Education, Life Experience

My thank you to my high school internship

Welcome to Brigshaw High School, where everyone is happy and nothing ever goes wrong.

What is ironic about this statement is that this is how I used to view school. When I was here as a student I loved it, the teachers were great, I had friends and I was getting good grades. Since coming back, however, it’s felt like a different story. I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but these last ten months have made it clear to me that I categorically don’t. I think as an ex-student it’s been ten times more difficult than it would be for a brand spanking new member of adult staff, because with some teachers, they have come across as if they can’t handle it. Without holding a grudge or becoming bitter about this last academic year, I have learnt a lot – it’s been an interesting and revealing experience and I don’t regret taking this opportunity for one second. Rather than take up a PGCE qualification and wasting a year of time, energy and money, I have earnt my way through a full school year, taking in everything I have learnt and feeling grateful that I have not thrown my life away into education just yet. Being at a challenging high school for a year has encouraged me to think that I might look into teaching one day, maybe when the age gap between me and some of the students is more than five years. One of the factors of not wanting to be a teacher is that I don’t feel wise enough yet, I haven’t finished learning and I’m not prepared to mould the next generation just yet; I’m still having my day.

I was afraid of teenagers when I was a teenager and that hasn’t changed. They can be pretty intimidating with their outrageous hairstyles, their strange language (like, what does dench even mean?!) and their absolutely solid attitudes. They’re not afraid of you and if you’re fresh meat with a nervous face like me, they know exactly how scared you are of them. There are only so many times that saying ‘I’m going to report that!’ in a squeaky voice is going to make them laugh before they become completely immune and deaf to it. But as we know from GCSE Media Studies (or mine 7 years ago, anyway), teenagers aren’t all bad; that’s just a nasty stereotype that The Mirror and The Sun have shoved down the public’s throats for years now. Some kids at school were lovely, mature and so easy to help and get on with. The ones I didn’t have to chase around the school, the ones I didn’t have to yell at in the middle of a lesson and turn myself into a shaking piece of meat, the ones I didn’t have to refrain from telling they would never succeed if they carried on in this way. Some actually wanted to be at school and they were the ones that made my days feel like they meant something.

Now, I’ve voiced pretty strong opinions since starting at school and I haven’t necessarily agreed with the way that they have run things. I didn’t agree that as a group of new members of staff, we were constantly referred to as the collective of ‘The Interns’ (and never in a positive way), even last week when some of us left. There was nothing personal about being in that group and it never felt like other staff truly accepted us because they could group us together and use us as one great big scapegoat. I also didn’t agree with having little to no training even though there were a whole five training days. In my personal experience, I was expected to work with certain students who had life-threatening conditions and being left alone with them before having training on their conditions and how to work with them was something that I could never quite understand or get on board with. We did have some training a few weeks into September, but by then it felt too late to me. And don’t get me wrong, the training that we did receive was good and well delivered by people that I eventually got quite close to, but I can’t really forgive the school for not giving it sooner, or even giving me (and us) a heads up.

I want to thank the school for giving me the experience that I gained; to be able to respond to an aggressive teenager without swearing at them; to be able to improvise when thrown in a room alone with thirty eleven year olds; to be able to find something to do when faced with sitting in an exam room; and to be able to smile when everything is gradually crumbling inside. I’ve been employed for a year, pretty much as soon as I finished uni (after working at Carluccio’s restaurant for a week – never again, dear god), and I’ve been able to pay my rent easily for the last ten months without much worry – something that is looking bleak at the moment. I’ve made friends all over again; people who I thought I wouldn’t see again and who have helped me through this year. I’ve made friends with some of the teachers, something that I wasn’t necessarily expecting and I met some awesome sixth formers who I hope to keep in touch with.

What I sometimes feel, though, as I start my new job in York, is that I’ve wasted the last year doing something that won’t further my career. I feel like I could or should have been putting my energy into something more relevant to me, and I just wonder where I would be now if that had been the case. I know, though, that teaching is not for me (yet) and that I want to be my own boss one day. I know more about myself and what I’m capable of so where it’s been a really difficult year, it has been enriching on a personal level and now it’s over and done with I can look back and see the positives rather than the extremely dark days.

Life Experience, Misc.

New Digs

Last Tuesday we got the keys to our new 5 bedroom student house in the centre of York. In the last four years, I’ve lived in a total of 5 houses but there is something wholly different about this one. In my third year I lived in a brand new build, had an en suite and a massive living room – it was awesome. And this one isn’t far different. It’s older, meaning that like a lot of buildings in York it’s actually a little bit wonky and it’s a little smaller, with far more nooks and crannies that you wouldn’t find in a new house. But I love it. 10 minutes from town, Waitrose and Morrisons up the road, what more do you need?

I’ve never seen a student bedroom so big in all my life, but mine is what you would describe as massive. I’ve actually struggled placing everything that I have because there are so many options. We have a dining table in the kitchen – a luxury that most student houses don’t provide or have the space for, and there’s an extra toilet downstairs which is useful when there are six people living in one house together.

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A funky panorama of our new bedroom (before everything was unpacked)
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A slightly blurry panorama of our new living room – complete with something weird on one of two TVs

I’ve also had a lovely twenty minute walk to work (by work I mean to the lift to work) by the riverside, to the Millennium Bridge in York. It certainly beats walking down lots of busy main roads when you’re still half asleep on a morning; this gives me a chance to wake up.

IMG_20150713_065631Having said that, I’ve only got 3 days left at school. And then that’s it. This whole year which I’ve occasionally documented to you via this blog is coming to a sweet end. I don’t want to say I’ll be glad to leave, but let’s just say I won’t be too upset.

The task now is to find a job in York which I can use to pay the rent on my new house!

Education, Life Experience

Little Knockbacks

A kid told me today that he hopes I don’t get another job. Not because he wants me to stay, which wouldn’t be possible on the temporary contract, but because he thought he was being funny. He saw me planning out a cover letter and said I should pay someone recruitment company to do that instead because – apparently – it’s stupid. And that’s how you get a job in this world. I replied saying that it’s actually an important job and his retort was, “I hope you don’t get it,” with a grin.

Don’t take things to heart is what I’ve always been told but it stung me. I feel like the whole world is against me at the moment for getting started on my career. A few comments from people who otherwise have no business in my career aspirations actually go a long way. It feels like every time someone says something, my confidence is knocked back. I am really intent on discovering my perfect job and I feel like I’m so close, but at the same time, so far.

Education, Life Experience

Fitting In

Being in the cool group at school was never my jam – I say that, I don’t think I would have been invited anyway – but when university struck, all of a sudden there were people that wanted to spend time with me. Sweet. Since then, for the last three and a bit years, I’ve been fine, I’ve felt like I’ve slotted perfectly into everything I’ve done with the people I’ve been with. Now, though it’s a different story. Because I now know what I want to do with my life and because I know that it’s not workinggallery-hsieh in a school, I suddenly feel out of place. I still care about the job (heck, you’ve gotta when you work with children) and I still do my best, but it’s as though there’s this bubble around me with a sticker on it saying ‘Odd One Out’ or something.

I’ve had a few suggestions from some teachers recently that they don’t even know I work here and I’m pretty sure some of them think I’m a student. One just this morning opened her mouth to stop me walking down the corridor and when I smiled, I got an unimpressed look back at me, as if I’d deceived her or something. It probably doesn’t help that I used to come to this school as a teenager, but I’ve got to say, the people I’m finding that are doing this most arrived here long after I’d even left, which gives them zero excuses.

The career that I want is entirely different to this and I’m waiting for it to come along any time soon. Trouble is as well, this is only a temporary contract, so whichever sector it was in, I think by this point I’d be getting antsy. What I’m most scared of is leaving here without a job lined up and I can’t keep going in these circles. I need something I can progress in because I’m twenty-two now and should start acting more like an adult. Hopefully I will find something where I fit in with the rest of them and don’t have to worry about being told to take my jacket off on the corridors…

Life Experience, World

11 and a half months to go…

I’ve been looking at 2015, the 11 and a half months ahead, trying to find something exciting. Like last year, in 2014 I was still at uni, living it up, making films, making friends and such. I had graduation, a holiday in Mexico and three new jobs. 2015, however, well…this year I will finish my job in the summer, and there are no holiday prospects…all a bit sad, really, isn’t it?

So, I have taken it upon myself under my new year’s resolutions to stop being a misery guts this instant and make things for myself to do. I need to learn to drive, there’s one. I want to go on holiday – to wowcher.co.uk!

I just need something to keep me going…anything to show me that life isn’t boring and that 2015 – the coolest sounding year so far – is going to be good. I suppose we’ll just have to see.

Education, Life Experience, World

Epiphanies of 2015

I previously told you my New Year’s resolutions, things like get into shape, learn to drive, the usuals, y’know. But I think the biggest one of all that I didn’t even write down on that list is that I’m going to change my outlook on life. Wutt, what does that even mean? Okay *deep breath* here goes.

Before Christmas, probably 6 or so weeks before, I really started to get down about life. I mean, what’s the point when you spend what feels like more than half your life at work? Get up at 5:45, have an hour journey to work, work 8 hours, wait two hours to go home and then all of a sudden it’s bedtime and you have to be up again bright (or not in December) and early in the morning to do it all again. I just started to look at my life as though I wasn’t happy and the only time I would be happy was when I was with family or friends, doing my own thang, in York or otherwise. I hated getting up every single day to go to work (I do like work, I just have other things in life that I prefer to do, like, y’know, shopping…) and come home just to scoff dinner and then go to sleep. I didn’t see anyone outside of work and I couldn’t spend my time relaxing or getting on with hobbies that I like.

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I loved the freedom at uni, just being able to, I dunno, go to Tesco at midnight, or go watch a film in the evening, or sleep til I was no longer tired. Being at uni was free, despite the assignments and the hard work, it’s essentially still your choice to do what you please and when. That’s what got me – the time. Everything is scheduled, do this at exactly 11:20, you may not eat until 13:20 and it’s like that in most jobs, some places even worse (restaurant peeps, am I right). I was adamant that as soon as I had enough money I would set up my own little business or start writing for realz and work from home (which is still an ambition of mine, but it’s not exactly a burning desire anymore). Life was just getting too much. I can’t tell you how painful it is (although you probably know all too well) getting up in the dark, travelling in the dark, being stuck inside all day and then going home in the dark. It’s not like working down a mine or anything, but it sure can feel like it sometimes.

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And then after Christmas, I realised how morbidly depressing I’ve been. I realised that I was taking things far too seriously and needed to lighten up – the job I have is challenging, there’s no two ways about it, but it’s not as difficult as a lot of customer service jobs. I can, essentially, do my own thing and work how I want to, provided that I’m in the right place at the right time. I must have had an epiphany or something of the sort because I suddenly understood why I’d been so unhappy. I’d looked at travelling to work as a negative – ‘ugh, don’t wanna go’ – whereas I should have been looking at it like ‘it’s a really clear morning, such fresh air, wow’. I need to take everything just one hour at a time, rather than a day, because my days are so jam packed of stuff to do that I get bogged down in it all and constantly live in the near future; I’m always three or four hours ahead. I used to look at the clock when I got home and knew I had only three and a half hours before I should go to bed. I knew I had only 6 hours to sleep. I used to think at the end of the day ‘in two hours’ time I’ll be home…if we’re not late…’. This wasn’t good for me. At all. This way of thinking makes the days unattractive and bulky.

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I guess my mission statement would read ‘Take every hour as it comes and think of the positives things that I’m going to achieve.’ Because even though there may be no major achievements that day, there are always minor ones. Maybe I got a pupil to write one more sentence than they did the other day, maybe I had a teacher smile on me on the corridor, maybe I managed to help someone, I don’t know. The achievement of this hour? I’ve written this. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, about how I’m trying really hard to change my mindset, because it’s not easy at all. It’s actually really difficult because, of course, life gets in the way as per. Bad things to happen and things do go wrong. There are stresses in the world that we can’t avoid, sometimes as simple as someone not replying to an email when we’d like but they’re there to make us stronger. I think, anyway.

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Christmas has really lightened my spirits about things (don’t know how long it’s gonna last, like, she says) and I’m really trying hard not to get upset or down over everything. It seems to be working, I feel more awake, more aliveeee. Hehe. Taking each hour as it comes probably wouldn’t work for everyone, but it’s working for me and will feel like it’s prolonging my life because omg hours have just been flying past this last three years and I’ve barely noticed…I’m 22, I still feel 19. Eek.

(The pictures are to break up the post because it’s kinda serious and we all like cute animals, right?)

Education

Memoirs of a Geisha

I never used to read. Other than Twilight when I was a tween and Eragon which is one of my favourite books, it never was one of my hobbies. I always had a stack of books in my room though, because they interested me. Books are fascinating, how you can get so absorbed into a set of pages and some characters that most of the time somebody has invented. They’re such a weird concept but I’ve always love them, I’ve just never really read them.

That was until I started working at school and became part of a year 8 reading class. It was a cold morning. And I was tired. It had been suggested to me that I bring in one of my own books because all the class would be doing for an hour would be reading in silence. But, silly me had ‘forgotten’ (I have three books atop my wardrobe in York sitting there, unread from an equivalent of Pound Stretcher so you see my reason for neglect) so I was forced to choose one post haste from the school library. I headed immediately for the sixth form section, hoping to find something I wanted to read because I have a real issue with choosing books or even films sometimes. So I browsed for a few moments and then chose something I’d never even heard of before. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. During that hour I read the first 27 pages and I was hooked. Like, really hooked. I’ve never felt like this about a book before, I’ve never been interested in a book like this before. But there’s something about it that I find incredibly interesting. If you don’t know it, like I didn’t, it’s about a young girl who is taken from her little fishing village and is given to an okiya in Kyoto to train to become a geisha. It’s all about her dealing with changes and expectations of women in 1930s Japan and it’s wonderful. I can’t stop reading, like really. I’m only on page 305 out of 493 so I have no idea what happens or how it ends so please no spoilers! Cheers.

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I’m also planning to watch the film (which is on Netflix thankfully) because film adaptations of books always fascinate me, I’m even looking at pursuing a masters degree in the subject.

Anyhow, I’m really happy to be back in the routine of reading. It’s nice, it’s exciting and it’s a different experience to watching a film (don’t start on which medium is better, I can’t handle it) and I have a growing stack of books on my bookshelf that I want to read and that have been recommended to me by many people. How exciting! But so far, I would highly recommend this book. It’s so, so interesting, I think I’m going to read some more now…