Like all professionals I’d spent the Summer preparing myself knowing that, come September, I needed to set my boundaries tight and create a purposeful and pleasant learning environment. To this end I transformed my unloved and shabby classroom / computer room using my own time and my own resources. It started well. I was able to run my own ship and also help younger colleagues run theirs (as a senior teacher this was part of my role) whilst building up those crucial relationships with adults, students, families and wider staff. I felt like I really belonged. That I’d found my niche.
A few weeks in however, everything changed during feedback from a lesson observation when I asked the head a question about lesson plans. For reasons I will never be able to fathom, simply asking this innocent question marked my card from that moment onwards. I was subjected to an intense and relentless campaign of bullying and intimidation which left me, five months later, a physical and emotional wreck. I wasn’t able to work for many months afterwards and was determined that I would leave teaching forever at which point my cousin (who’d experienced similar horrors) put me in touch with Raina at Supplywell. I was able to be completely honest with her and she was a reassuring and sympathetic listening ear at a time when I needed it most.
My first job was in an alternative provision for three days per week and I loved it. My confidence came flooding back and I was able to do four happy months before moving onto my first mainstream setting which I also loved. Looking back on this experience I’ve learnt that supportive colleagues are an absolute lifeline when you’re struggling and, from a distance, I can now see that using my discernment is absolutely key in any future decisions I make about my career. At the moment I am still, to some extent, reeling from my experiences and afraid of committing to another permanent job but my confidence in my abilities has returned and I am so grateful to my cousin for introducing me to a company who have helped me believe in myself again (as cheesy as that sounds!) I can now see that the behaviour of my former colleagues was no reflection whatsoever on my abilities or my personality and I hope one day to be able to look back on that time as one of optimum growth and a catalyst for change.
In moments of doubt, I remember the phrase on my fridge and recall the inspirational teachers who taught and mentored me. My daily aim now is to be like them and to be for others what they once were for me.