Recently I wrote about my long and somewhat checkered relationship with further education which has led me to my current point of impending PhD candidature at Deakin University (I start on the 20th of August). The impetuous for taking on this academic challenge was planned major surgery to my spine which would have put me on sick leave from my teaching career for at least 3 months. Instead I’ve decided not to go back at all.
Last year I took leave to complete my honours year. It was a challenge I wanted to undertake and (unlike much of my other study) I didn’t want it to drag on forever so I elected not to work and to complete the study fulltime. My school gave me leave in order to do this.
Along with the study, last year was a time of much deliberation. I thought a great deal about what being a teacher meant to me and why I felt that my current school didn’t fulfill my needs as a teacher. I’m not ashamed to say there were tears. Tears of frustration and disappointment – frustration because I knew at some stage in my career I had been a good teacher and disappointment because I felt that I wasn’t allowed to feel that way in my current school.
At the start of this year, I went back to teaching until my operation on the 14th of May. I found being back in the system incredibly difficult, partly because it just is difficult and partly because, in my heart, I had already made up my mind. I had applied for PhD candidature but I didn’t yet know if I would be accepted—regardless, I had decided that I was going to quit teaching.
When I look back on my teaching career, I am very grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me. I’m grateful for the friends I have made; both students and colleagues. But I’m not grateful for the hours of my time it gobbled up doing administrative tasks; or the stress and migraines; or the sick feeling you get when you’re being drowned in work and there’s a deadline looming. I know my new ‘career’ as a student will include some of these but they will hopefully be much more under my control.
So, I say goodbye to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria and hello to the Higher Degrees by Research Program, School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University. Wish me luck.
Have you ever made a major change in your life or career? Do you have any advice to share about letting go of your past and embracing the new?