Saying "Yes" to Your BestMay 05, 2023
It's that time of year again when vacancies are posted, and we get the opportunity to consider what we want for the next school year.
"Next year, Wystie? I haven't even made it to summer break!" I hear you, friend. I really do.
In over two decades as an educator, I've never seen such a mass exodus from education as I've witnessed this past year. Teachers are burned-out, fed-up, unsupported, and leaving a service-oriented profession for ANYTHING other than the classroom.
Let's begin with this caveat: If you've considered leaving teaching this year, you are in good company. It's not easy or for the weak. Heck, I'll be brutally honest. This year has been HARD.
After three long years of navigating unprecedented times, we find ourselves in a collective space of trauma and tension. Despite our efforts to make learning work for everyone, the aftermath has left us with more hurt than hope - leaving an impression on all generations alike. People are mad and mean. They've forgotten what it was like teaching their own children and how they made Tik Tocks telling teachers they could have anything they wanted because parents finally "got it."
But what about YOU? What do you need right now?
As this school year ends, I can guarantee it will take more than a bubble bath and a glass of wine to get back your joy. Because, honey, I lost mine amid the pandemic and endless years of children with and without masks. Somewhere out there is the love I KNOW I have for teaching Kindergarten. So, fill in the blanks.
This year was hard because, ___________________.
Something I didn't expect to happen was ________________.
I'm still grieving ___________________.
I need help with _____________________.
If I am honest,I feel _____________________________ about teaching.
I'm going to lay this out flat for you. Whatever you fill in on those blanks MAKES SENSE.
Maybe you've had an incredible year. Awesome.
But for those of us that are three pandemic years tired, I get it.
Choosing what you want in life can be complex, especially when it comes to making decisions about our jobs. Many of us have been conditioned to prioritize other people's needs and reactions over our own, making it difficult for us to pursue the things we want.
Take Jenna's Story, for example,
Jenna had been teaching special education for the past five years. She was passionate about her work and did whatever it took to ensure her students received each day's best possible support. Unfortunately, she felt like she wasn’t receiving any support from her administrators or fellow staff members in return. Jenna also felt like she was constantly being attacked on Class Dojo by parents who weren’t happy with how their child was doing in class.
With all of this stress, Jenna decided to apply for a third-grade general education position that had recently opened up at another school in the district. She wrote an impressive letter of intent and soon found herself invited to interview for the job - something that filled her with excitement and joy!
But when Jenna shared the news with people she trusted in the building, they were not as enthusiastic as she'd hoped they would be. They accused her of “giving up on kids who needed her most” and expressed worry over what would happen to her current students if she left them behind. These reactions made Jenna doubt whether or not leaving was a good idea after all – even though deep down inside, it is something that she truly wanted more than anything else.
After much contemplation, Jenna eventually realized that denying herself what could potentially be one of life's greatest opportunities just because others thought differently wouldn't do anyone any justice - least of all herself! After coming to terms with this realization, Jenna applied for a transfer. She soon found herself starting anew at a new school where teachers and students welcomed her warmly into their community!
I understand how confusing and overwhelming this can be because I've been there myself. As a teacher, I've had times over the years when I felt like the needs and reactions of my students, colleagues, and parents dictated my career. And while I knew that these considerations were important components of being an effective educator, they prevented me from pursuing opportunities where I could grow professionally or take on new roles that inspired me.
The truth is that we all need some level of comfort with taking risks to determine which direction will bring us the most joy and meaning in our careers.
Here are some tips that may help:
1) Get clear on YOUR priorities - What do you value? Make sure your goals align with those values rather than trying to please someone else's expectations or standards
2) Create a vision board based on your ideal situation (e.g., job title/salary/working environment). Use this as a tool for planning ahead
3) Seek out mentors & role models - Find professionals whose work you admire and ask them how they navigated their own career paths
4) Network - Talk to others in similar positions who may offer advice or insight into different possibilities that open up for you outside of staying at your current position
5) Have patience & trust yourself – Remember that everything takes time, so don’t rush to conclusions without knowing all available options first! Additionally, remind yourself daily why YOU are special before considering anyone else’s opinion–this act alone will instill more confidence within yourself each day moving forward!
At the end of the day, each individual has his or her own path towards achieving personal success–so never let anyone stop you from getting what YOU want out of life if it brings happiness and fulfillment along with it!
I believe in you!