Over the past few years, my life has gone through quite a few changes. Covid did a great deal to disrupt the way things were going (as they did for everyone) and it gave me quite a deal to consider.
My acting, obviously, took a hit over the pandemic, and then all the other changes in my life meant it was a lot harder for me to re-establish any work.
However, the change that I felt most poignantly was in teaching. The temporary move into online teaching had quite a profound effect on me and one I felt most acutely when I returned to the classroom. Suddenly, I found the continual stress, the lack of personal space, the way it left me exhausted after day to be unacceptable. As much as I had worked hard during lockdown, I had found that I really benefited from the level of control I suddenly had over my life – it hadn’t felt like I was juggling a dozen things at once because I actually had been able to choose and prioritise the needs of my work. Meanwhile, my role as a union rep within the college became far more important, in part due to the needs for increased scrutiny during Covid.
I left England to move to Scotland in 2021, taking up a teaching post at a school I’d never visited because interviews were all being conducted online. Here I had the opportunity to start again and make a brand new go at teaching in a new setting, bringing all of my training, my ideals and ambitions, into play. A fresh start to see if I could simply bring back a desire to teach through a fresh canvas, viewed through the lens of knowing what I no longer tolerated and knowing what was needed.
Put simply, this experiment proved to me that teaching was not where I wanted to be any longer, at least for the moment. I continued to be massively loyal to the students, going out of my way to ensure they were safe and happy and felt looked out for, but my passion for teaching itself seemed to be extinguished for the time being. One of the downsides of the Scottish teaching system is that, as someone coming from England through the School direct route, I didn’t have a PGCE. As such, I was forced to complete by PGCE during that year and was only able to work as a probationer. For reasons best known to GTCS, probationers only ever get a single year contact and are then left at the end of that year without any guarantee of a new job. While this put me in a very precarious position, considering I’d just moved to the area and certainly couldn’t afford, or have any inclination, to uproot my family yet again to move to somewhere new if there was nowhere to teach locally, it did have the hidden benefit of making me expand my job searched.
And there I struck lucky. I found my perfect job working for a union as an officer. Arguably, I’d got over a decade of experience as a trade unionist, so rather than a massive change, this was really a move into the career that I actually had the most experience in.
And that, my friends, is where I am now. Once I’m settled in the role, I fully intend to return to acting in my part time, but right now I’m very happy in what I can safely say is the best job of my life outside of acting.
Onwards and upwards!