@MrsRWood – Who I am

Who I Am and Why I’ve always loved School – @MrsRWood

I’ve always loved school. As a teacher and a student, I’ve always loved it (apart from once, but I’ll tell you about that later)

I was born in Exeter, in 1981 and I went to Exeter Road Primary school, Exmouth. My teachers were lovely and hanging out with my friends everyday was just the best thing ever. In terms of learning though, at the age of ten, I went home most days having not learnt anything new. That frustrated me, but it was no big deal. I’d go home, get changed and play outside with my older brother. We always managed to find a building site to mess around on. We knew to be in when the street lights went out.
Becky Wood 1
In 1992 I started at Colyton Grammar school. It was the best time of my life to date. Fantastic friends, a brother in the year above (which seemed very important at the time). Wonderful teachers who taught me new, exciting things everyday. It was a poster in my Chemistry lab that made me want to be a scientist. It showed a lady in a rainforest and it said “Not all Chemists Wear White Coats”. I have similar posters in my lab today, in the hope they’ll have the same effect on my students. There wasn’t a subject I didn’t like. But I became hugely interested in the History of Medicine, the World Wars, and the sciences. That made my A level choices rather easy.

Then, just as I thought I had it all sorted, something horrible happened. My stepdad started drinking. A lot. All of a sudden, he was always drunk. Day, night, weekdays, weekends. I don’t know why this happened. And I don’t know what caused the escalation into violence. Soon, evenings and nights were just a huge nightmare. Mainly spent shivering outside in my dressing gown.

School became my favourite place and my teachers were awesome. I did my homework in my biology lab during lunchtimes. Mrs. S would come over, with tea, and stroke my hand. Which wasn’t weird; as it might sound. It was what I desperately needed. I still get irritated today, when staff joke about what an easy life teachers at Colyton Grammar must have. They managed to keep me on track through some very dark times. And despite missing a huge amount of school, I did well (enough) in my A levels.

University was not for me really. I wanted to move away, so I went to the University of Birmingham. It was all a bit strange. I didn’t make friends with anyone who I still keep in touch with today. And my lecturers just seemed really bored all the time. Fortunately I did love Birmingham, so I stayed to do my PGCE in Chemistry. It was FANTASTIC. My education (in education) had become personal again. My tutor was amazing. Caring, funny, passionate and a bit scary…a perfect combination in my book. There were sixteen brilliant people who I trained with, one of them was my future husband. I gained experience in several schools: Kings Norton Boys, Selly Park Girls, King Edwards, Yardleys, Great Barr. During this time, I didn’t ever meet a teacher who was indifferent about their career. They either loved it, or hated it! I knew I’d made the right choice.

I accepted a job at my second placement school. Mistake. See first sentence. The atmosphere was toxic. There was bitterness, resentment, anger. It was a horrible place to work. There was no excitement or innovation; in fact that was almost frowned upon. There was an enormous amount of moaning, which I just couldn’t bare. I lasted two years; I desperately wanted to go home.

Fortunately, my husband to be was up for starting a new chapter in Devon. I applied for a job at at St. Luke’s Science and Sports College in Exeter. I remember the interview so well. I couldn’t have loved the school more. I loved everything about it. Students, staff, the ethos; even a brand spanking new science lab. I had huge butterflies. It seemed like my dream job. I got the phone call that evening. I hadn’t been offered the job, BUT they were willing to offer me a temporary post that had just come up. Would I take it? Would I ever! I bit their hand off!
I’ve had my personal ups and downs during my time at St. Lukes. In 2011, my husband was admitted to hospital after a 10 year illness. He came home exactly one month later, without a colon. He now has an ileostomy bag, which has changed our lives for the better. You can’t have a diseased colon, if you don’t have a colon! Win!

We both desperately wanted children and decided we try before his next batch of operations, as they’d come with the possibility of further complications. Time went by, and more time went by, and it got to the point where we both had to face reality. Something might be wrong. It is. And I flit between sadness and hope most days.
Becky wood 2
In December 2012 I was fortunate enough to visit CERN in Geneva. For four days I felt like a kid in a sweet shop. Massively out of my depth, but so excited about my return to school. I had big plans to try and embed some of this stuff in my day to day teaching. I mean, I was at the edge of science! (Well, I sort of wasn’t, but I got to have lunch with people who were! Amazing!)

I got back home, and I don’t know why, but I broke. Overnight, I went from being an overexcited bundle of enthusiasm, to a wreck. How to describe it? Anxiety, panic, despair, hopelessness. For the many people who understand, the Black Dog had me, and was shaking me in his jaws. I’d been looking forward to my trip to a CERN for so long, and as soon as I landed back home, there was no light anymore. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I was just consumed by a feeling of impending doom.

School were fantastic. I knew I didn’t have to worry about a thing. I was signed off for six months. The first month of which I don’t remember. Huge doses of valium were the only thing that could calm me down. I’d had a breakdown. At 31.

When I went back to work, I was overwhelmed. But I felt so glad nothing had changed. My department were as innovative as always. “Right Bec, this is what’s new, we’re flipping our classrooms!, we’re using this thing called SOLO, here’s a list of apps you need to download. Oh and get yourself on Twitter, it’s amazing CPD!” It took a while, but I managed to have a go at all
those things. Some have stuck and been brilliant! Using SOLO for example. And I’ve gained so many ideas from fellow educators on Twitter. That’s when I’m not totally distracted by the highly entertaining hideousness of @KTHopkins and @CrapTaxidermy.

Everyone has dark and light times in their lives. For me, there’s always been light times at school. As a child, there was learning and friendship and positivity, and as an adult, well, there’s the same thing really. And I love it.

8 years on from starting at St. Lukes, I’m still there. And it feels like I’m back at school again. I get to work alongside the awesomeness of @mr_pepperell, @Mrs_Humpherys and @MrsBoyson. I have the freedom to try out new things. We all have the same vision…to be better educators. But the icing on the cake is we have a cracking laugh along the way.

I still flit between sadness and hope for the future. But doing something I love everyday, certainly makes it all easier.