Decision, decisions, decisions.
They can be very hard to make. Having come to the conclusion before the summer break that I was ready to take the next step in my career and spent time over the summer doing some reading and personal development to support this, I started the new school year in September ready and raring to go.
Until I hit a rather unexpected bump in the road. I went to visit a school that was advertising for a Headteacher. A great school that was perfect for me – a bit closer to home (but not too close) so a shorter journey, a familiar demographic with a similar level of challenge to my (then) current school and some areas where I felt I could make a genuine difference. I gathered myself and sat down to complete the application form. And I couldn’t do it. I left it for a day. And then two. I had a sleepless night. Or three. Then I talked at great length with my supportive other half (what on earth was stopping me??) and he reminded me of a conversation we had had with friends while visiting them in France during August.
These friends had packed up from their busy lives, moved half way round the world with three children, bought a beautiful but run down barn in the French countryside and were in the process of doing it up and creating a new life for themselves. We had talked at length about their reasons for doing this and I had been inspired by their desire for a simpler life, free of the hold of a PAYE job and busy lives and with more time to spend with small children. But on the long car journey back to the UK my thoughts had turned back to work and my career ambitions and, as the school year started, I had set my foot firmly back on the road it had been on for many years.
However, faced with my inability to complete an application for what seemed like a perfect job, my other half gently reminded me of the way I had been captured by the idea of a simpler, less hurried life and the opportunity to spend time with our young sons before they morph into smelly, troglodyte teenagers. We talked at (considerable) length, indulged our shared Excel obsession in modelling a possible budget and eventually, after the best* night’s sleep I’d had in a week, I woke up convinced that now was the time to put my busy career on hold and make some life changing decisions.
*or as good as it gets with a sleep-thief 2 year old!
The final decisions we have made have been complex and motivated by a whole range of personal circumstances and opportunities but in the end (and after quite a bit of angst about the details), we have bought a house in the Midlands, found a school place for my oldest and I have left my job as a Deputy Head as of the end of the Spring term. We move house next week and a new chapter of our lives will begin.
The plan is to take some time (6 months? 2 years? who knows – my colleagues are taking bets) away from full time employment in schools. What will come of it professionally I don’t yet know. Offers of consultancy work that arrived not long after my resignation became public have been put on hold until next school year at least; who knows if they will still be there then. What I do know is that I will get to spend some precious time with my two boys during their fleeting childhoods. I will also have some time to regroup both personally and professionally, find time to take better care of myself, my family and friends and explore the options available to me in the rapidly-changing education landscape. While I empathise greatly with many of those leaving the profession (https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/i-am-part-teaching-crisis-these-are-reasons-why-i-feel-i-have-no ) I’m not planning to be a permanent statistic in the ‘teachers leaving the profession’ graphs and reports but I do know that this pause is probably a necessary step in preventing that from happening.
As I said here, this year will be about living in the moment, maintaining balance, and spending truly quality time with the people I love.