In September 2013 I tentatively made my way to the fourth floor of the Education Building at the University of Sheffield. This was the first day of my PGCE, one which filled me with dread as I embarked on a career which I wasn’t fully sure I was capable of. I didn’t know that not only would I be capable, I would be successful from the start which would in turn completely transform me as a person. It is this experience which ultimately led me to realise that I had a desire to see the world which hadn’t made itself apparent during my university years.
As an NQT I was completely in love with my job, it was adrenaline filled, funny, provoking and exciting every single day. I strived to make all of the above happen for the pupils on a daily basis too. I can’t give you a story about “where it all went wrong” or weave a fictitious tale about how education has cheated me. For me, the adrenaline faded and so did the fun. With the new English GCSE specification it now feels more like a routine battle to help pupils achieve something really difficult and all the while pray that efforts from all sides won’t be fruitless. The response to the great unknown of the new GCSEs has been met by constant rigorous testing, inputting of data and marking, along with chasing false flightpaths with unknown grades.
On a daily basis I’m unsure whether I’m an admin assistant, professional examiner or teacher. I sigh a breath of relief if a class is in an assembly so I can “get stuff done”, all the while forgetting that teaching the children is the ultimate way to “get stuff done”. I’m always behind in some way, usually on marking, and therefore I’m (in my opinion) always a failure. As for bettering myself in the classroom, well that’s at the bottom of my to-do list; I simply don’t have time to plan lessons which stretch my existing ideas of pedagogy and teaching.
I’m not truly, entirely sure if this is why I’ve fallen out of love with teaching or whether that would’ve happened anyway. We can’t be bright-eyed and fresh out of university forever. What I do know is that if I don’t leave to see the world and teach in a completely different way, I will always have a sense of regret and missed opportunity. As the old adage goes, it’s now or never.
So, only three years since I first made my way (probably in the lift) up to the fourth floor of the Education Building, I decided that the upcoming academic year would be my last in the UK. I don’t know if I’ll return to teaching here, I don’t know what teaching will look like in the UK when (if) we come back and, as I learnt when I started my career, doing new and scary things can change you in a way you can’t and probably shouldn’t try to anticipate. So I guess I’ll just have to see what happens.