What is life after before? Well, it’s all about changes. Whether they are personal, social, work related… like it or not, our lives change all the time. Sometimes it is because of our own choices or decisions that things change, sometimes it is beyond our control and we have to adjust to the hand that fate (or our friends/family!) deals us.
Recently I have undergone several big changes in my life. The most significant of all is that I left my profession. I was a teacher. Just two weeks ago, I was a teacher. I suppose part of me always will be, and should I want to I could always go back. But after a decade in the profession and several years of trying to get out, I finally did it.
I’d read countless articles and forum feeds where teachers asked the question, ‘what can I do after teaching?’, because I wanted to know myself- what jobs could you go into? I found these threads generally had no answers, just teacher upon teacher wanting to know the same thing; deprecating the profession, declaring burnout, that they couldn’t do it anymore, that they had no love for the job anymore, that various bureaucracies, constant observations, limitless workloads and unreasonable expectations had pushed them over the edge. It was everything I felt, but provided little solace as it seemed there was no escape. Yet in the news I was always reading about the high rate of teachers quitting the profession, that retention levels were falling, so somehow, somewhere, there were thousands of teachers leaving and finding other jobs. Perhaps many of those that left did so because they had children to care for and so didn’t actually find other jobs, perhaps some were lucky enough to not need to work and had a partner well paid enough to support them. But in all those numbers leaving, some of them MUST have switched professions. The answer was still elusive though. I could read about all the transferable skills teachers have, I knew I had many abilities that could be utilised elsewhere. Finding someone to take a leap of faith, to trust you were capable of doing something else seemed to be another hurdle to overcome though. After going to several agencies to try and get ‘a foot in the door’ I was left thoroughly disheartened. They told me that although I was probably more than capable of doing many of the jobs, my lack of experience in anything other than teaching meant that employers wouldn’t give me a second look. I went home and got into bed. It seemed there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t afford to undertake voluntary work to gain experience, not with a mortgage and bills to pay. Teaching doesn’t leave much free time (despite the fact that many people seem to think you finish at 3pm and are on holiday for half the year). I couldn’t see a way out.
For a while I resigned myself that this was it, I was stuck doing something I didn’t enjoy, that sapped every ounce of energy I had, that took a toll on my mental wellbeing and my relationships. Every now and then, though, I would find a job and think, ‘I could do that!’ and I’d apply for it. The arduous 4 hour long process of filling in online forms detailing qualifications, career history, gaps in employment and a personal statement was not something I relished, but that’s the way it was. It seems a CV is redundant in the internet age, despite containing all the relevant information. Then, about a month ago, I was flabbergasted to get a couple of emails inviting me to interviews. Two in one day! After years of literally nothing but rejection. I accepted both interviews and was offered one of the jobs. With a little trepidation, this was a huge change- I’d spent 10 years teaching- I accepted. It is an administrative role- something that teachers are well versed in. It doesn’t pay as much, but it’s enough. The hours are good. I have an actual lunch break. I don’t have to raise my voice or have 5-11 year olds make me feel like crap. I sit by myself, I can have the radio on quietly. I’m not as busy and I find this a little difficult, but I’m sure it will get better the more I learn how things are done. So there IS life after teaching. I don’t currently miss it, I’m glad I found an out. It may not be the dream job, but I already feel happier.