“I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say ‘because of you, I didn’t give up.'”
My name’s Katherine and I’m in the process of becoming a teacher. Just writing that sentence is something that, even six months ago I never thought I’d say.
I graduated from The University of Central Lancashire with a 2:1 BA (hons) English Literature and Theatre Studies in 2011 and left straight away certain of a place at Huddersfield University on an MA in Ensemble Physical Theatre; as I’d been offered an unconditional place in my second year of undergrad. I participated in four months of intensive physical training culminating in a performance and then embarked on the ‘academic’ side of things starting in September. My thesis was on the training of Presence. During the summer of 2012 I journeyed to Greece, my first trip over seas on my own, to take part in an international conference over there. My adventures throughout this period can be found at my Ensemble Physical Theatre Blog.
After it was all over I did the only thing I could do. I got a job. Thank goodness I loved it. I worked at the University of Leeds as a Support Worker, supporting students with disabilities to access their lectures. I took notes for all sorts of students and attended some really fascinating lectures including, history, philosophy, education, sociology, law … Put it this way – you want me on your quiz team! I would have stayed in this job for the rest of my days if it hadn’t been for the fact that it was a 0 hours contract and I had no guarantee of a reliable income. At 23 I was looking at moving out ‘one day’ and hoping to afford a car as I was taking my driving test at the time. My adventures during overcoming that particular hurdle can be found here, at my Learning to Drive Blog. So I searched for a new job.
During the summer of 2014 I found, applied, interviewed and was successful at gaining a job at a school in Mirfield, West Yorkshire as a Support for Learning Assistant. I found out I had the job and also found I would have no where to live in quick succession. I rang the school to decline my offer and the lovely HR manager calmed me down and persuaded me not to say “I can see that this is the job for you. This is a great opportunity and I don’t want you to turn it down. In a few years I can see you becoming a teacher. From your interview it was very clear to me that this is your calling.”
I’ll be honest I dismissed this. I’d thought about becoming a teacher when I was choosing my GCSE options but decided it wasn’t for me. My grandparents had been teachers, their parents had been teachers, my mum had nearly been a teacher (if she hadn’t rebelled) and would be if she had her time over again. No, what I REALLY wanted was to be an academic. I loved learning, I loved writing, I loved the pastoral side. All that was standing between me and the dream was: a PhD, £27,000, support to refine my thesis, acceptance onto a Phd, various publications, several years academic teaching experience, a job opportunity, being successful at a job opportunity and several years as a lecturer before I was secure …
I took the job. I found a place (a really beautiful cottage with just three rooms and 15 minutes drive from work for under £300/month! Even now I can’t quite believe just how luck I was to find this place) and by October half term I was in it and ‘settled’. I didn’t blog about that period mainly because of how difficult I found it. I felt very isolated and struggled to come to terms with living alone. I missed the simple things like having someone to say “Goodmoring” to or “Goodnight” or “Would you like a cup of tea?” … But now just over a year on and I am settled. I have my routine. I get up and make breakfast and coffee, I’m in work for 8 and home for usually 3.30, depending on training. I enjoy lighting candles especially now the dark evenings have returned and making my own dinners, being able to do my own shopping and watch what I want on my laptop. But I’m ready for a change.
One day, I was stood in front of a ‘tricky’ year 11 English class that I’d worked with all year. Their teacher was off sick and the cover teacher hadn’t turned up. Ten minutes after the bell they were starting to get raucous in the corridor so I let them in and told them to get there stuff out and ready while I sent a reliable student to reception to tell them that the cover teacher hadn’t arrived. I read over the cover work and wrote it up on the white board together with the title and date.
“Right guys, Miss is away as you know, this is the work that’s been set, can you please make a start.”
“Are you teaching us Miss?”
“I am for the moment Craig, if there’s anything you need or you’re struggling with put your hand up and I’ll come round to you.”
The teacher never came.
Thank goodness that I knew the students, thank goodness that I knew the text and the work, thank goodness that I was nearly a year into the job and had a handle on it. But thank goodness I taught that class. If I hadn’t I’d have never of thought I could to it, I’d have never had the opportunity to enjoy it, I wouldn’t have realised that all the elements that I loved about the prospect of being a lecturer were also present in the role of a teacher and I’d never have been where I am today: on the brink of submitting my application to teacher training, on the brink of moving in with my boyfriend of six years, on the brink of moving to a different county, on the brink of starting a new life.
Join me and wish me luck.