Jacqui: the next chapter

Jacqui - the next chapter

I have to thank FE for where I am today. Overnight I went from being a support worker to a lecturer.

After I qualified as a lecturer, I took a gap year and went travelling. Back in the UK, I secured a place at Coventry University where I am doing my Masters. Also, I then secured a full time position in a Further Ed college as a lecturer in Health and Social Care. It is hard work keeping a full-time job, being a full-time parent, home schooling, doing predictive grading, Schemes of Work, lesson planning and dealing with safeguarding issues!  It is often the case that I am up late at night, reading, researching and typing, the latest is 6.28am then I was logged back in at 10.00am for a zoom meeting.  My alarm clock is a must otherwise I will often oversleep.

In my role, I often come into contact with learners who struggle to understand the assignment brief, I’ve provided online guidance in the middle of the night. Funnily enough my learners log in late, just like myself, they have busy lives and family commitments so when everyone is fast asleep they log in.  Emails pop up and I respond. They seem surprised to get a reply back in the middle of the night, but COVID-19 has brought challenging times to Further Ed.

My experience studying for a degree was special. I have to say Coventry University is a truly amazing University, I have had so much fun there. I am having to learn a new pattern of behaviour, which is called being professional, dare I say I broke all the rules at first, but I am adapting gracefully.  I miss going swimming, pilates and aqua fit, but on the other hand I have a reasonable income, new prospects and I am learning new skills each day.

The biggest challenge is managing my time. The course I am studying helps me to control my stress levels by meditation, focusing on the breath and living in the present moment and not overthinking. But how does an academic not overthink?

Life skills are so important, when you see someone behave the same way you used to in class, not engaging, looking at their mobile phone, coming into class late, I stop them at the end of the session and have a discussion with them or book a 1-1 tutorial and we discuss any concerns they may have.  Within my first week as a teacher Ofsted turned up. Within the next few weeks, COVID-19 hit and we were all sent home.  The impact was immediate, some learners suffered loss, some simply could not engage online, some showed signs of severe stress.

As for myself, I had to teach myself the online systems, but despite all the obstacles some of my learners actually achieved distinctions and merits. A new world has opened itself to me and it has given me a confidence I never thought I could possess, I have embraced the challenge and I am not looking back.  When I have completed my Masters I will consider whether to go overseas and work possibly in Canada. I would like to pursue my studies even further; I would like to see how meditation impacts on Further Ed students when dealing with stress.

Further and Higher Ed are at a crucial point of make or break due to COVID-19.  Colleges and Universities will need to adapt and be resilient to survive this challenge.

I would encourage any individual to attend college or university it could change their lives just like it has changed mine.  This is a chapter in my middle-aged life.

Life is what you make it: if you don’t try, you won’t know.