Thursday, 27 July 2017

Changing horses

Over the last couple of days, as a staff, we have been having professional learning about Careers/Pathways education, so that we can advise our hublings and help them to think about a wide range of possible futures. This has started me thinking about my own career, and those of others my age, who are in a world where things are changing in a way we are the least likely to understand. 

In the last year or so I have been morphing from an English teacher into a History and Classics one. It has been (and still is) a huge change for me as I feel that I just don't have the depth of subject knowledge that my colleagues in this school, or in those subject areas in other schools, have. As an experienced teacher, I feel quite challenged by not really knowing what I need to know, and realise that it will take me a long time to gain the depth to feel confident about facilitating my students into and through big stakes assessments.

At the same time, one of the facts that we learned at our professional learning is that typically, on average, millennials spend between nine and twelve months in a job. When employers are talking about longer retention, they are talking in terms of 18 months being good. (What?! I feel so old...)

How do I fit my concept of long-term learning and continuous development into a format that my hublings will ever be able to use? And how do I look at myself and what I do as not being completely out of sync with the way things are in the world.

I think there are some things that apply, whatever stage of ones career we might be at, and whatever generation we belong to:
  • Be prepared for continuous change - in my case, it is very slow, over a long period of time. For my hublings, it will be a lot quicker. But for each of us, it needs to be at a pace that we can assimilate. The point is to acknowledge that it will happen, and therefore to make sure that for each of us, it will proceed in a way that is planned and advantageous to us - not just to wake up and find that change has happened and either we don't know what to do now, or we have been left behind.
  • Be prepared that it might not work - my husband last year left the Armed Forces after a very long career; lots of different roles but the same organisation throughout. He moved into the commercial sphere. He knows that the move was the right thing, and the job that he has had since that point has been an excellent introduction to that outside world. But, it has been challenging, and stressful, and it may well not be the right place to stay. Looking at the stats that our Pathways Leader (Careers teacher) was telling us, maybe he should be moving on. Maybe he needs to take this experience and learn from it, and look for something not quite the same. Understanding that something is not quite right, is not the right fit, is not failure. If it doesn't work, it is a learning experience, and moving on without making it work is actually okay.
  • Be happy - my job is stressful, and full-on, and I really am not making things easier for myself by taking on new roles and study in addition to my everyday teaching (which isn't everyday at the best of times anyway). But I love it. I want to learn more, I want to be involved more, I want what I do to make a real difference. I came back to teaching three years ago for financial reasons, and I really feel that if I had not found a niche where I can be excited about what I do, I would not still be here. And I also feel that if the excitement isn't there, then it is the wrong place to be, whatever your career, but especially in Education!
The saying goes "don't change horses mid-stream", which means once you have made a decision, you should stick to it. But I don't think this is true any longer. I think that the parameters that are in place at any given point of one's career are not fixed forever, and so as our priorities, our understanding, our interests, and our circumstances all change, so we should actually be prepared to make the leap from one horse to the other, even if it doesn't seem like the safest thing to do.

What do you think? What other ideas do you have that I can explain to my hublings at the same time as I assimilate it myself? Is the idea of a career a completely unrealistic, dead thing? Let me know...

#hpsschool  #continuouslearning  #careerforlife?  

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