The first step to getting anywhere is deciding you’re no longer willing to stay where you are.
At some point in 2014, I decided that I was over teaching. There was no defining event that brought me to that decision, my class that year was not particularly horrible (quite the opposite in fact), my job had been no more stressful than in the past … I had just had enough.
I needed a change.
I believe I suffer from the ‘seven-year itch’ with regards to my work. I have been teaching for well over twenty years, but that time has been regularly punctuated with change: moving interstate, a two-year stint in Japan, babies and long-service leave. I have never taught for more than five years in the one school, or more than five consecutive years in the same role.
My Kindergarten teacher started her career as a Kindy teacher in my primary school, and retired as a Kindy teacher in my primary school having spent her whole career as a Kindy teacher in the same primary school (and to my knowledge, in the same classroom). My mind boggles just thinking about that.
If that’s what floated her boat, fine, but I could not do that.
I tend to get bored if I have to teach the same unit of work more than twice.
There are teachers in my current school who have been teaching the same grade level for well over five years. They are very good at what they do. I admire their teaching styles and the outcomes they achieve with their students. Just don’t ask me to do that.
Some people might say that I show a lack of commitment. For me, regular change is a chance to grow, to learn and to ‘go places’ (not necessarily physically, but mentally).
A simple example: I taught Year 5 and 6 for five years at my previous school. I loved this. I even taught the same cohort of children two years in a row. I was comfortable as a 5/6 teacher, I knew the curriculum, I had well-planned units that I knew worked. And so … I transferred and went on to a year 1/2 for whom I had no resources, no prepared units and whose curriculum I was not instantly familiar with.
Change is good. Scary, but good.
Move forward a few years to 2014. Although I had transferred schools in this period and changed grade levels three times, I had been working full-time in teaching for eight years. So, after taking five weeks long-service leave to travel Western Australia, Broome to Perth, with my family, I decided that I would drop my hours and work part-time the following year.
This decision was not made lightly. On the positive side, it has provided me with an opportunity to do something different in teaching; I now work as an EAL/D teacher, for the moment. However, dropping from full-time to two days a week meant, first and foremost, a massive drop in pay.
Effectively, I stepped out of my teaching career safety net and into a world of uncertainty. And then I decided that I wanted to write. I enrolled in lots of courses, completed my Cert IV in Professional Writing and Editing, began a blog or two, and started submitting my work to various publishing outlets.
I am still in the early stages. I aim to explore a few more avenues this year – non-fiction writing, journalism. It may lead to nothing. There are days when I think, ‘I am no good at this, just go back to full-time teaching.’ Then my inner-voice kicks in: I want something different – for me, for my family. The students I teach are benefiting as well – their passionate teacher is back – just not every day of the week.
I am no longer willing to stay in the safe career zone. I hope this is the first of many steps to getting somewhere else.