I was recommended for a teaching secondment during the last couple of years of my nursing career. I was denied it by my boss. It was an aspect of nursing and leading that I enjoyed immensely for a whole bag of reasons. By the time I left I had accumulated 195 academic points (the proper name escapes me). I qualified in 1988, worked 13 years in Challenging Behaviour, ran wards, lead staff, produced working docs – the whole lot – and I was less ‘qualified’ than a new nurse with their 240 academic points and a mind empty of clues. Whatever. I could have APEL’d to get the 45 probably (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning – in other words “Tell us what you did, why you did, what you learned, how you would do it differently, how it developed you, how it made you a better person etc etc etc etc……… and we might give you a point.) but it was a pile of work for zero guarantee. So I didn’t. I’ve still got my Professional Portfolio though. Chock full of certs.
Along came the year 2000. From then until relatively recently (I’m talking months) life was pretty much shitonastick for a variety of reasons. In that time I’d pretty much given up on having a future career. If you’ve read here for long enough you’ll probably know why. Many many months ago J looked round for routes into teaching for me. I looked too. Because of the points it came to nothing. I found those points to be massively frustrating. So the idea was thrown out. The week before last P came home saying that all she had done in one long lesson was colouring. She was fed up and annoyed. A few days ago the deputy head rang back after our call. I spoke to her. She talked about the reasons why things has arisen, what the kids were being asked to do and what it formed part of. And then I went off on one at her (nicely!). I recall talking about motivation, motivating, capturing imaginations and other subjects. I told her how it should have been done. (On the Treatment Unit – challenging behaviour + mental illness – there was one client who would explode into furious rages. He was genuinely frightening and very dangerous at that point. He detonated one lunchtime. I told everyone to clear the dining room. A member of staff went to a blind client, grabbed his hands and told him to ‘Come with me’. Naturally he wanted to know why, who she was, what that big noise was all of a sudden, who was making it, I want my dinner, can’t you make him shut up please and more. He was in danger and this member of staff had just made life more risky. She wasn’t motivating, she wasn’t giving him a goal he could understand, she wasn’t making what she wanted him to do more attractive than any alternative. She was in a battle. And she – and us – would have lost. When a paranoid schizophrenic is shouting violence and threats at you that is something you take extremely seriously. Me? I’d have offered him chocolate cake / a packet of sweets / a walk / a trip out – anything at all. He lived. She got put exactly right).
Back to the present – She said I should go to the school as they needed ‘thinking like that’. haha. I mentioned it later to J. She made it a goal of hers to find out all there was and to see just what the situation was. Few days and 400 phone calls later she says that Derby have all my info, are happy, will let me onto a RTP (or RPT?) course – I have no idea what that even is yet – so I’m in. I can indeed train to be a teacher. Experience would be very useful though and it’s probably essential. After all, might as well get my feet wet before jumping in the pool. So I’ll be ringing the school again. Asking for a visit, interview, whatever else with a view to doing something in the new school year. All I need to do is take the metal out of all places visible, remove the implants from my hands and peel those pesky tattoos off.
All of a sudden I have the possibility of a new career – and I have body modifications which cannot be hidden. Tattoos? Long sleeves but I hate long sleeves and they’d get seen anyway so I need to be open about them. If they insisted on sleeves? Don’t know yet. The implants? They can’t come out. Of course I believe – not that it is my right because it is THEIR right to decline me on any grounds that make me unsuitable to their criteria and a school has to satisfy pupils, staff, governors – that the way I appear can help more than hinder. But I would say that wouldn’t I? To the school I shall go. I go as the parent of two very well thought of girls, as a man who was welcomed into and helped at the primary School and as someone who was a nurse and who believes in education. And I go as someone visibly different in a way that some find threatening.
Have I made myself unemployable? No – that’s stupid talk. I have made things more difficult but it doesn’t take a job for that to be apparent, I see it in the reactions of others, which is why I have already changed prior to this. But I don’t have any right to be treated any differently but then I have acted in a way that gives them a viable reason to treat me differently. They have the power here – I do not. I know that and I’d not fight it because it’s my fault. It’s a case of getting through the door then working harder to justify the decision to open that door.
It’s going to be interesting to find out what happens. It’ll be nice if I can smile at the end of it.