Choosing to leave the classroom has had some surprising consequences.
It was very flattering that my local paper wanted to write about the fact the blog won an award, but look at that headline!
I’m not at all sure how I feel about being an ‘ex-teacher’. Does it necessarily follow that just because I’m not currently at the chalk face, I’m no longer a teacher? Maybe it does.
There were some pressing push factors as well as pull factors in the decision to become a free-lance consultant. This probably isn’t the place to air my dirty linen, but despite the fact I love my new lifestyle, there’s lots I miss about not teaching. Mainly it’s the brilliantly stupid things kids say. Here’s one of my favourites from a few years ago while reading the Steinbeck classic Of Mice and Men:
Student: Sir, is Curley ginger?
Me: Er…no. Why do you ask?
Student: Cos in chapter 2 it says, “Curley stepped gingerly close to him.”
I also miss being able to experiment and try out ideas with classes. I realise this sounds potentially unethical, but, being a restless, inquiring soul, I was forever striving to chip off the rougher edges of my teaching and find new ways to clear up the ever-present student misconceptions. I could predict where classes would stumble and I loved anticipating and supporting this just at the point they started to realise the need.
I miss turning round hard to reach kids; finding just the right way to connect, motivate and inspire. And I miss the opportunity to reflect with colleagues about my failures as well as my successes.
But I don’t miss the piles of marking, the deadlines, the tedious admin, the long hours, the low-level disruption, the hoop-jumping or the endless imposition of ill-thought through initiatives. And I don’t miss never seeming to have the time to spend with my beautiful daughters. IN many ways, I’ve never been happier.
In short, I would really like to work in a school, but I wouldn’t want to do it full time.
Fortunately, I don’t have to. Through writing this blog I’ve been invited to run training and work with teachers up and down the country. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at conferences and meet some wonderfully interesting people. (One highlight was running a series of course on curriculum design with Martin Robinson – these were fantastic, if poorly attended, and if anyone fancies us reprising our double act, please get in touch.) I love the time I have to write and think. I even quite enjoy the travel and being put up in generic hotels.
But I’d really like to have a base; a school (or schools) to call home. Preferably not too far from Bristol. I’d really like to teach English for 1 or 2 days a week so I can stay fresh and credible. And I’d love the opportunity to be part of a forward-thing leadership team who were interested in pursuing a similar direction of travel to some of the ideas I’ve set out in this blog.
I realise this is a big ask. I’m not exactly backward in coming forward, and sometimes, in my enthusiasm, I can tread on people’s toes. But I might just be able to offer something you might not realise you’re missing: someone with their finger on the pulse, who lives and breathes education and will always be questing for the best possible ways of educating young minds.
If you’d be interested in having any kind of ongoing relationship, do let me know: I’m open to offers.