People fear change. I certainly used to. It made me uncomfortable. A difference to what I was used to. A switch in my ingrained patterns. Having to climb out of my rut and look around at what else is on offer. I avoided it. Coasted along. Festered in some cases.

Last year I decided to make a big change. To walk away from academia. Walk away from the safety, sanctuary even, of the university system and step out from the ivory tower. To face the real people of the world, or at least their children.

I couldn’t see myself working outside of the education system. Like it or not I’ve been teaching, lecturing and coaching since I was 18. Twenty years of habit, or rather, twenty years of working to become good at something, is hard to step away from totally. I took the decision to retrain as a secondary school teacher. It’s been a year since I fully committed to the decision and I’ve finished my first term of teaching.

So what have I learnt? It’d be stupid to assume that only the children have learned something in the past few months.

  1. Schools are very busy places. You don’t see it from the outside, just how hard all the teaching/support/catering staff work so that the pupils can get on with their day in a relatively stressless way.
  2. Schools still foster a sense of wonder from pupils, if they let it work for them.
  3. Teachers are just as stressed as they let on. I now see why. It’s not stopping me from wanting to pursue this as a career.
  4. The system has its flaws, every system does, but it has a very important purpose. It would be easier to let people get on with this than mess with it constantly.
  5. Pupils work well when they know what is expected of them, and the boundaries they can work in – forget this, and it all falls apart.

Two weeks off and I’ve no plans to do any work for the first week. After that, I’ll get some work going again as it’ll make it easier to hit the ground, and my new school, running to stay ahead of the pupils.

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