As you will have gathered from my first and subsequent blogs, I used to be a teacher. Teaching Early Years children is both rewarding and inspiring and for many years I loved my job with a passion. I was dedicated, hard working and determined to do the best for the children in my care. Unfortunately, in the last few years that changed: my enthusiasm, hard work and determination were eaten away. Working in a school that faced many challenges on many different levels finally took its toll.
My last morning in school as a teacher was in October 2013. I had gone to work in the usual state of exhaustion, worry, despair and dread. I must point out at this point that the none of these emotions was due to the children. They remained the highlight of the day; the glimmer of light at the end of the dreary, fatigue ridden tunnel that has become teaching. With yet another visit due from an inspection team the over stretched staff were at breaking point. Like most teachers, I’m not really one to brag about my teaching skills, preferring to extol the virtues of my students, but I did a good job. My lessons were regularly deemed outstanding (whatever the criteria was for that particular day) and the children made good progress. I hesitate to say I was an outstanding teacher as no human being can be outstanding every day. I was however, consistently good with days and lessons that could be outstanding. Having got to school at just turned 7am – the cleaners were getting used to mopping and cleaning around a staff that were working ever increasingly longer hours – I was getting myself prepared for the day ahead when my body finally said no!
Following weeks (well months) of chest pains, gasping awake in the night when I finally did get to sleep, exhaustion, loss of appetite, pains in my arm and weight loss my right arm began to shake uncontrollably. I was packed off to the doctors and that was the last time I set foot in that building as a teacher.
It took a while to realise that the career I had chosen as a 5 year old was one that I simply didn’t want to do anymore. All the joy has gone from teaching.
Everyone is so negative about teachers, all they ever go on about is the holidays we get and how lucky we are! And as for the press, they are always on our backs about something and it’s normally falling standards. But they only tell one side of the story. I wonder how many of our journalists would be fluent readers in English if they had just arrived here having fled war? How well would they do in exams and tests if their parents had no money to pay bills and buy decent food? How many levels of progress would they have made if they came from a family who chose to distance themselves from education? These things are never considered though. All we ever hear from politicians and journalists alike is why can’t all children achieve? Obvious I’d have thought: because the lives and achievement levels of children living in Chelsea and those living in areas of great social and economic depravation are beyond comparison. Nobody ever wants to suggest that maybe families should take more responsibility for their children and not just expect teachers to do it all. Children are with their grown ups for 5 years until school is compulsory and many of the basic skills SHOULD be taught at home. But I digress…
Since leaving the profession, my life has changed beyond recognition. I have set up my own business as a freelance storyteller for schools, community events and festivals and I’ve developed an interactive app that supports the teaching of phonics.
Unbelievably, I feel as busy now as I did when I was in school. I’ve had so much to learn from networking and hootsuite to being interviewed for magazines and keeping receipts for everything. Life is less certain now. I left a permanent job with a decent and regular income and a secure pension and now I live month to month. I’m constantly looking for ways to spread the word about my business, constantly looking for new ways to bring in some money. This can be very stressful. Uncertainty is not something I’m fond of really. Although spontaneous in my private life, my work life has always been secure and certain. Despite this, I can honestly say, I’ve never been happier or more content.
Even better, my creativity is growing on a daily basis. As well as writing children’s stories on a regular basis, I’ve even branched out into crafts and I’m now making these…
These are decorative charms roughly 2.5 ins tall and 2 ins wide all made from vintage beads, buttons and dress pearls from my Mum and Grandma’s old button tin. Some of the beads even had their original prices in shilling and pence! They cost £3.50 each or two for £6. They can be used as Christmas decorations, car charms (I have one in my VW van) or even wedding favours.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in purchasing.
My new ventures don’t stop there but I’ll fill you in on those in the next blog! Thanks for reading.