Last Christmas, Santa was very generous and very surprising. He not only brought a lot of presents, but also changed the way he gave them to us. As every year, he brought material things, yet this time, many of them were for the whole family to share (a Solowheel, a scooter…). Apart from material things Santa left a couple of experience-presents to share. The first one was a bunch of tickets for all of us to have free horse riding lessons (mainly because, as he explained on the letter he left, he couldn’t grant little Raúl’s wish and bring a real horse). The second huge surprise was for little María, but it involved the whole family: free flight tickets to London for all of us to spend five days there at the end of January 2017. What a coincidence that we’re arriving in London one day and the day after, I’m attending an event I’ve been invited to, that may change our near future and our lives. Let me explain it.
I don’t mean to be conceited nor arrogant but, as many of you may know, for several years I’ve been listening to a Financial Times Podcast made by a journalist called Lucy Kellaway. As the FT website indicates, Lucy Kellaway is an Associate Editor and management columnist of the FT. For the past 15 years her weekly Monday column has poked fun at management fads and jargon and celebrated the ups and downs of office life.
I’ve been a regular listener-admirer to her podcasts because her articles have always given me the chance to kill three birds with one stone: stay abreast and learn about economy and office matters, improve my English, and have lots fun. However, during the last few months I’ve been trying to disconnect from social media (and technology in general) so it had been a while since the last time I listened to one of her magnificent podcasts. It was fate that I had some sores on my lower back at the end of November, and maybe it was because of the karma that the physiotherapist that my wife recommended was a bit behind that day and I had to seat a bit in the waiting room. The fact is that it was purely coincidence that I came across a tweet by Lucy Kellaway in which she explained that she was quitting her 31-year career to retrain in education.
As people of her level do, not only she was going to quit her job, but also she was co-founding a charity (called Now Teach) to encourage others to do the same. This project is designed to persuade “determined people with a couple of decades’ professional experience to retrains as teachers”. She said that she had grown used to messages from corporate layers, senior managers and bankers bleating “My job no longer has any meaning” and “I want to give something back” but she knew that it wasn’t easy to chuck in a well-paid job and start again in something as hard as teaching. Expecting to find about 20 successful older people within about 8 months, she was surprised to receive more than 20.000 visits on their web and more than 100 applications within 24 hours of her column being published.
I heard my name and looked up to see a nurse beckoning me to follow her to meet the physiotherapist. During the time the massage lasted, I had stuck on my mind that article that I couldn’t finish reading. Something that I amended as soon as I got back home. Ten minutes later, feeling my lower back muscles much better, I couldn’t believe it when I told my wife and kids, (mainly kidding) that I could find a job in London as a teacher, and my eldest daughter goggled at me and said: “Yes, I want to live in London”.
Was it my daughter who prompted me to apply for the Now Teach job? Was it a rush of happiness after the relief of the massage? Was it maybe many years of listening to my unprofessional boss absurdities? Never mind, the thing is that I filled out the form on the first of December and a few days later, the selfsame Lucy Kellaway emailed me inviting me to an open evening on the 26th of January and to a brief conversation on the phone to talk about the selection process.
The week after, we talked on the phone for the first time and after telling her that it was an honour just to talk to her, and that I had listened to many of her inspiring podcasts, she stated that she liked the fact that I described myself as a “bored analyst” on the application. It wasn’t a long chat but it was clear for both of us that I’m not facing an easy decision, although I’m willing to start the process, and that it’s impossible to keep my standard of living in London on a teacher’s salary.
And now what? Well, so far so good. Now I’m busy planning our trip to London and looking for activities for the whole family. We want to treat us. Once we are there, one afternoon I’ll attend the event, I’ll meet Lucy and the rest of the group (co-founders, trainers, candidates…) and I’ll get more information. If I decide to continue, I must have a one-week experience within 2 or 3 months on a Secondary School there (how exciting!) and after that if I pass a recruitment process, I would start my first year of training while working four days per week (three and a half days in school and half a day in training).
By the end of my first year, I will have gained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and if I complete successfully my second year of the program, I will become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), able to work “anywhere”.
Will I go on? Will I get cold feet at any time of the process? I don’t know. I’ve been teaching at a university here in Seville for several years, so I don’t think I’ll end up realising that teaching is not my cup of tea, but who knows. If I take the plunge, I know it won’t be easy. The fact that I don’t want to be doing the same thing during my whole working life doesn’t mean that I’m willing to forfeit everything I’ve achieved so far. I don’t like to go out on a limb. If I decide to say yes, this will be a life-changing decision so I have to be cautious. I’ll keep you up-to-date.