My vocation?

I love my job. I tell my colleagues and other people this quite often, but it was not what I initially wanted to do.

Years ago  I was desperate to work in the voluntary sector but couldn’t get a job, I knew that I couldn’t afford to learn to drive but most jobs in the sector called for a driving licence.  After many kickbacks, and a list of unpaid jobs which were supposed to give me access to the unofficial networks, I desperately needed to make myself more attractive to employers.  As an alternative I decided to get a training qualification as many voluntary sector jobs seemed to value that qualification.

I applied at college and discovered that I should have started in September – it was now almost Christmas.  I was accepted on the proviso that I caught up with the work, partly because the person who interviewed me knew me as a former mature student before I went to university.  I was a bit dubious because it meant that I had to find some teaching practice and I didn’t really want to teach just get a bit of training experience, but she suggested a colleague who might offer me some extra-numary slots.

I found myself getting quite interested and was almost looking forward to it, but then found that my very first teaching session ever would also be the one that was to be observed, due to the lateness of my start date.  I was petrified that I would not be able to start the lesson and rehearsed the introduction over and over again .  I knew my subject, my lesson was planned to the minute, I had audiovisual material, and I checked the video for quality.  The class entered, my observer sat in the back,  and I started to teach.  I flew.  I loved it.  The sound on the video failed, so I had an extra half hour to fill and still I coped.  My observer found one or two things to comment on, but then asked how my other sessions had gone and was amazed that it was my very first session.

I never looked back. I realised that I wanted to teach, just that.  I would do it for free if I couldn’t do it for pay.  I found a string of temporary teaching jobs.

The problem was that the classroom experience is not the be all and end all of teaching adults.  The politics, the lack of funding, occasional workplace bullying and insecurity caused me to question what I was doing, but I knew that I just had to keep on sharing my knowledge.  Teaching is vital to me.  I think I am good at it.

Now I work in the NHS as an IT trainer.  Some people might say that training isn’t teaching.  Technically they are right, but I know that I still have that commitment and I think that I use very similar skills.  There is no explicit pre course assessment, our training needs analysis is perfunctory at best, but I am now pretty good at assessing the needs of my learners before even a one hour course. I use different training methods, I paraphrase, I plan, I evaluate, I reflect and consider my courses very carefully.  Even when I have trained the same course hundreds of times, I still do it with freshness and enthusiasm (in many ways more so).

The tutor who once interviewed me for the teaching course eventually became a colleague, and she once said that you are only as good as your last teaching session  – she was very right. Most days I feel that I have done a worthwhile job, reasonably well.  Some days I am filled with happiness, though occasionally I get very down if a session is not up to the standard I feel capable of.

Tonight I got the chance to train people who are new to computers and I enjoyed it immensely.  At the end of the session I  used a technique that I sometimes do when the subject matter is very theoretical.  I asked each of the learners what they felt they had learned (one example each) and one thing that they did not understand, given that  many people find the subject quite difficult.  I was pleased to iron out all the misunderstandings and fogs.  Yet again I felt the joy of job satisfaction.  I felt very lucky that this is my job, that I get paid a decent wage for doing something that I love so much, and feel is so worthwhile.

I pondered whether this is really a vocation?  Is it only teaching of children that is a vocation?  If I improve the lives of people, give them confidence, enable them to function better in the modern world, am I not adding quality to their lives?  I try to take the love and  the values from my life as a Friend into my job.   I try to do the job to the best of my abilities, because I think it is right to do so.  I understand that the word vocation to mean the career one feels called to.  I feel that I am called to do this, and I feel blessed to that calling.

Why do I bother?

I have had an argument with my boss and I am pretty fed up about it.

Some time ago I had my car park pass revoked and told I had to use the hospital’s ‘Park and Ride’ scheme.  I wasn’t pleased, mainly because it adds at least half an hour and sometimes much more to every day,but also because I have to carry all my documents much further.  I asked at the time if I could have a wheeled briefcase for the job and was told to get one and produce a receipt, but then it was suggested that we could probably find one in the stationery supplier’s catalogue.

Months passed.  I hurt my back and was off ill and when I got back it still hadn’t been ordered.  In the meantime a colleague ordered a rather nice leather briefcase and my boss didn’t check the order and signed for it.  He was furious that someone had ‘put one over on him’ and now he has a budget deficit and has decided that my request is to be denied.

When I went to Occupational Health, I was told specifically not to lift or carry, so I felt completely justified to be angry, and I contacted my boss to explain that this was a request for a necessary item not a request for something extravagant.  The cost of the bag was £12.

My boss has a tendency to be bull headed about such things.  He decides something and whether he is right or wrong he sticks to it, regardless of how rational the decision proves to be.  My immediate reaction is to be disgusted with his pettiness and also disappointed that he feels that my conscientiousness and hard work, my flexibility is reasonably rewarded by such pettiness.  I started to ask myself, “why do I bother?” .

I rang my supervisor and told her how I feel and she thinks that he is wrong, but feels that I am fighting a losing battle.  She is right, of course.  She is going to contact OH to see if there is a way to insist I get the bag, or find a pot of money that will fund it.

I had decided that I should try and put it behind me, and buy a new bag myself, after all it is only £12, hardly worth getting steamed up about.  Perhaps, though, I might not bend over backwards quite so much, because I feel really unappreciated. I came home past the sea and it was lovely;  the sun was still not setting, though it was pretty low in the sky.

When I walked in my beloved was sat playing games, my son was reading: an oasis of calm.  My beloved made me a cuppa,  and it looks like we are having meatballs and chips for tea. I am not sure that my hubby is too keen on cooking on his day off.

My son has had some bad news at work and had a pretty shitty day.

Neither have asked how my day went.

The Big Bang

Today was my first day back to work: my own personal big bang.

Now that my beloved Bryn is no longer a house husband, we both left the house together at the same time today.  The daft thing is that I drive past his workplace but I finish a good four hours before him, it makes no sense me driving him to work and then going and collecting him – it would save nothing.  I am glad I didn’t because it meant he was able to give a colleague a lift that took him  five minutes out of his way but saved her a full hour.  Since I used to use buses myself only seven years ago I can remember waiting for night buses to take me home.

I knew that I would arrive at the ‘park and ride’ just around about the time that the Hadron accelerator got turned on and was determined to hear what happened.    The press have gone mad – building this up to a huge story and people were running up and down like headless chickens.  A colleague told me that her child had not slept properly because a sibling had told her that we were all about to die, and several colleagues have had to reassure their children that it would be alright.

I listened to the radio on the way to work, eager to hear how the big event would go.  I waited until I had heard the champagne corks popping before I climbed onto the minibus.  My back got jolted a little on the bus, and the walk into work did not help, so I was beginning to ache when I arrived at work, but I sat down and, one someone had reset my password, I began to work.  I had more than 280 emails in my in-box, of which around 20 were reminders that my in-box was getting full.  There were a dozen or so funnies, which I will look through tomorrow.  The rest had all to be read and about 30 actioned. I am working my way down them.  I have meetings all tomorrow morning and then start teaching again on Friday.  My calendar looks very empty.

I feel a little lost really.  I admitted to Colleague W that I did have a slight worry that he would have taken over radiology and that I would have less of a role.  He just laughed and said, “and then you woke up to the real world!”  He has been far too busy and was not all that keen to take up the mantle.

I really enjoyed being back at work – it was good to see my colleagues, good to feel useful again, good to have a purpose and a role.  I love my job, as I often say.

The distances I walked though today have worn me out and I am having a bit of a problem with pain tonight.  I expected to.  I pushed myself, perhaps too far, but I need to know that I am not being lazy.