A little over 4 years ago, I was sat in a classroom where I taught primary 3. I loved that class, but I could feel in my gut times were changing. I knew I was a fantastic teacher, but I didn’t feel the mainstream classroom was the right place for me anymore. I had had a difficult couple of months after breaking two toes and felt this was a sign; I wasn’t walking the path I should have been.
I wasn’t sure if it was difficult getting back to mainstream after teaching in both severe and complex schools and autism basis for a few years or if it was something more. I just knew I was no longer in the right place for me.
So, I sat and thought. I wondered if I had no self-limiting beliefs, no ties, nothing holding me back, what would I do. Then it came to me; I would be a teacher but not within a school. You see, I loved teaching. I loved working with kids. I loved seeing them shine and achieve so much. I did not love the politics, the excessive paperwork, the government’s unrelenting message, and the media that teachers were not doing enough.
But how could I do what I love and drop the things that didn’t bring me joy? Moving to another school would help me find a more supportive environment but would it help overcome the other issues troubling me? I wasn’t sure.
Then it occurred to me; I could set up a business supporting children and educators. I could use my love of outdoor learning to help so many more people. I had the skills, the knowledge and the understanding after a decade as a teacher and over 16 in education. I believed every child should be allowed to learn outdoors. I saw firsthand how it could remove barriers to learning and reduce the stress and anxiety felt by staff. I understood that all could teach curriculum-based outdoor learning; you didn’t need to undertake arduous and expensive courses; you just needed someone to help you understand how. I had lived the pressures schools and educators were under.
But I needed a clear plan. 60% of businesses fail within the first 5 years; I did not want to be one of them. So instead of one business, I started 2. This would allow me to have a clear income, work when I wanted but give me space to devote to both. I also started my master’s degree in outdoor learning and went on supply.
All of this was decided and actioned 4 years ago this week.
4 years on, and I am so proud of myself for what we have achieved. You see, whilst the business started with just me, I now have a wonderful team around me. We are at the end of one of the toughest years, Covid, and the restrictions, whilst necessary, were painful at times. But we have come through, we have grown. We have survived.
But more than that, we have met and supported some amazing families and schools over that time. We have watched those kids blossom and grow and cannot wait to see them again soon. This last year has been hard for them too but we have been there to support them as best we can.
This last year gives me hope. If we can grow in a pandemic, evolve and pull together, what do the next 4 years hold? What about the next 14? The next 40?
I can see a world where we can make so much change to so many, and what a privilege that is!