I’ve alluded briefly before on the blog to the fact that I’ve recently left my job, but I haven’t really mentioned that I used to be a teacher. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I was a really good teacher, too. Well, I still am a teacher, but I decided a few months ago to leave my full-time, senior leadership position to be a supply teacher.
Last weekend while shopping with hubby, I bumped into a coursemate of mine from my teacher training, more than seven years ago. It was lovely to see her and almost the first question she asked was whether I was still teaching (I suppose this is a reflection of the number of people leaving the profession these days!). When I told her that I’d actually just started supply teaching, she responded, “Well, it’s a tough job, so don’t feel bad about it.”
I hadn’t actually said anything to suggest that I did feel bad about it. And I know that she genuinely didn’t mean to be unkind with her comment. But, having stewed on it for a while, I realised that for some it might seem as though I have failed in some way. That I couldn’t ‘hack’ the job. In fact, I have heard this more than once from senior leaders about colleagues who have left the profession.
But the truth of it is, I don’t feel bad.
I don’t feel bad that I no longer have to give up most evenings and weekends for work.
I don’t feel bad that I no longer dread Sunday evenings.
I don’t feel bad that I don’t have a set of books to drag home in a suitcase almost every night, because there wasn’t enough time in working day to get it done.
I don’t feel bad that I don’t have to make the choice between marking that set of books and going to bed in order to get enough sleep to get through the next day.
I don’t feel bad that I no longer have to justify the progress of every child in the room according to assessments and levels, the expectations of which seem to change on an annual basis.
I don’t feel bad that now when I spend time with a class, I can enjoy the children for the wonderful individuals that they are, rather than worrying that they aren’t making enough measurable progress that lesson.
I don’t feel bad that I find it amusing when children get my married name wrong in hilarious ways, when before I would have been too stressed to find anything funny.
I don’t feel bad that I can feel my love of teaching slowly coming back to me, when I had feared that it had gone forever.
I don’t feel bad that I now have time to do some of the things I had forgotten that I enjoyed, like cooking and baking, or reading a book for pleasure.
I don’t feel bad that I feel like myself again.
In fact, I’m actually feeling quite good about things.