social spark Aisling Beatha: Forgotten Dreams


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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Forgotten Dreams

Today’s Nudge: Write about a dream you once had that you let go of, and where that led you.

Growing up I went through all the "chosen careers" that little girls often go through, but ended up settling on teaching, on teaching at primary level.  (For any American readers who are confused by English education terms in this post, please check out my other post where I explain it all.)

That didn't go so well.  My dad did not like the idea at all.  I remember phrases like "no daughter of mine is becoming a teacher" and "Well if you must teach then you have to teach at a secondary school, because primary teachers aren't worth anything, they don't teach anything that's got any point to it."

Looking back I see those statements through a lens of how hard he had fought to get to where he was in life and not wanting us to settle for anything less than what he thought was the best, but at the time I was heartbroken, and I spent months crying myself to sleep because there had been another argument about it.  I tried explaining that primary teachers are the most essential part of the process because they teach kids how to learn the school way, they teach kids all the basics they need in order to learn the stuff that he thought was worthy.  It didn't make any difference.

I didn't give in though and eventually got signed up for a teacher training degree, with his reluctant blessing.  That, however, did not go according to plan, I don't think I was ready for university on one level and then I got pregnant part way through my second year.  There was no onsite nursery at my college and I just did not feel I had it in me to be a mom to the best of my ability and to be a student to the best of my ability.  I could do one or the other.  So I left teacher training college to be a mom.

I walked away from the thing I had fought so hard to be allowed to do and I never regretted it not for one moment, I was happy being a mom.  But it was always there, in the background, this thing I had not got to do.  I did various things over the years that I see now were connected with this passion, this drive, to teach, to be involved in kids education in some way.

  • I was treasurer of the preschool playgroup my son went to, 
  • I was chair of the committee on the scout group my boys were in (and my husband was a scout leader at), 
  • I took a home study course in Montessori education.
  • I started to take a turn on the rota in the creche (under 5's) at church, 
  • eventually moving up to take responsibility for overseeing that group
  • Then I was asked to move up to the 5 - 11s 
  • and at one point was responsible for all our kids work, birth up to 11
  • I got involved in a charity that needed volunteers to take school assembly talks on how children could get involved in their project
  • I started offering "broadly Christian" assemblies to the schools that had taken the charity assemblies (There is a legal requirement for UK school to hold a "Broadly Christian" act of worship daily, the extent to which and the ways in which schools fulfil that requirement differs greatly but for now the requirement is still there) and worked my way up to 6 different schools
  • At the request of one of the head teachers I brought together a team of people to do Open the Book bible story assemblies in his school
  • That extended to a second school
  • I then became a school governor in one of the schools

It was at this time that a job came up at a local primary school.  I looked at the job description a number of times and didn't apply. I figured I just wasn't good enough to get it so why bother applying.  Then a friend who had also considered applying told me I really should apply because I would be perfect for it, so I did.  It was for someone to work for the Methodist church in the school because the school is a church school joint between Church of England and Methodist but the Methodist congregation in that part of town had closed down due to dwindling numbers.  (for American readers, this is a still a state school).

I got that job, it's only 7 hours per week, but 24 years after I last walked out of a teacher training classroom, I stood in front of a room of 30 children and I taught a Religious Education lesson.  Strictly speaking my role in RE is only "support" but the first teacher I was assigned to handed me the curriculum and said "there you go, do what you want to with it" so I took the challenge and I taught.  24 years.  I got my dream.  24 years in which there were many years I did not even think about it. 

I do other things in school as well as teach RE, I do assemblies, I set up prayer spaces, I run after school clubs, I lead "moving on" sessions with the year 6 pupils getting ready for secondary school, but it is the teaching that gives me the biggest feeling of satisfaction.  I'm living my dream.  It doesn't look like I thought it would look, but it is still my dream.

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  1. What a gorgeous story. I got goosebumps. <3

    1. Sorry only just got around to publishing your comment. Thank you!

  2. Anonymous4:45 pm

    And you regularly stand up in front of 300+ children and speak from the heart when you take assemblies... no mean feat!


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