I know I said that this post would be part two of the Small Gains but today beckons a reflection on the joy of a 0.8 load. I've only ever worked full time since I started teaching fifteen years ago, despite being a single mum to 3 kids during much of that time. I felt when I started teaching that I wanted to experience everything there is about a school and the life of a teacher. I was so excited to finally finish my degree and get my first job that I was ready to embrace everything. I was a latecomer to teaching; I started the day my eldest daughter started high school and the youngest went into Grade 3. It's been hard at times and a juggling act at others but I've never regretted the decision and have never thought of reducing my load. However, this year is different. Those 3 children are all adults, I'm still single and both these conditions afford me some freedom. I decided early last year that I would take a year off and take some time out to do things I otherwise wouldn't have the time to do.
Teaching can be exhausting and exhilarating all in one day, even in one lesson. It can sap our energy and we need to find ways to keep going sometime without using every spare moment to prepare. Once I made the decision to take the year off I kept my options open and considered all possibilities. It was a real luxury to be able to do this. My main constraint was money but I figured six months of work should sustain me as I had big travel plans (watch out New Zealand, I'm heading your way!).
So here I am in county Victoria in a delightful school working 0.8 time fraction and no leadership position to focus on. It's both a personal change of environment and a professional one and it's purpose is to see if a tree change is in my future. My new timetable means I get to have a late start one morning and I finish by 10:45 on another. Today is my early finish day and whilst much of this post so far has been a gentle insight into my personal life I reflected today that this 0.8 thing is a hidden joy as long as you let it. I have so much I need to do to prepare for tomorrow. I want to do my best for the kids in my care and that takes planning. My tendency is to do the planning, to research some ideas and resources but I know that when I take some space for me the kids I teach will benefit.
That's my foot you can see as I spend my time this afternoon writing this blog while sitting under a shady tree on the banks of the Murray river eating my picnic lunch. It's peaceful, beautiful and I'm taking in big breaths to clear my head. Oh the joy of part time work.