Are You Ready to Throw in the Towel?
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Stress Management
Let's face it. The pandemic is getting to all of us. We are tired of it and wish it would go away. But the truth is that the virus doesn't care if you are tired of it or not. It's going to do what viruses do. Spread until it has infected as many people as possible.
That means we have to stay vigilant all the time.
And being on high alert all the time is stressful.
Beyond causing us to all feel more than a little stressed out, though, it affects many people in their jobs, and I think it is fair to say it is affecting teachers more than just a little.
I teach a graduate class, and my students are all teachers. Some are teaching only virtually. Others are teaching a hybrid model. And one is teaching both!
They are smart and capable, but even they have their limitations. One of them said the other night that she was dangerously close to turning in her resignation any day now.
Another one of my friends announced to a group of us this week that she will retire early in the middle of the year. She has had enough.
It's not enough that teachers have been asked to put themselves at risk as districts push to bring kids back to school in person. But the districts are doing little if anything to help alleviate the stress their teachers are feeling.
In some cases, they are adding on more stuff, which adds more stress!
Now, don't get me wrong. I believe that children should be in school if at all possible. I know from my years as an educator that they need socialization, and many of them need the human teacher to help them stay on task so they can learn.
That said, I don't believe that teachers should be asked to sacrifice their own lives or the lives of their loved ones who may be medically compromised and at a higher risk of catching COVID-19.
I am talking to many teachers who have struggled with the genuine question of whether they can go back to school if and when it opens. Some have already quit. Others are thinking about quitting.
And who can blame them?
I loved my job as a school librarian, but I don't think I loved it enough to risk my life to keep it. I have wondered many times what I would do if I had to choose between my health and my job. Frankly, I am thankful I don't have to, and I am sorry if you do.
Now, if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are out there considering whether or not they want to continue teaching for the long term or not, you need to start making a plan for what you would do instead.
I was in that position a few years ago. As I left my last year as President of the Virginia Education Association, I was completely exhausted. I had hoped that I might be able to manage going back if I were given a library to go back to. But I lost the gamble on that one. There were no library positions open when I was ready to return to my district in 2012.
Instead, the county called to ask me if I preferred to teach high school or middle school English. I hadn't taught English since 1980! But I had taught sixth-grade language arts back in the 70s when I was in my 20s, so I agreed to middle school.
Every time I thought about going back and dealing with 2012 middle schoolers, learning the standards, and participating in the testing program that I don't believe is in children's best interest, I cried.
By the end of my third good cry, I knew I had to do something.
So, I picked up the phone and called my financial advisor.
I asked him if I could take early retirement based on my years in the retirement system and the money I had stashed away. He told me I could if I was willing to take a reduction in benefits. And that's all I needed to hear.
I took early retirement in August of 2012, and I have never looked back, second-guessed that decision, or regretted leaving when I did.
I know it was the right decision for me at that time.
But that left me with the question of what to do next.
Because I was so exhausted, the first thing I did was I took some time to rest up.
In January of 2013, I started to look for a job, and it soon occurred to me that I was over-educated and under-qualified for many of the jobs I might have been interested in pursuing.
I realized I was going to need some help.
So, I hired a coach.
With her help, I began to think about what I might like to do next instead of what I might be qualified to do, and that made all the difference.
I decided to think about my strengths and my experience and combine them to create a job that I could love and feel good about.
I knew two things for sure. I wanted to stay in touch with teachers, and I wanted to be of service somehow.
And wallah, "Teachers in Transition" was born.
Now, why am I sharing all that with you today? Where is the motivational newsletter that I usually write for Tuesdays every week?
Well, I am sharing all this with you today because I am thinking someone out there who might be reading this message will find something that speaks to them.
I hope that if you are exhausted and thinking it's time for a change, but you don't know what you would do instead, it may be time to get help.
If that sounds like you, I want to invite you to make an appointment so we can talk about how I might assist you in making a change for next year. Since it takes four to nine months on average to job search from start to finish--and that was the statistic before COVID--you need to get your job search started now.
And it would be best if you did not quit your job unless you are in a position to retire.
The old saying about how it is easier to find a job if you have a job is true.
So, you should start your job search now if you want to be sure to have something lined up by the end of this school year...and even then, there are no guarantees.
Job hunting depends on lots of different variables. You first have to know what you want to do, and for most people, that is the sticking point. They don't know.
Once they have decided, it becomes a pretty straightforward process. You write your resume based on the job description, create a compelling cover letter, make sure your LinkedIn profile shows off all your strengths and achievements, and learn how to interview so that when that call comes, and you get your shot, you don't blow it.
There are a lot of moving parts. But I created a checklist that you might find helpful. To get your copy, click https://teachersintransition.com/checklist.
And if you decide you would like to get some help with your search, let's chat. I would love to help if I can. Make an appointment for a 20-minute complimentary Discovery session by clicking here: https://teachersintransition.com/calendar.
If you are ready to throw in the towel, don't think you are alone. I have worked with hundreds of teachers over the years who have concluded that teaching isn't as much fun as it used to be, and now with the pandemic, it's just not worth it.
If you are ready for a change, let's talk. At the very least, download the free checklist.
Until next time.