Finding the balance between parenting and a new teaching career
Claire is a primary school teacher in Pontefract. We spoke to her about her experience as a parent training to teach, with support from Teach First networks.
I was certainly daunted by the prospect of beginning the Teach First Training Programme with two young children. I was also a career changer, and for the first time in a long time I felt utterly out of my depth; a totally new direction and a bucket load of uncertainty. I was overwhelmed.
I began Summer Institute making the decision to commute each day. I couldn’t imagine being away from my family for weeks at a time*. This in itself seemed to set me apart from other trainees. I felt as though I was missing out on opportunities to get to know other Teach Firsters outside of seminars. It all added to this feeling of being an outsider.
I quickly realised I wasn’t alone
I got to know other trainees who were also finding it difficult to grapple with the pull to engage with Summer Institute and the ‘extra-curricular’ bonding, but also felt the guilt of being occupied with Summer Institute work whilst wanting to be at home with loved ones.
In this early phase of the programme, I found a great deal of solace in talking to other parents and sharing experiences and feelings in what for all was an emotional rollercoaster. Meeting others who shared some of my thoughts, feelings and worries helped me normalise what I was beginning to think of was ‘me not coping’.
Meeting with other parents during my training year was a blessing
The support and comradery that I have found in this group of people has helped me to flourish in what has been possibly the most challenging yet rewarding time in my life so far.
There have inevitably been down days, when the parent guilt has kicked in and I have questioned whether it is possible to juggle all of this. Whether I will ever be able to feel good at being a parent, or a teacher for that matter! Yet being able to turn to others who have either been there or are still in the thick of it has been immensely reassuring and helpful.
I’m exceptionally proud to have reached this point in my career
I’ve now completed my NQT year. My children have ridden the waves with me, and we’re all now settling into something that feels more manageable. I’m lucky enough to be a part of the Parents and Carers Affinity Network, and as we look to develop this network further, I continue to meet inspirational parents who are also walking the Teach First path. We pick each other up from time to time – we sometimes have a moan – but most importantly, we have fun.
I know that I’m not alone on this journey
The network has given me the nudge I needed to start to find the laughs and enjoyment in what can feel like an uphill struggle sometimes. As we consider what’s next as a group, I feel excited at the prospect of being able to support others in the ways that I have found support during the programme. I feel that the network has helped me replenish my resilience to keep going and has given me renewed enthusiasm.
As I enter into the next phase, the network of support will continue to grow and I will always have the support of others when I need it.
Are you currently a trainee and a parent or carer? You can request to join the Parents and Carers Affinity Network Facebook group. You’ll also be able to opt-in to their WhatsApp group, which supports the parents and carers within the network.
You can also reach out to Claire directly on Twitter @MrsNewman19.
Our full range of networks is available on our website.
* To support our incoming cohort of trainee teachers to balance commitments, like Claire with her family, we’re excited to be able to run a part-time option for Summer Institute 2022. For more information, please visit our Knowledge Base.