There seems to be an awful lot of bad press surrounding being a teacher at the moment. Long hours, workload and stress are all things that at some point or another I am sure every teacher in the profession has experienced, and I am no different. When I was asked to write this blog I started reflecting on my 14 years as a performing arts teacher. The truth is, it hasn’t been easy, in fact sometimes it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I’ve faced challenges in almost every aspect of my job, but do you know what? I have LOVED it. I’ve loved the buzz of a busy day. I’ve loved reaching inside myself to find new creative ways of doing things. I’ve loved the feeling of belonging to a team and working with the most inspirational adults I’ve ever met, and most of all I’ve loved making a difference to the lives of the students I’ve taught. I know that sounds like a huge cliché, but it really is true. When you strip it all away at the heart of everything a teacher does is a child whose life and future you have the opportunity to change. What can be more important than that? I have had the most incredible and exciting roller coaster ride over the last 14 years, which culminated in my being awarded KM Drama Teacher of the Year, something of which I am extremely proud of. Teaching has given me such huge confidence and has made me believe that anything is possible.
I’ve had many conversations in the past with teachers who are considering joining the profession or who are at the start of their career and are wondering how they can be the best teacher possible as well as maintaining a bit of private life sanity! You hear so much about work/life balance and I can understand why people are concerned. Being a teacher is one part of me, an intense part, but one part nevertheless. I am a wife, a mother, and a friend first and foremost and I try to put this at the centre of everything I do. Before I went into the teaching profession I was a performer and that remains a huge part of my life. I make time to be in shows, sing with bands and take regular dance classes, and that in turn makes me a better teacher. I can connect with my students because I really do understand what it is like to commit to rehearsals, learn lines, deal with nerves and all of the things that go along with being a performer. It’s great to be able to exchange stories and experiences with my students. We see each other’s shows and I have even been lucky enough to have shared the stage with them on a few occasions. If they can see you up there on stage practising the things you teach, it makes your relationship in the classroom much stronger and allows an environment of mutual respect for the arts.
I have learnt so much from working in education and the performing arts sector, and this has enabled me to fuse these two important parts of my life to move my career into an exciting new direction. I have recently set up a theatre-in-education company called Storytales Theatre. We take performance and workshops into school in order to inspire a lifelong interest in the arts. I still teach along-side this, and I really do feel content about the balance I have between all the things I love in my life.