This week I have started putting together ideas and planning resources for my school workshops. This has put me back in touch with doing what I love, creative planning and thinking outside the usual curriculum box. A step forward considering last week I’d had a slight crisis of confidence, had I done the right thing in giving up a promising career, in order to carve a place for myself without the compromises that were making me unhappy?
If I was still in doubt, this morning I read an article that reaffirmed I was indeed doing the right thing. When identifying the need to change, the article suggested you thought about what advice you would give a friend if they were unhappy with their choice of path? That really struck me. When I went back into teaching five years ago I championed the profession. Not only that, I encouraged friends to train as teachers, telling them it was the greatest job and, although time consuming, the rewards far outweighed the negatives. In my last teaching year I actually apologized to these friends for having done so. Not only that but I found myself actively persuading people NOT to follow a career in teaching. What would I say to a friend in my position? DON’T DO IT!!! One box ticked, teaching was no longer the profession I once championed for.
Not usually one for self-help articles I found my interest piqued. Perhaps I could learn something from this one. I read on. There was a mini chart which suggested you rated a list of “motivational drivers” out of 10 in order to find “what really motivates you”. Not surprisingly what really motivates me is the need for Creativity, Autonomy and the Search for Meaning, above Material Gain, Power, Security and Status. Apparently I need to be doing something which allows me to work with my own ideas, be a master of my own destiny and feel like I am part of something greater. All of these drives were essentially what brought me to education in the first place. All, in my opinion, are missing from education now. With the workshops I get to be more creative and, up to a point, I get to make the rules. By sticking with education I still get to be part of something greater. Tick another box please!
In the end I read the entire 16 page special. Not only that, I even made notes! Turns out, not only have I made the right decision but I am going the right way about it too! Financially I’ve been able to take a couple of months off work which will allow me to set things up and spend some time reconnecting with the important things in life, friends, family, me. Tick, tick, tick!
One thing I have really noticed, since handing in my notice last October, is that I am a happier person. Once I knew I was finished with being a classroom teacher I was able to take a step back and enjoy my life a little more. Although I did my best to hold true to the promise I made myself, when going back into teaching – that it would not overrule my personal life – I often had to cut myself off from friends in order to get on top of the ever growing mound of marking and reporting. It became quite common for me to disappear off the grid completely, only reappearing briefly in-between busy periods, of which there were many. I even gave up the crazy idea that I’d ever have a relationship, seeing as there was no time for building those fragile early stages. I was a career teacher first and foremost and a human being with wants and needs second. If I had a night off I was usually trying to see friends or complete a multitude of tasks I never seemed to have time for. Holidays were just weeks without teaching lessons, to get stuff done. A normal day would be staying at school until about half 5, go home, walk the dog, eat and then mark/plan or socialize when I forgot what my friends faces looked like. I was angry and resentful almost all of the time.
With the pressure off I have managed to find my happy side again. So much so I’ve even found the ability to laugh at myself. Last weekend I managed to end up on the Severn Bridge while travelling from Woking to Weston-super-Mare. This was the sort of thing that would have sent me into a near rage, running my day and everyone else’s. Not anymore. Instead I was able to laugh at the situation and even now I’m still joking about it, not only that I’m actually proud I got to see a small bit of Wales as part of the day out. Just goes to show if you are happy in what you are doing, you are happier in yourself. No doubt there will come times when the doubt strikes again or silly mistakes get me down, but no longer is that time going to be all the time. There are going to be plenty of periods of hard work to come but when the work is for yourself and not part of some Governmental/Institutional hoop, which makes no sense to jump through, it doesn’t seem as hard. Eventually I get to set the goals and I also get to reap the rewards.
I am aware I will have to set foot back into a classroom before I can be truly free. These workshops are going to take a while to fully take off and come May I will need to start earning money again. However, supply teaching will allow me to pay my bills, build a network of contacts and have time to grow and promote my business. Something I could not do in a full time job. Even better, exam marking will allow me to work from home. I may have had to move home, some 160 miles from my friends, in order to do this but the sacrifice is actually far less than the sacrifices I was making before. For example; that crazy idea I used to entertain about having a relationship? Not so crazy now, even with the long distance.