My new job is a bit of a strange one, not something that I would have even known existed when I first left teaching. It's only been through luck and volunteering that I managed to find it. I am now a gardener but I work with adults with learning difficulties too.
It all came about because I made a promotional video for a department of the council that dealt with adults with learning difficulties. They were pleased with the result so I was asked to make a video for a gardening social enterprise. It was dead easy to make because wherever I pointed the camera something interesting was happening. I loved being there so much I decided to volunteer. And as luck would have it a job became available. I applied, got it and I've never looked back.
A typical day consists of loading up the van with petrol lawnmowers, strimmers and hedgecutters amongst numerous hand tools. I then take a team of four or five service users out into the community and we cut people lawns and generally keep their gardens tidy. I even get to use a sit on mower and if that doesn't make you jealous I don't know what will.
Sometimes we have to do garden clearances for people who are unable to do it themselves. We arrive and see a mass of long grass, overgrown hedges and shrubs intertwined with viciously barbed brambles. It's our job to cut all of this down - revealing hidden paths, patios and rockeries - remove the rubbish and do any finishing touches. These are some of the most rewarding jobs as the homeowners are usually so happy to have their gardens back in a tidy state that they feel more able to maintain. Tears have been shed.
Any brilliant aspect of this job in particular is working outside. Any sunny, I'm out in it. Any miserable rainy day, I stay and work in the garden centre. The winter was really miserable as a teacher, never seeing daylight. I don't tend to notice the shorter days now because I'm out in the light all day. I know that this won't apply to every job but it's definitely a bonus. No fake tan for me.
In my last post I talked about transferable skills. You're probably thinking, well then Mr Clever Pants, which teaching skills do you use in your lovely gardening job? Loads, is the answer. My behaviour management skills come into use on a fairly regular basis. Classroom management skills also transfer across pretty easily. I have to give out tasks to the service users and check that they carry them out properly and safely. Dealing with customers also draws on the skills that I developed when working with parents. An obvious link between teaching and what I do now is the training aspect. I train the service users to gain horticulture qualifications at our garden centre and also on the job. I've designed leaflets, produced spreadsheets and made promotional videos using the ICT skills I learnt whilst teaching. Oh, and I sometimes do the register.
As you can see teachers have such a vast range of transferable skills that they can be shoehorned into a wide variety of other jobs. Plus a teaching qualification can also be used to gain access to University courses and not just teaching based ones. If you're interested in retraining (and you've got a bit of spare cash knocking about for the fees) it's worth contacting a University and seeing if you're eligible. You may be pleasantly surprised.
I'm quite happy staying at this level of job. I don't get paid masses but I get home at a reasonable time (I work from 8:30 to 2:30) and never take work home. Despite that there are opportunities to progress if I wanted. I've done a high pressure job that pays relatively well though and I can't say that I'd want to go back.
Now that I've worked out there in the real world I've realised just how bad teaching was. I still work hard but I'm nowhere near as physically or mentally tired as I used to be. I generally work for ten weeks then have a week off. But on a fair few occasions I have worked for fifteen weeks without a break. If I'd done fifteen weeks teaching without a break I would have been dead. Yet in this job I don't need the holidays any where near as much. And when I do get a holiday it is a proper holiday where I can really relax without any job related worries. Despite the figures giving a very different picture, I would say that I actually get more holidays now than I did when teaching. It's a different world out there.
I've put it off for a long time, working really hard to give you the positives of leaving teaching - after all, it's the best move that I've ever made and I don't regret leaving for an instant - but it seems like I've skirted the issue of money for far too long. So I promise I'll deal with it in my next post.