I don’t know what else I could do? Now what?

Leadership or teaching for that matter is hectic and doesn’t leave you a lot of time to explore what else you might want to pursue on the side or have as a passion project. So it’s not a surprise that when I stepped down from Leadership my mind said “I don’t what else I want to do now I don’t want to be a Head.’

This question has been going round in my head for years now. I love teaching and after 8 years I wasn’t sure what else I could do. I’m still not, to be frank, but I’m working on it. These are some of the things I’ve been doing that have provided the most benefit…

Get exploring

Just over a year ago I came across a brilliant book called ‘Creative Calling’ by Chase Jarvis. I’d stumbled across his podcast a month earlier and liked it so thought I’d give the book a go and bought it on Audible. The premise of the book is you are creative all the time. When you are cooking and you adapt a recipe, when you take different routes to work, our mind craves creativity so we shouldn’t try and bolt this part of us away. I also liked the fact that it realistic. It wasn’t telling me to quit my job, or go to an ashram in India to find myself first (something I wouldn’t mind checking out by the way!) but it spoke about the importance of side projects as creative outlets and then once you stumble across a few of those then building on the ones that bring you most joy and you see yourself being able to develop on. I would highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves a little lost on what else they could do outside teaching.

Look out for ideas everywhere

The other thing I would highly recommend is listening to podcasts. You’d be amazed what people are doing out there and making a decent amount of money from as a side hustle. I stumbled across Side Hustle School through a podcast (Yes I love podcasts) which is run by Chris Guillebeau and this really opened my eyes to the number of people who are investing time in these tiny niches to have several sources of income. Check out the website sidehustleschool.com The podcasts are quite short too and introduce to a range of ideas.

Learn some new skills

This could be painting, writing, singing, cooking, anything you want. The quickest and surest way to make sure you commit is join a course or group. I did a short story course in the evenings over 3 months to learn to write better (I’m still not sure I’m there yet, but met some great people!). I’m currently signed up to an online fashion course. Do I think I’m going to be the next Vivienne Westwood or George Orwell. No, that was not the intention to signing up to either courses, it was just to get better, learn and have some fun and then see where it goes. I’m still working on it…This is exactly why you can’t quit your day job. You are not going to fall into a new industry and own it in a month. This is going to be work. Make peace with that. But if you do stuff you enjoy you’ll find the pleasure of just doing it enough to keep you going.

Broaden your circle

This is something I need to work on. People make a living doing all sorts of wonderful things. I heard of a science teacher who went and lived in Rome for two years and worked in an art gallery before returning to teaching and I thought ‘Why the hell can’t I do that?’ Broaden your circle and find out what other people do, the more off the beaten track the better. Social media has made this so much easier. I know lockdown has posed some limitations to this but we have online courses you can join, interest groups online, do it!

These are just the few of the things I have done to explore what I might be passionate about.

Why I’m leaving School Leadership

I’m going to say this from the start

I have the uttermost respect for anyone working in School Leadership.

Having said that I don’t think it should be seen as the only sign of a successful career in education. I have been incredibly lucky in my career in teaching, I’ve had some phenomenal managers and mentors who I cannot speak of highly enough and I their support and encouragement taking me towards what I considered to be success, Headship.

Yet I realised over a period of time that the further up the leadership ladder I went the less joy I felt at work.

I love being in the classroom. There is a sheer joy to taking a group of students on a journey of learning whilst they are with you.

I haven’t felt this level of joy during many tasks I’ve completed for leadership. I know that as a leader you get to impact the lives of more young people. I however, felt that I was having a lesser impact. As a teacher I could have up to 150 students in my classroom in a day, as a leader I sometimes found myself going round in circles with the same 5. Maybe in hindsight I will be able to articulate my reasons in a better way, for now however I can only tell you that it didn’t bring me joy, nothing like the joy teaching in the classroom does.

Another niggling feeling was I wanted to explore life the way I was encouraging my students to.

I teach Business and Economics and am forever encouraging students to explore the heap of opportunities available to them in the world. But I felt like a fraud because the last time I had done that was in my 20s when I left Marketing for a career in education. That was the last time I felt fully alive, like I’d made a conscious decision and was steering my life in a way I wanted. As a result of this I’ve decided to teach part time and explore once again what the world has to offer. To figure out what I’m passionate about, to give things a go and see where life takes me. To have an adventure.

So let’s see what happens, this my just turn into a bit of a sabbatical where I explore life outside of school, I may well get my butt kicked or I may well fly. Either way, I’ll have lived a life of choice.

You can read about my exploration of other paths on my page ‘Side Hustles’