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I Resigned Yesterday

I resigned yesterday.

I think I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was in my 20s, I was picturing myself at nursery level or as a lecturer. I have always known I would end up in education. That kind of thing is in your blood, right? Or maybe I just like telling people what to do. Who knows?

As young as 3, I was trying (to no avail) to teach the dogs in my nan’s front garden. I know, sad. I had no siblings or cousins at the time, and life was rather uneventful.

Teacher at Heart

People started trusting me with babies from a very young age. I remember looking after my little brother when I was 9. He was not always a happy customer. Check him out in my aunt’s wedding dress! OK, that is not really ‘teaching’ as such, but grown-ups put their trust (and small human beings!) in my hands when I was quite young.

Doudou déguisé en mariée

As young as 17, I was tutoring and I loved every minute of it. There was something incredibly rewarding about the progress and increased understanding I could see session after session.

My teaching career started fourteen years ago as a fresh-faced language assistant in North London. I had no intention of becoming a secondary school teacher (ever!). Teenagers were definitely not my public of choice, probably because I remembered how hormonal and unreasonable I had been myself as a teenager. I had no patience and I could not see myself trying to teach teenagers, with their fiery tempers and unpredictable behaviour. Working with as a language assistant in a secondary school was an eye-opener. It proved me wrong. Teacher training was my next step… and this is what we got up to:

Teacher Training

I have taught hundreds of young people over the years. As grown-ups do, a lot of then now have careers. Some are plumbers, teachers, businessmen, pharmacists, hairdressers, shop assistants, bankers. Some got married, had children. One of them became a chef in a Thai restaurant, another one is a drummer in a band, a few teach and another one is training to be a doctor. They did not all have a passion for French, but I feel incredibly proud I had something to do with their education.

I have taught French, Religion, Computer Science, Vocational courses and Literacy. I have been on more school trips than I can remember. I have a lifetime of happy memories. There was laughter, there were days out and there were tears.

The fact of the matter is, with four children under seven, I cannot actually afford to work. How infuriating is that? I am at the top of the teachers’ pay scale, yet I cannot afford to work. Teaching is my vocation. I want to work part-time whilst my children are so little, so I do not miss anything, but I want to work. I want to contribute to society and help shape young people’s minds, yet the costs of childcare are higher than my salary. It saddens me deeply.

First and foremost, I will miss the children.
I will miss my colleagues, especially the ones who became close friends over the years. I will keep in touch with them, but I will miss not being with them at work.
I will miss the ‘family feel’ we have at school; the strong sense of community that kept me motivated even at the toughest of times.
I will miss my classroom. It has been my second home for the past twelve years.
I will miss the thrill I feel at the start of every lesson with a new class.
I will miss launching into a lesson with a group of reluctant students, knowing that at some point, they will enjoy my lessons (whether they like it or not).
I will miss being a Professional, a role-model showing young adults that a job need not be a chore, that if you choose the right career path, you can thrive.
I will miss helping 6th formers with their university applications and writing reference letters highlighting their strengths.
I will miss observing colleagues who really make a difference to children’s education.
I will miss sharing my expertise, my love of translation or syntax with young people.
I will miss planning lessons after getting feedback from my classes, adapting my teaching to what helps them learn best.
I will miss passing on my passion for French literature, music and cinema.
I will miss creating mock exams and assessments (how boring am I?).
I will miss sharing the intricacies of my beautiful mother tongue.
I will miss the incredible team of support staff we have at work.
I will miss Manny, our IT superhero.
I will miss Joan, a legend in the school, who used to make a fry up for teachers at break time every single morning when I started teaching.
I will even miss Elisabeth, the lovely Columbian cleaner, who speaks Spanish to me every day simply because I once mentioned I liked listening to Spanish being spoken. I definitely did not say I wanted a conversation in Spanish!
I will miss my breakfast and cup of coffee whilst checking my emails.
I will even miss the Frenchies’ moaning in our office (hi girls!).
I will miss planning my outfits and coordinating colours.
I will miss putting on make-up and trying to hide (more or less successfully) the fact I had less than three hours’ broken sleep.
I will miss the shy “thank you” I often get from students.
I will miss Jumpy saying, “You goin kool, maman?” (Are you going to school, mummy?)

I will not miss feeling guilty for missing events that are important to my own children.
I will not miss marking and planning until 2 or 3 a.m. every working day to stay ‘on top of it’.
I will not miss going to school during the holidays because there is so much to do.
I will not miss the fact teachers are accountable for every single one of their students’ results.
I will not miss the fact things are looked at the wrong way round: surely the students should be held responsible for their own failure, lack of work or motivation, not their educators?
I will not miss the ever-increasing scrutiny of everything and anything.
I will not miss the bureaucracy for the sake of shuffling paper.
I will not miss the fact that 75% of a teacher’s time is spent filling in paperwork, writing plans, analysing data or marking books.
I will not miss the meetings that take hours but could have been summarised in an email and read in five minutes.
I will not miss the ‘new initiatives’ that will last a couple of years to be scrapped and replaced with different ones, suspiciously similar to what we were doing 10 years ago. Anyone remember ‘brain gym’?
I will not miss the changes in the syllabus, just when I am starting to feel at ease with the previous one.
I will not miss the stifling pressure put on teachers to ensure every single student passes everything. Not everyone is a C student. At school, I was an A* student in Maths, DT, Geography and English, average in French and PE but an E student in Science and History. It was fine. I accepted that, and I focused on my strengths. Had I been spoon-fed the Science syllabus and passed, I might have thought I was good enough to become a doctor. I would probably have made the wrong decisions. I would have failed later, when I was at university, when it really mattered.

I resigned yesterday and I am scared. I am excited, too. A new chapter is beginning.

The question now is do I give up my vocation, my passion and launch into full-on pro-blogging, or do I keep part-time blogging and doing some supply teaching to keep my foot in education?

What do you think? What would you do?

 And then the fun began...
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122 Comments

  1. 26/05/2015 / 2:24 am

    mel,sorry to hear that you quit your loving job. but life is box of chocolates, who knows what awaits you in the future. and it doesn’t mean you can never teach again. just put your mind at ease.

    • Mel
      Author
      29/05/2015 / 12:09 pm

      You’re right! Thanks for this little bit of wisdom.

  2. Emma
    26/05/2015 / 9:37 am

    Mel I will miss your infectious enthusiasm. You are wonderwoman!! Keep going and keep in touch xx

    • Mel
      Author
      27/05/2015 / 9:56 am

      Oh Emma, I had no idea you even knew I had a blog. I have to make a vlog this week: I thought about you when I was asked to do that! How are you, lovely lady?

  3. Laura Vitty
    26/05/2015 / 9:54 am

    I definitely can relate… I don’t have children yet but the thought of trying to juggle everything really scares me. I find it difficult enough finding time for my dogs while teaching full time! I completely agree that students should be allowed to fail, it is a very important life lesson. I do a lot of private tutoring through http://www.firsttutors.co.uk, its a necessity for me to be able to pay the mortgage on my own, but I do love it. It also means that I actually earn more over school holidays than I do when I’m at work! I would love to quit and do it full time but the hours would be too unsociable. Loved this post x

    • Mel
      Author
      27/05/2015 / 9:59 am

      I had never considered tutoring during the holidays! I could definitely do that, as Hubby is a teacher and he could look after the little ones then. Thanks for sharing the link my lovely!

  4. Linda Gifford
    27/05/2015 / 7:49 am

    Hi Mel, I think you should go into ful time blogging, peters daughter Jo has an online business and works from home struggling with fibromyalgia and Endometrriosis. She has done very well with this!Check her blog out Dexterous Diva, she teaches how to start a business and make it flourish etc. xxxxxxx I love your blog!

    • Mel
      Author
      27/05/2015 / 9:53 am

      Oh Lynne, thanks so much for your message. Jo looks like a real inspiration! I’ve just subscribed to her blog. xxx

  5. 27/05/2015 / 4:52 pm

    Hey gorgeous lady, I’m breaking all my holiday rules here by leaving this comment (I have 5 mins of internet to check some reference numbers) All I can say is WOW! You amaze me, inspire me and just wow. As others have said, you already are a Pro-blogger and a very fabulous one at that. You’ll make a success of anything you end up doing.

    The resignation seems sudden and very much not sudden all at once. Can’t wait to have a proper catch up once I’m home. Let’s organise another park meet asap. Lots of love hon, hope you’re ok xxxx

    • Mel
      Author
      28/05/2015 / 11:55 pm

      You naughty, naughty girl! I bet A. doesn’t know you were reading blog posts during your holidays! You are so, so right about my resignation. That is exactly what it was: sudden and not sudden. I sort of expected I would not be allowed to work 2 days only per week, but I was really hoping it could happen. I will miss it terribly. World of supply teaching, here I come!

  6. thenthefunbegan
    28/05/2015 / 10:28 pm

    Do you know what Mel – I never even knew you were a teacher! But it makes sense – I can see what a brilliant teacher you must have been – with your passion for your language and country too. It’s so sad how teaching is pushed and pulled around by the various governments over the years – everything does go in circles too – from heavily exam-based o’levels to coursework based GCSEs and back – from “it’s too hard/ not good enough results, make it easier” to “it’s too easy, too many people drifting into higher education when they aren’t academic enough – let’s make it harder/add huge fees”. I can see why people want to get out of teaching but feel so conflicted as it is a vocation and something to be proud of and passionate about.

    I reckon you could do supply teaching and make a success of your blog at the same time – look how amazing your blog has been From.Day.One. I have to admit I was a bit gobsmacked and jealous when your blog first appeared on the scene but I quickly realised that it is a reflection of you – you’re a perfectionist – I’m lazy in comparison, I’m not afraid to admit that! Do it all Mel – you’ll be a success I’m sure of it! Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout and good luck with whatever decision you do make. xx

    • Mel
      Author
      28/05/2015 / 11:48 pm

      Your comment means so much, Sam! I will be at work until the end of August, so I have a bit of time to think it through. I’d love to get to know you more, my lovely. We have to have a proper chat at BritMums Live.

  7. Love From Clueless Mum
    29/05/2015 / 11:02 pm

    I can relate to a lot of this, and think it’s a shame that a career that requires so much work has to be given up for anything like the cost of childcare and lack of work-life balance. I’ve spent some time tutoring and supply teaching (not at the same time). I’d say tutoring is rewarding in working with the same pupils regularly, and would likely be easier to work around childcare. I much preferred supply teaching directly with the schools rather than through agencies. I emailed all of my local schools my CV and worked almost full time from there, although it took a little while to build up. It meant better pay, a nicer working environment because I got to know the staff and pupils and they’d be more likely to ask me back even if I was already booked one time they asked – with agencies I felt like I always had to say yes to get any work in the future. I hope you manage to come to a decision you are happy with and enjoy more time with your family. #effitfriday

    • Mel
      Author
      29/05/2015 / 11:34 pm

      Until tonight, I would never have thought of emailing the schools directly, but you’re the second person who’s suggested it. I will definitely do that, as working locally would make things easier for the time being. Thanks for taking the time to give me some advice, lovely!

  8. Frances Heaton
    30/05/2015 / 6:10 pm

    People don’t realise all the work involved in being a teacher.
    Such hard work and so stressful!
    Wishing you good luck in your new venture.

    • Mel
      Author
      30/05/2015 / 9:33 pm

      So true, Frances. People don’t realise what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a demanding career, but I think it’s a real shame to be driven out of it because it is not affordable to work. What world do we live in?

      • Frances Heaton
        31/05/2015 / 6:52 am

        I agree, the cost of childcare should never be a barrier to working. Do other countries fare better than ours regarding the funding of childcare, or is the UK lagging behind?

        • Mel
          Author
          01/06/2015 / 10:17 pm

          France is really different. They are trying to encourage women to have children and also to keep working, so you get quite a lot of help with childcare, and it is a given that you’re allowed to work part-time until your youngest is 3. I think most European countries are pretty good with working women. Sad that it is not the case here.

  9. moderndadpages
    30/05/2015 / 7:57 pm

    I can understand why you are feeling the way you feel! I to had walked away from a career and unsure how a self employed life at home was going to affect me! It’s all been positive for the most part 🙂 Thank you for linking on #effitfriday

  10. 31/05/2015 / 5:16 am

    I think the pressure on teachers these days is incredible, so many continue because like you they see it as a vocation and the kids outweigh the negatives. There is only so much pressure that people can take and something needs to be done about this.

    Ooh off on a tangent. I think you should mull it over, i thought you were a pro blogger! Supply is a great way to keep your hand in and you can always say no if it gets too much.

    Thanks for linking with #effitfriday

    • Mel
      Author
      18/06/2015 / 11:18 pm

      You thought I was blogging for a living? He he, I never really imagined making any money out of my hobby until I realised I might have to give up teaching. x

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