My shift from teacher to city worker is a mix of pros, cons, and situations with both flip sides of the coin. Part of my reason for leaving school was to change my lifestyle, which it has already.
After 8 glorious weeks off, with no planning or classroom preparation to think of, 6am has been a
little bit of a shock. I’ve had to get up earlier than I’ve ever got up to teach. In order to lessen the pain, I changed the alarm tone to One Direction’s ‘that’s what makes you beautiful’ – a positive yet unlikely statement to accompany my waking looks. By 6:45, my usual teaching waking time, I’m out of the house and walking to the station. So far it’s been lovely, but at the moment it’s light, and not raining. I’m anticipating far more of a struggle in the cold depths of a mid-January-post-Christmas-slump both in getting up, and in not getting soaked/slipping on ice.
A second very apparent change for me has been the working day.
As most people have been to school themselves, you will know the routine. A teacher’s routine is pretty similar with extensions at either end of the day: arrive around 7:30, prepare everything and drink coffee, children arrive sometime around 8:50, the day is then set out for you until home time, when the marking, assessing, meeting and planning ensues to 6pm, when you may well take the remainder home.
My three days experience has more similarities with a PPA/staff room/school trip crossover.
Firstly, I get to decide what I do first. Whatever’s uppermost in my mind is what I’ve got on with. If I’ve observed a workshop, I’ll write it up so I remember what happened. If I need to ring the IT department, I ring it. I’ve emailed a few people mainly because I have a fun new email address..
I have workshops which I will teach once I’ve learnt them, but at the end I pack up, and go back to my desk via the kitchen. I don’t need to mark anything, just return everything to it’s proper place (including the school group) and off I go.
When I need to ask a question, I just get up and ask. So far, I definitely don’t have too much to do, but then I’m only 3 days in..almost the opposite of teaching, where by 3 days in you’re remembering everything you meant to do before term started and didn’t.
That said, without defined break times I have drunk much less tea and coffee…maybe this is a pro but a definite con in my book.
I get an hour for lunch. I sit down; I eat; I talk to my colleagues. I can even go to the park. No one asks me to do anything. It’s novel! Equally strange for me is that there’s no staff room, because everyone works in the same place anyway.
The bad press for leaving school at 3:30 has a smattering of truth as teachers can legally leave 10 minutes after the children. Most teachers do not leave then, as they’re so snowed under with things to do. Conversely, in the past week I’ve heard of teachers leaving at 9pm, and working until midnight. On the occasions they do leave between 3:30 and 5, it is usually for a particular reason, and they’ll often be leaving with twice the amount of books they’d leave with at 6. My flexibility and choice is now much slimmer, and there are two ways to say the next sentence:
Now I have working hours. And now I have working hours!!
I have to be in the office until I’m allowed to go home (which varies depending on what I’m doing, but no need to stay later than 5). But – my working day stops! It doesn’t carry on into the night until it’s done, it’s just the end of the day. I leave work in my desk, switch off my computer and go home.
I have gone from a 10 minute drive to work (also possible to go home for forgotten memory sticks) to an hour and 3/4 commute in the morning, and the same in the evening. (As you can imagine, the cost increases in direct ratio with this, while sadly the pay does not.)
This was my biggest concern – it’s a huge leap in time spent travelling. But so far, I actually quite enjoy it. I’m not driving the train, fortunately for everyone else, and so in three days, I’ve read, watched TV, caught up on text and Facebook message correspondence, stared out the window extensively, had a long nap and am currently writing this… I’ve not had to stand yet, and the walk is doing me good. Though if anyone can let me know when my legs will stop aching, that’d be great.
Tired? Physically yes, but not suffering from the mental exhaustion as I was in teaching. I’ve learnt a lot, but I’m not overwhelmed with things to do and remember (bizarrely). I have time to learn, time to acclimatise, time to switch off. I’m learning a workshop, but that might take 6 weeks…or maybe less, or maybe however long it takes me. No one minds too much at the moment.
Evenings – much like lunchtime – I have some! I get home quite a bit later; when I do, I choose what I do. In my books, that’s a compromise worth taking. I’m also very excited about the weekend I will be spending not planning.
I will also in the next few weeks, become the proud owner of an old school Nokia with my own extension number. Now you can’t say fairer than that.