How to Leave Teaching

How to Leave Teaching

Today marks the fourth anniversary of handing in my resignation, leaving a secure and financially stable teaching job to head out on my own and start again. 

Like the thousands of teachers who leave the profession every year, I couldn’t cope with the workload and pressure and it was affecting my physical and mental health.

My reasons behind the decision to walk away are no different to the hundreds of teachers that have contacted me since I published that post – workload, expectations, behaviour, health concerns – and they have all shared their own personal horror stories about the things they have experienced within their careers that have made them realise that they need to leave. 

Of all the questions I am asked, by far the most frequent is simply this:

How do I leave teaching?
Continue reading

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Metamorphosis at The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham

Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Kafka’s most famous story of a man who inexplicably finds himself transformed into a beetle gets a fresh adaptation from Bath-based company Beyond the Horizon.

Adam Lloyd-James had grown tired of the lack of creative control he had in the productions he was involved in as an actor. Out of this frustration came his company Beyond the Horizon, formed in 2015. It’s mission: to present audiences with a brand of live entertainment beyond what they usually see; something Metamorphosis definitely achieves. Continue reading

Teacher Mode, Even When There’s Blood

This. With more snot.

After teaching for nearly ten years and working with thousands of students it is inevitable that I run into them from time to time as I am going about my daily business. Generally, it’s a relatively painless experience- they either say hello and stop for a chat, look past me as if I’m not there and carry on walking, and the odd few will ignore me yet feel the need to shout my name out at me from a distance. The name-shouting is something that has always baffled me – I must give the impression that I regularly need reminding of what my name is – but I generally ignore it until I’m ready to leave, shoot them my nastiest teacher expression and walk away. I don’t teach anymore, therefore I don’t need to pretend to like any of the little cherubs who wish to cause trouble when they see me like I had to before. Continue reading

How to Use Facebook Groups to Increase Your Blog Traffic

How to use Facebook groups to increase your blog traffic

Facebook groups are a brilliant source of information, community and traffic. They differ in purpose and each have different rules, but essentially they can all be used for the same things: to meet new bloggers, ask questions to the community and to promote your posts.

As with many things in the blogging world – it took me a long time to discover the power of blogging focused Facebook groups. I joined one, run by a close blog friend when it had just a few hundred members last year and a very small targeted sharing group, but didn’t actively participate in either. My Facebook traffic was low at the time – I’d had a post go viral with 100,000 views in my first year of blogging, but since that point I averaged between 5-20 views a day, depending on whether I published to my blog Facebook page. Continue reading

Exams, Sore Feet and a Radio Interview!

It’s been an unusual few weeks!

I’ve done a radio interview, which was very exciting, I’ve continued to do some supply teaching, but I took on the role of exam invigilator towards the end of last week too – it’s mock exam season to prepare students for the process of sitting their GCSE exams. When I was initially asked about my availability I jumped at the chance – standing there for a few hours in silence with no responsibility other than to fetch paper and equipment and ensure that the students remain silent (which they do – the exams officer at the school is incredible) seemed perfect. However, after two-and-a-half days I had learnt several things. Continue reading

15 Things That Don’t Require Qualifications or Talent

imageWith the impending GCSE results due out tomorrow, the topic was already trending in the early hours of this morning on Twitter with thousands of teenagers anxiously waiting to see how they had fared, many of them already dismayed at the fact that grade boundaries for certain subjects had been raised… again.

At school, I was a high achiever who enjoyed the process of learning. I worked hard with the belief that qualifications were the be all and end all to everything that would make my life successful and happy in the future, and even after doing my A levels and a degree, my GCSE exams still remain as one of the scariest and most stressful experiences I’ve ever had.

And yet, eighteen years of life after leaving school (and spending ten years working as a teacher) has made me realise that, while qualifications on paper are important, there is more to success than just being able to understand what the value of X is, or have a working knowledge of a meander, or knowing how many wives Henry VIII had.

Here are fifteen things that require no qualifications or talent: Continue reading

Things I Wish I Had Learned in School

imageA while ago, I created a list all the useless things that I learned during my school years. This prompted a number of conversations with friends about what we felt we should actually have learned all those years ago that would be relevant to our present lives. Of course, financial insights into mortgages, loans and interest rates were at the top of our lists, but after a while the inevitable silliness took over. Here are some of the best:

1. How to work my bedroom blinds. I made the wrong decision at university – instead of a music degree my time would have been better spent learning how to pull my blinds up without them being uneven or falling back down again. They’re the bane of my life.

2. How to stop spending my money on useless crap. Even now, despite attempting to be much more frugal with my earnings, I can still leave the house with £30 in my purse and return with no money, nothing to show for it and no knowledge of how I have spent it.

3. How to fix a photocopier. The photocopier at work is the most complicated piece of machinery I have ever used. It contains so many components and parts I suspect that it was secretly designed by NASA, and it clearly has a grudge against me. I could be watching it for several minutes while the person before me does 50 copies, but the minute I put my paper in it shuts down and has a tantrum. I follow the instructions carefully to locate where the paper jam is, only to discover that there is no paper anywhere to be seen. I’ve heard of dog and horse whisperers, does this mean there are photocopier whisperers? Continue reading

I Quit My Job Today: A Year On…

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It’s been a year to the day that I decided to take one of the biggest risks of my life and hand in my resignation. Those of you have followed the blog for a long time will know of the mental state I found myself in a year ago, and as I sat in the classroom this morning with a group of students that I was covering on supply, I took a moment to reflect on just how much everything has changed in the last twelve months.

The unfortunate thing is, I love teaching. I love being in the classroom with the students. I love it when a child suddenly understands something that they have been struggling with. I love the banter that is possible with some of the older students. However, it was the changes made by the government and the pressures that accompanied it that made the job unbearable, and my initial idea was to leave teaching and education behind completely. Thankfully, things have worked out in a way where I still get to be in a classroom environment, but without any of the issues that caused the stress – no marking, planning, paperwork, reports, data… On some days I arrive in a morning and am told what classes I am going to be working with, I am given the work that the students need to do, I teach, then I leave. On others, I do singing workshops, rehearse with an orchestra or assist in coursework catch-up. No two days are the same – I’ve covered almost every subject and every year group – and while there are still occasionally days where I feel stressed or anxious, the good days now massively outweigh the bad, and sometimes I actually look forward to getting up and going to work when I know I’ll be spending time with a fantastic group of students

Admittedly, a large amount of my experiences have been down to the luck of being in the right place at the right time, the lack of responsibility in that I’m not married and don’t have children (which means that financially I have fewer worries than some), and the support of the people around me, including employment opportunities that were offered by my headteacher at my former school and another headteacher and teaching assistant at a primary school that I had previously worked with.

However, some of it has been a leap of faith with very little planning, and I’m genuinely grateful that it seems to be working out. I’m in the position where I can choose the hours and days that I work, along with the responsibility of being able to budget for the months ahead just in case the work dries up for a while. Consequently, I now work to live, rather than it being the other way around, and more importantly, I’m actually living it. My relationship with The Bloke is even better, I see my family and friends more and I’ve got so many things to look forward to over the coming months – parties, blog meets, events and a holiday in Scotland.

Life is good.

While I don’t feel confident enough to categorically state that it has been a successful decision as yet, I do feel comfortable to say this:

It is never too late…

Thank you for all your support – it means the world xx

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.

I am Batman…

BatmanAfter a wonderful (and busy) half-term (more on that in a later post), I’m back at work. Even though I’ve been doing supply and freelance workshops for six months now, I’m still adjusting to the changes in my schedule and the difference in workload, but I’m predominantly loving it.

The students also find it strange at times – some I have worked with for years in the role of their music teacher and have found it quite confusing to see me in their maths, Spanish or ICT lessons, but I have been incredibly lucky in that my history with them means that they know my rules and expectations for each lesson, regardless of the subject: they sit down, get their stationary out, work in silence, and ask either myself or their peers as many questions about the work as they like if they find it challenging. Continue reading

Questions I’ve Been Asked Today

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It’s been an interesting and enjoyable day mainly for the fact that I have had some opportunity to observe students as they complete their work, which something that I rarely get to do. I’ve been covering an outstanding teacher who is away on jury duty, and the classes have been an absolute dream to work with – silently getting stuck into every task with enthusiasm, asking intelligent questions and reflecting what they have learnt at the end without any prompt. If I’m being honest, it’s one of the best working days I’ve ever had, and if every day could be like this I wouldn’t have quit in the first place!

However, the kiddies still like to keep me on my toes, particularly as I’m walking past them in the corridor, by asking me a whole host of random questions… I thought it might be a fun idea to keep a note of them.

Here’s just a sample…

What’s a cobbler?
How do you spell raisins?
Is Scotland in Jamaica?
Do you like Justin Bieber?
So, if you paid into a pension and the company went bankrupt, would you get your money back? (I was quite impressed with that one)
How much do you get paid?
Are you wearing eyeliner?
Are you going out with Mr…?
Do you like my shoes?
Have you heard of MAC?
Are you teaching us today? (I always have to bite my tongue and stop myself from answering this with ‘No, I just thought I’d come and stand outside your classroom for the fun of it…’)
Why can’t we do cooking today? (We were in a history room).
What did you get for Christmas?
Have you got a hamster?
Who’s David Bowie?
What’s an exhibition? (I’d told students I’d been to the Bowie Exhibition in 2014)
(All by one student) How many years are in a century? So, does that mean we’re in the 21st Century or the 22nd Century? How old am I going to be in the 23rd Century?(My response to the last question was simply ‘dead.’)

What about you guys? Been asked any random questions that have made you smile today?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.