After four years out of the classroom and a sojourn in the US, Catherine Campbell (@CatCampbell15), primary school teacher and mother of two describes how inspirational reading and a strategic approach to CPD helped her to regain her professional confidence.
While my first son was still tiny, my husband and I were offered an amazing opportunity to move to Chicago for three years. We jumped at it and a few months later we were off, my one year maternity leave turning into an almost four year career break.
I loved switching off completely from work and engrossing myself in all things baby and it was a wonderful few years I spent with my boys, but as I looked ahead to my return to London, I wasn’t sure how I might fit back in. Having been away from teaching for a few years and wanting part time work, I anticipated a struggle finding something that would suit me.
Then I started to read books like ‘Lean In‘ by Sheryl Sandberg and ‘How to Lead’ by Jo Owen and my doubts started turning to determination. They helped me gain clarity over my short and long term goals. Before long, I was embarking on several months of online CPD which helped to get me where I wanted to be.
I found it easy enough to fit online CPD around my boys’ routines by using 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there, all on my phone or iPad. I read books, articles on topics of interest, recent DfE publications, websites, watched YouTube and TED Talk videos and studied free online CPD modules. I also started following Twitter and online Twitter chats.
I took a three pronged approach to the CPD: learning about careers and leadership; getting up to date on new initiatives; and improving my subject-knowledge.
When the time came to apply for a new job from Chicago, this gave me the confidence to be brave and apply for what I wanted. With great relief I found a job that excited me, that would fit in with being a parent and that would progress my professional development.
Longer term, this CPD has gotten me into a habit of keeping myself informed, and it has given me self awareness of my ambitions and my development needs so I am now more proactive in managing my career than I ever was before I took maternity leave.