Yesterday in my Wednesday W’s post I talked about what was front of mind – should I take a tutoring job at a school? It was a dilemma that took me a little over 2 days to decide what to do, but the questions it brought up, both from myself and from others, were fascinating.
First up; a bit of background.
On Monday I received a message on FB from a friend who used to work at my school, but has since moved on. Her question: ‘I know you’ve retired, but would you be interested in doing some tutoring?”
Such a simple question, but gee it brought up some stuff.
The simple answer would be, “No thanks. I hate tutoring!”
It brought up a lot of emotional stuff.
Anyone who’s read this blog for more than 5 minutes would know that since I retired at the end of 2020, I’ve absolutely loved my life. Don’t get me wrong – I loved being in the classroom with those very funny teenagers, but the increasing amount of admin, micromanagement and more and more meetings were sucking the fun out of teaching. So when covid came, I evaluated my situation, realised I could retire, (thanks to The Mayor for nudging me!), and so I walked away.
At the time, I fully expected that I’d be asked back to do CRT (Emergency teaching), but then lockdown after lockdown happened so there was no CRT work. When schools went back to face-to-face teaching at the end of the year, I have a feeling that the person responsible for hiring CRT’s gave the work to the people who were relying on that income and who’d had such a bad year. Rightfully so. I would’ve done the same.
The result was that I had a whole year away from school. Sure, I visited my friends a couple of times, but that was it. For the rest of the time, I was here, basking in the luxury of freedom over my time, discovering this thing called “relaxation” and enjoying the sweet, sweet sound of silence.
(As I’m typing this, it’s nearly lunchtime. All I can hear is birdsong, a couple of cars going by and Jeffrey snoring on the couch beside me. Bliss. Being around 2,500 kids every weekday is a very different level of background noise.)
So when I got the message, it came completely out of the blue. My instinctive reaction was to shake my head, race away from Facebook and let it sit for a couple of hours. I had all these conflicting things swirling around in my brain.
Many of you may not know that, back when I was 34 and had 4 boys under 5, I left my husband. I had $60 cash. We shared a 90K mortgage and 2 very old, crappy cars. That was it.
In the property settlement, I managed to hang onto the house, but I had to pay my ex 18K to pay him out, and also promise to forgo spousal support. That would’ve been all ok if he’d been paying child support at the time, but for the next few years it was all very erratic. For most of the time, until I began teaching again, I was getting $20/month from him to ‘support’ our 4 boys.
This obviously had the effect of making securing an income very important. It continued to be important as I tried different ways to bring money in. I cleaned houses, and opened an Etsy shop and tried to sell knitted baby hats, doll quilts and other bits and pieces. (I shut it down after a couple of years – people simply don’t want to pay what hand-made goods should cost. It was a waste of my time.) When I discovered the Thermomix and became a consultant for 4 years, I was finally able to move the needle. Paired with my teaching wage, the money I earned from my Thermomix business enabled me to pay the house off, as well as go on my dream holiday in the UK and Europe after my youngest son finished high school.
Even after I put domestic geoarbitrage into action and moved down here to The Best House in Melbourne and dropped the thermomix business, it was still engrained in me to keep my income up. More money = security. I wasn’t planning to retire at the end of 2020. Covid brought that decision forward.
All this is going to say – when an offer comes along to earn substantial money for easy work – it’s ground into my bones to leap at the chance. Even when I know I won’t enjoy doing it. Money = security.
I didn’t WANT to take the job. But I felt I SHOULD do it. Teacher guilt is a real thing.
I was genuinely torn.
I put my dilemma out to Twitter and received some excellent feedback.
Some women on the Simple Savings forum also had some good things to say. The consensus seemed to be (from women who are still in the workforce) that I should try it and see if I liked it. Nina, however, had this to say:
“Frogdancer, only you know what’s right for you. In my huge govvie organization we have all sorts of employees as you would imagine. One lady retired last year but came back as a casual temp and she loves it – easy money, not as much responsibility.
Another came back under similar circumstances and hated it. She did her 3 months as promised and vowed never to return. It was just too hard to be ‘sort of’ part of a team but still not really committed, and she felt like her head was geared towards working every day but just getting paid for 20 hours. To each their own. You could give it a try and then like Sandra gracefully walk away if it’s not for you.”
Also, a friend from work pointed out, this is an election year. The available money for schools to offer tutoring won’t be around next year. I heard back from my friend who was offering the job. The terms and conditions were really great and she was prepared to work around anything I’d want.
As the hours went by, I started asking myself why I was so reluctant? It came down to a few points:
- I don’t enjoy tutoring. One-on-one teaching isn’t all that much fun for me. I like the cut and thrust of being in front of a class, with all of the banter and repartee that comes from funny teens and their quick wits.
- Tutoring kids who are behind in literacy skills means that you have to administer (and then mark) all of these BORING tests. There’s so much admin and paperwork to plough through. Leaving all this behind me is a huge part of why I’m loving my life so much now.
- I’ve had tutors sitting in my classes. The kids who the tutors are helping HATE having them there. It’s a huge sign to the other kids that they’re ‘dumb’ and falling behind. No red-blooded teenager wants that! So although I’d be there to help, I’d be pushing sh*t uphill for ages to get them to even listen.
- I’d be in an ill-ventilated space with 28 kids and a teacher in the middle of a pandemic. Admittedly, the situation is better now than in 2020 because we’re all vaccinated, but even so. This is what I retired to avoid.
All of these reasons are a bit whiney and selfish. I know I’d do a good job and I’d be doing the right thing by helping the kids. But ugh…
Yesterday morning I woke up and decided that I wasn’t going to do it. I waited until the afternoon, in case I had second thoughts, but by 2 PM I knew I’d stick to the decision. I rang my friend and let her know.
She was great about it and offered short-term tutoring, closer to exams, if I felt like it, which might be an option. But do you know what the absolute clincher was?
She was talking to me in a space where I could hear lots of kids around her. THE NOISE!!!!
It made me laugh. People who are surrounded by it every day have no idea how it chips away at you. The serenity of the soundtrack of my days here is so nourishing and peaceful.
Interestingly, it occurred to me this morning that I probably wouldn’t mind doing the occasional CRT day. I’d be in the classroom, yes, but with absolutely no admin work or diagnostic testing to mark. It would be fun to ‘earn’ things like the $600 pizza oven I just ordered, rather than pay for it out of my dividends.
Maybe I could look at dropping my resumé off to a school or two in the area???
Dad joke of the day:
Past, Present and Future walk into a bar.
It was tense.