Tomorrow is my first day at a new school. Since arriving in Queensland 6 years ago I have been extremely lucky to have remained employed at the same wonderful school, conveniently located ten minutes from home. I remember my first day six years ago. Having just moved from a really tough school in the dry, northern suburbs of Adelaide I arrived at what looked like a tropical holiday resort. With a golf club across the road, the Surfers Paradise skyline in the background and a lake right in the middle of the school oval. I remembered thinking, ‘we’re definitely not in Elizabeth’ any more, closely followed up with ‘I probably won’t need to worry about my car being stolen while it’s parked out there’.
During my time there I have welcomed my two beautiful boys, and to be honest it has become more of a social outing than a job. Amongst the staff are teachers who have become great friends, and in some instances I have taught all siblings from the same family. For a school that was only ever meant to be a temporary stop gap while we figured out if we wanted to stay on the Gold Coast, It turns out to be the longest stint I have had in any one setting. My second home.
I am so sad to leave, but so excited to move forward. After a lot of thought my decision was confirmed last week while watching my friends prepare to go back to the classroom full time. At my school it was full time for me or nothing. That is the problem with teaching, it is often all in or nothing.
After applying for jobs close to home and being honest about my plans to have more children, I was met with ‘In light of what we discussed, there won’t be any suitable positions for next year’ and I totally get it. Being that I am on contract, I am a liability in a classroom. Having a class is like taking guardianship of 30 little lives for a the whole year- not just for two or three terms until I dare decide to have a child in the middle of a school year. Before I hear gasps of ‘discrimination’ it is so not like that. If you are permanent then you have a rite of return as a part time teacher. As a contract staff member I was lucky to have been looked after as long as I have been between having my children. To be fair, If it hadn’t been for stopping to have babies I would have had a permanent position here in Queensland as well as in Adelaide. They call it the glass ceiling effect- a woman’s inability to progress as far as a male in the same work place, and it is alive and kicking in the teaching profession. I just call it the ‘glass uterus effect’. Our progression is severely affected by our biological requirement to stop and have children, and lets face it, that is just tough shit! You can’t have years off and expect to be the boss when you get back!
So I’ve gone further a field for a 3 day classroom position (job share), and I couldn’t be more excited. Rather than dreading the return to full time work and leaving the boys, I can have my class…and eat it too (oops…cake). Yes it is half hour away, and yes it’s not as pretty as where I was, but it is the best option for my young family at this moment in our short time together.
Teachers out there will appreciate the lack of ownership and achievement you feel when you don’t have your own class. We didn’t get into this profession to teach 12 lessons of back to back library lessons for prep children. On most days this involves getting them safely to the library without losing one or all of them as they cross the yard like a flock of sheep, sending at least three with sore fingers to the sick bay, a poo in the pants, having my feet rubbed (not so bad) and at least 3 comments about why I’m wearing the same clothes as last week. (FYI you kids are just seeing me at the start of my washing cycle)
So tomorrow I meet my teaching partner and see what will be my new ‘home’ for a while. For some strange reason, what would have made me sick with anxiety once upon a time, is now so exciting! Maybe it’s called growing up.
Wish me luck 🙂