Time has flown and it has now (rather amazingly) been over three years since I completed my NCTJ in Harlow and I still haven't found permanent writing work in or around Leeds. Although I've done a fair bit of freelance writing over the last few years, money from English supply teaching has predominantly kept me afloat.
This week, as a large chunk of the population continue their struggle to find employment, I found myself having to choose between two temporary jobs. I've never been so in demand but felt miserable. A school I recently left, wanted me to return after the Easter holidays to cover a part-time contract. Having calculated the difference in earnings between full-time and part-time work, I had to decline their offer, despite desperately wanting to return.
A day later, in response to my decision the school proposed a slight increase on the part-time rate but I'd already been offered full-time work elsewhere for the same duration. Two hours after verbally accepting the new offer, I received a text message from the first school saying they could indeed match their offer. You might think I'd feel victorious - I didn't.
I've never been someone to back down on an agreement, often to the detriment of my health and extreme annoyance of less reliables. I knew in my heart I wanted to return to school number one but that morally and professional this was the wrong decision. Experiences at school number one reignited my passion for teaching and after two terms, working there felt right but school number two had its own strengths and the additional lure of future job prospects. So what did I do?
Having discussed my predicament with a few other teachers soon to leave school number two, the idiom “better the devil you know” seemed to best summarise my situation. My first instinct was to ring the teaching supply agency who were clearly angry with school number one's unprofessional conduct and suggested it would be inadvisable to back-out of the new job offer. We agreed I'd sleep on it and let them know my decision the next morning.
My next phone call to my old Head Of Department revealed tears had been shed and a letter of complaint written to the school's governors as a result of the poor management of the situation. Like me, my dad seemed to pendulum between the two offers, initially telling me to go back to school number one who had clearly fought with “the powers that be” to secure my return and to follow my heart before advising me to make the most professional decision and perhaps go with school number two.
Returning home, I explained the situation in full to The Boy who then briefly experienced the hideous torrent of thoughts spinning around my head. Having listed the pros and cons of each job, I was still unable to resolve my dilemma. The solution unexpectedly came to me during my nightly pilates session.
This morning, I managed to nab my current Head Of Department in school number two and very transparently explained the headache-inducing internal conflict I was experiencing. She spoke to me both personally and professionally, thanking me for my honesty and perceptively saying I'd clearly already made a decision that was completely understandable.
After her blessing, my conscience cleared and I was finally able to go with my gut instinct - only wishing I'd followed it earlier when I'd first contemplating stalling my answer to the second school's job offer. I'm sure many people out there would be able to make this decision in seconds, viewing it as a no-brainer but, to me, going back on your word is a definite no-no. This whole experience seems to only reaffirm my enduring belief honesty is always the best policy - let's just hope, unlike my brain, my gut has my best interests in mind (or stomach?).