There are days that I arrive at school dreading all the little bits and bobs that have been hanging over me for the past week. There are days that I arrive at school with a dark cloud over my head preventing me from seeing any good. There are days that I arrive already bracing myself for the inevitable fifth timetable alteration of the week. Now, I don’t know if this is how other teachers feel or if it’s just my tussles with mental health. These irrational anxieties and negativities are almost always instantly defeated, however, by the appearance of my optimistic marigold. (For those who are unaware of the marigold concept, check this out: https://teachingtrafford.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/meet-the-marigolds-part-one/ )
Now, she’ll most likely be reading this blog not realising that this is about her. She doesn’t see her immense value at school or how much she positively impacts on my own wellbeing. I hope putting it in words may help her notice this and I also intend to encourage others to seek out a marigold like her. If you don’t have a marigold like this at your school it means you need to be that marigold. (The quote ‘If not me, who? And if not now, when?’ springs to mind!)
The mornings generally begin with the two of us rushing towards each other for a hug. I don’t know when or why this started but it feels a bit of a healing ritual. It’s an instant reminder that someone has your back and cares for you. She’ll pop in later in the day carrying all the milk cartons and straws for my children. Recently, she’s been trying to sneak up on me and make me jump as she does this…but she’s not that successful because I can hear her quietly giggling upon her approach. On the other hand, I am far more of a stealthy individual and so have caused her to scream at a ridiculous volume numerous times during the school day, much to the delight of myself and any children that are around. If I haven’t upset her too much by this evil act, she’ll even offer me a chocolate finger (or two, or three!)
If it’s a Monday or Friday morning, I’ll try my best to pop along to sensory circuits. The adults who lead this give me that much-needed boost for the beginning and end of the week; it is easily one of my favourite parts of school-life. My optimistic marigold will inevitably put on Mambo No. 5 to kick off the morning, generally leading to a dance off between the pair of us. That is until one of the pupils comes along to teach me how to move properly. That being said, we’ve also choreographed our signature collaborative move, the classic: shimmy-one-way-whilst-the-other-shimmies-the-opposite-direction.
It’s not even the start of the school day and my spirits are already sky-high thanks to these simple yet meaningful interactions. But the positivity doesn’t stop there.
When it comes to lunchtime in the staff room, I’ll try my best to sit right next to her. Why? She oozes some sort of infectious, positive energy. (That doesn’t sound appropriate…but neither do the innuendos she ‘accidentally’ lets slip!) I can’t help but cackle with hilarity when I’m in her presence. Recently, we discovered our mutual obsession for Love Island, leading us to invent our own story in which we are taking part in the show and will forever re-couple with one another. She’d be even more adored by the nation than Camilla is.
When I’m having a particularly rough day, I’m comfortable speaking to her about my anxieties. She is great at listening to my troubles and giving advice. One of the most significant things she shared with me is the law of attraction. One of the predominant ideas of this ‘law’ is that you invite positive events in your life by thinking positive thoughts. The staff social I organised seemed like it was going to be rained off a few weeks ago but I remembered my discussions with this marigold and tried to have a more positive mentality. Just like magic, the sky cleared and then it was a beautiful evening for the event. I know it sounds very hocus-pocus and sometimes I still have doubts towards whether it actually has an effect on external factors in your life…but by training yourself to think positively, you completely shift your internal mindset and make everything in your life so much more manageable.
This marigold sometimes has days when she doesn’t believe in herself and doesn’t think she’s capable of the job she’s doing. These worries are completely misplaced. I am often struck by her nurturing and compassionate attitude towards the children and love the opportunity to work alongside her as she strongly echoes the values I believe in too. Furthermore, she is ridiculously caring towards staff. You can rarely go a day without hearing her coo, “Alright my love?” to someone. I also adore the nicknames she gives people, such as “Good morning my little tadpole!” Occasionally, the nicknames become even more bizarre, which always leads to a hearty chuckle.
These anecdotes are a mere snapshot of the marvel that this marigold is. What strikes me, however, is the fact that none of these acts of kindness are taxing, difficult or time-consuming. They are actually ridiculously simplistic and are just a natural instinct of this marigold’s behavior. So why can’t more people be like this? Why can’t everyone be an optimistic marigold such as this wonderful person? Stop being a walnut tree and start thinking positively and positive things will come. Why not try it? What have you got to lose?
If more people were like her, I honestly think that there would be far less of a retention crisis in the education sector. Staff would feel championed, loved, valued and confident enough to speak their mind and know that someone would support them.
Before I head off to go and demand an OBE for this marigold, I want to echo one point that I said earlier: seek out a marigold like this one. If you don’t have a marigold like this at your school it means you need to be that marigold. If not me, who? And if not now, when?