By Jasmine Lane

 

Being a teacher isn’t just something we do. It is also who we are. Jasmine Lane explains her move from the US to England and the impact it has had on her, both professionally and personally.

The byline of my blog reads an American teacher teaching and living in East London. Thats the gist of what I thought I would be when I moved, keeping my blog up to date with implementing all the new evidence, assessment chat & keeping myself in-the-know about all things education. I now realise that the reason I put so much effort into that part of my teaching career in America is because my actual teaching life was so unfulfilling.

The majority of my former school experiences were not places of joy. They were places to be suffered until I could be rid of the memories: Abuse from students, families, and a toxic culture from leadership led me to question whether teaching was even for me. How many times did I ask is this really all teaching is?only to be met by the resounding “yes” of cynical, veteran teachers.

What I really wanted was to teach and to teach well, but the most I could do was blog about why we needed to take the illiteracy rates in America seriously. Now that children being able to read is the baseline, my former drive to be engaged in education discourse is mostly gone, or is at least shifting.

My current school is not perfect. There are bad days, there are good days, but I can always tell a story about something silly that one of my Year 9s did and it will make me smile and laugh. I can point to their progress across the curriculum Ive planned and say this is working. I sit with my colleagues after a long day in the English office and look to my Head of Department for her kindness, courage, and strength. Im able to think about the nuances of classroom management, whether there is a hint of truth behind theyre fine for me, and what building a positive school culture looks like. In short, even though who I was in America is changing, I am happy with who I am becoming.

Despite this, I can’t help but feel something is amiss. Every time I see my students succeed, every time they laugh with their friends, every thank you Miss– I can’t help feeling a twinge of guilt for what and who I left behind.

I am a good teacher and a great one. I know I have a bright future here even though I don’t know what it will look like. Yet, I couldn’t find a tenable situation in an American school that allowed me to thrive or invest in my development beyond the diversity tick box of empty words; The system that helped make me into the person I am spat me back out. I see myself now succeeding and realise I am succeeding because I left. I am succeeding because I gave it up.

But reader, as I reflect on my situation now, I am reminded that just under six months ago, as I was preparing to leave America, I went through my special box of stuff that Ive kept since 2004. It contained old poems, a short story I wrote in 2009, and journal entries stamped with dates and times among anything else I deemed as special over the years. Every painful moment, every teenage thought, every time I was hurt, every time someone called me a friend or told me they loved me, it was all in that box, in those 600 pages, in the 100 birthday cards. In short, it contained me.

Back then, as I sorted through the cards and read the messages: reach for the stars, I love you– I realised that I really was leaving, and that I wouldn’t be coming back. The shadow of 27 years, 29 home moves (and now one across the ocean), the people I was attached to, the places I’ve been, the seasons I’ve lived and connections I made: I left it all. I left behind that season of life in search of myself so I could be something different from who I was.

And London is helping me find her.

Author

Jasmine is a KS3 coordinator for English and blogger interested in leveraging evidence-informed instructional practices. When she’s not writing, Jasmine enjoys spending her time outdoors and exploring London.

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