Yet another couple of weeks has gone by without me blogging, and again I can't believe how long it's actually been since my last post!! I can attribute my absence to two main factors: one, I've been actually rather busy with work the last couple of weeks (it's been quite a surprise given how late on in the school year it is) and two, I've had all kinds of mixed up thoughts, feelings and emotions running through my head lately, and I've not really known how to put them down on 'paper', especially as my mood has been very changeable of late. But now I've come to a decision, albeit a very vague one, I feel it's time to break my silence.
And so to the title of this post...in many ways, I'm currently facing the end of a chapter in my life story. As I've mentioned, it's very nearly the end of the school year. And as things stand, the end of the school year will also bring my time as a supply teacher to a close. Due to circumstances beyond my control (a ridiculous government ruling), newly qualified teachers i.e. me, can only do short term supply for 16 months before completing their induction period (a year/3 terms where NQTs have to demonstrate they meet certain standards and are supported by a teacher mentor at their school). After your 16 months is up (it starts counting down from the very first day you work on short term supply, and doesn't stop...even if you don't work as a supply teacher after that initial day, your 16 months would be up at the same time as someone who had done supply for the duration!!), that's it! No more short term supply (anything less than a term) until your induction's in the bag!! And this puts me in a really tricky position...basically to give you a potted work history, I qualified in June '07, and started doing short term supply from the September of that year. I covered a maternity leave from May to December of 2008, thereby completing a term of my induction, and have been doing short term supply ever since. I found out about the 16 month ruling in September of last year (it's been around for a while but is very rarely flagged up to anyone; I only found out by complete chance), and was able to secure a 3 term extension taking me up to now. Now where I have been unable to secure a long term/permanent teaching post that would let me finish my induction. Now where my teaching career appears to be at an end, momentarily at least. I know that supply teaching wasn't the job I would have chosen in an ideal world...I've been longing for my own classroom and I know that I've definitely had more bad than good experiences of the supply teaching world, but I'm still angry that my teaching career's being taken out of my hands through no fault of my own and there's nothing that I can do about it!!
But with an end also comes a beginning. This hiatus in my teaching means that I'm free to try new things although, for a while, I was at a loss to exactly what they were. Should I try and get a permanent teaching assistant job as the next best thing to teaching? Find some temping work unrelated to teaching? Embark on an altogether new career path by applying for full time jobs outside the education sector (or at least outside school settings)? Go back to uni and work part time to help support myself in the meantime? I considered all of these and more, and have recently come to a decision. My new beginning is hopefully going to be working as a teaching assistant on a supply basis. This has the advantage of still enabling me to work with children, without having all the responsibilty and stress that comes with being a teacher, and it will hopefully allow me to gain more experience of working in the EYFS with the youngest children in the primary age range (3-5 year olds); this is one area I'm currently lacking in and I'm keen to do something about it! Plus I'll still have the flexibility I've come to really value on supply so if I need a day off or get offered a long term post elsewhere I'll be able to take it wothout feeling I'm letting anyone down. Of course, there will also be disadvantages. Pay won't be as good; I'll probably have to work a full week to earn the same wage I'd get for 2 or 3 days of supply teaching, and there's no guarantee that work will be available all the time. Also I'm preparing myself for some awkward questions: Why am I doing TA work when I'm a qualified teacher? How come I've not been able to finish my induction yet when I've been qualified for 3 years? But these are things I'm just going to have to live with. I'm still planning to carry on applying for teaching jobs as I have been doing over the past 18 months so nothing's really changed in that respect, I'll just be filling out slightly different details in the "current employment" box on my applications!! At the moment, I've got a vague idea of giving things another year, but I suppose I'll just wait and see what happens between now and then.
But maybe thinking about September before the school year's even out might be a little premature. After all, there's the summer to think of first. A summer that I plan to spend sleeping in, reading, seeing friends and spending alone time, soaking up the sun (hopefully!), getting out and about but also having some time at home. Time that I'll dedicate to me. Not in a selfish way, but in a useful way. Time that I'll use to plan for the future, time where I can hopefully begin to discover what really makes me tick. At the minute, new ideas are popping up on a regular basis! I'm considering becoming an Avon representative, and am also interested in finding other ways of earning some extra money. Who knows, I might even find something I love so much, I'll know exactly where my future lies! But whether I do or not, I know that I'll have a good summer nonetheless. So here's to a well deserved break (if I do say so myself!!) To happy(ish) endings and new beginnings...I'm going to do my best to make the most of each and every one of them!!