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Advice for Disabled and Chronically ill Teachers

[Paint splodge sound effect] [Paint splodge sound effect] [Zoom Sound effect] [Chimes] Hello and welcome to Little Learners. In
today’s video I wanted to give some advice to fellow teachers who happen to
have a disability or chronic illness. However before we get started I want to
let you know that this video is sponsored by ‘Kiwi Co’. Keep watching and I
will let you know more about them later. As a disabled teacher myself I have been
through some difficult times. Now before I move on I just want to say that when I
say ‘disabled’ I mean anyone with a physical or mental impairment anyone
with a chronic illness that’s long term and affects their life, anyone with
mental health issues that affect their lives.
Anyone with a long-standing health condition basically that really does
impact on your life. So that’s what I mean when I say
‘disabled’ or ‘disability’. So just to give you a little rundown before we get on to
the advice, I myself have a few different conditions. I have [ding sound effect] Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type, I have [ding sound effect] Bile Acid Malabsorption, [ding sound effect] Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – try saying that ten times fast – and I’ve also been diagnosed
with [ding sound effect] Fibromyalgia. But I think I’ll do a separate video about my experience so
look out for that I just wanted to kind of give you an overview before we get
onto the advice otherwise you’d be thinking well, ‘Why does this person think
they can give me advice?’ So let’s get on to the tips it turned out that I’ve
written down ten tips so let’s get on to the ten top tips for teachers with
disabilities. So my first piece of advice would be
that when you are interviewing for a job to be as open and honest as possible. Now
I think that a lot of people with disabilities or health conditions do
worry about this in any area of work because you worry that if you are
honest about your health problems at an interview then the person interviewing
you might not want to employ you because they don’t want to deal with the fact
that you’ve got a disability. Now I completely understand where you’re
coming from if that is your way of thinking, however, I would stress that if
you did interview for a job and they are the type of people who would
discriminate against you because you’re disabled, I
wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. So I think being open and honest means that
if someone does end up discriminating against me because I’m disabled and
doesn’t employ me simply because I’m disabled, I am glad that I won’t be
working for them anyway because could you imagine how awful it would be to
work for them? Now I just want to say here that discriminating against someone
because they’re disabled and not giving them a job purely because they have a
disability or a health condition is completely illegal and you are protected
by the Equality Act of 2010. However, we all know it happens and I would just say
that being open and honest just means that you know that if you do get a job
somewhere they are understanding and they took you on knowing that you have
these disabilities and health conditions and you might need some reasonable
adjustments (which we’ll get onto later), and so they probably are the kind of people that you want to work for. My next
piece of advice would be consider what will work for your health, so, being a
teacher in particular it’s very difficult to have a flexible working
agreement. It’s much easier to do so in other jobs maybe office jobs or jobs
where you can work from home and teaching is very difficult because the
children are only in between nine and three so, it can be a little bit tricky
to figure out how you’re going to make that work for you. So really have a think
about if full-time work is going to work for you and your health or if you need
to look at more part-time or a job share maybe, so that you can make sure you are
giving your best when you are at work but also you’re giving your body time to
recover if your disability needs that. My disability definitely does need that, I
can’t do traditional work full-time anymore which I will get on to in
another video and it just meant that I really had to reevaluate how I looked at
work and how I was going to look after my body so make sure that you give that
some considerate thought. Tip three is probably very obvious but it’s to do
with any medication that you need to take while you’re at school or at work.
Make sure you keep it locked away so for many of us
with different health conditions we are taking lots of different medication
throughout the day whether it’s medication that you take regularly
anyway or if it’s pain medication that you need to take quite often we are
always taking it so when you’re at school especially with children around
you just need to make sure that this is locked away somewhere that they cannot
get to even if they’re older children just make sure they cannot get to it. So
I was fortunate in my first classroom that I had a cupboard that I could lock
so I locked the cupboard and also in the cupboard my medication was in like a
little box right on the top shelf that children could never get to but they
couldn’t get into the cupboard anyway so just make sure that it’s in a safe place,
but also somewhere close to you so if you’re thinking well I suppose I could
lock it away in the medical room but the medical room is going to take you a
really long time to get to that’s not going to work for you so just make sure
that there’s somewhere close by that you can keep it and if there isn’t then
speak to your school about how they can help you facilitate that. Maybe there’s
something that they could put in maybe they can put in like a lock box into
your classroom just so that you can have your medication close-by so, make sure you
talk to them about that if you’re not sure where to put it. Moving on from that
my fourth tip is about reasonable adjustments now this is a term that you
may have heard of or you may not have heard of. This is something that for
anyone who has a disability or a chronic health condition you can speak to your
employer at any job not just in a school about reasonable adjustments. So some of
these might include if you are in a wheelchair and there is no ramp to get
into school you’ll need to speak to the school about that and that would be a
reasonable adjustment that they would need to put in so that you can get in
and out of the building. That’s quite standard one. Other reasonable
adjustments might be adjustments to your time of day so if most teachers are due
into school at 7:30 but you know that mornings are really difficult for your
condition you might want to talk to the school
about you being a little bit more flexible so sometimes you might be able
to get in at 7:30 but other times you might not be able to get in until 8:15
and just so that they know that you kind of need some flexibility around that.
Another example of a reasonable adjustment might be
that if you have to leave the classroom very suddenly because of pain or maybe
fatigue, that your school is able to support you with that so if you need to,
I don’t know, go into the staff room for a bit to have a lie down or to deal with
your pain that the school knows that there is a system in place for that and
that someone can go into your classroom to kind of cover you. Obviously it really
depends on the person and on the health condition so just have a think about
things that might help you to do your job basically and speak to your school
about that and about the adjustments that they can put in place. Again if they
are reasonable adjustments which most of the things you would ask for are then
the school or any employer has to do them, they have to make them unless they
can make a case for it not being reasonable, for example it’s too
expensive for them to afford and if that is the case then my next tip could
definitely help you. However before we move on to my next tip I just want to
tell you about today’s sponsor. KiwiCo is a monthly subscription crate
that comes filled with age-appropriate steam projects for children designed to
spark creativity, thinking and learning. These boxes are made for a range of ages
from toddlers to teenagers. Every box has all of the materials you need to create
the project. It also includes really easy instructions plus a book or magazine and
an activity guide for parents. You can click on the link in the description box
below to find out more about KiwiCo and you can use the code learners to get
your first month free. Back to the video! So my next tip is about the scheme
‘Access to Work’. You can access this scheme if you are in the UK and they
support people with disabilities and health conditions to make reasonable
adjustments in the workplace. Again this isn’t just for schools this is in any
workplace and in many cases they can help to cover the cost of a reasonable
adjustment that your employer can’t afford. They can also come into your
workplace and kind of have a look around and suggest adjustments that should be
made for you because sometimes, depending on your illness or disability
you’re not quite sure what adjustments would make life easier and it’s all to
do with making sure that you have exactly the same opportunities as
non-disabled teachers so it’s really helpful for them to come in and take a
look around and say to you well actually I would suggest you doing this and you
might think oh actually that would be really helpful. So it’s just nice to get
their expertise and they can also help with funding. I will put the link in the
description box below so that you can have a look at Access to Work if you
think it would be helpful. My next tip is if you are having difficulty with
anything be it your condition or the way that your condition is affecting your
ability to work make sure you speak to someone about it so you may want to
speak to your line manager or your head teacher or you may want to speak to your
doctor about it if you are struggling it’s really important to speak to
someone. It may be that there is something that they can do to help you
or it may be that because of your health you need some time off. Just make sure
that you speak up and get the help that you need. Please do not just suffer in
silence because there are lots of things that everyone can do to help you. I know
it can be really difficult to ask for help or admit that you need help because
a lot of us with disabilities can be very stubborn, we don’t want our
disability to kind of ‘win’, so we want to just carry on as normal
so please make sure that you do ask for help if you need it.
Tip 8 is to look ahead to school events so that you can plan for them
accordingly. So for example if you’ve got a trip coming up in a few months and you
know that it’s the kind of trip that you might struggle with a bit because it
involves a lot of walking over the entire day and you struggle with that or
for any other number of reasons, then you need to kind of look ahead and
speak to your colleagues and maybe your line manager about how best to deal with
that. So it may be that when you go on a trip like that and maybe you suffer with
really really bad fatigue and you know that a trip like that is going to
completely take it out of you and you might need to take some time just to sit
and rest, then something that you and your colleagues can discuss between you
is the group that you’ve got on that trip, maybe you haven’t got your whole
class maybe you’ve probably got just a smaller group
that’s usually what happens on trips with younger children, if you do need to
go and kind of take a rest for a little while then someone else is kind of
designated to take over your group just to make sure that the trip can still run
smoothly and you don’t feel pressure to carry on working when you know that you
can’t. Tip nine is to make sure that support is in place so with all the
things that I’ve kind of just said about make sure it happens so sometimes
unfortunately people speak to their employers about reasonable adjustments
that need to take place or difficulties they’re having and nothing gets done and
so it’s really important that if you feel that nothing has happened yet or
things are going a bit slowly that you chase it up because a lot of the time it
probably isn’t I would hope out of malice it’s just
that it’s kind of gone on the back burner and even though it’s really
important to you, the people who have to deal with it have other things on their
priority list so just make sure you kind of chase those up, make sure it just
doesn’t get swept under the carpet. That kind of leads on to my final tip. If you
feel that you are being mistreated or discriminated against because of your
disability, speak up. This is so important and I will talk
about my experience with this in a future video. I really hope that anyone
watching this doesn’t have to deal with that but unfortunately it does happen.
Discrimination against people with disabilities does take place and a lot
of the time the people being discriminated against don’t have the
means to stand up for themselves especially if they are suffering from a
mental health condition. So if this is happening to you I know it is a horrible
experience it is absolutely heartbreaking you can
feel that you are really being bullied or you are really being kind of broken
down. Make sure you speak up if your employer is not listening and not taking
it seriously enough, first thing I would say is to call your Union because they
will be able to give you advice about what to do. You can also contact ACAS I
will put their number down in the description box below they are kind of a
mediator for solving issues between employers and
employees. They can be really helpful they don’t take sides they just give you
really good advice about what to do next and make sure you speak to your own
support system so your family, your friends about it so that you’re not
suffering in silence. I really hate to end this video on such a negative note
and I’m sure that many many many teachers who have disabilities never
have to deal with this kind of discrimination but it does happen and I
just want to make it very clear that you have rights and don’t feel like just
because you have a disability that you deserve to be treated this way because
you do not and of course if you want to ask any questions about anything I’ve
spoken about in today’s video please do not hesitate to contact me, you can let
me know in the comments below if you have a question. You can contact me on my
social media, Instagram or Facebook @LittleLearnersVideos for both. So I
hope you found this video helpful if you did please give it a ‘like’ as that really
helps out the channel thanks again to our sponsors today Kiwi Co don’t forget
to check them out and if you haven’t already do click that subscribe button
and the bell so you get notified every time I post a new video. I’m hoping to
post a video soon about my experience being a disabled teacher so look out for
that thank you so much for watching and I will see you next time. [Upbeat Music]

One thought on “Advice for Disabled and Chronically ill Teachers

  1. How have I only just come across your channel- I also have EDS and Chronic Fatigue!! I've just qualified, this is going to be my nqt year!

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