Rory(@eddiekayshun) and me.
Rory had the idea of writing an honest blog about himself and how this links with teaching. Via a twitter discussion an idea formed of a guest blog site where teachers can contribute. There are some fantastic ones and then there’s this….
Waitress, au pair, receptionist, assistant organiser for Olympia Show Jumping and The Royal Tournament, ski rep, PGL groupie, English/Drama teacher years 9-13, Deputy Head of 6th form, Newsreader for Falkland Islands radio station, supply teacher, Parent Partnership Officer, FE lecturer in Functional Skills, Learning Support Tutor (FE/HE), Specialist SEN Advisory teacher (inc. Assistive Technology), half way through a Masters.
I once started an application form with a similar list writing; ‘I’ve either got ADHD or I haven’t yet found the job I really love’.
I was pretty horrible in school from about 13. Low level disruption, withdrawn from certain lessons due to clashes with teachers, given responsibilities such as prefect and head of house thinking this might direct my fiery, rebellious and impulsive nature to good things rather than to the smokers behind the bike sheds…
I finally left school at 15 with very poor results but determined not to let it stop me.
I went to FE college adding to my count with two O’levels and that was me done with education. I was going to travel and prove to myself I didn’t need qualifications to succeed. I achieved my aim when I was promoted to Assistant Organiser at Earls Court; everyone else in that position had a degree. It was a hollow victory however and I left to work In Austria as a ski rep. Following this I found Summer work in the UK.
This was when my life changed. At 21 in Ross-on-Wye when I began working for PGL. Here, I met a fantastic group of young people, mainly educated in comprehensives with good exam grades and degrees; all taking time out before entering professions: teachers, doctors, lawyers…
As I became friends with these people, it became clear how confident they were but also that they were no different to me. This was a surprise – you see I was a borderline mark in 11+’and the head teacher told my parents he thought I would be better at the top of a Secondary Modern rather than the bottom of a grammar school. This decision meant I always thought I wasn’t very clever; I knew I was capable but thought it was my confident personality which got me through not my brains. These people helped me realise I could,if I chose,become educated – that a degree was not unachievable. I felt inspired and, along with my absolute thrill of working with children, I decided to train to become a teacher.
I got an O’level in maths, an A’level in English Literature which gave me enough points as a mature student to gain at place at Liverpool Hope University. I learned so much here and each year became more confident and more knowledgeable. No longer did I think studying was for nerds – I began devouring books and thriving in an academic environment. I graduated with a 2:1 and was certain I wanted to become a teacher. I amazed myself by getting accepted into Homerton College to study for a PGCE, despite in the interview confusing Hedda Gabler (who shot herself) with A Dolls House (where she left her kids and husband). Waking up in a cold sweat at 3 in the morning shouting ‘I said Nora shot herself’.
And then I became a teacher – and I loved teaching – I loved being in a comprehensive and I wished that I had gone to a similar school – diverse bunch of students, high aspirations for ALL, great teaching and strong leadership. It made me so sure that selection was wrong – that people develop at different rates – the steps need to be there to rise whenever a student is ready. (I’m sure some will say I have a chip on my shoulder and they’re probably right).
My career took a different direction when my husband got a post abroad; I was incredibly lucky and got a job in radio journalism. I interviewed MPs like Baroness Scotland, celebrities such as Ben Fogle and even made attempts to record penguins braying. It was a very exciting 2 years. I was always drawn back to education however and it is the one thing I never get bored with and I’m pretty sure this is where I will stay.
I love teaching, I love education and I love my job.
This is who I am
P.s. I also have four children: twins aged 5, daughter aged 8 and a son, aged 10. I am married to a very clever man (one of those comprehensive educated PGL people) who constantly raises his eyebrows and sighs at me. We both work full time. We have no other family living nearby so childcare is always a nightmare; our life is chaotic, ridiculous, mainly awful but occasionally fun.