After a huge amount of care and consideration, this week I made the monumental decision to see my Head teacher to announce that I would be resigning from my role at the end of this school year. I don’t have another job to go to.
To many, including my more sensible self, this might seem like utter madness. As a head of department at 33, I’m earning a lot more than I thought I would at this age, I have a solid position and status in school and as I’m repeatedly reminded by my non-teaching friends and acquaintances – I have 12 weeks holiday a year. I also love many parts of my job, mainly my daily interactions with incredible kids and colleagues.
I suppose that I fit nicely in with society’s picture of what success looks like.
So why am I leaving?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the urge to be out on my own; to be my own boss; to have creative freedom; to make my own decisions. And the plan always was to step into this, either through writing my blog, completing additional courses or taking on extra jobs, while teaching at the same time.
Lately, I’ve come to the realisation that this would never happen while I was in full time teaching. Though I’ve found maintaining work-life balance easier in my role within a secondary school, it’s still an exhausting job that eats up not only time but also your energy. I’ve also seen the job become harder, year upon year. Funding cuts, government change, poor student behaviour, increased assessment and focus on Ofsted-ready evidence, have really started to impact on my day to day happiness. I’m working more and more; I’m finding it harder to switch off; I’m beginning to feel that tightness in my chest on a morning. While I still love every second I spend in the classroom, I am beginning to feel a deep churning in my gut when I sit down to work either at school or at home; a sense that I just don’t believe in what I’m doing. Yet again, I felt like I was doing things that required a great deal of effort, but didn’t really impact the children’s learning.
I do think that whether things had been really good or really bad, inevitably I would always have wanted to leave and set up on my own, no matter what profession I had chosen. In fact, having a job that is increasingly prescriptive and restrictive, and that eats up so much of your life, has really given me that much needed desperate momentum to act sooner. If my job were more comfortable, maybe it would have taken another ten years.
From August, I will be out on my own. I’m scared… yes, but I’m also more excited than I can ever remember being. I don’t know what the future will look like yet, but the possibilities are endless. More than anything, I feel like if I’m going to work with children, then I’m a better judge of how to do this than the government, or Ofsted, or schools. I want to be my best in order to give the best to the children in my care and be as effective as I can in all that I do.
I have never thought of myself as brave – quite the opposite – but I have realised that I’m not afraid to fail. What I am afraid of is continuing to do something that I know just isn’t really working for me anymore; to repeatedly crawl forward when every fibre of my being is pulling me away in another direction.
And at a time when life seems so uncertain, I can cling on to my own advise that I often give the kids at school: people regret not trying something a whole lot more than they ever regret trying.