I am unemployed for the first time in 20 years. It’s my own fault (decision) as I had handed my letter of resignation to the head teacher in August knowing that I had no intention of having another job for at least a year. We (my husband Alex and I) had decided to sell our house in London and buy in Kent, therefore saving enough money to go to the French Alps for a winter season of snowboarding and general unemployment. Then I found out I was pregnant with our a second child and the decision was cemented. Throw caution to the wind and take a chance. No snowboarding for me but at least I could make a good effort at being jobless in the snow and consume a lot of cheese. Good for me, good for the French economy. I’m sure that there’s a positive in there somewhere.
Alex and I had both been teachers for 13 years. We used to love the profession; we were passionate about our subjects, our students and our careers. Slowly over the last few years we’d seen some of that passion ebb away like the puckering and eventual sinking of a once boyant birthday baloon. For me it was having out first child. It made me realise that I was bringing too much home. Too many hours spent in the evening planning, marking and worrying about policy changes and whether I was doing enough. I still felt the love for my subject and the commitment to my students but not the profession. That was being chipped away by workload, beaurocracy, continual governmental policy changes, new buzz words, incentives to get more money, performance related pay, acadamisation. Who on earth gives a shit about resilience if the word is mentioned 28 times in our first staff meeting of the year? I’d laugh it off if it wasn’t so soul crushingly stupid. Every year a new focus from the people above. Raining shit psychobabble down on us through uninspired use of PowerPoint. Arrgh! PowetPoint, the killer of inset day enthusiasm. Just sit there whilst I read to you what you can obviously read for yourselves. You are teachers? You can read can’t you? All of it was starting to make me feel bitter about my career. Nobody likes a bitter teacher. We’ve all had one. For whatever reason they hate their job and they make sure that the students feel it. My acid test for bitterness is Mr Edmunds. He was my D&T teacher for GCSE. I’m surprised that I became a D&T teacher myself because he was singularly the most bitter and resentful person I have had the misfortune to call Sir. He told my friend Karen that Graphics wasn’t her strong point, she’s now a successful Graphic Designer. That aside, he was mean, boring, resentful of talent in others and an all round git. I did not want to become somebody’s Mr Edmunds. So I quit. Maybe I’ll go back to it in a few years time as I probably can’t do anything else ( those that can, do) and all that. Pay was OK, holidays good but the other stuff? Not worth it.
So it’s 2016. I’m 5 months pregnant, unemployed and living in France