Saturday, 3 March 2018

The return of the teacher - Why I left and why I returned?

So, it's been a huge amount of time since I last put pen to paper (sort of); in fact it's about two years.  I used to blog constantly and work hard to share with others, but I lost the feeling I used to get when finding something new - I lost my way.

I was away from teaching for just over a year and I don't regret what I did, but I did miss the classroom - dreadfully. 

Leaving Teaching

I left teaching at the end of my thirteenth year to join a successful apprenticeship company who delivered IT and Digital Marketing.  It was one of those moments that I remember as a 'you never know' and 'what if the grass is greener?'  I thought about the long evenings and weekends we spend as teachers producing stunning lessons and the hours of marking.  Could working 9-5 and then switching off work for me?

I took the plunge and left at the end of the school year with the summer break ahead of me.  Now, I love IT and have produced some fantastic things with the children I have taught, but could I deliver the skills needed to teach 16+?  I needed training and the company I worked for provided that for me and I achieved my Technical Certificate and IQA qualifications whilst there.

The role was to assess the learners portfolios. meet with employers, set targets, and occasionally deliver training.  I did enjoy the training element, and it was very, very different to learning with primary school children.  

The Business World and Ofsted

Away from teaching the world feels very different.  The aims of a business is to make money. It sounds obvious, but I've never felt that before.  The constant recruitment and drive for more numbers felt strange to me, but I embraced it and if I'm honest, gaining a new apprentice or business was a bit of a high.  We don't get that in schools, we don't need to compete for children - they just arrive!

The working hours and few holidays hit me hard too!  Only 30 days off a year and the summer was a killer!  My family and girlfriend were at home all summer and I missed the break dreadfully.  The six weeks I worked I missed them dreadfully.  The first time I started to think about leaving.

The company I worked for held their learners personal development in high regards and thankfully it was recognised by Ofsted as Outstanding - rightly so.

Yes, Ofsted.  As we were a training provider, we under Ofsted's umbrella.  I been through Ofsted visits in schools, but never in this environment.  I was observed reviewing the performance of apprentices and setting new targets.  An interesting and different experience for me. Oh and driving to Manchester for an hour with an Ofsted instructor in my car! She was a great person who was really interested in the research I'd done and listened intently.  But still, an Ofsted inspector in your car for an hour!


During my time, I had to visit our London apprentices and deliver some training.  I found this incredibly tough.  The overnight stays were difficult and the hours were very long - travel can be a killer.

I had some great experiences in our capital city and London felt very different when you were working compared to visiting.  I love London and it always gives me warm feelings when I think about the time I've visited, but this was different.  I was there for business.

Starting to miss the classroom

Around September last year, I was asked to take over the Digital Marketing role completely, including running the training.  Could this be the link for me to get back in the classroom?  

Teaching 16+ learners is tough, much tougher than teaching primary school children.  I know my secondary and FE colleagues may say I'm mad, but we're all destined to teach an age group and this was not mine.  

I missed the children and their love for learning, the art, the drama, the moments they learn a new word or make you a book at home.  These small moments far outweigh the planning into the evening and marking after school.  Actually, if I'm being honest, I missed the planning and creating exciting learning moments.  I missed finding a book, talking to my partner and coming up with some stunning learning adventures.  I didn't get that in the role I was in.

I decided the time was to get back into teaching.  I explained the situation to my boss and she knew straight away what I was going to say - she was very intuitive.

The jobs in November were few and far between, but one did appear and I went for it.  What a school!  What a job!  What a team! I'll tell you more in my next post. I LOVE my school!


Never.  I'm a better person for taking the risk and moving away from teaching in schools.  I learned from some of the most talented people I've ever met, learned new skills, and found out more about myself.  

Next chapter

I want to tell you more about my current role, so I'll save it for a new blog post.  But for now, I never regret moving away from teaching and I don't regret the time I spent away, but the classroom is magical.

I now know how truly lucky I am to do the job I do. To teach the young people I have in my care and learn from every day.  I've got my spark back, my mojo and I'm feeling more like myself again.  

Whenever I read about long hours, paperwork and work life balance I always think back about the time I spent away.  Do you know what; the long hours, paperwork, marking and planning are worth it for the moments you spend in front of that class and see those faces in awe of what you're discovering with them.  

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