How often have you moved classrooms, schools and/or home?
Many teachers say, moving classroom (or school) is the next most stressful thing after an unsavoury incident with a colleague/parent or student at school. But is this really true? We could liken moving schools to moving home, but moving classrooms? Is it that stressful?
Moving classroom in order to teach is unsettling I have no doubt. I have first hand experience and I’m sure, it’s stressful for weeks, perhaps months for others. But, it’s not something I’ve had to endure since my teaching days as a newly qualified teacher in the 90s. By default, design technology teachers are used to sharing resources – often with no clue where any of the general shared consumables are – and most of all, moving classrooms are part of any DT curriculum infrastructure. I wonder how common moving classrooms is for teachers in other subjects?
Teacher retention isn’t as important as we think. Our stereotypical view of a London teacher’s career is that they work in London schools for four or five years, then move to another region when they find they cannot buy a house or support a family on a teacher salary in the capital. (Source)
In this blog, having foolishly moved house one week before the start of the academic year, I liken moving house to moving classrooms and/or school for teachers. Despite facing the same anxieties, many teachers move school/classroom and think we are the only person who succumbs to a break in routine and a period of disorganisation.
Here I offer 5 tips when moving from classroom to classroom (or school).
1. Take Your Time:
Giving yourself plenty of time to move between classrooms/schools will allow you to organise and allocate time to complete and/or hand over projects. Teachers are very conscientious types, so each item on our to-do lists will cover all the necessary resources we will need before the move. The process should start as soon as possible to get rid of any junk. It is no surprise to many teachers to discover 10-year old schemes of work buried under piles of paper in the storeroom! Only take what you need … If you want a stress-free move to another classroom or school, pace yourself and start 1 or 2 months earlier than scheduled. Leaving it all to the last-minute will only create unwanted stress and in teaching, this is the last thing we want to encourage!
2. Be Flexible:
With so many different factors involved – location, resources, fixtures and fittings – with moving things from one school/classroom to another, things will not always go to plan. You may discover bits and bobs won’t work, so it is important to be flexible to changes during this time to keep stress levels down. It may be worth having a backup of ideas, resources and classroom strategies until you are unpacked, settled and feeling your teacher-mojo is back in full swing. Sometimes, things just don’t fit according to plan. If that’s the case, items such as furniture can be adjusted, installed later or exchange for something more suitable.
Often in these situations, it is a waiting game …
3. Create a Moving Checklist:
By nature, teachers are uber-organised, so imagine the anxiety levels in some when their classrooms are thrown upside down during a move! It pays to be organised, so, just like you’d label boxes and hire a few helping hands when moving home, you should also do the same when moving classrooms/schools too! Create a moving checklist of what you will need to do and consider when on the ‘other side’ of the move; at what stage will you need specific resources? Planning out a simple checklist will help make sure the process of moving into another colleague’s classroom space is smooth, right up until you the moment you welcome new students into your domain.
4. Pack a Moving Day Survival Box:
Before your moving day make sure you have packed a survival kit of essentials. If you don’t, you could find yourself scuppered and scratching your head on day one! Any survival box should contain classroom resources that will get you through the first week unscathed, such as stationery and small storage boxes for essential classroom resources. It is important to have easy access to these on your first day so that you have everything available for your first lesson!
5. Enlist Support:
When you are moving classroom/school, it will feel like you are placing all of your worldly goods in the hands of site staff (who may be on hand) to help you move. If you do find an extra pair of hands, inform volunteers of any specific requirements and have the kettle constantly switched on and topped up!
For a stress-free move, it is vital to feel rested and working on a full stomach. Ensure everyone involved has a good breakfast at the start of the day! If you are comfortable, you will be able to relax and get on with it.
‘I’m going to move back to Yorkshire. I can’t afford to buy a house.’
It was reported way back in 2002, that London teachers ‘can’t afford to live’ and I’ve been renting on and off in the capital city for 22 years, yet middle-class professions such as teaching are no longer guaranteed a comfortable standard of living. If I were a statistic, I’ve moved house once every 2.5 years of the time I’ve been teaching and living in the city! This has never been due to moving schools or location, but merely to the demands of the rental market and landlords/contractual agreements! Yet, I am still surviving – not thriving – with my family and I don’t know how long I can sustain living costs. According to statistical information from the STRB (2012);
- 25% of teachers in London schools are under 30, compared to 19% outside London
- 13% of teachers in London schools have a tenure at their school of less than one year, compared to 10% outside London
- Teacher turnover is about 21% in London, versus 19% nationally.
London teachers are stuck in London! The Department for Education (DfE) reports that geographical mobility is known to be lower for teaching than it is for other graduate professions. However, there hasn’t been a great deal of research done into why this is the case. One observation I would make is that 75% of teachers are women. (Source)
No wonder teachers are have mixed feelings about the capital; living in London is very hard and it breaks the bank each month! Having children and childcare costs only making quality of life in London even tougher for state-school teachers. As a result, despite having moved to 7 schools all over the UK in my first 16 years of life, since moving to London in 1993 as an undergraduate, I’ve lived in 13 different properties for the past 23 years! That’s despite having owned a property for 9 years too. I now have a family to support. I’m moving into the autumn years of my career and I need to consider my longer-term options.
Despite all this, I’m happy doing what I love best, but for how long can I sustain my family in London?
If you are living in North London, I highly recommend using Pers Removals company for all your needs; they were fantastic and I’d definitely use their services again. In fact, there’s a high-probability I’ll need to! And for teachers with children, they’ve even written a very useful blog; Moving Home with the Children? How to Make the Process Easier.
Visit Pers Removals for a friendly, safe and reliable service.