Well, I’ve done it. I’ve gone part-time at school. I knew it would happen at some point, but I had sort of imagined that it might be in a bog-standard returning-to-work-after-maternity-leave sort of a way.
As it happens, I am not pregnant, nor have I recently sprogged. It was just time. I was absolutely knackered at work and at home, all the time. I had a list of really important things to do that was growing at one end at least five times faster than I was crossing things off at the other. I was going into work early, and leaving late. I was working every evening and every weekend. I was getting stroppy when I had to stop working to cook dinner. And then I went to bed and dreamed about school. Not good.
And the thing was, there were other things I wanted to do. Before teaching, I had become a rather competent knitter (if I do say so myself), knocking out funky little stuffed chameleons, and fancy cabled gloves, and tailored cardigans, and so on and so forth… and then I started teacher training. In four years of teaching, guess how much I knitted? Two scarves. Two flaming scarves.
Then there was my writing. My main plan has always been to be a novelist. I’ve wanted to write books for as long as I can remember – honestly, probably since I was about five years old. It’s my passion in life. Believe it or not (and you probably won’t believe it, looking at the state of this blog), I actually have an MA in Creative Writing. And an agent and everything. (Although the agent has probably forgotten that I exist, given that I have been sucked into the Land of Small Children in Uniforms for the last four years, a place from which one only emerges to restock on glitter and sleep.)
But I couldn’t write alongside my teaching – my brain was just too wrung-out at the end of the day. I’d start a new writing project in the holidays, promise myself faithfully I would carry on with it during term-time… And then term-time would happen, and I’d get asked to do fifty new things at school that I couldn’t say no to, and writing would go out the window.
Then there was, you know, my home life. My husband and my house and my allotment and my friends and family, NONE of whom I was giving anywhere near enough attention. And I started to think – okay, what exactly am I up to here? Why exactly am I killing myself to be the perfect teacher? What is my end goal? Where do I want to be in life? What is most important to me?
And honestly? My teaching career isn’t even up there in the top five. I’m not even sure it’s in the top ten. It is important to me, because I love love love working with children, helping them learn and grow and become even more wonderful people than they already are. It is a privilege. But it is not everything that I want from life.
I want to create, and have the time and the energy to be creative. I want to be able to go away for the weekend with friends without feeling sick in my stomach because of the marking that I’m not doing. I want to enjoy evenings on the sofa or down the allotment with my husband, instead of being locked to my laptop, poring over yet another set of lesson plans or assessments. I want to pick up incredible books to read, and not fall asleep after half a paragraph. And when I do teach, I want to be teaching on a full night’s sleep, with a well-prepared lesson, and I want to be happy and sunny and mentally available for every single child in my class, because that is what they deserve from their teacher.
So I am dropping from full-time teaching to part-time. I will still be a class teacher, but I am job-sharing. To top up my income, I will be doing a little supply – mostly with my employing school – and I will also be working freelance as a writer and proofreader. Most importantly – and most excitingly – I will be working on my children’s book!
Since the summer holidays have begun, I have felt as though I am slowly waking up again. Waking up to my life, and to all the possibilities that are in it. Funnily enough, although I will be teaching less, I will probably be posting on this blog a lot more now, as I will have more time. I’m also moving to Year 1 from Year 5, so I will be looking for Key Stage 1 advice from those in the know – please drop me a comment if you have any top tips for me!
Have you ever gone part-time? How did you find it? Did it turn out to be the right choice for you? I’d love to know!