I have always needed the sort of job where it matters if I turn up or not, a sort of vanity. I’ve had office jobs were i’ve spent hours spinning on my wheely chair looking up at the ceiling or wondering if I can get to the vending machine without anyone noticing. This inability to work without an audience led me to education, I could make a difference in education. For several years I taught adults to read and write but I soon realised that I was too late. They already hated education, had no spark for knowledge and no fire burned bright inside their bellies no matter how hard I tried. I realised that I had to reach them while they were young, the younger the better and that led me to Early Years.
In 2011 I started working part time in a local nursery while my own children were 6 and 7. I had no knowledge of child development or of any curriculum and questioned absolutely nothing. Then I transferred to another setting with the most incredible, inspiring practitioner I had ever met. She was funny, dynamic, talented and loved learning although her personal circumstances meant that she couldn’t progress beyond Level 4. I already had a degree in English so the next step for me was to gain Early Years Professional Status and then, and then my life tipped upside down.
Maybe i’ll tell you why in another blog, but let’s just say I had to get divorced, quick. I was left with a mortgage to pay, no child maintenance and only a part time income. I knew that I would be solely responsible for bringing up my children financially and physically for the rest of my life. I needed to be the best I could be to earn as much as I could to support them.
At the time the government started to offer Early Years Teacher Training instead of EYPS and fully funded. In 2013 I applied to the Eastern Leadership Centre which worked in partnership with the University of East Anglia, University of Suffolk and Cambridge and it was the only EYTT course running in my area. I applied to complete the course over a year but in my interview they decided that I could do it in 6 months because of my experience. Panic.
The workload was heavy, collecting evidence for my portfolio and judging which teaching standard it met was immense, plus trying to fit it all in with two young children was so hard. I found that I had to timetable for every piece of work to make sure I got it finished so I didn’t find myself on the sofa cradling the remote. But that wasn’t the worse part, the worst part was that the more that I read, the more I discovered I didn’t know. It was like looking at the stars, the more you look, the more you see. I began to question everything, I developed my own critical voice, I reflected on my practice and I began to realise how much I had to offer these children. I’d finally made a difference, it mattered if I went to work.
Upon completion of my EYTT in 2014 I was promoted to Room Leader in my original setting. Ofsted had just visited and gave a ‘Requires Improvement’ judgement. I applied everything I had read about on my EYTT and when we were inspected a year later we achieved ‘Good’. At my EYTT graduation, I was approached by one of the tutors who wanted to know what I was going to do next, ‘Teach’ I said. ‘No’ she said, ‘you’re going to do your Masters so that you can teach what you know to other practitioners and then they can teach their children, that way you reach so many more’. She was right, I was hooked, I applied for my Masters the next day...