Wow… Hi! It’s been a while hasn’t it?!
It’s September 6th. Usually I’d be now in school teaching. I’d have had an INSET day yesterday to ease me back in to the school year, catching up with colleagues, politely swapping stories of holidays (theirs abroad in exotic locations, mine the usual short trips to Devon and Edinburgh) and discussing how quickly six weeks has gone by, as it invariably always does and how good/bad the weather has been. I’d have had a restless night’s sleep last night with the annual ‘I can’t control these kids’ dream/nightmare as the subconscious anxiety of each new class/classes hasn’t diminished in eighteen years in the profession.
However, none of that has happened this year, because on July 20th I hung up my teaching cape and mortar board (okay we don’t actually wear those, though I did start teaching at a time when chalk boards were still a thing) for what I think/hope will be forever.
So it’s a Tuesday morning and my 8 year old has gone off to school for his first day in a new class – something he will repeat for the next seven years (and I’m already wondering where the time has gone)! And here I am – officially unemployed. Sort of. It feels really weird to be not driving off to work. Weird not to be immersed in everything new that September usually brings as it’s what I’ve done for all of my adult life. Weird, yet at the same time good and right. I thought I’d miss it more than I do, but I actually don’t. I guess I’ve been gearing up to this day for the last six years or so really. Since my breakdown in 2009 – things in my professional world just haven’t been the same. And my personal circumstances changed immeasurably and in ways back then I could not have envisaged.
So what will I do for a wage, you may well ask? I’ve no spouse bringing in the dosh so I can sit around living the dream! There’s just me and a fostering allowance paid for looking after my nephew. BIG responsibility! Gulp. Well, from next week, the plan is I have a homework club to run for an hour after school four nights a week, when I get some customers that is. I’ve spent the summer setting up the business (though ‘business’ sounds the wrong word to be using when working in education in whatever capacity it may be). However, that is what it is, I guess. Next I have to market it (see, business words already in use) now that there is a website up and running (thanks to an amazing friend of mine). In the meantime, I have a couple of children whom I will be privately tutoring, and I have been lucky enough over the summer to have sold a painting and given my services over to ironing for friends to earn an extra bob or two whilst things may be slow to start up. None of this, nor my fostering allowance, will pay the whole mortgage at the end of the month though, and so I really need my business idea to work.
When my final wage was paid in to my account on August 31st – there was a ‘gulp’ moment. There still are ‘gulp’ moments. There’s no wage at the end of September until I secure children to come to my homework club… eeek!
I had to take a leap into the unknown. I had to whip away the safety net. I have to remember my long term goals. Or even the short term ones. I want to finish my book. I want to paint more. I have a little boy to raise and look after and those who think they don’t need so much as they get older couldn’t be more wrong. They need less of certain things, but more of others. Teaching is, even in a part time capacity as I’ve been doing for the past five years, a time consuming, mentally draining distraction I don’t need or want anymore. I have a goal of enjoying life and to do this I need it to be multi-faceted. Working yourself into the ground in a stressful occupation, even if it is well paid and has a secure pension arrangement, doesn’t equate, for me at least, to a happy and fulfilling life. I don’t hate teaching though. It’s what I’m good at and enjoy the basics of what teaching is all about. I’d miss working with kids if I don’t do anything in the line of work I’ve done all my adult life. But there is more out there I want to do in addition which when working in school, I have little time or energy left for.
And so…my plan is… (has been since April time when seeds first started to form, only now it all feels a bit more real!) to earn an adequate amount through tutoring and running the homework help club under my own terms. Working for myself, working for children and parents, rather than a misguided government I don’t agree with. This will be done in evenings after school or on Saturday mornings. Meanwhile, during term time I can use the mornings to write and hopefully finish this novel. I often think it’s been taking too long, but I only started the new total re-write last November. I’d had a target of finishing first draft by June, but this didn’t happen. Now I have more time, I’m hoping by October half term I’ll have reached the end. Over the summer I had a breakthrough in a part towards the end where I was struggling to see where to go with it next – or at least how to get to the next part to bring the story to its planned climax, and now I’ve had that I can crack on. It’s been a while, so my writing fingers may be a bit rusty, but I’ll soon get into it I’m sure.
But it’s weird…this been at home (alone) in the daytime thing – though like anything I’m sure I’ll get used to it. My only fear is…there still won’t be enough hours in the day!
How about you? Have you changed your work life in a big way? How did it pan out for you? Are you a teacher who gave the profession up for something else? (I often read of folk who go into teaching after something else, but rarely of those who escape it permanently – unless at retirement) Will I be back in the classroom before the year is out?!
I’d love to hear of your experiences.
Thanks, as ever, for reading.