I'm that year 6 teacher who also owns a hair salon

Back in June, I shared that I was giving supply teaching a go. It’s now November, and I’m finally blogging about the next chapter I started. In July I applied for permanent teaching positions. Supply had shown me that I still felt like a teacher, despite 8 years away running my own business. It also showed me that I could do both. I still wasn’t 100% sure what I was doing, it felt like such a huge life change, with forever consequences. But I decided to just apply, and see what happened.

And here we are, I’ve had my year 6 class since September.

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I don’t meet many teachers who have left and returned, but I suppose I’m not like many of the teachers I meet! I was even hired by a school that had a no visible tattoo policy…..!

Since September I’ve taken my class to the Isle of Wight for 5 days, and had the absolute privilage of seeing some children see the sea for the very first time (and therefore decide that we’d all be going in, in our clothes to celebrate!). I’ve given and marked a complete set of SATs mock exams, gone on 3 school trips and been assigned my first student teacher.

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It’s certainly keeping me busy. I work an average 11 hour day, from 7:30-6:30 in school, but so far I’m succeeding in not taking any extra work home with me on weekends and evenings. Well apart from this weekend, but let’s skip over that for now.

Teaching was summed up, pretty accurately, by my boyfriend, as “Basically having to do adulting all day.” It’s completely this. I have 30 children in my care from 8:45 - 3:15, with not much time to pause, or have a break. I have to be the ultimate adult - in charge, keeping people safe, helping them learn, setting a good example, etc etc. That’s the most tiring part of teaching - being in charge and in control, without waivering.

I’ve now been a full time teacher for a half term, and two weeks, and so far so good! I’m finding my way through a new National Curriculum (it was different when I last taught!), the SATs, and coping with early starts and long days. I’m developing relationships with my children that seem to make them feel safe and secure in our classroom, and so far have maintained my sense of humour too! There are tougher days, and easier days, but that is certainly true for life itself, and most jobs.

Teaching has many struggles and challenges, but it has three core positives. Days are never boring; they whizz by. We get 13 weeks holiday. You get to feel part of something that has purpose. And that all feels good to me.

Crisis at Christmas - My confession

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Last year I volunteered with Crisis at Christmas, as a salon manager at one of the vital sites they set up for the xmas period. The work they do goes so far beyond a warm, safe bed and hot food. Access to doctors, opticians, hair salons, legal advice, the internet, and much more is provided for each and every guest. I was keen to return, and when the volunteer sign-ups opened for this year in October, I signed up. This year I went for volunteering for the dog care site, looking after the guests’ dogs, so that they are free to access all of the services, knowing their precious pets are safe and taken care of.

I signed up, got excited, and tweeted, letting people know that they could sign up should they fancy it. I loved that that same day, I had a response saying someone had done just that!

Here comes the embarrassing bit. I’ve now cancelled my shifts. Ugh.

Confession - I was offered an opportunity to go on holiday over that time, and I decided to take it. I definitely feel lame. My first act of re-balancing the sh*tty karma was to buy two ‘dinners’ with Crisis at Christmas. It’s called “Reserve a place” and you can reserve a person’s spot for £28.18. Secondly, we’ll both be volunteering at the start of the year in some other capacity. So here I am, being honest. I quit my planned volunteering to go on holiday. Ugh.

Foster cat updates - 2 of the little guys at once

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A double dose of cat updates for you lucky lot. Corbyn, the shyest little boy, went to a wonderful home, with a new cat pal, and a very understanding cat owner. I’ve been getting updates, which is amazing, and when I got a pic from night two of Corbyn curled up on a human lap, I knew he was in a great place.

Sadly, not so joyous for Jerry the foster cat.

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Jerry was adopted maybe 4 months ago, and I’d enjoyed his updates too. I discovered today though that the owner was returning him to the charity :-(

The owner rents their home, and had permission to have a cat. Now the landlord needs the property back, and the owner is now moving to a cat-free property. This is often why some charities won’t allow adoptions to renters, as situations can change so much. It’s also why I fostered, as I knew I couldn’t commit longer term.

I’m really sad, and disappointed for Jerry. He’ll now have to return to fostering, and then a new home, which is a lot of changes in a short space of time.

Poor wee mite.

I stayed in a gypsy caravan in Kentish Town

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So this weekend I was a tourist in my own city; I stayed in an authentic gypsy caravan, tucked away in someone’s back garden in Kentish Town. I wanted to be able to head out dancing in Camden, and just head back to somewhere fun. To make it feel more like a weekend away.

What had always put me off using air b and b was having to be in somebody’s home. The thought makes me a little anxious, although I know many people love the social factor that comes with their bookings. This little caravan was perfect then, as it had its own garden gate entrance. No social interaction necessary!

inside gypsy caravan air b and b


It was a weekend to celebrate my birthday so I’d been given roses and a present (not from air b and b of course!) and on top of that the caravan didn’t disappoint. It was certainly a little surreal to be in the middle of Kentish Town, but once inside, you were transported. It was a really fun way to take a break from the working week.

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What was my gift? These badboys, which I’d been appreciating in the shop the week before.

I’m working such long hours at the moment, that I’m really trying to make the weekends count. To go and do things that are out of the ordinary to make them feel really different to the working week. I’m finding it really helps me feel refreshed and ready for the week ahead.

Foster Cat Corbyn - The Invisible Room Mate

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Let me introduce my latest foster cat; Corbyn. He's been here 19 days and officially has the crown for the most invisible cat I've ever cared for. He still will not come out from under the bed.

His owner sadly died, and Corbyn was living alone for a while, being fed by kind neighbours. The neighbours were going on holiday, and were worried about who would care for Corbyn. I was advised ahead of time that he was a super shy cat, but friendly, so I wasn't surprised when he tried to run away from me, pretty much as soon as I opened the cage. My heart broke a little as he tried to get under the wardrobe, which is far too small, so it just resulted in him bashing his head against it in panic a few times. Sob.

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He then found the open wardrobe, and hid there for a few minutes before scooting off under the bed. Where he's lived for almost 3 weeks since.

Corbyn comes out when I'm asleep, he eats a bit, and he uses the litter tray. He rolled in some catnip one night I left it out, but ignored it from then. I've bought a Feliway plug to try and relax him, but so far, no improvement. He's even received distance reiki.

It's so hard, because he needs time, but time just feels so sad, and of course the dream foster cat is one who gives some fun and joy in return! I haven't given up hope at all, but he breaks my heart a little each day, as I think of him, all sad and lonely under the there.

I hope he starts to feel safe, and that he'll edge out to investigate soon.

 

ETA - At the 3.5 week mark I decided to reduce his hiding spot, and by the turn of week 4, he was snuggled up to me in bed. He now sleeps ALL night with me, as the little spoon. What a turn around!

 

I was interviewed by Stylist magazine (and how editing feels)

Last month I rushed from a day's supply teaching to do an interview and photoshoot with Stylist Magazine. I was interviewed alongside the incredible Laurence Sessou and our fabulous photographer was Sarah Brimley.

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I have to confess, when I arrived knackered and sweaty after rushing from a day's teaching, my heart sunk a little when I saw my photoshoot partner. I mean she's a model. If she wasn't so sweet and open, it'd be easy to envy-hate her, but Laurence was wonderful. We both found it hilarious how 'opposite' we were. Her tattoos and scarifications are all so spiritial and reflective of her sense of self, whereas mine are a jumbled collection of souvenir fridge magnets. When she explained why she had a lot of snakeskin tattooed on her (its her power animal) I asked her how she knew what her power animal was. I was treated to an incredible story about climbing mountains and closing yourself off from the world in a hut. I'd then explain how I just picked most of mine out of books!

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Being interviewed is always interesting. You're laying yourself out, and you're often edited in a way that isn't completely accurate. I'm not blaming anyone for that, it would be an awful article if it was the whole interview, but it's always odd to read words that are being credited to you, but that you didn't ever say. Years ago, I was in More Magazine, and I learned this when the headline was something like, "Men love stroking my tattoos". The interviewer had simply asked "So, do men love stroking them?" and I'd said something like, "Well, its my naked skin so I guess so, but it's not as though you can feel them."

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You can hear in the video, my tone signifies being half way through all of my sentences, and it's interesting to consider how cropping thoughts in this way slightly tweaks the meaning of what I'm saying. Again, nothing that I hate, but its just interesting to notice. For example, it sounds like I got my READ MORE knuckles instead of a pedicure. It sounds like I said I regret my back tattoo. I'm not even sure what the ending of the story about my Valerie Vargas woman face tattoo was!

You can read the full interview online but of course seeing it in the magazine is always the most real!

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It's a shame they picked the photo but there you go! 

Teaching Blogging at CityLit

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I am aware of the heavy irony of this blog post, sharing the workshop I recently taught at CityLit, since I've been blogging a lot less in the past few months! But that's the beauty of a blog; it's your corner of the internet where you're in charge and set the rules!

You may have seen that I gave supply teaching a go recently, but I also tried something else new - teaching adults! 

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My first day-long course was Blogging for Business, and I was a bit nervous! I arrived at City Lit, and firstly had to work out where my classroom was, and how to get into it! Next challenge was finding my register, and working out how to log into the PC. Final prayers were given that my powerpoint presentation would work. Woohoo.

The students were such a mixture, which is always the case with blogging, and everyone's goals and desired outcomes always vary. We had people who were doing something with Blockchain, from people in HR and yoga instructors. This is what can make blogging tricky to 'teach', as its almost just a genre, like writing. It can mean so many things!

My nerves soon melted away, as I realised I had a great bunch of people, and we all had things to share and discuss. Teaching adults is such a different pressure to teaching kids; they've paid some money, given up a Saturday, and expect a return on their investment.

I recieved a lovely email, afterwards, from a student, which sums up this pressure perfectly!

"...we thought WTF were we doing a blogging course on a warm summers day. We agreed we'd leave at lunch if it was as boring as expected. Well we couldn't have been more wrong - it was such a fantastic day, equally great in term of all the useful content and your engaging and captivating delivery of it."

Can you imagine the awfulness of students not returning after lunch? It makes my belly hurt with the thought of it! Ha!

At the end of the session, students are asked to leave feedback too, and again, once collected up and in an empty classroom, I opened with slight trepidation. This feedback goes to the my bosses at the college, and more than that, is just scary to read! It was so lovely to read such positive comments, and I forced myself to allow myself to feel some pride. Its an emotion many of us struggle with, I'd argue women, more than men, but definitely lots of us. So here are some of my comments:

"Phenomenal course."

"Really enjoyed the teaching style and conversations."

"Excellent at picking up and responding to individual people on the course. Would definitely do another course by Ree."

"Great how we individually got advice on our own businesses. Excellent teaching style."

"ReeRee was brilliant - highly entertaining and informative. Way exceeded my expectations."

I hope I haven't jinxed my next one now! I'm teaching "Writing for blogs: A taster" on 11th August (and again in December). Wish me luck! Teaching kids is much easier!