For anyone that’s made a fairly momentous career leap, looking backwards can be a fleeting discomfort. Most of us justify our own current decisions as the best ones so it’s natural to turn our backs on the past and assume we’re making progress. Just as society does.
When people ask if I would go back to working for the local authority we go through the rye laughter and knowing looks. The reality however is more nuanced and I’m a firm believe in ‘never say never’.
And of course what many of my former and current colleagues in Norfolk don’t always know is that most of my career has been outside Norfolk. Starting working life as a teacher in south London, it’s to these memories I now return.
With our Schools Mentoring I am finding myself back in two schools I knew as a child growing up in Norfolk. That education had changed is undeniable. Academisation, continued and growing demands of Ofsted, as well as parents and children, the birth of the digital age and an utterly different range of post 16+ prospects, pressures and types of employment make this arena formidable. My respect for the those tackling it is off the graph.
Looking back at my own teaching career, I’ve always said with certainty that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today without starting out as a teacher. If you can stand in from of 30 fifteen year olds and teach them German and Russian as a 22 year old in south-east London, you become fairly fearless pretty quickly.
So what’s the itch I feel in schools? Is it just that I’ve always felt I ‘failed’ by leaving the teaching profession? Or is it that there’s still that idealistic passion for the classroom and everything it can and should achieve for children?
Either way, it’s unsettling to be reminded of my early career and I’m embracing that for what it is. With this in mind it can be positive to look backwards to look ahead at the opportunities this affords in a new setting. Never say never!