Thank you for the Learning

I wanted to start this blog by writing that I have had too little time to write for Life Labs this last few months, because I have been so busy and life has been getting in the way. But the truth is, if I really wanted to make time to write for Life Labs, I would have done. Wouldn’t I?

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In honesty, the recent annum of professional learning, consumed me.

I have had so many new events taking place in my life this last twelve months, and it seems symbolic to write today, because it was this month in 2019 that I decided to heed the advice and learning from Psychologies and apply myself to the opportunity of returning to work. After all, the book sales weren’t happening and I was spending so much time voluntarily writing, I wasn’t creating a sustainable lifestyle. I was managing, and realised that I'd found a place to escape when I wrote, but little had I acknowledged, I was also avoiding taking a little responsibility for myself. 

After a few months of applying for jobs, and being extremely accepting of rejection, I began to realise that I had been outside of the work structure for so long, supply work might be the answer. A place, an opportunity where I can pick and choose my locations of work and be employed at a pace that suits me. I needed to rebuild my capacity and resilience in the workplace. 

I became recruited with an Agency.

When one of my applications for a permanent job resulted in an interview, and I was surprisingly to me, accepted to work part time within an amazing secondary school. I had to pinch myself a few times, because part of me was set up for rejection and I wasn’t prepared for acceptance. I had also understood the role to be full time, so when I declined the role because I preferred part-time, I was overwhelmed and appreciative when my soon to be manager agreed to my role being part-time. My mind nearly exploded.

I agreed to the job, but in truth, in preparation for the start date, I felt terribly nervous, because the role required public speaking and I was absolutely terrified.  Furthermore, in the interview, I had to public speak and I did my best - I must have done very well because I got the job. However, I can recall the terror in my body, my heart beating fast, my body shook and I tried to control the fear. I took plenty of deep breaths and tried to calm myself. I felt good practising public speaking but I can’t deny, it took me a while to calm my body down in the aftermath.

My fear of starting the role created worry. The role I had applied for would be the third to final step into becoming a Teacher. So, I told myself, it will be okay, I have to push myself out of my comfort zone and push my limits, because the more I do it the easier it will get. 

I needed to be better at public speaking, so that I could become the teacher.

I had read so many articles via Psychologies Magazine, I recall an article sharing ‘let the job work for you’. And, although I’d believed working for a recruitment agency would give me a broader range of experience, I also knew I would receive the essential training that I needed to become a Cover Supervisor and one day Teach. 

I accepted.

Nine months later, and in that nine months I received the most amazing input and experience within the role of Cover Supervisor. 

Not, quite what you might expect to hear, but after accepting the position with an amazing Secondary School, I chose to resign and was re-contracted as a Casual Cover Supervisor with the school, and I re-registered with the recruitment agency.


Well, I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned over the years as an Ambassador with Psychologies, I hand on my heart, struggle with public speaking and although I was public speaking, learning on my feet and winging it everyday with a new topic every hour as the Cover Supervisor, the bodily symptoms of fear - heart beating too fast, tension and the shaking of my core - the symptoms never quite went away, and I found myself getting frequently ill and discouraged.

Some days I would return home from work enthusiastic because I had been successful in my role, other days, I would return home from work like a broken woman. This was no reflection of the school. It was a sign that I was out of my depth and not quite ready to teach, yet. I had begun to question if Secondary Schools where in my future.

Psychologies always talks about baby steps, where on this occasion I was exuberant that I had achieved a permanent position in a role that would be the final step into a career in teaching, without appreciating I was taking a giant leap that I was not quite readily prepared for.

Teacher’s they have a strong voice, and I don’t mean that they shout, they have a voice of authority. I found in my progress as a Cover Supervisor that my lack of confidence as a public speaker and my lack of power in my voice, where creating too many shaky days. This is how I saw it. However the feedback from so many within the school where so positive, I was even more afraid of letting them down. The students were amazing too, and I knew if I left that I would miss them.

When I decided to resign, I could hear myself thinking, don’t let them down, your good at this, you will be great the longer you stay. However, I finally recognised, this was the people pleaser in me. Even though, I felt like I was on the wrong path, I was willing myself to stay for others. Rather than looking after my own health and self. 

I had heard in recent years so many people had trained to teach then hated it.  I'd had nearly a years worth of first hand experience of why this might be. 

By the way, this doesn't mean I am giving up. I simply choose a path that works for me. I've learned what didn't work. I need to develop my sense of resilience, the power of my voice and self-belief in my authority. 

As I worked my notice I was advised by so many peers and colleagues that the Recruitment Agency wouldn’t offer any regular work and I would find supply work tough. It was hard to hear it. Yet, I accepted that may be true, or not. I was prepared because I had spent nine months in stable work, and found every day tough and personally challenging.

January and February 2020 have been illuminating, fascinating and incredibly ‘comfortable’ with the Recruitment Agency. I have found that I have new skills in public speaking and thankfully, much to my relief there was little truth in the advice of others, however that is a story for another day. . . I  will let you know more soon.   

It was quite lovely, to find the time to write.

Julie Spencer

Ambassador and Learning Support Assistant, Psychologies Magazine

Proud Ambassador for Psychologies Magazine. The magazine encapsulates many of my core values: being kind, have compassion, look after your health and wellbeing, be professional and be supportive of others. A little self belief can go a long way. I have studied as a mature student. I went into a writing frenzy and spent 3 years writing in solitude. I was a stay at home mum, too. What I learned: being alone for long periods of time is bad for your health and wellbeing. Thanks to a little nudge from Psychologies Magazine I am reconnecting and rebuilding my C.V. I'm a creative. I have lots of ideas and I need to constantly realign my focus onto one project at a time. Until recently I had a real fear for public speaking, but after reading a book that suggested I acknowledge my fears and challenge them anyway; with the support of the Psychologies community and more I'm working through my fears one blog at a time.