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.
To many, including my former, more sensible self, this might seem like utter madness. As a head of department at 33, I’m earning 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. If I want to put my heart and soul into a new project, I know I can’t do it from this position.
Let me be clear – I still love teaching. I love the children I teach (even the ones I encounter briefly) like they were my own family. I love delivering lessons; the look on a child’s face when they’ve understood something, gained a new skill, pushed themselves, taken pride in their work, received praise. I love planning lessons and creating resources, challenging myself to think creatively about how I can make the unknown known; the dull colourful and the disengaged inspired. From the meek, nervous student-teacher I was less than a decade ago, I have become a classroom director, thriving upon the daily performance of my actors.
I have fallen out of love though, with the idea of teaching within an institution. Again, I find myself in a position where I’m spending more time on data and targets, new Ofsted-friendly initiatives and pointless paperwork, all of which require a lot of effort but have no real impact on children’s learning (in fact they’re even detrimental in some cases). When I drive to work in a morning or sit down to work on an evening, I can’t shake the sense that I don’t believe in what I’m doing anymore.
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.
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.