A-Z of Ethical Communication in Education: N is for Narrative ( First of three sub themed pieces)
A-Z of Ethical Communication in Education: N is for Narrative ( First of three sub themed pieces)

A-Z of Ethical Communication in Education: N is for Narrative ( First of three sub themed pieces)

Narrative is the way we put together an incident, using facts or observations to construct a story. Putting a narrative together from what we observe might be a true representation or equally could be skewed and damaging. My time in secondary education as a wellbeing specialist produced the following tales about me:

The Positive Stories: The learning environment story– Neil is able to relate extremely well to all students and is able to contain the hard to reach. His lessons have impact for the personal development of those he teaches and are popular.

Neil’s story– Neil is able to relate extremely well to students and is able to contain the hard to reach. His lessons have impact for the personal development of those he teaches and are popular.

The ‘Negative’ Stories: The learning environment story – Neil is inconsistent with reaching the standards required, he is inconsistent with the way he relates to the school mission, in the classroom he is a maverick in his subject choices and dissemination. As the way staff are treated in the public sector is better than the business world, he would not survive outside of the public sector.

Neil story – Neil is a failure as a teacher, Neil’s fibromyalgia makes him a failure, Neil’s issues with his personal wellbeing (psychological and physical) make him unsafe at work and means he ‘leaks’ out all over the place, Neil will never find another job because he is so lacking in normal skills and his physical and mental health limitations make him unlikeable and unemployable, Neil has to work hard to appear ‘normal’- if others knew him for who he really is no one would like him.

…Now obviously some of the negative stories I told myself were linked to issues I already had extent before I ever walked in through a secondary school’s door as a trainee teacher. However, it was only during my treatment for PTSD as a result of being bullied by managers and SLT over the 25 years in the secondary sector I discovered though there were things I could have done professionally differently, at core level, being bullied was not my fault and I was not a failure.

Reality testing When we believe negative self- narratives resulting from information from learning environments, the important thing is to put facts down about the belief on paper, without bias. We become Sherlock Holmes and ask what the logical conclusion is.

So, to use such a system with my ‘stories,’ here are the facts:

• My core values were never fully aligned with the education system, particularly regarding the constant reliance of hierarchy and the labelling of those within.

• Having identified many of the traditional methods for teaching PSHE lacked a core emotional connection with students, the experimental methods I employed were at best truly effective and at others were ill judged.

• My value system and skill set made me unsuitable for the prevalent teaching methods and models favoured.

• Fibromyalgia made it impossible to work within the system without further harming my physical and psychological wellbeing.

• The inflexibility and relentless pace of the system accentuated symptoms that made coping impossible

• I am now a Transformational Life Coach, Leadership Coach, 360 Coach, Business Ethics Consultant, Mindfulness Practitioner, PSHE, published Author, Podcast Guest. I am also recovering from Fibromyalgia. Clearly not a failiure then…

• Many around me say I have deep skill in listening to others and though I can be demanding and snappy, I am a likeable, loving and playful person to work with. Clients say I have had a major impact on their lives (for the positive!)

• There are many kind and open-minded people in the business world who value my skills, personality and values.

• I am wonderful as I am, have areas of strength and areas that need to improve like everyone, I am highly intelligent and there is no such, and nor should there be, any such thing as ‘normal’!

The issues surrounding narrative construction is just as important for parents or students. It also covers staff who come to believe they are ‘untouchable’ or of a higher value than everyone else.

What stories are are in your place of work and what stories do you tell yourself?

Photo by Valentin Salja on Unsplash

#ethical communication

Neil x