From the Heart #2 – Back to School

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Many years ago I completed my English Literature degree through the Open University because I was interested in teaching Secondary English. I had three wonderfully inspirational people that helped to put me on that path – two amazing and completely different English teachers at High School (one complete with thigh-high boots and a blue rinse) and a wonderfully inspirational Aunt who was herself an English teacher and with whom I had many fantastic book-related discussions. My Aunt was a great support throughout my degree and I really wish she was still here for me to talk all of this through with.

By the time I’d finished the degree, I’d ‘fallen’ into the career I had until last Friday and never really looked back. OK, this isn’t quite true. Back in April I did start vaguely researching the possibility of re-training as a teacher so something was telling me to consider different paths even then. Amongst the many stumbling blocks I came up against, one was completely insurmountable: how to gain any classroom experience whilst working full time and only taking annual leave during school holidays. There was no way around this so I put the whole thing on the back burner.

Once I realised I was going to have a work ‘break’ though, I decided to try and make the most of it and contacted a few local Secondary Schools with a view to observing a few English lessons. It’s a damn long time since I was in a Secondary School! I was intrigued to know what it was like these days and wanted to see whether, when actually faced with a classroom, it felt ‘right’ as a route for me to look at in more detail. Thanks to the wonderful Tabitha and her dad, I have today spent time observing three different English lessons with different age groups as well as talking to four different English teachers including the Head of Department and the Headteacher himself – and met and had cuddles with the absolutely beautiful ‘school dog’ into the bargain!

I’ve had a fantastic time. It was incredible watching three different teachers with very different styles, using different techniques to get and keep their students attention. ‘People watching’ in a classroom has to be the most fascinating experience I’ve had for a while. A part of me felt like I’d gone back in time and was watching fellow students from my own time at school. There was the serial hair twirler; the obviously ‘naughty boys’; the girl who appeared surgically attached to her water bottle throughout the entire lesson (mind you, I don’t think we were even allowed water bottles in my day!) and the boys who silently hit each other every time the teacher’s back was turned (which I shouldn’t have found funny, but which really was!).

So, am I going to pursue this path? In order to get a place on the paid training course (and it doesn’t pay much), I really need to do a year as a Teaching Assistant. I’d be looking at earning about £11,000 max for the next year and not much more for the training year itself. It’s just not feasible. But that’s OK. I’m not devastated. The purpose of today was to focus my attention on the possibility fully and to make a final decision so although I’m sad, I know I’ve considered it properly and made the only decision I can for my family.

In terms of my daily promises, I’ve only managed about 4/7 today. Onwards and upwards. Tomorrow is another day and I get to spend it with my Bella; this makes me happy.

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