Last week, I shared about how my teaching journey began and that I ended my P.G.C.E. year knowing that I didn’t want to teach secondary but that all I wanted to do was teach. I wish that I could tell you that I got a job in a primary school and everything was fine, but it wasn’t quite that easy.
Living in Northern Ireland, permanent full-time jobs were few and far between – most teachers remained in their first post until retirement, which made it incredibly hard for new teachers entering the profession. Given the fact that my P.G.C.E. was in secondary, I had no chance of getting a job in a primary school. I did try though – I applied for temporary posts, part-time posts, maternity covers, but I wasn’t shortlisted for anything. I became more and more despondent and signed up for supply cover – however, I didn’t even get that due to my secondary training.
Then one day my mum, a Year 6 (P7) teacher at the time, told me that her headteacher wanted to see me. He offered me some supply cover. He said that every Wednesday morning, for 6 weeks (in the run up to the 11+), I could teach a group of children from P7 who were slightly disruptive, while the teacher got the rest of her children ready for the upcoming test. I jumped at the chance and I went in that first Wednesday, excited and walking on air! However, without going into too many details, the first session showed that I needed to work on my behaviour management skills if we were going to do any learning. Over the next few weeks I did just that and at the end of my time with them, I was really sad to see them go.
I went on to teach a great deal at that school and due to the cover opportunities afforded to me by the headteacher, I gained a wealth of experience teaching Reception to Year 6 (P1 – P7). As I gained experience, so opportunities opened up in other primary schools and I worked for most of that year – gaining the primary experience that I needed to get the full-time job I so desired. I began to get short-listed for jobs but I couldn’t secure a post and at the end of a year of supply teaching, I made the difficult decision to leave Northern Ireland and move to England.
Now, most people would have got a post before moving over, but not I. In my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be much better to move over, supply teach and then apply. However, my plans were scuppered for a number of reasons and it took me five years to return to the classroom. As strange as it may sound though, I’m incredibly grateful that I did have five years of working in the hospitality and retail industries because when I returned to teaching there was no doubt in my mind that this was what I wanted to do. I knew that there was no other job in the world that could give me the level of joy and fulfilment that teaching did.
”Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.Scott Hayden
In all honesty, there were times during that five years when I thought teaching was lost forever, but due to a strange set of circumstances, I found myself back at university studying for a P.G.Cert.P.D in primary.
Since returning to university, I have never taken teaching for granted and I count myself incredibly lucky to be part of the best profession in the world. Scott Hayden was describing me when he said: ‘Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.’
If you want to find out how I began to bring my first two loves together when I returned to the classroom as a full-time teacher (yes I got a job) then join me next week.