When I Grow Up….

A post from my archives!

As a 7 year old, I watched the 16 year old head girl of our school wandering around the infant section of our school. Alice House, it was called. We all asked why the big girl was there. Not in a negative way. She was wonderful, helping us with work, and with kind words, encouraging us to do our best.

Work Experience. Oh! What was that? Well apparently she was interested in becoming a teacher, and so she came to us to really see what it was like, working as a teacher, with little people.

This was the moment it really embedded in my brain that there were jobs in this world. You could choose to be something! That was also the moment I decided, without a doubt, that I wanted to be a teacher to little people too!

And from then on, forget university, my training started! I am blessed with a huge extended family. And boy were there a lot of guinea pigs available to be my test pupils!

It was not uncommon to find me in the middle of a group of children, at any given family function.  Most likely, the situation was that the parents went actively looking for me, to foist their children on me. Not that I minded, I loved them, babies and toddlers, little people if all ages. I was in my element!

Fast forward to when I was 15 and sitting my GCSE’s.  It was my time to do work experience.  And I did it exactly where I had first got the seed of inspiration as to what I wanted my vocation in life to be.  Alice House.

This is Alice House. I went up to the attic to find this painting... a treasured memory of my wonderful time there!

This is Alice House. I went up to the attic to find this painting… a treasured memory of my wonderful time there!

It was wonderful to be in that classroom with these little people, and my dream grew.  I was, one day, going to be that inspirational person standing in front of those children.  I was going to make a difference.  I was going to help them cultivate a love of learning, and be someone they remembered fondly.  I was going to have wonderful ideas, and teach them wacky things that would help them along on their academic journey…

All through my A-Levels, I volunteered a morning a week there too, and enjoyed every minute.  It was so great that my actual nursery teacher was still there, and she loved that she had me back in the classroom with her. I experienced other schools as I completed other work experiences too, and my dream was cemented.  I was going to make it a reality.

My UCAS form was filled in, with my course choice – a B/Ed with English & Drama as the specialist subject.  This was such an exciting time!

…but it started to fade…

As I proceeded through the 4 year course, it was obvious that the Government had tampered with education to such an extent, that there was now a strict National Curriculum for us to follow. There  were standard assessments, and topics that had to be covered in certain ways, and then results to be formulated in various manners… form filling, pen pushing, red tape…

Hang on, where were the children in all this???

I didn’t recall all this form filling, and stress on the teachers I had worked with.

Nearing the end of Year 3 of my degree, I clearly recall a phone conversation I had with my mother.  I was sat on the stairs of the house I was living in, and I told her I didn’t think I could carry on with this farce of a course that was masquerading as Teacher Training.  “It’s not about the kids anymore mum.  It’s all about scores, and piles of paper.” At that stage I had experienced 3 block teaching practices, and been snowed under by all the planning and assessments that were required.

My days were filled with stress of what to teach, and how, so I got those scores required at the end, not about the enjoyment of the child, or whether they had any interest in what they were learning.

Needless to say, I finished my degree. At least I knew I had that behind me. But I had no inclination to find a teaching job. My dream was shattered.

I spent the next nearly 14 years working in retail, in banking, in marketing, getting married, building a home, having a family, and I was pretty happy with all that was happening.

Once in a while Hubby Dearest would ask me whether I would consider school as a career again.  But I was still adamant.  This was no longer my dream.  It was just a fantasy, and the reality that I had been shown was far removed from the ideals I had formed.

It was the needs of my children that actually pushed me back into the education sector.

I was working full time, and my Mother in Law was looking after my children during the day. Lil Man was in full time school, and seemed to be struggling. Lil Princess was still a mere 3 year old tiddler.

Mum was concerned that she couldn’t help her grandson in the way he needed, with regards to school work, and I was home so late that it was hard for me to sit with him for the time he needed, to do things together.  So, after a lot of thought, I handed my notice in at the marketing job I had held for 9 years.

It was wonderful having that childhood time back with my kids. I looked for part time jobs but nothing came up.

Then a friend, who is also a parent of one of my son’s class mates, mentioned there was a teaching assistant job going at school. It would be ideal, hours wise, and I would get the holidays with the kids too.  No stress, no planning or paperwork, but working with kids again, and not having the pressure of a teacher. Sounds good right?

Well, I went for it, and the job was mine for the taking. (Think about it though, a qualified teacher, at Teaching Assistant money, which school would refuse that??!)

It was a wonderful way to make me realise my dream, though it was a little faded, slightly jaded, was still there, in the back of my mind. And with the weeks, and months of being within the school environment, the dream started to sparkle again, it gained clarity, and my main focus became to get myself back on that horse.  I wanted to take the reins, fully  Have my own class, plan, assess, educate!

I was in a much better position than I had been during my degree. I was older, with more life experience. I had seen far too many younger Newly Qualified Teachers crack under the stress of teaching, where the work/life balance is so unevenly placed.  The expectations on each individual so high, and at times, unrealistic. It was no wonder they didn’t want to carry on.

But I made a huge decision, fully informed, after being in school for 3 years, that I wanted to get back into teaching. My own two children were that much older, and not to say they didn’t need me any more, but they were more mature, and settled, and able to cope with life, knowing mummy might be a bit busy, or stressed during term time

As you all know, I did a course, to update my qualifications, and within the course time, the job I am in now, came up.  My head teacher was all for me getting the role, and even though she wanted it to happen too, I had to go through all the official procedures, and interview to get the job.

If you have been reading since September, you’ll know I have had a pretty, ahem, colourful start, with a very ‘interesting’ mix of children in the nursery.  My Co-Teacher, who has been teaching Early Years for 13 years, said to me the other week that she felt awful for me, having such a bunch as my first official class.

I’d like to think of it as a Baptism Of Fire! You know, I am exhausted.  I have never felt as tired as I do right now I am counting the days, hours, minutes to half term which starts next Friday at 3.45pm, so I get a week off. It has been really tough. I never thought it would be like this, but WOW!

I always knew nursery was not just ‘all play’ like many think it to be.  I mean yes, it is play, but constructive play, play with meaning, and a time to hone many skills, embed many behaviours that a child needs in both their academic, and personal life.

Yes, it has been tough, probably the toughest 6 weeks I have gone through in a long time, but it has been rewarding too, honestly. There is a huge corner we need to get these children to turn, but I can, at last, see the bend.  There are changes happening, slowly but surely. The children that were causing us the most difficulty are starting to settle.

I’m not entirely sure they are going to be reciting their ABC any time soon, or solving equations, but we may just get them to become decent human beings at least!

Is this what I had dreamed of?

Was this what I wanted to be doing with my life?

Is this teaching?

It’s not quite what I had expected. but yes, knowing I am doing something with these children, making a difference, is exactly what I wanted to be doing.  I am teaching, but not the subject matter I thought I would teach. It’s more life skills and behaviour.

Ask me again in July, how I feel about these children, and the challenges we have faced…

But for now, I can definitely say I have grown up to be what I always wanted to be!

57 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. liveandlovetheadventure
    Jan 11, 2017 @ 17:46:58

    Great post Ritu. I really respect you for getting back into teaching!
    I really resonated with you when you said that you realised that education isn’t about the children anymore. I am a teaching assistant and I can’t become a teacher because it just isn’t what I want it to be. What it should be. Children need freedom, individual direction and to learn how to love themselves. Please check out my blog and your opinions if you have chance. Take care, Sarah x

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Jan 11, 2017 @ 18:32:11

      Thank you for your comments! It’s a hard slog but my thoughts are if there isn’t people out there in the profession who feel like we do then the children will all end up like robots! I still try to inject a little fun into proceedings!!!

      Like

      Reply

  2. Jennie
    Oct 21, 2016 @ 02:19:25

    Wonderful post, Ritu!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Fourth Generation Farmgirl
    Oct 20, 2016 @ 16:28:16

    Sometimes there are twists in turns in our journey, but I think that we usually arrive at the place were meant to be. Great post, Ritu! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Southern by Design
    Oct 20, 2016 @ 14:04:19

    This is a great piece and what a wonderful journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. willowdot21
    Oct 20, 2016 @ 13:24:26

    I think this is so inspiring Ritu. I salute you, you are doing a great job. You are making a difference you have one of the most important jobs in life. It is amazing to read how as a little child you knew what you wanted to do. Even if your life journey took you via the scenic route you have arrived where you should be . Well done you keep on going you know you can. By the way I love the painting of your Nursery school, Alice House, it looks beautiful! xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. girlandworld
    Oct 20, 2016 @ 13:08:31

    Enjoyed ritu…such a refreshing post out of ur archives

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. wafflemethis
    Oct 22, 2015 @ 14:03:16

    It’s what you are sis
    What’s inside
    This is a calling not a job. Yeah it’s hard really hard
    But you wouldn’t be complete without it☺

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. TanGental
    Oct 21, 2015 @ 14:28:16

    I always contend that teaching is second only to medicine in terms of critical professions to a developed society and early years so crucial. Good for you Ritu

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. lbeth1950
    Oct 21, 2015 @ 12:59:51

    We are all fortunate that there are teachers like you.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  10. amommasview
    Oct 21, 2015 @ 02:14:35

    I think the issue with teaching kids nowadays is that you have to cover a lot that should have been taught at home. I find that a lot of kids lack the life skills we already had at a younger age because our parents taught us to be well mannered and some other things. I often find today the kids get sent to Early Learning Centers, Child care and so on so the parents get a break and don’t have to deal with “disciplining” their own children. It’s all up to the teacher. I might sound harsh but I’m shocked sometimes to see how some kids behave (or not).
    On the positive: Ritu, it most probably can’t get any worse. You’ve been tested and challenged by a difficult group. The next one will be easier. Reading what you are saying makes me sure about the fact that you are an amazing teacher and that teaching is the right job for you. I would love to have you as the teacher of my kids! So keep it up. Keep your head above water and keep swimming!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Oct 21, 2015 @ 06:39:27

      Thank you Sandra. Your comment about parenting is so true. We were not sure these kids were ready for a full three hours alone, right from the start… And it was apparent due to their behaviour. The parents attitudes are exactly that.. They’ll learn at school. Yes, they need to learn, not be taught how to behave, at school…
      It will get easier, but it just shocks me, how little parents seem to do nowadays, apart from give in to their kids every whim. No wonder we have a tough job!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

  11. writersdream9
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 17:30:36

    I was in early childhood development and know your pain and your joy!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  12. markbialczak
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 15:44:30

    This is a marvelous tale and good lesson for all of us, Ritu. You never know when tarnished dreams will take on a new glow. Cheers to your reawakening, my friend. Lovely story.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. D. Wallace Peach
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 15:00:33

    If anything can revive a love of teaching, it’s the kids. None of it needs to be perfect if the heart’s in the right place. Then the kids will walk away with a lifelong love of learning. Your students are lucky to have you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  14. Becky Ellis
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 11:30:46

    Thinking about the positive impact
    You’ve made in so many children’s lives…
    kudos to you for following your passion
    and not just following the easy road. The world
    needs more teachers like you! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Oct 20, 2015 @ 12:07:51

      Thank you Becky. The truth will be known at the end of the year, if we let this class leave, behaving like decent little people, eager to learn!!!
      But I do love what I do… You have to, right? 😊

      Like

      Reply

  15. susieshy45
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 09:57:11

    Great writing Ritu and enjoyed reading your experiences. Have faced these situations so many times in my life, so much so, that when I dream these days, I wonder what my original dream was. It seems so clouded over and hazy. Perhaps I need to go up to the attic and dust and take down a photograph or two. It has been years since anyone has called me doctor or expected me to provide the patient care I dreamed I would provide some day. Hopefully, like you, some day, some time, that time will come, when I will stand on a mountain and look down and say, finally, finally, all this is mine. Till such time, I must contend with climbing up my own mountains.
    Susie

    Like

    Reply

  16. Erika Kind
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 09:35:13

    Wow, Ritu! It is tough at the moment, but to tell from where and how you started it is fully yours. Perhaps you get fire baptismed but it is yours. I made a note to ask you in July… lol

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  17. Rajiv
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 09:17:35

    Nice post! When I was growing up, in the suburbs of London, my memories of the lane where we lived are very strong. I still remember the tree in our home, and how we broke a branch and caused it to crash on my dad’s car…. Fun times indeed

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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