Working 9 to 5

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Well, 8.30am until 3.00pm in my case, but that would have been a less effective title.

I’ve had an absolutely amazing summer, possibly the most enjoyable ever. But, as is life, all good things must come to an end, or at least a temporary end in my case. And so it was, at 7.00am a week last Friday found myself sitting in a classroom, logging into my computer and checking my class lists for the day.

It was a shock to the system, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It’s been two months since I did any supply or freelance work but I’m now going to be in every day for the rest of September to cover an English timetable for a teacher who can’t start until October.

I’ve been very lucky – I normally do only a few days a week of supply if it is available, but this number of days in one go will ensure financial security until December, which will give me the opportunity to then focus more on building up the blog without having to worry about bills being paid. I’m in a great department, I have my own classroom for the first time in eleven years, and because I’m just covering the classes I am not required to plan or mark any of the work.

Awesome.

I’ve had some nice lessons with nice kids that have almost made me question my decision to leave and I’ve experienced that buzz that many teachers get when a class clicks with the information or a task that they have been given. And then, there’s been one or two that have reminded me that I absolutely made the right decision. It’s amazing how the old feelings of panic and anxiety return in these instances, even with minimal pressure. I’ve had interrupted sleep, bad dreams and I’ve gone home with stress headaches on a few days… and it’s been just over a week.

I think I need to get over myself.

In the online world, I’m finding it a little difficult to create ideas recently. I suppose that with having no niche, the idea of writing about anything and everything has resulted in an overload of possibilities, so I’m going to be spending some time attempting to get a plan together. It’s unusual for me – I like to be spontaneous in what I write – but I think a bit of structure might help. I’ve been building up my social media accounts and had fun watching a whole bunch of views come in from Pinterest on my recent decluttering post, so this has spurred me on to revisit some of my older posts and create more suitable images.

I do know, however, that I’m going to host a blog party. I’ve not done one since Valentine’s Day, and they’re always a brilliant way to meet new people and be introduced to brand new blogs. I haven’t decided on the date yet, but I’ll be certain to let everybody know when I do!

Is it wrong to be thinking about Christmas already?

What about you guys? What have you been up to?

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.

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

Time for a Break…

It’s been a mixed week. I’ve found work a little tough, to the point where I had to stop myself from bawling on one of my colleagues the other day. Normally, the working day generally goes without a major issue as I am based at a few good schools, but for some reason there seemed to be something in the air, and it seemed to be that within every class I worked with were a small group of students who were determined to have a confrontation, regardless of how calm and pleasant I tried to remain. Nothing I did was right, and even after all these years I still find it difficult not to take it personally, particularly when the agitated student is someone I normally have a great working relationship with. I think that everyone was at the stage where we were all tired and needed a break from each other, but I still can’t help but be taken aback when a student feels that it is acceptable to challenge something I have said or asked them to do – five minutes with my mother and they would adopt basic manners and never be rude to an adult again. Of course, the response I’m expecting from many is ‘they’re only children,’ but while I’m not a parent myself, I expect that 14, 15 and 16 year olds should know how to say please and thank you as an automatic part of their vocabulary. 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

Rise and Fall

At the minute, most days are what I would describe as being ‘inoffensive’ – the hours generally pass without euphoria or incident, and I generally go about my business with a sense of contentment. Sometimes I experience enormous high moments, and on rare occasions, absolutely crashing lows.

Today was such a day. In direct contrast to the beauty of yesterday, my Tuesday was filled with constant lateness, rudeness, apathy, lethargy and tantrums.

All. Bloody. Day.

I can be extremely short-tempered in my personal life, but I’m surprised by the levels of patience I’ve developed over the years when I’m in professional mode and it takes an awful lot for me to lose my temper. However, I had to be conscious of taking deep breaths, communicating in a low, calm voice and frequently reminding myself that today was just ‘one of those days,’ and that it would be over soon.

It’s amazing how quickly the old feelings return during moments of weakness. I haven’t felt truly anxious or panicky in a long time, but this afternoon I returned home with a stress-induced headache, a tight chest, nausea and knots in my stomach.

As always, the person I consult in times of anger (or, for that matter, happiness, sadness and anything else on the emotional spectrum) is mum. The fountain of all knowledge, she knows exactly what to say to put things into perspective, and combined with enjoying a cheeky cigarette (I know, I know) and listening to the ultimate 80’s stadium rock playlist while lying in a hot bubble bath, I now feel a little more on-track than I did.

I also discovered something awesome happens when you sing Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious to Siri… It didn’t quite understand my accent (and yes, I sang all the right words before you question it)…

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I’m easily amused…

And while today has sucked monkey balls, I know that tomorrow is a new day and I’m privileged to be living it… And it will be better…

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.

How I Changed My Life in 2015

imageI started preparing this a few weeks ago, revisiting my posts from 2015 to get an overview of the year. It didn’t take long to realise just how much my life has changed in such a short space of time.

Indeed, 2015 has been the most frightening, busy and truly incredible year of my life.

Instead of setting myself the usual list of resolutions that I knew I would inevitably ignore, I gave myself one mantra that I would follow: this was the year I would take the risk. And I did just that, making the decision to quit a ten-year permanent, secure and successful teaching role and start out on my own. Continue reading

I Quit My Job Update: Seven Months On

I quit my teaching job update

I was scrolling down my Facebook feed this morning, and one status from a teacher friend immediately stood out:

‘Is it wrong to have the Sunday night blues at this time in a morning?’

How I remember that feeling. Twelve months ago, my state of mind was exactly the same, except, my Sunday night blues would start on Saturday morning – the respite from the almost permanent state of anxiety I experienced would be on Friday nights, when I knew I wouldn’t have to face anything for two days and was busy comforting myself with huge amounts of junk food in an effort to make myself feel temporarily better.

Just over seven months ago, I decided that I’d had enough, and I quit my teaching job without a new job to go to. This was the scariest thing I have ever done – I’ve had a job since I got my National Insurance Card at the age of 16, and I’ve never left one job without securing another first. Want to know the full story? Click here – I’ve had an amazing response to this. Continue reading