Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taking a Detour

Last week I was away on a Personal Development Week with our Grade 5 students in the Swiss Alps.  While I was there I came across this presentation by Chris Betcher  entitled Lessons from the Yamanote Line.  One slide particularly caught my eye:  There is always another way. Detours can be interesting.  Don't be afraid to take them.

This was the first time I'd been on a PDW since arriving at my current school over 2 years ago - and I have to say I loved it.  I went rock climbing, mountain biking, on a ropes course (terrifying!) and hiking with the students.  I remember thinking that it was amazing the things that an IT teacher could get up to on a school trip.  For me, this was certainly a detour from my normal job and definitely a chance to see the students in a new light.  I guess many of them saw me in a new light too - especially when I was high up in a platform attached to a zip line and very afraid to jump off!  This little detour, this little break from my usual routine of teaching in a lab or a classroom, did me the world of good, even though at times I wasn't altogether comfortable.

A good friend of mine also took a detour last year.  She left her school where she was teaching children and took a job where she was teaching adults.  Now she's back with teenagers again, but I can see the year did her the world of good.  It renewed her faith in herself as a teacher and in her love of the profession.  It allowed her to re-discover all the reasons why she went into teaching in the first place.  Now she's in a better place and a better school.  The detour was an interesting one.  She discovered that for her there were other options if teaching didn't work out.

While I was away I started to think about other detours in my life.  I did many jobs before I became a teacher, and then after teaching for 6 years I also took a year out and worked for the biomedical division of a publishing company.  When I returned to teaching it was to an international school and in a different country - the detour had done me so much good and rejuvenated me as a teacher.  If I had stayed teaching in the UK I'm pretty certain I wouldn't still be teaching now.  Taking a detour allowed me to put things into perspective and decide what I really wanted to do.

Taking a detour can be a bit scary.  Just like on the ropes course last week, sometimes it's hard to be in a situation where you don't know where you are going or where things are leading.  Now I'm trying to work out something:  do I need to take a detour, or, compared to the straight line I appeared to be moving in for the first 9 years I was teaching IT where I felt I was constantly learning new things and moving forward in new ways, am I actually taking a detour now, and if so should I just be enjoying it?  I haven't thought about it before in this way and in some ways it's a bit confusing.  I have some ideas of where I want to go and professional development I want to take that may get me there.  Is this PD going to be a detour or is it getting myself back on track again?  In any case I hope that the journey will be interesting and that I will discover other options.

The photo was taken by my colleague Noel.

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