What do I want to be when I grow up?
I can clearly remember answering this question when I was about six years old. The answer was simple, a teacher. As time passed a few other alternatives got thrown into the mix: a travel agent (I liked filling in forms), an air hostess (so I could travel), an RAF communications officer (So they would support me through University – isn’t that awful of me?), but at the end of the day I always came back to a teacher.
I absolutely loved school and was inspired my own teachers. I knew that it was what I wanted to be and that was the career I pursued right from the start.
I began my teaching career in the North East of England and quickly got some responsibility when I moved to my second job after only three years of teaching. It wasn’t much but I was a new head of department for a new, and small, Media Studies department. Small because I was in charge of me, and only me, but everyone has to start somewhere, don’t they? Let me clarify, it was my job to set up the new course for the following year so there was plenty to do. The vast majority of my job was as an English teacher though and this is truly where my heart is in teaching.
Teaching opened doors for me in New Zealand. I interviewed for my job over the phone on the eve of my wedding, and thankfully got it…that may have put a bit of a damper on my big day if I hadn’t!
The school I taught at in Auckland was one of the best in the country and it offered me so many opportunities. They supported my professional development in so many ways and I am so grateful. I went to courses here in New Zealand; I was a representative at a conference in Singapore; I was part of an action research group and presented my research to an international audience of my peers in Philadelphia. I was offered these opportunities and grabbed them with both hands. I am a hard worker, and I tell you now, this was hard work, but it is so rewarding and so important.
Over time responsibility came along in promotions both within the department and the house system. It was a busy job without these responsibilities, but now it was even busier. Evenings and weekends were spent prepping lessons and marking (you can imagine the marking of a senior English teacher). There were extra curricular activities. I would routinely spend one night a week at debating until 10pm at night, and sometimes there were events at weekends.
Let me stop now and say I am not complaining. Not complaining in the least. I loved my job. Really loved it. I loved the people I work with (some of them are still my best friends), loved the subject I taught and most importantly, I loved the students I taught but my life has changed. It has changed a lot, and here is where the problem lies.
My husband and I always agreed that if we had a family that I would be a stay at home mum until they were both at school. Well now we have two children and that is where the two year plan comes from. In two years they will both be at school full time.
I don’t know if I can be a teacher anymore.
I am the kind of person that gives their all. I am worried that I can’t have it all. Something will have to give and that will not be my family, so that leaves my students not having the best teacher in me in front of them in the classroom. It’s a conundrum. I want to have it all.
I know that people manage to do this every day. But I need to work out if I can do it and I have two years to consider it. The alternative? That’s the issue; I need to work out what else I can be if I’m not going to be a teacher.
What else can I be when I grow up?