Regarding the title, that wasn’t the plan, but became the plan, then as tends to happen, things didn’t go according to plan.
I’ve spent the last seven years commuting fifty kilometres each way to work ‘out west’, and this year I’ve taken LWOP (leave without pay) to gain experience working at schools closer to home. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time teaching in southwestern Sydney, however the commute and long working hours due to regular after school meetings and PSSA (Primary Schools Sports Association) training provided less than adequate or ideal time for me to spend with my family and enjoy a reasonable work/life balance. The decision to take leave wasn’t easy; it’s difficult to remove yourself from a context in which you’ve invested so much of your time, effort and passion, but I really just needed a break.
Initially I was quite concerned about how things might pan out. A permanent teaching position provides security and regularity, leave entitlements, holiday pay, and various other benefits whereas teaching ‘casually’ provides none of those – you don’t know where you might be from one day to the next, there is no leave or holiday loading. There’s also the fact that I’d never before worked at schools locally and no one even knew who I was, at least on a personal basis anyway.
With these considerations in mind I cut off my NZ trip early, put together my CV and relevant paperwork and did the rounds, submitting it all and talking to APs and principals wherever I could.
I’ve been lucky and have quickly picked up work at a few local schools.
Last Friday I taught year 6 at a school around the corner from home.
On Monday I taught year 3 at a school a few suburbs away.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I went back to the school around the corner to cover their ‘STEM room’, teaching years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in that space over those three days.
Today I taught year 6 again at another school quite close to home.
One of the things I have noticed over the past week is that my initial concerns about returning to ‘casual’ teaching were actually some of the things that are most exciting. I’ve managed to teach across multiple grades and classes and really test my repertoire of teaching skills, whether that be teaching the content K-6, classroom management in new contexts, or gaining a working rapport with new faces. I’ve actually found it quite invigorating and affirming!
Returning to the title of this post, whilst working in the STEM room across almost all of the classes at the school around the corner, I came up with the mini-goal of teaching all years K-6 (all four NSW primary school stages – ES1, S1, S2, S3) within the space of a week. I almost got there, too, however the regular STEM teacher returned on Friday, which stopped me short of taking kindy for STEM. Alas.
I’ve been lucky enough to land a short block with year 2 at the end of term, and I’ve been using the hashtag #waginskiGapYear on Twitter so that I can keep track of all my adventures – feel free to follow if interested.
Thanks for reading!