Do you know the feeling, when you’ve had a discussion with someone and afterwards you manage to come up with all sorts of smart remarks, that you wish you’d said? Know that feeling? Usually follows shortly after an argument with someone?
Before I go into my “wish I’d said that” moment let me give you the preamble: a few weeks ago I got asked if I would be happy to be used as a case study as a “career changer” into teaching by the National College for Teaching & Leadership , and in another weak moment (those regular readers out there, will know by now I have lots of these) I agreed. DFE paperwork was duly signed and Christmas came along and it was all forgotten until I get a request to talk to a Midlands radio station along the lines of “New Year – New Career” which I, of course, agreed to do.
So this afternoon, the interview came and went, and immediately:
- I wished I’d been more eloquent in explaining why I became a teacher – I really don’t want to sound like some “yoghurt knitter” who came into teaching to make a difference, but the fact of the matter is that corporate life was no longer the “be-all and end-all” that it had been for me.
- I wished I’d elaborated and said that once the idea had been re-planted I just knew that I didn’t want to be that person who at 50, 60 or 70 looked back on my life and wished that I’d taught or done whatever career I’d considered at some point. It was very much a “pee on the pot or get off” (i.e. stop talking about teaching) moment when I finally said to my husband “that’s it … I’ve applied for the PGCE”.
(Before the grammar police arrest me – I meant “re-planted” as I originally had a place on a PGCE course back home in Wales, when I was 21 but never took it – instead I stayed in the Midlands, having met my hubbie and bought a “town centre boozer” very shortly after graduating.)
- I wished I’d been more enthusiastic about how great this job can be, and not just because I’ve got a frame of reference outside teaching. I love what I do .. granted that’s not always the case and there are days when I just can’t find my A-game and everything goes to pot, but most of the time its brilliant. I genuinely mean that – it’s one of those jobs that if you allowed it, could become all encompassing and take over your life. It’s certainly not a job when you can honestly say that “it’s finished” … you can always find something to do.
- I wished I’d been more frank about the challenges facing schools – it is the only profession I’ve been in, where the “goalposts” can move on an almost daily basis (and usually through the media in the first instance, which doesn’t instil confidence in teachers. However I am a positive person (the glass is half full!) and as the people at the coalface we have to deal with the changes but will have more of an impact by approaching the future raring to go, than facing it with doom and gloom (images of Private Frazer saying “We’re doomed!” have just spring to mind… showing my age!)
- I wished I’d been able to say that your age is much less relevant than the experiences we each bring with us. When asked about doing my PGCE/training with much younger students I would loved to have had the opportunity to be able to say that some of my greatest allies (and I hope they would agree that I am theirs) have been younger colleagues. Schools are diverse places and this is a good thing.
- I wished that I’d played down the difficultly I found in the transition to being “managed” from being the “go-to” person – it had been a good few years since I’d had a boss, so to speak (I’d worked my way up the food-chain). It’s a fact though, at first I found it difficult not to be able to make a decision and for things to just happen.
- I wished I’d been less honest about how humbling my PGCE was. I went into it thinking it would be a “piece of cake” … thinking “I can stand up in front of 400 people, surely 32 kids will be a walk in the park”. Oh how wrong was I? For the first time in my life I wasn’t as good as I thought I was going to be and I had to work at it … I had to learn “my trade”. That work continues, and I hope it never ends. I like to learn.
Before agreeing to do this case study thing, I’d thought long and hard about whether I could wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend teaching as a career if asked. I’m a very upfront kinda gal and I genuinely couldn’t do anything unless I had that kind of conviction and wanted to be confident that I wasn’t viewing it with rose-tinted spectacles (some of you would say, that with 5 years under my belt I am still a newbie). I know it’s frustrating at times, it can be challenging, it can be heart-breaking, it can be tough, it can be all of these things but it can also be so much more … It can also be the best job in the world and I wouldn’t change a thing.