookie-cutter mould and you don't have to do things in exactly the same way Ms A or Mr B does them in order to be effective. The most valuable advice I was given as an NQT was, "You are your own best resource." A very experienced teacher said this to me when I was spending hours frantically preparing resources each night and fretting that they weren't good enough. It took me a while to grasp what she meant. At first I thought she was reminding me that I'd burn out if I spent all my time working. She was actually pointing out that the pupils needed me and the contents of my brain far more than they needed two hundred impeccably designed worksheets. She was more right than I can say. You're enough. Trust yourself.

Secondly, you need to remember that your main objective is for each of your pupils to fulfil their learning potential. Displays? They're not meant to win the Turner Art Prize. They're a way to celebrate pupils' achievements, keep them motivated, nurture their curiosity about the topics you're covering, act as memory aids, and help to create a pleasant environment for study. This doesn't have to involve huge effort. In my last job I had one board where I would showcase pupils' work...and all I did was laminate the work and get them to choose the colour of card it would be backed on. I made them back it and hang it up themselves. They enjoyed that. Even though most of them were teenagers and they often acted as if they couldn't care less about what they'd done, they were proud of their achievements and they were glad to have them noticed. On another wall I had a small thematic display that I changed twice a year. Once again, I always got the pupils to help me organise it. It was their classroom and I found it was a big help with behaviour if they took some responsibility for their surroundings. From an educational point of view, this was much more important than having a perfectly symmetrical display that looked as if it belonged in a museum. Apart from these two displays, the only other things I had on the wall were a poster to add a splash of extra colour to the room and a couple of learning aids (e.g. reminders of spelling patterns for commonly misspelled words). And that was it. I was a teacher, not a mural artist. Did it matter to my pupils if I couldn't balance on a stepladder while wielding a staplegun?

The final thing to bear in mind is that you - just like all your colleagues - will have your strengths as well as your weaknesses, and a good school will support you with any difficulties you have while enabling you to contribute your talents to the community. It sounds as if your head did this on Sports Day by making sure you had a task that wouldn't be too physically painful or difficult for you. The fact that you're 24 doesn't matter. Roughly 17% of the UK population has a disability/long-term health condition that impacts on their life, which means that sooner or later you will teach children with disabilities. They may well have similar difficulties to your own. Would you say to them, "You're only 12, you shouldn't have problems"? If you wouldn't expect perfection from them, don't expect it from yourself either, and remember - how you view your limitations teaches them how they should be viewing theirs. You have the power to set a very positive example. Unless children are willing to make mistakes and to keep trying even when their best efforts are unlikely to result in a 'good' grade on a certificate, there is no chance of them learning anything of value, because learning always carries the risk of error and it's about more than becoming objectively 'good' at everything. Seeing you accepting help when you need it, recognising your limitations, and getting on with your day will help them to understand that, and it's a crucial lesson. You really are your own best resource.
Original post by TheMedicOwl
It's absolutely possible. I have a mixture of physical and neurological disabilities and I taught for the best part of fifteen years. I was a good teacher, even if I do say so myself. As with anything in life, you adapt and figure out your own strategies. Your able-bodied colleagues will be going through exactly the same process - being an NQT is a daunting experience for almost everyone, and it's very common for people to feel that they're much slower than all the other teachers, that they'll never get on top of all the things they need to do, and so on. Moving past this requires you to understand that teachers don't all come out of the same cookie-cutter mould and you don't have to do things in exactly the same way Ms A or Mr B does them in order to be effective. The most valuable advice I was given as an NQT was, "You are your own best resource." A very experienced teacher said this to me when I was spending hours frantically preparing resources each night and fretting that they weren't good enough. It took me a while to grasp what she meant. At first I thought she was reminding me that I'd burn out if I spent all my time working. She was actually pointing out that the pupils needed me and the contents of my brain far more than they needed two hundred impeccably designed worksheets. She was more right than I can say. You're enough. Trust yourself.

Secondly, you need to remember that your main objective is for each of your pupils to fulfil their learning potential. Displays? They're not meant to win the Turner Art Prize. They're a way to celebrate pupils' achievements, keep them motivated, nurture their curiosity about the topics you're covering, act as memory aids, and help to create a pleasant environment for study. This doesn't have to involve huge effort. In my last job I had one board where I would showcase pupils' work...and all I did was laminate the work and get them to choose the colour of card it would be backed on. I made them back it and hang it up themselves. They enjoyed that. Even though most of them were teenagers and they often acted as if they couldn't care less about what they'd done, they were proud of their achievements and they were glad to have them noticed. On another wall I had a small thematic display that I changed twice a year. Once again, I always got the pupils to help me organise it. It was their classroom and I found it was a big help with behaviour if they took some responsibility for their surroundings. From an educational point of view, this was much more important than having a perfectly symmetrical display that looked as if it belonged in a museum. Apart from these two displays, the only other things I had on the wall were a poster to add a splash of extra colour to the room and a couple of learning aids (e.g. reminders of spelling patterns for commonly misspelled words). And that was it. I was a teacher, not a mural artist. Did it matter to my pupils if I couldn't balance on a stepladder while wielding a staplegun?

The final thing to bear in mind is that you - just like all your colleagues - will have your strengths as well as your weaknesses, and a good school will support you with any difficulties you have while enabling you to contribute your talents to the community. It sounds as if your head did this on Sports Day by making sure you had a task that wouldn't be too physically painful or difficult for you. The fact that you're 24 doesn't matter. Roughly 17% of the UK population has a disability/long-term health condition that impacts on their life, which means that sooner or later you will teach children with disabilities. They may well have similar difficulties to your own. Would you say to them, "You're only 12, you shouldn't have problems"? If you wouldn't expect perfection from them, don't expect it from yourself either, and remember - how you view your limitations teaches them how they should be viewing theirs. You have the power to set a very positive example. Unless children are willing to make mistakes and to keep trying even when their best efforts are unlikely to result in a 'good' grade on a certificate, there is no chance of them learning anything of value, because learning always carries the risk of error and it's about more than becoming objectively 'good' at everything. Seeing you accepting help when you need it, recognising your limitations, and getting on with your day will help them to understand that, and it's a crucial lesson. You really are your own best resource.


This is all really good advice! I had the most chaotic, bizarre displays in my department. They had odd bunchings or groupings, they had overlaps, they were squint. They were also very rarely vandalised. Because, of course, I got my secondary pupils to put their own stuff up. Ownership, cooperative, community are all really important, and maintaining and improving our common space is a huge part of that.
Reply 3
Thank you so much for replies they sincerely helped and comforted me! I agree yes it food for students etc and displays are small part.

The only prob I'm facing at moment is in the school it's not fully accessible like staff room is up 5 flights of stairs going from building to playground is stairs (varying amounts depending what area) and normally i been manage stairs bit at the moment it's really difficult. One flight with handrail max2 is all i can do.

Like today there was a meeting up I'm staff to (5 flights of stairs) i was like there was no way i can manage that. Luckily, i didn't have togo on this occasion but even like at moment certain areas maybe are difficult for me to do. In leaving though in 2 weeks..

The school know it's flared up a bit (as i needed adjustment at sports day) but aren't aware it's still continues if anything it's hot worse. Like literally I'm walking like limping, sitting down is really hard, I'm like back stepping, or feel as if I'm going to loose my balance but not but then other then 'different walking ' i can t still kinda carry on.until i reach a hindrance like stairs..
Especially as you are leaving in two weeks, I can't see any good reason not to be frank with the school about meeting venues. "Hi, could we possibly use an accessible room? I'm having a bit more difficulty with stairs at the moment" is a completely professional and appropriate request.

I will reluctantly concede that I have seen mobility issues cause problems for staff - but I have far more often seen them accommodated. I would also suggest that a school which does not accommodate that kind of request is probably not worth working at.

Are you a union member? If not, it might be worth joining up. It is almost certain never to be necessary, but having back up if needed is a good thing to have and membership is usually free for student teachers.
Reply 5
Yeah i know though it's all reasonable adjustments and If they can't accommodate this then it's not worth working at. There's only 1 more meeting now which again will be in that staff room.

No I'm not in union. Is like this is the first time I've worked through a direct school, everything else was through agency. Plus I'm TA

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