I never wanted to be a teacher. Not really. I first got involved with a group called PHAB when I was a sixth former and part of that was going camping for a week. After that, all I really wanted to do was work with people, particularly those with a disability. While I was in the sixth form I also acted as a TA for a very low ability Y7 class, just for one Science lesson a week and that was good fun. I guess you could say it sowed the seeds for the future…
I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to Uni, but to save the ‘you’ve wasted your life’ lectures that were inevitable I went to Warwick to study Physics. Mostly because my Physics teacher told me that he didn’t think that it would be a good idea! While I was there, I volunteered once a week at a respite home for children with learning disabilities – and I loved it.
Once I graduated, I knew I didn’t want a milkround job, that I wanted to work with people, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep using my Physics. I got a job at the home I’d been volunteering at, and then another at a similar place and spent an enjoyable year or so working with adults and children in their homes and in the community. I loved it. Sadly, the hours did not love me, and the pay was not great. While wondering what to do next (and no, at that point management was not an option) someone suggested I teach. That way, I could work with people, doing regular hours for decent pay.
It took me nine years to make the move from Secondary to Special, with a varied career along the way. I love Special teaching. I just can’t see me doing it when I’m 50, let alone 68.
I never wanted children. I had thought about fostering one day, but I don’t want to do that on my own, so that looks like it won’t happen. I still can’t see me teaching for ever though, so I need to find something different to do. This is where my (current, long term) dream comes in.
I still want to work with people with learning disabilities. That’s what I really enjoy doing – and I am lucky enough to have a lot of friends from MENCAP. They want to work, and be useful. They are sad that their day centres and places of work are closing due to cuts. I want to do something for them, and people like them. I had thought about going back to the start and having my own group home, but there’s never a day off!
Instead, I’d like (maybe, perhaps) to have my own cake shop. I want to call it ‘love’. People with learning disabilities will help make the cakes, and serve them. Perhaps we can have a tea and hot chocolate machine, and even make bread and sandwiches. There’s literacy, numeracy and socialising experiences. We could take kids on work experience – and doing DofE. It would be great for the public to be able to come and visit, and see what we’re up to – and to learn that learning disability does not mean scary. I am aware that resources like this already exist. However, where I live they are tucked out of the way, or they are closing down.
Still, I’ve got a few more years teaching in me yet. Like I said, it’s a dream…