Rewind to six years ago. I had just graduated, moved home to the West of Ireland and was completely…. lost. For the first time in my life I felt I had little or no control over what happened next. There had always been a clear plan. School, Leaving Cert, Points, College, Job. End of. Right? WRONG!
It’s Summer 2014 and there isn’t exactly an abundance of jobs advertised anywhere, least of all in my local area. I apply, nothing. I apply further away, nothing. Considering I’m an NQT at this point with a DIP to do and NIPT meetings to attend – this is less than ideal and definitely NOT what I had pictured as September looms and word has got out that the local girl is back from Limerick looking for a job… cue the start of a long lists of questions to be answered weekly when ambushed in Penneys or Dunnes. ‘What are you doing now?’ ‘Isn’t it awful there’s no jobs?’ ‘What about the subbing?’ ‘Have you contacted the schools to let them know you’re around’ ‘I heard there’s a job coming up in that school you’d better put in your CV’ ‘Your mother must be delighted to have you home’ ‘Have you a boyfriend?’ ‘No? ‘Ah sure there’s no rush, I suppose’ …. Cheers Bridie, it’s good to be home…
September finally comes and I decide to set myself up and embrace the ‘subbing scene’ since I have little or no choice. I get my first call on the 4th of September. DELIGHTED! ‘That’s it now’ I said to myself, ‘I’ll be getting calls every week from now on’. Actually, the opposite happened. I ended up getting one call a month until Christmas. 4 days. 4 DAYS!!!!
Most of my friends were in the same position but perhaps not as dire as my own. They apparently would get up, get dressed with a full face of makeup intact and a lunch ready to go all to sit waiting on a call…….. I on the other hand took a more relaxed approach where I’d answer the call with a raspy voice and scramble around the house until I eventually got out the door.
I spent most days trying to create a routine around exercise, online courses and sending out CVs. Other days my Dad would find me in my dressing gown at two in the day watching Friends. I look back now and I laugh but at the time I guess I didn’t find it so funny. I had worked so hard the previous three years and it felt, at the time, that it could have been all for nothing. ‘If it’s this hard to get a subbing day how will I ever get the DIP done?’ was a constant mantra in my head.
After Christmas, ‘a new near, new me’ type approach was taken. Fresh CVs were sent out with a brand new business card type thing paper clipped to the top (hopefully it made it to one or two notice boards (or laptop screens at least). I still have about 150 left over, some investment!!
And so, with the snazzy new CVs and business cards came lots more work than before Christmas and way less pyjama days, much to my family’s relief as I’d say they were definitely not far off carrying out an intervention of some sort.
Although I was working more, I still had quite a bit of time on my hands and it was during this time, in Spring 2015, that the mindless scrolling paid off and I discovered Mash.ie.
It was a no brainer for me right from the beginning, not only was I sharing products with other like-minded teachers – most of whom, like me, had spent hours creating these quality plans, lessons and resources but I was then able to buy resources from these other teacher’s stores and save hours on resourcing and planning my own lessons.
At the time, Mash, for me, meant that my hard work creating lessons and resources had not gone to waste (even if I wasn’t the one lucky enough to be in a class using them at that time, at least someone was) and it also gave me the opportunity to earn a little at the same time in those difficult few months.
I never imagined the day I signed up and began uploading my ‘treasures’ that I would be typing this, years on, as Mash’s longest serving seller (or at least close to the longest serving seller, we’re not 100% but, I’m going to say I am from now on)
Mash.ie has only ever been a positive experience for me, from the collaboration between teachers to the supportive community that both Simon and Rozz have created. It’s brought nothing only extra support and joy to me as a teacher. I’ve also had many NQTs reach out to me and ask questions and I’ve been only delighted to help them in any way I could.
So, fast forward to this Summer. Is Bridie still interrogating me at the meat counter? Yes. Some of the questions have changed but to be fair so too have a majority of the answers. That being said, there’s a new one added to her list in recent times and that’s to enquire if I have a permanent job or not yet……. We’ll say no more.
Although I’m back applying for jobs again in my hometown to which I’ve been coming and going to and from for a while now. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve since taught in so many lovely schools in the West and East of Ireland, took some time to travel and even made it as far as an International School in China.
To all who feel lost, unsure or even downhearted, particularly at this time of the year applying for jobs, preparing interview questions and getting caught up in the worry of it all. I HEAR YA! But, it does work out in the end. After that first year subbing, I was literally in the right place at the right time and began the DIP weeks later that September.
So….. If you’ve made it this far, well done and thank you!
Also, a huge thank you to Rozz and Simon for making this journey possible in the first place. They are such a support and I hope to meet them in real person someday, soon!
Anyway, as of now a contract for September would be nice and I may even take a look at doing a Masters next. Hopefully, by 2030, I’ll have all the correct answers to Bridie’s pop quiz in the butchers. Ok bye! xoxo