After accepting this new job way back in late January and finally sorting out the details in march, I think I'm ready to put my feelings into words. I've started with a lot of words, just to give you an insight into what my head has been like the last few months.
Largely, I think my feelings fall into two categories: terrified and excited. I'm sure this isn't that surprising but I think I might be feeling these a little more intensely than would reasonably be expected. I'm not going to sugarcoat this post so I guess you're about to get to know me a whole lot better.
Why am I terrified?
It's no secret that some of the contributing factors to my leaving were: depression, stress, anxiety and migraines. All of these mixed together in a knot of problems. I did have what my friends like to call a “full mental breakdown”, around 2014/2015 Christmas/New year. It was without a doubt the worst year I ever wish to experience. What started as mild depression, spiraled into a more serious depression due to my lack of willingness to seek help. It didn't help that at the same time my migraines reached a point where I was having 5+ a week, possibly or probably from the stress of my training year and the depression. All of this topped off with a newly discovered allergic reaction to gluten. So yeah, 2015 wasn't good for me. At one point I took a few too many pills and I realised I had a decision to make. End it or get help. Luckily I got help.
So considering all this happened within the remit of life as a teacher, I'm sure you can see why the thought of going back into this environment is more than a little terrifying. What happens if the migraines come back? I was one step away from having an injection in the base of my skull to stop them before I left. I was taking pills upon pills to try to control them and those pills had side effects. There was one great day where my pulse dropped so low I kept nearly fainting in front of the class. It's inevitable that there will be stress, and I can only hope that the strategies I have developed this year will help me control that stress. I need to remember it's ok to say no to things and I made a major decision regarding my career. I realised I have no desire to climb the ladder, I don't want the extra money and responsibilities; I want to do my job and teach the students. It's the last of the job I love and is where I feel I can make the most difference. I'm hoping this will reduce my stress.
Ok so maybe I can reduce the stress and therefore reduce the migraines, but depression is a life long illness. Even in this last year and a bit there have been days or strings of days where I have felt down and a bit of depression has creeped back in. If I can be depressed in what is essentially paradise, is there any hope for my return to work? I only know one thing about coming back and that is if I ever get that low again I won't survive it. Dragging myself out of that hole was the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm not sure I've got the strength in me to do it again.
So yes I'm terrified that going back to the environment that put me in that situation in the first place, will put me back there.
It probably hasn't helped that even my parents have expressed concern about not taking on too much, limiting my stress and my mother has decided she will personally be my wellbeing protector (I've yet to decide whether this will do more harm than help).
Why am I excited?
Ah ok this is a slightly lighter topic! And I'm pretty sure you teachers out there can understand my excitement. I've not been consistently in a classroom since December 2016 and I MISS it! Like, really miss it! Yes I've taught while I've been traveling, but never for longer than a month, never consistently and sometimes not even math. So I'm really looking forward to having MY class, with MY students.
I'm starting at a new school, one where I have a few friends and know about the schools reputation. I also know the head teacher a bit and I love their ethos and attitude! Leadership is very important to me and I'm hoping this is a good foundation.
I think most teachers will agree it's very hard to switch off, during the holidays our brains are always coming up with new ideas. Now, multiply that by over a year! My brain is overflowing with teacher ideas that I've been waiting months to implement and try out. Add in the edutwitter lovelies and the books I've been reading (possibly a review of a few to come) and I'm dying to get back in the classroom and relieve myself off some of these ideas!
I'm even excited about new equipment! Who hasn't dreamed of new pens, books, whiteboards...
Since I promised earlier full disclosure, I've also missed something else. Home.
I haven't been home in 16 months (except 4 days for a wedding), I haven't seen my friends, my family, my bed. I feel like I left putting my life on pause. And now I'm ready to pick that life back up again. I'm ready to put down some roots, maybe buy a house, form relationships.
I've a lot to look forward to, but in the shadow of all this excitement lerks that lingering terror. I just have to trust in my own development over the last year and my own strength in being able to handle whatever life throws at me. Or I suppose whatever the job throws at me. Because good or bad I'm in this for the long haul, I love teaching and it's the only career I can see myself in.
So here's hoping and here's to enjoying the last 6 weeks of my epic adventure!
When I got my first teaching job, after training, I had just one interview at one school. I didn't look at other schools, I'd only ever taught in 2 schools and this was to be the third. I knew the people, the head and I'd even had a few tutoring and food tech assistant jobs there. When I was interviewed I was on crutches, having dislocated my knee the night before (dedication or what). I gave what I considered to be great answers to the questions both students and staff asked. One I remember was the student panel asking me the riskiest thing i'd ever done, I later found out another interviewee had said ”jumping off really high Cliff”, my answers (and yes I'm proud of this) was choosing to teach the subject I loved, maths, even though I had a biology degree and it would mean a lot of hard work. I'm telling you this because that is the main thing I remember from the interview. Sure, the staff panel discussed behaviour and teaching ethos, I answered honestly and to the best of my ability, then came the last question: “do you have any questions for us”.
I had been taught at college, while applying for universities, that this is the single most important question, for you and for the interviewer. If you don't have any questions, I was told, it is akin to not caring or not bothering to find out anything about the school or University. So more often than not I would ask a question I already knew the answer to or didn't care about the answer to. I think in the example above I asked what the behaviour policy was in the school versus the department.
2 years later and I was having a phone interview for my newly acquired job, the same question came up, but this time I hadn't prepared for it at all. Turns out I had a lot of questions. You see I've learnt a lot about what is important to me as a teacher now and as a person. So I thought I'd share the questions I asked:
As a side note, upon filling out the occupational health form, for the first time I had to declare that I had indeed suffered from and been treated for anxiety and depression. I think I got just a taste of how it feels to have to disclose an illness, and let's just say I didn't like it. The thought that I might be treated differently because of it, or have it used against me at some random time. I'm pretty sure that's not possible but there will always be that niggling doubt.
I'm still not ready to put my feelings about having this new job and my traveling coming to an end down in solid words yet, but rest assured it's coming.
Please feel free to comment or message me on Twitter any questions I haven't included that you feel to be important to you.