18 months ago I set up Word Academy and a year ago today I was getting ready for my first week as a full time tutor. I had given up my full time job at a local school and the possibilities of what I could do to fill my time were endless: exercise classes, walks, lunches with my husband on his day off, drop offs and pick ups for the kids, DIY, cleaning, shopping, life admin, time with my family and I could attend assemblies and shows at my kids' school. So the question is, was it what I expected and has it paid off?
Well, as with most things, yes and no. I have been able to some extent do all of the things that I listed above. The biggest success has been the quality and amount of time with my family. I see much more of my kids and my parents each week and Fridays are just lovely: a weekly bootcamp and then often the chance for a lunch with my husband before classes start at 3.30pm. I've taken holidays in term time, dropped my children off each morning and pick them up much more than I used to, I am grumpy with them less and the house is in a slightly better state than it used to be: by Fridays last year the washing up had often got rather out of hand!
On the other hand, I thought I would have a lot more time through the school day: it turns out that it is possible to blink between 9am and 3pm and the kids are ready to come home from school. On the rare occasions that I am not teaching through the day, the time whizzes by so fast and I have not always achieved nearly as much as I thought I would... The DIY has certainly gone out of the window!
It is also busy because I have been surprised to find that there are a number of students locally who need tutoring THROUGH the school day: home educated students, mature students and students who are between schools or are long term sick. In December, I taught 10 hours of lessons per week during school time, something I really did not expect a year ago. With that, planning for lessons, marketing, admin and the reading I need to do for A-level, my days are full. On top of that I teach from 3-6/7 3 evenings a week and have a later night 1-1 once a week too. It really is busy!
Do I miss the camaraderie of the staff room? Well, of course. Break and lunch times were always fun at both secondary schools I worked in and having someone to complain to was a much needed release. However, I really just don't have as much to complain about! The children who come to my classes want to be there (or at least understand the importance of being there and working hard) and the pressure on me is much lower. I see lots of students and parents every day and work in close proximity to local business owners for a dose of sanity when it's needed!
My extra time has given me opportunities to get to know a whole host of people from the local village that I just never saw because I was working so hard: mums at school; people at exercise classes and I now run book clubs for adults and volunteer monthly at a local eco shop to help people cut down on plastic use. My life is much more varied in many ways than when I was just too exhausted for it to be anything but school and home and back to school again.
For anyone thinking about going for it and getting out of education (and I know there are a fair few), there is one word of warning: money. You are unlikely to earn the same as you did as a teacher in the first year unless you are very lucky. If you cannot afford a pay cut, it may not be time for you. On the other hand, if you want a simpler life and are willing to take a cut to get one, then my first year as a full time tutor should teach you that anything is possible. I love it!