Exactly a year ago, I wrote a post about changing my career and the difference it’d already made to my life, shortly after starting a full-time post as a teaching assistant.
I’ve now finished my first full year in the role, and honestly never could I have dreamt 18 months ago when stress and anxiety consumed every working day that I could love a job so much.
There’ve been lowlights of course, like the time I had to call 999 (all was fine in the end) or y’know, the time the school got flooded.
One time I had to pick up poo off the floor – that wasn’t so great – and another involved raw egg on the carpet. There have been cut knees and bumped heads and nosebleeds, all the standard things that happen when kids are kids but that you don’t happen to come across in 5 years of agency life.
There have been times when I’ve cried because my heart has been breaking and there have been times when I’ve wanted to cry out of pure frustration at seeing children make bad choices.
But these are all tiny elements of a rich tapestry that was the 2018 – 2019 year.
I went on a trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and on seeing the lions, a six year old said “I never knew lions were that real”. We drafted questions in class to ask a Brazilian colleague about her country, and a child asked “were you born normal or magical?”. We wrote letters to our new teachers and a 7 year old described themselves as a great hugger. One child told me that their Grandad had been a Viking. There has honestly never been a dull day.
I’ve seen the look of excitement and wonder on the children’s faces when we discovered an alien landing in the playground, not to mention the time we found a fairy door in our classroom or the time the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk had left us a message.
I’ve seen the look of pride on their faces at accomplishing tricky challenges; whether it was the time they beat the number of skips they could do in a row, the lightbulb moment when they figured out a new concept in Maths, or the time they realised they’d managed to write a whole page in English. Maybe it was the time their artwork got included in a display, or the time they won the race on Sports Day, the time some of their writing got published in an actual newspaper (that happened!) or the time they got up on stage and performed to a whole hall of people.
The truth is that nothing could compare to any of these moments. Changing my career is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and picking up poo is more than worth it to have a job where I get to make a difference.
I said the following in that post a year ago, and I stand by it: whether you’re just graduating and feel like you want to do something different from what you’ve studied, whether you’re in your late twenties like me, or whether you’ve worked in one field for decades (my mum totally changed it up at about 50), there is always the potential to change what you do and it’s not a step backwards, it’s a step sideways to go forwards.
It’s never too late to change what you do.