How do you describe what you currently do?
My name is Jessica Terlick, and I am a part-time Level Three (Western Australian Qualification) classroom teacher, and founder of my company Lead and Inspire for teachers. Lead and Inspire is a community of teachers who prioritise their well-being to support themselves to be the best educator they can be without burning themselves out. I am currently teaching in a primary school in the northern suburbs in Perth, WA. I am also a wife to my husband Ben and mother to my beautiful children Ava (5) and Rob (2). It is through all these roles that I practice what I believe in “when you give back to yourself, you can give more to others.”
How did you get to where you are now?
In 2008 I graduated from Edith Cowan University with a Bachelor of Education specialising in primary. For my final practicum, I took the opportunity to move out of home and travel five hours away to Geraldton to entirely focus on my teaching. While on prac I was applying for jobs in the country relativity close to Perth. I was fortunate enough to land a position one and a half hours from the outer suburbs of Perth. It was at this school that I taught for three and a half years, building my CV, taking every opportunity to improve and develop my teaching practice and allocate every minute of the day while at school and home to my teaching job. I did not realise at the time that I was affecting my health and well-being so much as I thought everything I was doing and the way I was feeling and reacting was utterly normal.
In 2011, my final year at my first school, I completed my Level Three Application (I was unsuccessful at that time), took my year 5-7 class to Canberra and got married. I did not realise how much stress I put myself under and truly believed that it was all normal. Towards the end of the year, I was awaiting my permanency and then a transfer back to a Perth school so I could move in with Ben. It was at this point that I realised that it did not matter how much effort and time you put into your job; you do not always get what you are promised or even deserved. I received only permanency at my country school and was not successful in transferring. At my lowest point, I called my Principal in tears and vented my absolute frustration. Luckily enough, she sent an email to all schools in Perth, explaining my circumstances and my qualifications. The next day I had a contract at a school in Perth.
I thought once I moved back to Perth, teaching would be easier. I was completely wrong. I was still chasing opportunities to prove myself, get my permanency, strengthen my Level Three Application to submit again, and I thought that the general process of the learning and teaching cycle would be much easier because I was more experienced. But now I didn’t have the same time I did when I was in the country. I had to drive an hour to get to my school, so I couldn’t get in early, leave late and go in on weekends and now I was married, and I wanted a life outside of teaching. I felt like I had done my ‘apprenticeship’ and now wanted the feeling of having a regular job. It wasn’t until Ben questioned me working over a long weekend to ‘get ahead’ for the term that I realised that perhaps what I was doing was not normal. So, I started to work on how to create the work-life balance I desired to have with a job that I loved so much.
For the next couple of years, I set personal and professional boundaries, switched off technology at certain times and created a repertoire of organisational skills. In 2013 I was successful in receiving permanency at a different school closer to home and submitted my Level Three Application with ease and success. I also found out I was pregnant. Once Ava was born, I realised the effects of stress on my mental and emotional well-being. It was during this time of learning how to be a good mother and part-time teacher (which was difficult in itself when I was so used to chasing opportunities and leading) that I learnt the importance of saying no and focusing on what you are passionate about. I stopped putting my hand up for every opportunity and focused on what I was good at. In 2016 I fell pregnant once again and decided to have 2017 off on maternity leave. I learnt the importance of looking after yourself, so you can look after others. It was almost like the missing puzzle piece. 2017 was the year of personal discovery and development. I had always focused on professional development but never purely on myself. I laugh at that now because as a teacher I always encourage my students to learn about how they learn best, metacognition, mindset and goal setting and yet I did not make the time for myself to do the same, or if I did, it was always about teaching. In 2017 I also launched Lead and Inspire.
In 2018, I returned to work three days a week, and Ava started Kindergarten. I ran all my workshops, online programs, coaching series and Rob was under two. I also studied Life Coaching and achieved my qualification at the end of the year. I had to put into practice my Lead and Inspire teachings. This year I have had time away from teaching to focus on building the Lead and Inspire Community so more teachers can hear our message and focus on their personal development. I am returning to teaching in the second semester, three days a week again and will continue to run Lead and Inspire.
What has been one of the highlights of your career?
The highlight of my career has definitely been achieving my Level Three Classroom Teacher status.
What has been the most difficult thing in your career?
The most challenging thing in my career has been teaching in my country, posting, away from my husband. I feel like this gave me a false sense of work-life balance before I moved back to Perth. I also spent a lot of time ‘wishing’ for the end of the week, term and school year so I could move back. Looking back, I would have liked to have recognised that it would be only for a short amount of time (three years really is a short amount of time) and a phase in my life; and then leveraged it by creating a stronger career and life plan.
In your current work, how do you help educators?
Lead and Inspire has allowed me to share my passion and an important message. I am currently building a community of teachers where we love our jobs, have given so much of ourselves to others and now recognise the importance of placing a priority on our well-being, self-care and self-development.
We provide a range of workshops throughout the year to plan, engage and recharge teachers as they grow in their career. All the workshops have clear learnings and identifiable outcomes, and we also have a lot of fun! My favourite of all the workshops (but no more superior) is the ‘Creating MORE Time and Energy’ workshop. This is where I share my theory about our individual energy cycles and how you can plan your tasks as educators to be more efficient and feel like you have more time and energy.
Alongside our online programs and workshops, we have ongoing coaching programs, fortnightly events, and a Facebook Group with weekly videos and online support. You can find all of this at our website www.leadandinspire.com.au and via all our social media links.
What have been some common issues for educators you have noticed or addressed?
Some of the most common issues for educators I have noticed is the feeling of not having enough time, overwhelm with paperwork and administrative tasks, comparison to others and not having the work and life balance they desire.
What are your top three tips for achieving work-life balance?
- Set boundaries – time, physical, relationships and work
- Switch technology off early
- Place a priority on your self-care
What would you tell someone who is considering doing what you have done?
Your career is a marathon and not a sprint. You do not have to be an experienced teacher in your first, second or even 10th year of teaching. Treat your career as your own self-development journey. Set areas to focus on – even goals at the start of the year and every term. You do not need to do it all or achieve it all now. Apply this same philosophy to every area of your life. Dream it, map it out and then action it slowly with patience.
What would you suggest as the best way to get started?
If you are interested in creating a business to support educators, build your community first. Set up your business structure and have a plan of the programs and information you want to share. Focus on telling your story and how it can help your community.
If you had one secret to tell others what would it be?
I feel that it has taken me way too long to listen to others, ask for help and seek advice. I wish that I surrendered the perfectionist part of me – and the need always to be doing the right thing – back when I was in high school. The ongoing struggle to prove myself has been detrimental to my well-being and potentially sabotaged my ability to experience and celebrate success because I would always feel like I had to prove more, do more and be more. I am now comfortable to be me and accept that it is totally ok not to know everything, be everything and do everything.
To find out more about Jessica and the Lead and Inspire community visit www.leadandinspire.com.au or www.facebook.com/leadandinspirecommunity and subscribe to her weekly boosts of inspiration or get your ticket to her next event.