It’s been three weeks since I returned to work following maternity leave and I’ve heard this question a lot during that time. It hasn’t been easy, I didn’t think it would be. Picking up new classes half way through a school year was never ideal, but given that those classes had already had several teachers and were tired of yet another new face meant it has been a challenge. At the end of my first week I cried on the way home, and I’m usually quite resilient when it comes to my job.
It’s become a little easier, my classes and I are getting to know each other but last weekend I was in a terrible mood. My husband picked up on it, and I couldn’t quite pinpoint what the reason was. I love being at home with my boys but I also do want to work, a part of me had been looking forward to returning to work but after just a couple of weeks I felt drained and anxious.
I have been at my current school for fifteen years, I started as a Newly Qualified Teacher when I was 22. I started when I was still living with my mum and dad, and for a long time I have been happy there. On Tuesday I went on a course about the changes to the A level syllabus starting in September, I sat with teachers who were brimming with enthusiasm and that is infectious. The more I chatted to them the more it started to dawn on me what was making me unhappy.
I think I’ve known it for a few years but whilst we were trying for a baby, and whilst I was pregnant it was something that was pushed to the back of my mind. I’m not happy at my school, and it’s time to move on. That isn’t an easy conclusion to come to when it’s the only school I’ve ever worked in, it’s where I feel safe, but it’s making me sad. I don’t want to have that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I wake up on those days when I have to go into work.
On Tuesday as I sat in my course I made the decision I had to leave. I’m not daft, I won’t be leaving without a job to go to (we have a mortgage to pay and little mouths to feed) but I am actively looking and last I week sent off my first job application. The downside of teaching is the more experience you have the more expensive you are to hire and I am a lot dearer than an NQT would be but I’m hoping that someone will value my fifteen years of experience over someone cheaper.
I’m not a natural risk taker and I have probably stayed where I am so long because it was easy and comfortable but that’s not enough for me anymore. I’m rubbish at selling myself and hate interviews with a passion but I can’t stay where I am because I’m too scared to go for an interview. It may take a while to find a new job, ideally I want part time and there aren’t too many of those going but we shall see. Just making that decision to start looking elsewhere, it feels like a weight has been lifted. I had been feeling trapped working in an environment I no longer enjoy.
I am my own worst critic, for most things, and I am guilty of feeling that I’m not good enough. I’m trying really hard to overcome this and be more confident and that is what I am keeping in mind going into the job search. I’m not the best teacher in the world, my lessons aren’t always the most exciting but I am good at what I do. On the whole my students like having me as their teacher and they get good results.
Last week it was two years since our IVF attempt failed, the day passed and I forgot. It was a Facebook memory that prompted me to remember. Two years ago I was at my absolute lowest, my heart was broken and the future was uncertain. So much has happened in the past 24 months and our family is complete with the arrival of our gorgeous G, something I was starting to fear would never happen.
I guess you never quite know what’s going to happen but if something isn’t making you happy it’s up to you to do something about it. I’ve put off making this decision for so long as there was always something stopping me, but now those reasons don’t apply anymore.
Two years ago I couldn’t see myself feeling as contented and happy with my home life as I am today, but here we are. In another two years I hope I can feel the same about my work life, and I’m taking the steps now to make that happen. Wish me luck!