Where did it all start?

As you all know, I’m on the route to becoming a teacher. This has been a long and drawn out road but I think it’s important to share my journey to show people that it is possible. It takes some hard work, some determination but you can reach your dreams… even if you don’t go for them at 18 when you leave college.

So a bit of background… I went to a very good school, did exceptionally well in my GCSEs but decided against staying there for my A-Levels. I went to college to do my A-Levels. This wasn’t great for me. I missed the routine of school, I missed the military rigidness of it. I made some amazing friends, I did well in my AS levels but when it came to A2s I didn’t do as well as I should have (definitely not as well as I would have had I stayed at school… but hindsight is a wonderful thing). Why didn’t I do as well? I missed the routine. I ended up throwing myself into a relationship, so college took a back seat. I was starting to work more hours. My heart just wasn’t in it. (This is not a me thing to say at all, those of you who know me know that I am ALL for education. I love learning).

While I was doing my A-Levels the infamous UCAS talk came. I was not ready for university. No thanks. Not for me. So when I left college I threw myself into my job. I worked part time at Priceless Shoes at the time. I was promoted to supervisor and loved the additional responsibility (I thrive in situations where I have responsibility). I stayed at my job there for a while. There was chat that I would become a deputy in other branches, I was often managing other shops in the area for days/weeks – I loved it all. I loved my job. I loved the people I worked with. I still miss it some days. After about a year of being supervisor I left and went somewhere else, but I hated that so I went back and was luckily given my job back. I started to get restless though. I knew something was missing. I wasn’t getting the fulfillment from my job that I so wanted. I decided then it was time to go back to college and follow my dream: to become a teacher. Ever since I remember I’ve wanted to be a teacher.

So I went to college and did an NVQ in Childcare. It wasn’t particularly taxing at college. Pretty much common sense. Part of the course requirements were that I had to do a placement in a school. Just 1 day a week. My own primary school was just across the road from the college and the head, who was my head when I was a child was back. I got up the courage to ask if I could do my placement in my primary school. I was welcomed with open arms. I carried on working nights and weekends at the shoe shop, went to college during the week and did placement. After about 6 months I started to realise that I was learning more on placement than I was at college so asked college if I could just be a distance learner and use that time to spend more time in my placement school. The school were happy with that and college were happy too. So now I was doing 3 days at school and then working whenever I could the other days. I passed my course at college and there was a job at school. I was delighted. I interviewed for it, but I was SO bad in my interview I didn’t get it. Luckily another job came available and I was offered that one. I had my job. I was a TA. I was delighted.

I worked in Year 6 for 2 years. It was a STEEP learning curve but I worked with 2 incredible teachers. I have since worked alongside both of them! After 2 years I was moved to Year 4. This was a new thing. I knew life in Year 6 well, Year 4 was scary – they were younger, there were different expectations. EEK. It transpired I had nothing to worry about. The teacher I was working with in Year 4 was a lady who had taught ME when I was 5. That was a weird thing to get used to, but the kids thought it was hilarious. We had, and still do now, an incredible working relationship. After a year in Year 4 I was approached by the head to do bits of cover here and there in my class. I was happy for the responsibility. I loved those half hours of cover where I was in charge. It felt like I was meant to be there. By this time I’d been a TA for 3 years and I was ready for some more responsibility on my shoulder. I was asked to cover Year 4 PPA. I was delighted. They trusted my ability, I happily accepted. (I know there is a big conversation about TAs covering PPA but I was confident I could do a good job, and my boss was too). I wasn’t perfect, it took me a few weeks to really find my feet when covering a class solo. But I am not one to shy away from a challenge. I was taking intervention children and groups by this time, had my own phonics group, was on hand when other TAs weren’t in to cover whatever was needed. I’m a believer in I’m there to do a job, so I’ll do it. I started helping out with the French teaching at school too, taught Year 4 French and then started going on courses with the then co-ordinator. She asked me one day if I wanted to take over the reigns. Me? French co-ordinator? Well… yes. Another time when the people I worked with believed in my abilities more than I did.

It was coming close to the end of my 5th year of being a TA when I was approached by a member of SLT asking if I would be interested in being a HLTA. It would mean more cover, more lessons to teach, whole days of teaching, more responsibility… YES PLEASE. I interviewed for the job and I interviewed much better this time round. I got the job. I was told I’d teach all day in a class, cover PPA and cover SLT time as well as run interventions, work in classrooms, help coordinate lunch times and take children for one on one time. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I was getting somewhere to where I wanted to be. I loved my first year being a HLTA. It gave me an absolute taste for what life as a teacher would be. The teachers I have worked with for years have told me that I SHOULD be a teacher. They had faith in me when I absolutely did not have faith in myself. They said I was a teacher in a TA’s job! I know being a teacher isn’t easy, and I know that I haven’t had the half of it… but I am SO READY for it. I knew that I was ready to try and give it a go! I’d had a taste of it and I needed it all. I looked into all the routes into teaching and they all pretty much needed a degree… the one thing I didn’t have. I had 6 years of experience working with kids, I had lesson planning experience, teaching experience by the bucket load but it didn’t count for much. I was slightly disheartened but by this time my stubborn nature had kicked in and I knew I needed to do it whatever. I reached out to local universities but all but 1 told me that I had to do the full whack – 4/5 years part time. I didn’t wanna give up my job to do my job, it seemed counter intuitive. I reached out to Sunderland University lastly and was told if I went through a APA process my experience could possibly count for something! I filled in a very dull form, went through the process and waited anxiously for a decision. I got an email back a month later saying my application had been accepted… I only had to do 2 years to get my degree! 

Working full time and doing my degree on top has not been easy for the past year. I was working my second year of being a HLTA and going to uni. Planning, teaching, working, reading, writing essays, researching – a lot. There have been times where I’ve felt like my dream is SO FAR AWAY that I wasnever going to get there. There’s been times where I’ve thought about throwing the towel in. There’s been times where I just felt I wasn’t cut out for uni life. But as soon as I go back into the classroom I know it’s been totally worth it. I am also so lucky to be surrounded by people who believe in me no matter what and will not let me give up on myself. Colleagues, friends, family, everyone has been amazing. I set out to get a degree and I’m on course to getting a degree. This time next year I should have a BA Hons in Education. From there I’m hoping to do a SCITT at my school. So hopefully this time in 2 years I’ll be a qualified teacher. I know I have a long way to go and I have a lot of work to do BUT I am prepared to fight all the way to the end to get the thing I’ve dreamt about since I can remember.

There are so many routes into teaching. I’ll see if I can feature other people’s stories because I think it’s important to realise that if you’ve got a dream go for it. 

Sorry for going on a bit,

S x

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