So today is my birthday and I thought it’s as good a time as any to think about how what has changed for me over the last year. After mum’s cancer journey in 2020 this year has been a lot of milestones; “A year ago to day I finished Chemo!”, “This time a year ago was my op!”. This got me thinking about where I was a year ago.
While as a teacher I never really stopped working at any point, the first lockdown did mean that my working pattern changed, it was no longer focused as much in a school building, the structure of remote learning meant that my working hours changed and I could to some extent work them into my own natural flow. I had time to step back and think, as my school’s wellbeing lead at the time I was able to really focus on this aspect not just to support the children but the staff and parents too.
Professionally I was able to remind myself of the aspects I was most passionate about in teaching; wellbeing and working with children. I had time to undertake further PD in those areas. I was also able to recognise how toxic the actual school environment seemed to have become and was able to interact with staff in a more pure way, conversations were often 1:1 and weren’t influenced by negativity.
Personally I was able to focus on hobbies and regain a better work/life balance. I experienced what it was like to work from home and have a positive space to work in, with more focus. Not having to do/think about a million different things all while teaching 30 children allowed my brain to rest and I slowly started to realise that maybe I was dissatisfied in some aspects of education. I started to re-evaluate what I wanted from my life and career.
Then came the blow…our amazing head left, she was a brilliant and inspirational head who really understood her staff, children and parents and what they needed…our new head had a very different approach. I had worked as EYFS lead in EYFS for many years and my old head recognised that I needed new challenges and a wider experience, moving me to year 3 and giving my whole school roles in Wellbeing and Humanities. Our new head immediately put me back into EYFS and I had to fight to try and keep my whole school roles (which I now realised I’d kept in name only). Following that meeting I go in my car and cried…literally sobbed this should’ve been a wake up call that it wasn’t right and it was, I needed an exit plan.
Over the next few months I continued with my additional study not just to support the children in their wellbeing but also adults. An idea started to take hold; in an ideal world I would work for myself and set my own hours. I’d be able to provide holistic support to families from under-privileged areas, support teachers and school to actually understand wellbeing and what it really meant. I pictured walking along my local beach giving wellbeing coaching to other teachers who were feeling like I was feeling…but it was just an idea I couldn’t really make it happen…right?
I felt like I had to suck it up and put up with where I was, but I didn’t feel ok. Eventually I got up the courage to share my idea with my partner, who was surprisingly positive. Then I talked to my mum (a veteran of the education industry for nearly 50 years), again surprisingly positive, their only caveat was to make sure I planned it out and knew how and what I was going to do. I didn’t entirely know the answer to this but I knew I had to get out…I felt miserable, mentally, physically, emotionally it was taking to much of a toll. Finally by Easter I was done, something had to change and it had to change now…but I still wasn’t sure how to go about it. That’s when my brother recommended getting a careers coach…enter the amazing Niki. As a career clarity coach she has really helped me see how my little nugget of a dream could become a reality without years of prep, planning and procrastinating. We came up with a simple plan on exactly what I wanted to achieve, how I was going to achieve it and by when. Something that had felt totally unattainable and unmanageable had become ease to achieve and manageable. That’s not to say that it’s not challenging or sometimes overwhelming but as I look back on this year and how I’ve changed. I now feel positive about where I’m going and what I want, I feel excited for the first time in years about my career future and less stressed despite it being new and scary. The answer to how I’ve changed this year is that I’m more confident in my future career; whether my business swims or sinks…I don’t have to be stressed out in my work life, I can have a balance and that’s allowed and I have the tools and skills to succeed in my dreams.