It’s been a whirlwind of a year and I’ve only now made time to update everyone properly.
At the beginning of 2016, my life took an unexpected turn, a turn I’ve since accepted and come to terms with. Nevertheless, it was still a very surprising one. In hindsight, there were things I didn’t notice at the time that were hinting at what was to come. But the finale is what pulled the rug out from underneath and left me falling.
So…I gave up on completing my PGCE.
I could have used interrupted, stopped, I’m not doing instead of gave up, but I chose it because that’s exactly what happened. I worked just as hard as any other student on the course and was doing fine on my assignments and group tasks. But my subject area was a hard one. Teaching English isn’t all rhyming couplets and Dr Seuss. I struggled with the long reading list since my time at university took up 3 days, and the lessons were plotted about the week in such a way that I couldn’t plan a lesson till just the day before delivery.
And so questions on my capabilities popped up. I was trying my hardest but that wasn’t enough. Throw in a not-so-supportive course tutor and a mentor at the placement that exaggerated certain mistakes, I was doomed to be hung, drawn and quartered before I could reach the Christmas break.
My tutor at the university couldn’t figure me out. She had questioned my qualifications to begin with, but then via insult I was assumed to be from a private school background. After continuous meetings and emails, in the end my placement was terminated and I was left hanging. In my ‘farewell’ meeting at the placement, I couldn’t talk much. Choking with emotion, I silently listened to criticism and lame suggestions, only managing to croak out “I know I’ve slipped up, but I have been trying my best” before I was whizzed through the rest of the procedures and protocols, then left to open and close the door that would end it all. You might say I could have fought, I could have complained etc etc…but their decision was made. Though, not everything they said was correct, to go against an unhelpful course tutor and deal with paperwork that equated to a civil law case, I chose not to enter a pointless battle. But also, most important to me at the time, was not to let them see me cry. I couldn’t let the dogs see me cry.
Moving forward, I thought it best to interrupt my studies and return in 2017 to pick up where I left off. The months that followed were spent on studying and planning for the year to come. Yet, as the day’s progressed I eventually accepted what I had been feeling for a while and admitted to it. Some time in the spring, I emailed my tutor and said that I wouldn’t be coming back to the PGCE. Clicking send on that email felt like I had finally opened a window and let the sunshine in.
I chose to tell the family one by one. The news didn’t surprise them. Instead, they were worried about what I would do next. They all became career advisers and told me not to worry; I was anything but worried. All our lives we’re worried about ‘what comes next’, not having a plan, no clear career path, steady income…but it was this very thing, this worry, that had trapped me and led to where I was then. People don’t always believe it when I say “I was trying out teaching” but that’s exactly what it was. I was staring at the end of my contract at work and I knew I needed to be ‘moving on’. Instead of taking some time out or not being employed for a while, I ran head first into what seemed like the ‘obvious’ next step. Yeah the holidays are there and I do enjoy talking about literature, why not?!
What was a learning experience to me, was to others the battle of Dunkirk! Mum kept saying I rushed into things and should have taken my time. The irony in that conversation still makes me laugh; when the very people that you do it for or do it because of, are the ones that berate you the most.
Since that email, I landed a job at a college as a learning mentor, a role I had thoroughly enjoyed in the past and was happy to get back into. And now I will take the opportunity to say how I do not envy the teachers of the world; their marking, their hours of planning, their reports, university references and general teacherhood. To think I almost became one actually sends shivers down my spine and makes my soul quake.
I learnt a lot whilst it lasted but I know I dodged a bullet. I gave up on something for the first time in my life and I couldn’t be happier.