Every high street shop is full of Back to School offers and I have spent the last two weeks buying uniforms and stationary for my daughter who is starting her new Secondary school in September. Friends are filling their Facebook newsfeeds with end of holiday and back to school comments.
But I am not going back. I don’t have a job to go back to. I left at the end of the summer term, and I left without another job to go to.
And so, instead of planning, organising, setting up tracking and monitoring systems, remembering how to tie a tie, find where I put my shoes and scraping out the fruit I left in my laptop bag I am checking the long-range weather forecasts and thinking about painting the living room.
September spreads out in front of me, empty of jobs to do and it could be, well, a bit challenging. So I have written myself a ten tips list to help me get through it.
Write a CV
Writing a CV is important for a couple of reasons. The first is imply taking control of your life and your future. Having no job can feel like not being in control of your life. Writing out your CV will be the first step in taking back that control. My Dad only gave a me a few pieces of advice and one of those was, “Always keep an up to date CV and bottle of Gin in the house.” When your dream job comes up, either inside or outside of teaching, then it will be a lot easier if you are prepared.
The second point will be to reming yourself how good a teacher you are. Writing out your achievements, your skills, interests and hobbies will codify everything about you that you should be proud of. Anyone who has taught anyone for any length of time has already done something extraordinary. Write it down and remind yourself how great you are.
Email people you used to work with
Leaving a school were you have worked for any length of time is hard. Leaving your friends and colleagues can be even harder. From working closely with people in a very intense environment, your house will be a very different environment than your old school. However you left your school, you may not realise that you made some incredibly close friends while working and it is really important to keep in touch.
Email them now and say hi, that you are thinking of them, that you wish them luck for the future, but, most importantly, thank them for all the help and support that they gave you.
Contact local supply agencies
Taking control of your future is important if you are to stave off spiralling into ill health. September can be an awful time to get a full time job in teaching, and it may be a few months before something suitable appears. Supply teaching is a great way to keep your skills up and your toe in the water. It also has the advantage of being flexible. You can do a day, a week or a term. It’s up to you.
Find a good supply agency and work with them to plan your future. They will work hard for you, if you work hard with them.
Look outside teaching for work
As a teacher you have developed a huge range of skills. All of them are the most desirable of all, transferable skills. Make a list of everything that you would do on a typical day on a piece of A4 on one side of the page, and on the other write the generic skill.
Taught a class of 30 Year 11 GCSE French students becomes Managed a group of people with diverse skills and interests to the successful completion of a project.
You now have a huge range of enviable skills that are applicable to many other jobs. See Point 1.
Sort out your living space
Teaching can be so intensive and time consuming that household chores are often put on the back burner. Now is the time to take charge of your environment. Sort out the loft and the cupboard under the stairs. Throw away all the clutter. Get rid of all the unnecessary stuff that you have accumulated. You will feel a better person for it.
You should also decorate. You are about to embark on a new adventure. So make a clean break with the past and launch a new you, by giving where you leave a new start as well.
Do something that you have always wanted to do
Teaching is one of those jobs that can take over and it is easy to find yourself doing it to the exclusion of everything else. Now is the time to take a look at something that you have always wanted to do, but never had the time. Have you always wanted to learn how to ride a motorbike? Find your local provider and have a go? Always wanted to Scuba Dive? Use Google to find a local club and give it a try. You have absolutely nothing to lose. At worst you can strike something off your bucket list, at best you will have found a new hobby, made new friends and maybe you may find your life taking a new direction as a result.
Do some exercise
Everyone says this, but it’s true! Because teachers spend so much time on other people they often forget to spend time on themselves, with the result that teaching is often cited as one of the unhealthiest professions.
You don’t have to join a gym or your local running club (although that would be great) but taking a long walk three times a week will give you a new lease of life. If you add in a swim once a week then you will see and feel the benefits quite quickly. You will also give your body a shot of endorphins whenever you exercise so everything you do will feel better as a result.
Do something new
This is slightly different from doing something that you have always wanted to do. I mean do something really new. Something that you could never see yourself doing in a million years. Something that challenges or terrifies you. Sky Dive, pet a tarantula, run a 10K. What is important about doing this is that there is no professional risk to you at all. Don’t like skydiving? It doesn’t matter, you’ve still tried it. Still hate spiders? It doesn’t matter, you still held one. Didn’t manage the full 10K? It doesn’t matter, you still managed more than you have every done before.
At worse you will have a good story to tell, at best you may find a new hobby, interest or new friends.
Get in touch with old friends
Working in a school is a very closed world, and working as a teacher can exclude many of your old friends. You are often having to work when they want to go out, and you may be on holiday when they have to work.
But they are the people you grew up with and made you the person you are.
Remind yourself of what you loved about them by dropping them a line. Facebook them or email them. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, but just a few lines will kickstart old memories, old stories and old friendships.
Like wine, friendships get better with age and also like wine sometimes the best ones are the ones that have been left to mature for a bit.
September could be a scary time but having a go at these ten tips will help it to be not too scary. What are your tips? Do you agree of disagree? Let me know in the comments.