Friday, 25 May 2012

Here's to my new job!

I've just finished Week 3 of my new job (teaching assistant at a primary school) and as well as being a new job, it's an entirely new career. I'd spent the last 20 years in an office, 12 of them at the same last company and it's been a culture shock, I can tell you.

I felt a bit shell shocked to start with, but I have some really supportive colleagues who have known exactly what I've been feeling and have said all the right things. I've had some good feedback from the head among others, and I can now say that I'm starting to settle in and enjoy it. It's been a lot to get my head round. One thing I am sure of is that I don't miss my old job one bit. (Just a few friends there...)

Here's a roundup of the pros and cons:

Cons first...
1. I can't go to the toilet when I want to. I am working 1-1 and I have to check I have cover.
2. I can't sit at my desk with a cuppa. In fact I can only have a cuppa at lunchtime (1pm). Sadly not even at playtime as I'm 1-1.
3. If I don't know something, I can't just say Oh I'll google that. I have no desk, let alone a computer.
4. I talk most of the day to children. I then talk to my own child in the evening like he's a child. Well he is, but like he's a pupil. I long for the school pick up so I can talk to adults!
5. I've dropped salaries (by 2/3). (I keep saying I'm rich in other ways!)
6. We won't mention my cleaning lady. It upsets me too much. (Besides this time is when I should be doing my housework, but the blogbug got me so I had to do it!)

And the pros...
1. At 2.30, my day is over. As I can't take the kids home with me, I can't work at home! The lesson time is over. The only thing I plan to do is to watch Mr Tumble more, to learn the Makaton that I am using with my 1-1. His lessons don't require much planning, just thinking on the spot and being flexible.
2. It's stress-free compared with my previous job. There is no everlasting spiralling to do list of projects, and sub projects, and reporting ... There's just the lessons in the day.
3. I am making a difference. I'm not putting money in someone else's back pocket (there's nothing wrong in that, I'm just fed up with it), I am now trying to help other children achieve what I was lucky enough to achieve with good schools, good teachers and supportive parents.
4. I finish at 2.30 every day. There isn't the possibility that a meeting might be added to my calendar out of my hours, meaning I then spend an hour on the phone for childcare, only to find it's been moved again. It's a lot easier to run the house with an identical weekly landscape!
5. I get to ride my bike to work. It takes 10 minutes by bike or car, so I've been mostly biking it. It's refreshing in the morning, gets me in the mood, and clears my head when I take it a bit slower on the way home. And saves on fuel - at most 25 miles/week compared to 175/week previously.
6. I eat less, as I can't graze at my desk. I've been eating lunch at 1pm, and then a piece of fruit before pick up, and I have lost a few pounds from that and the cycling. (And probably less stress.)

Did I mention the holidays? I'm off to Lanzarote next week!

Here's to my new job!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Tea taster? Yes please!

I am now into my second week as a teaching assistant, and today Mr Humdrum trawled the internet getting quotes for my car insurance. Faced with the "What's your job title" question, he typed in TEA... and the following choices were shown:


I'd love to be a tea taster. I suppose even a tea blender would be nice.

At least I'd get a cup of tea while I worked, instead of having to wait til lunch time! I've worked in an office for nearly 20 years and am like the proverbial poisson out of eau, not having a hot cuppa at my desk at (nearly) all times.

Nor my oppo number who made the best tea at work.

Still, at least I have a job and there are some things I like about it! I'll blog these next week, while I have a think about them...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Officially unemployed

Well for 3 days. I have finally been paid my redundancy money, a week overdue, and changed my mind about working an extra month to help them out. Because - I found a new job! 

I wanted to blog my experiences, the applications, the interviews, the rejection (only one)... but I found myself unable to even blog about it. I just wanted to shut everything out, almost everything. I couldn't deal with new things, so I kept in touch with some people and for them, I was normal. But I couldn't handle anything that wasn't normal. I've been fine about the redundancy from the beginning, I knew it was the push that I needed to move into the career that I'd always wanted. I would probably not have made the move easily, after all I was well paid, the hours were cushy, why would I move? 

Well an office relocation 114 miles round trip away, plus increase to full time hours. That's what made me move. I knew this was the time to get into the classroom. I'd been volunteering at my son's school for 18 months and had been promoted from helping out with the fun activities on a Friday afternoon, to delivering a French class, doing group work for literacy classes, and phonics too. 

One job came up, at February half term. I applied - mainly because I wanted to get an application out the door. I needed the kick to start the process of recalling when exacty I started that job in Exeter, and did I do that temping role beore the prison role or after? And where the hell are my certificates? I have found the exam slip sent to me in the post for my O Levels (last year of them, showing my age) but have failed to find my degree certificate! So starts the journey in and around the rip-off merchants that can copy your A Level certificates for £40! Anyway, that job got me nowhere. 

Then 2 jobs as teaching assisant came up at my son's school. I'd have been mad not to apply for them. Feeling not quite as confident as my friends and family, I didn't get either job, but I did get some good feedback. I was (in my own words) appalling in my observation in the classroom. My nerves got the better of me. But I felt confident in the interview, so that was good. And the head suggested I should be aiming to teach modern languages in a secondary school. Out came the whole "Do I teach or be a teaching assistant?" conundrum. I thought I'd got this out of my system, but I went through it all again and came up with the same answers. It's not the right time to do a PGCE. I can't commit to the hours, not with Ben at his age, I have too much to do with him. I am glad in a way that I didn't get the job at Ben's school. I am very familiar with the staff there, and I would've always felt like "Elf's mum who came into help" even though that wouldn't probably have been the case. 

I had applied for a second teaching assistant job in a local school, met the head, liked the school, worked hard on my appliation form and letter, and lo and behold got an interview. This in itself is an achivement, as I don't have paid experience as a TA! I felt the interview went well and I had an hour to spend in the classroom just working informally with some of the children. Two hours later, I got the call. "Well Humdrum, we thought you interviewed SO well, you were such a strong candidate ..." here comes the gut punch "But". But it didn't. It was followed by "And on that basis we'd like to offer you a position!" I was so excited I forgot most of what was said. I am to be a 1-1 TA for a boy with special educational needs, each morning for 3 hours. Then I am covering lunchtime activities and then an hour as a TA with Year 5/6. I was over the moon. 

Expecting to start in September, I imagined a few months off - no the job starts asap! I am starting this Friday as it's an inset day with some TA training. I have sorted out my hours with the head, it all fits around picking up Elf from school. It wouldn't be life without a little wobble. I've had that wobble when I realised my salary would go down by 2/3. But I don't think you do this kind of job for the money. I know I will be satisfied with my job, more than I could have said for my previous one. I will be rich in other ways. I'm grateful to Mr Hudmrum that we have worked out strategies to spend less. No more French Center Parcs, camping in Dorset all the way! 

My health has improved, my little stress rashes went as soon as we had notice to leave. My acupuncturist (reduced to a seasonal treatment now!) realised we'd been managing my stress for the last 2 years. My stress being "Oh my boss is making life difficult, I hate my job but I can't leave" etc. Now I had real stress "Was I going to be able to put food on the table?" but I am not so unhealthy. 

So on 4 May, may the Force be with me as I start the rest of my life! Wish me luck. Until then I'm officially unemployed for 3 days. Now what shall I do? Oh yes I'd better get on with my housework as I had to let my cleaning lady go! You never know, I may end up losing some weight!