A “Career” in Education?

As a newly appointed teacher after years of trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life, what my “personal legend” (Coehlo) is I have come across yet another crisis in what I thought I was thinking to be the right thing. If that makes sense.

I should mention that one of my favourite accidental pass times is to constantly challenge my own beliefs and thoughts and if I find one which is more “ego” vs “self” driven or it is based on a misconception about myself or the world I love to challenge it and get to the root of it.

It’s just what I do. That is how I keep learning, keep getting deeper into myself and my spiritual connection with the world around me.

Tangent. Focus.

Recently I attended a term-changing conference that helped me connect with why I chose to be a teacher in the first place. Let me set the scene. Disclaimer: Words may seem far more dramatic than an outsider’s perspective.

The story up until now is one that I shall save for another blog post, but the short of it is that I have been appointed my first job as a full time permanent teacher. I finished my course last June and was having a lot of difficulties in finding work and working casually until I received a phone call offering a position 3 days from the first day of Term 1.

Forward to 5 weeks and I lack sleep, lack nutrition, my eye muscles twitch, my mind is constantly switching focus between 100 items, I am also running around all day, getting my resources, dealing with the spot-fires that occur in the school day/ per class, and of course dealing with things going wrong.

It has actually been a blur. By the time I get my head around one class, it’s already over and I need to think about assessment, creating engaging opportunities, satisfying outcomes, ticking things off, evaluating myself, keeping track of what I have to do… list goes on and not much gets ticked off!

BUT, it takes one smile, laugh or cute gesture from a kid to make it all worth it. Is that sad? is that good? I am not yet decided, but it still is draining. But that positive impact does fill up the batteries a bit and masks the symptoms of exhaustion.

So back to the conference- in all these dealings I realised I had no time to reflect on the purpose of what I was doing. I was doing something, but I had forgotten what the true nature of what I was doing actually WAS. I walked into a room with teachers similar to me and I was a part of an adult community of professionals who thought like me and who had dreams like me, and overall who cared for the kids as much as I did. The issues we discussed were part of a bigger problem that we are trying to solve, a bigger issue that we as teachers feel alone in, such that 30% of all teachers leave the profession in the first 3 (or 5) years. That is really sad- I am sure that all those teachers are amazing teachers. Teachers who are probably alone and just purely exhausted and thus leave the profession.

Lucky for me I have amazing mentors and people to look up to who help to guide me and also to vent to when I need. Already I can see the fruits of such a valuable resources. It also helps that those mentoring are genuinely amazing individuals.

This figure does not seem to reflect the social media world of teachers. Teachers I see posting the things they do in their classroom, or trying these breakthrough things at school or attending these huge conferences or trying to show everyone else the newest idea in education. All of this- I think is great and so amazing, but after a few conversations with teachers and hear-say from students regarding the monitoring and displays to educational institutions on these techniques- I am beginning to wonder; Is it appropriate to call the educational profession a career?

Do all methods and do all participants in these educational ventures truly benefiting our kids in the classroom? (i.e One size fits all so we should all do it for the sake of it?)
After spending 2 days with adults I came home with a fresh inspirational outlook and felt as though I might not quit this “career” path I had chosen.
But now I am thinking…. was I looking at this the wrong way?
I don’t want a career in education if my objective is “opportunities for progress”. Yes, of course I constantly want to learn, and always will be learning and striving to do better- but not for me or my school or my paycheck- They are all second; and yet they take up more time away from planning for, assessing and really providing quality feedback and building rapport with students!!

The first and most important objective is my kids. Each and every individual student who comes to class.

Restructuring the way teachers do things may provide a motivation for some teachers to grow or to progress, but it might also motivate them to take shortcuts, use other teachers and again become recluse in their practice.

In my next mid-term crisis, I am sure I will have a clearer picture, but that conversation I had today really made me question education as a “career”, and how different it is to other professional careers. It is a serious profession; yes, it is severely underfunded even though we are practically raising children to some degree; yes, but we mustn’t forget that it is not a profession that benefits from competition; rather thrives with collaboration. It is the “collective genius” of teachers which allow teachers to create the work/life balance and quality lessons. A balance in the life of a teacher ensures that he/she brings him/her BEST face to class to face whatever issues, to model good, moral, happy behaviour and stay enthusiastic.

I hope for a better future and more mutual support amongst the teaching community. For this we will always say we need more “time”. And then we are back to square one.

Please note: I didn’t edit this- Yes I usually am a perfectionist- that’s why I don’t edit a flow of consciousness.

Have a nice week.

 

 

Career Crossroads: A 20 Something Epidemic.

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As a pre-teen I loved Daria. She always had something to say that was not always what other people wanted to hear. The truth is not always glamorous and it’s not mysterious or sensationalised. Her blunt, often morbid and realistic opinions were always expressed with some sarcasm which always made me laugh.

I am sure I am not alone when I say that we are exposed to images like this all the time. Images that offer such wise short and sweet advice on life that is going to solve all of your problems. But this one made me realise this is something that has been on my mind lately.

There are a few different types of people : workers and non workers, and in the workers category there is a plethora of types of workers. I happen to fall into this category that has this fear.  A job is not just a job to me.

If it was, I probably would have stayed in my previous employment and doing what I needed to do there to grow and advance in that industry. But I’m too stubborn for that so I was like – yeah.. no.

But I think if you need to be “not stubborn” about it, then it just isn’t for you. It is comforting to see many capable intelligent 20 somethings having completing one or more degrees, an apprenticeship or a job they have been in for a while; and feeling the need to throw in the towel or close a chapter on something they have been doing thus far.

I have named my blog my own two feet, because there have been some things I have had to learn with my own feet and some difficulties that no one can carry you through that you just have to walk it with your own two feet.

And that’s what I find with this career stuff, well for me anyways. For the longest time the idea of what to do was there, but I never had the foresight and the vision as I do now. Now I can’t wait to wake up and teach. I hope this isn’t another one of those bright ideas I have. It feels real this time.
Although, so did every other idea I had every week growing up. But this just feels like all the pieces of the puzzle are what I have learnt on the way to this point.
Now there is an idea big enough for me to make something of and a goal small enough to step onto to begin with.
I will be a qualified secondary teacher, because I love teaching/tutoring, I love inspiring education and I love the way learning and understanding gives adolescents a sense of achievement and confidence. I can’t wait to take this first step to getting to my career related dreams.
A job that I won’t hate or resent ,and a job in which I can flourish in and make of it what I am meant to. And it seems like it takes some time to get to an epiphany such as this, because how is a teenager supposed to know what experience and life teaches along the way?

Especially with all the career choices available right now. Such complex titles… no wonder so many of us are caught in the crossroads.

But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel to the dream job that will make you bound out of bed each morning and give that satisfaction that you are looking for. Heck yeah!!
But it does take courage and risk, but surely it is worth it.