In 2009 I left my job as a Transport Manager and started the retraining process to become a Design Technology Teacher. I am now I am qualified, working in a South Wales secondary school and reflecting on the journey.
I didn’t leave my job because I didn’t like it, it was fast paced, cognitively challenging and always different. I left because I wanted something more and the training aspect of my job, in particular addressing literacy, numeracy and digital competency lead me to teaching. Initially I looked at adult education then I began to think about Design Technology, the subject I had loved in school and began to realise the impact it had on my learning and life. I already had higher education qualifications and found a fast track course which I could have completed a BSc Design Technology with QTS in 2 years. I decided on the 3 year option and glad I did because I found the first term at University overwhelming and I found it difficult to really know what tutors wanted.
To make this change, my family had to move 100 miles to Newport. We sold the house, the children left friends, my husband had to find a new job but my parents were here and they helped with child care. This childcare help gave me the opportunity to volunteer at local secondary schools and PRU so when it was a struggle I remembered not just everyone’s sacrifices but the overwhelming feeling of self-worth, enjoyment and happiness that the privilege of working with young people brings. The struggle also taught me a valuable teaching lesson, to be able to do well you need to know what is expected and then how to improve. I went from a low C in my first term to graduating with a 1st Class Hons. This struggle has impacted my learning I try and make sure I give exemplar work, a clear success criteria and of course very specific feedback when I teach so they have the same opportunity to put in the effort and succeed.
Teaching is hard, but so was my previous job. In fact anything you want to do well in is hard, because you are constantly striving to improve! The first few years have been very tough, it’s strange not being on the top of my game but like everything with practise it gets easier and you get better. I started teaching because I wanted to help pupils leave school with qualifications and skills and so when I didn’t get a job I felt shame. I then started long term supply, I was teaching but mainly outside of my subject area and felt disappointed. I had dreams! As the year went on and I developed relationships with pupils, listened to them and taught them I realised I was doing what I had set out to do. I was working hard, putting in extra hours, researching ideas late into the evening but I it was enjoyable – It had meaning!
It is hard being the mature newbie and is difficult not having a permanent job, I am far more aware of the stark contrast of being really good at my old job and my inadequacies in my new job. However, I think this makes me more driven to succeed I am aware of my weaknesses and am constantly looking at ways to improve. Unlike most jobs, the perk is you work with young people and no matter how stressful things get there is always that class, pupil, colleague or parent who can raise your spirits! Whether they just ‘get it’, love your subject, say thank you, they are proud of their achievements it makes it all the stress disappear.
This year I have mainly taught my subject and I truthfully can’t remember a time in my career where I have felt this fulfilled. Or in fact humbled, as what I feel about teaching is almost everyone you work with wants to improve things for the pupils. It is hard work and long hours because you feel compelled to go the extra mile. Not because you have to, because what you gain from seeing children learning, growing, getting help and around you people are doing the same. I still don’t have a permanent job, I have worked every year and each time the staff I work with wish it could be, regardless this is a good environment to work in!