“The time has come”, the walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Perhaps not shoes or ships or sealing wax, or even cabbages or kings. But of teaching, of SLT, or perhaps another path altogether. There have been some thoughts going around in my head for some time now, but I just don’t know what to do with them.
I’ve been teaching now for 15 years, and all that time in the same school. I’m now on my third headteacher (plus an Acting Headteacher for a short while) and am one of the longer serving members of staff. Ours is a wonderful school. It seems that when teachers join us, we stay. Fantastic for the school, not so fantastic for career development. I know I should have moved on many, many years ago. I’ve reached the top of the pay scale with only one school under my belt. Am I employable elsewhere? I’m expensive and, technically speaking, inexperienced. As I’ve said before, I’ve had a wide range of roles within the school, but still all within the same four walls. I’ve reached a point in my career now where I ought to move on. But what to? I love my school, and there is no way I am going to leave for just any old job. Senior management? Quite possibly. I like the sound of being a Deputy Head. But, while I am good at my job, there’s that old “same four walls” problem again. Many Deputy Head advertisements specify having the experience of at least 2 schools. But making a sideways step just isn’t an option: I’ve passed that point now. I look at the profiles of some of the people I follow on Twitter, and I see the fantastic roles they have carved out for themselves. There are people who have been teaching for the same amount of time as me who are Executive Heads (Headship is NOT an option for me!) or who write books or travel the country, or even the world, speaking at conferences. I love being in the classroom, and I don’t think I’d be ready to leave that behind, but I think I’d like to challenge myself a little more. Clearly, I’m a Purple Learner: I don’t like to coast in the Comfort Zone and I relish a challenge. Just after the birth of my first child, I had to gain the NASENCO qualification. Not ideal timing, but I really enjoyed furthering my education. Maybe I could work towards a Masters? I don’t know. Would that be enough? I’m not saying I have itchy feet; I don’t. I’m in no hurry to leave my school. But I am at the point of thinking I want to make more of a difference. That sounds a bit egotistical, which is not me at all. I know I make a difference in my school, both in my classroom and beyond. I like teaching people, adults as well as children. I’m not saying I’m fantastic at teaching adults (last night’s INSET is a shining example – as soon as I finished speaking, I would think of loads of things I should have said), but I enjoy it. My problem is that I don’t have one field of expertise. I know a lot about a lot of things, but not enough about one. I enjoy talking about computing and technology; I’m enjoying (in a warped sort of way) carving the way for us in assessment, but I’m no expert about either. But then, I love teaching. The pride I felt after being observed yesterday was incredible. I’m good at teaching… am I an expert in that? And even if I was, what do I do with that? Lecturing? Not sure about that – I’m not so old that I don’t remember how we acted as students in our lectures. I just don’t know. Add into the equation the fact that I have a young family and want to spend quality time with them: the questions and answers get even more complicated.
Ever since I was a very small child, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I still do. But now, I think I’m reaching a crossroads. I have to think very carefully about which path I choose. I just don’t know what the signposts say yet.