Monday, 10 November 2008

When you come full circle...

I have just finished another day in the classroom – albeit completely exhausted! I moved into the hostel yesterday, and though I did have the potential for a decent night’s sleep, stress kept me up for most of the night. The last 72 hours have been highly tumultuous, thanks to 2 moves, two nights in a dungeon, and facing the prospect of living in the armpit of five other girls in a 6-bed dorm. I must say I was highly displeased to find that the “secure” baggage room at the hostel, had been emptied of all bags, which were then left haphazardly in the hall. So much for security…and so much for storing a bag.

In the past couple of days I have come to the realization that I need to figure out what to do with my life. It is a catch-22. Let me start by saying that I do not want to leave England. I want to stay. Unfortunately, the underlying reality that I do not want to teach, is a continuing issue that I must face. As such, I have begun the process of returning to Canada. What does this mean exactly? Does this mean that I won’t return to the UK? No. Not at all. I have realized that under the right circumstances, and in the correct profession, I could be happy here. Unfortunately there are too many variables that are contributing to my misery.

In the process of deciding what to do, I have finally contacted my thesis advisor. Yes, it is time. I need to clear those two classes that have been weighing heavily on my mind for the past three (yes, 3) years. Why haven’t I finished them? I took a detour into education! Do I regret that? Not so much. In the long run, I am sure that having an Ed. degree will be somehow beneficial to my future pursuits. Whether it be in handling individuals, dealing with stressful situations, I figure there must me some sort of benefit to the degree. Financially, yes I do regret the degree; but again, maybe in the future it will pay off.

Part of what has spurred this on, is my discovery of the online-Masters-degree option. The University of Liverpool offers two online degrees in Business. The real benefit is that a student can take up to six years to complete the course. This is a good option. Again though, I must complete my undergraduate thesis in order to pursue this sort of an option. Why business? There are jobs in business. I need to be in an adult driven world. I realize that teachers are fulfilled by the idea of inspiring students – and there was a time that I was too. Unfortunately I have lost the desire. Maybe too much time has been spent listening to teachers who speak negatively of the profession. Or maybe my years of working in schools has shown me another side to the profession – the side that I do not wish to indulge in. Does this mean that I will never teach again? No. It means that right now, it isn’t for me.

Today I taught five periods of science. I can say that I was completely lost in one of them – upper level chemistry. I have not taken a chemistry class in 12 or so years and it definitely wasn’t one of my strong subjects. Luckily the other four periods were in biology related subjects – I understood them. Today a student shoved me, much to the excitement of the class (not happy excitement, but it involved drama so they were keen). This led to the great concern among several teachers and heads of department – oh – and paperwork. And apologies. And concern from a supervisor who was worried that I was hurt or would quit the profession on the spot (ironic, isn’t it?). I do not believe that the student intended to shove me, or at least that is what I reported. I did not freak out, or get angry – I was more concerned about the student who took the action. I put on a stern appearance for the sake of the other students (I can’t be perceived as being indifferent to the situation) but truthfully, I just wasn’t overly bothered. Obviously I can’t go into great detail, but such is life.

Aside from this drama, I spent another day responding to Canada questions:

“Miss, what is Canada like?”
“Miss, what is school in Canada like?”
“Miss, do we sound strange to you?”
And then the personal questions…

“Miss, do you like England?”
“I do” and that isn’t a lie.

“Miss, are you a teacher?”
A little confused about this one…I was teaching the class, after all.

“Miss, did you go to school to become a teacher?”
“Nope. Never stepped foot in a school before today.”

“Miss, how long did you go to school for?”
“Let’s not go there.”

“Miss, do you have tattoos?”
“Yes you do. You have one.”
“I don’t have one.” Officially I have two, so I wasn’t lying.

My favourite conversation; between three girls:
“So this guy is working at KFC. What a joke. I mean it is fine if you own the KFC, but to work there? That is so pathetic.”
“I know! You can’t live like that!”
Leanne: “Ok listen, keep in mind that I have 3 university degrees and back home, all I was qualified to do was work in a KFC or MacDonald’s. It happens.”
*three girls look at me shocked
“Miss has three degrees and could only work in KFC where she lived!”
“Miss! We didn’t mean to offend you.”
Leanne: “Life doesn’t always happen the way we like it to.”
**truthfully, the job situation in Thunder Bay is often so bad, that I’m not even sure I could get a job at KFC.

Prior to coming to the UK, I would argue with a friend regarding soccer-football. I refused to call it football until I was officially in the UK. It was a little part of my Canadian identity. In August I had pink streaks put through my hair as my last hurrah before “taking a grown up job” – in October I had my hair coloured to reflect “being grown up”. Last week I gave up the last part of my personal identity when I finally removed 3 sets of earrings from my ears. I couldn’t hide them any longer, and being that I was in a school with a fairly strict dress code, I knew it was time. What is the importance of this? Maybe it boils down to the fact that everyday Leanne gives up a bit of Leanne, whether it be in a physical or emotional sense. No matter what happens this week or next, I know things have changed, and I know I have to look towards the future. If and when I go home, now or in December, I know I need to get off the pot and commit to something.

In reality it does kill me to leave England. If I could live and work in something other than teaching, I think I would stay. If I could head to a place in England and know that I could make enough money to survive, I would. Right now though, I finally understand what it is that I have to do. And maybe that makes this experience ok.

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