#WednesdayWisdom from April, a TLI graduate
April graduated in 2016, having completed the Foundation Degree in Teaching and Learning and the BA (Hons) Professional Practice top-up degree.
Name: April Castle
Course: BA (Hons) Professional Practice – Education
Year of graduation: 2016
Tell us a bit about what you are doing now?
I am self employed – my business is called Mary Poppins and I offer home help services. Monday – Thursday I nanny two baby boys in their own home and take them to playgroups. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I am a home tutor for primary aged children teaching Maths and English. On Thursday evenings, I am a special needs enabler for a 10 year old with autism. I take him out for the evening to somewhere fun and for a meal. On Fridays, I home care for a family with multiple disabilities, helping around the home and enabling.
How did you find the process of returning to education/study?
It was a rollercoaster of a journey. At times I felt daunted, stressed, or like I had taken on too much. I always felt competent but life was busy and I was annoyed at myself for taking on an extra burden. However, the majority of the time (between assignments and not a week until due date!) I really enjoyed it, for so many reasons. From the initial enrolment, the guidance, support and encouragement from everyone at TLI could not have been better.
How has your life changed since you graduated?
Hugely! When I first enrolled I was doing this degree with the sole intention of becoming a primary school teacher. I was already working at the local junior school as a teaching assistant and wanted to progress my career. However, by the time I graduated with the FdA Teaching and Learning my mindset was very different; having researched current educational policies and practices and reflected upon myself and the setting I was working in, I realised I no longer wanted to be a teacher. I decided I would like to be self employed to allow myself to have a more flexible lifestyle that fits in around the needs of my own family, as my own children are still primary age.
I am now earning almost double the amount I was as a teaching assistant doing jobs with no targets, senior management and minimal paperwork. I am currently in the process of preparing a business plan to expand by setting up an agency, as the demand for childcare and tutoring is not being met currently in the town I live in and I have a waiting list!
What did/do you enjoy most about studying for your degree?
Socially, I gained new and exciting friends with similar interests who I now consider lifelong friends. I looked forward to weekly sessions to see them and in the final year, we became a study group and went to each others houses. Personally, I gained so much confidence in myself, I felt knowledgeable and able to partake in discussions. I was aware I was being a great role model to my children who saw me graduate and are now keen to go to university themselves. Professionally, I have had a huge change of direction in my career and without a doubt, this degree gave me the knowledge and confidence and motivation to take the risk of leaving working in a school and becoming self employed!
What was your biggest challenge during your study and how did you overcome it?
There were a few! The biggest was perhaps time management. It was very difficult to get the balance right between study time and working, spending time with my own children, looking after the home, cooking, cleaning, shopping and spending time with my partner! To overcome this, I made a timetable of my week and ensured I had designated times/days for everything that needed to be done. The house was a little dirtier and near assignment due dates my children spent more time on technology than on days out, but we all knew it was temporary. Making sure other people close to me were aware of my schedule and asking them to help out with shopping, cooking, childcare etc made a big difference too.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about going back to education?
Do it! And use the support that’s around you – tutors, coworkers, friends and family.