How Do You Know When It's Time to Change Your Career?

Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP

Heart-Centered Career Transition & Job Search Coach | Possibility Thinker


If you are a teacher (and I know a lot of my readers are), you know that this is the season for teachers to receive notices about next year. Some provisional teachers will learn that they won't be returning next year. That will be a blow if they wanted to come back, but the truth is that teaching isn't for everyone. It's better to figure that out early in your career even if it stings for now that they don't want you back. There are plenty of things you can do instead, I assure you.
Teachers who have gotten past the provisional stage will be asked to commit to a position for next year. They will receive something that in Virginia is known as "a letter of intent." This is pretty routine, and most people sign it without a lot of thought unless something has happened that your job is in jeopardy.
For most teachers, signing a letter of intent is no big deal. You just sign it, and later this spring or early in the summer, you will receive and sign a contract for the next year with your specific school assignment.
Depending on where you work, your contract may be a relatively simple affair. It will tell you where you have been assigned to teach, and it will mention your general duties. Many contracts, especially those in right to work states have the nebulous statement that reads, "And other duties as assigned." That could cover a multitude of assignments. But those are usually worked out between the teacher and the principal in their building.
 If you still love teaching, signing the letter of intent is no big deal.
But what if you are a teacher who is on the fence about whether you want to return to the classroom next year? What if you are having second thoughts about continuing your teaching career?
Maybe this wasn't such a great year. Maybe you felt like things didn't go as well as you would like. Some years are harder than others. Maybe next year will be better. So do you just sign the letter of intent and forget about it? 
You may feel that you have no choice. Without another job to turn to, you have to do something to earn a living, right?
But what if the thought of returning to your job next year feels you with a sense of dread? What if you already know that you are just "done" as it relates to teaching. Then what?
I help teachers who have decided that going back to their classroom for another year is simply out of the question. I also help those who can't see themselves teaching until they reach the age needed for full retirement. They are, frankly, tired of feeling tired all the time. As one of my clients lamented to me, "I have only been teaching 8 years, and I feel used up."

That is a common complaint.

It isn't that teachers don't love their kids. They do.

It isn't that they aren't committed to teaching children their subject matter. They are.
It's all the OTHER stuff that they can't stand anymore. Countless meetings after school, most of which feel like a waste of time. Policy changes and curriculum changes every year make it hard to keep up. More responsibilities are added to the proverbial plate of things teachers are expected to do when nothing is ever deleted.
Teachers often complain to me that they feel weighed down with the burden of their jobs. They don't feel appreciated. They don't feel that anyone understands--or cares--about the sacrifices they make. They are tired of scraping by financially. They are tired of trying to make ends meet month to month on inadequate salaries. They are basically fed up.
And the last straw for some teachers is frustration over the latest school shooting. It has been heartbreaking to witness the Parkland students' pain. It has been equally heartbreaking to watch their teachers grapple with the loss. I cannot begin to imagine losing 17 of my students and colleagues. It should be unimaginable, frankly. Yet it is very real.
The last straw for some teachers is politicians adding "gun safety" to their list of required training for certain teachers. Most teachers I know don't want the responsibility of carrying a gun in their classrooms. That certainly would have been a deal breaker for me had it ever come up. I have never even held a gun. When I was young and considered getting one for protection, my father warned me that if I had a gun, I should be prepared to use it. Otherwise, my assailant would disarm me and use my own gun against me. I decided it wasn't worth the risk.
gun in a holster
Truthfully, I am agnostic about the 2nd Amendment. If people want to have a handgun for protection, that's fine with me. As long as they know how to use it and they keep it locked up and out of the reach of children, I am not opposed to that. But there should be limits to who can purchase one. They should be able to pass a basic background check. That's my opinion.
I also grew up in a household where my dad had a rifle, and he went hunting for sport on occasion. He was extremely careful because he had had a scare with a gun when he was a child. As careful as he was, one night while getting ready to clean the barrel, the gun went off. He thought he had emptied it of shells. He hadn't. Thankfully, he only blew out the glass in the back storm door. But it could have been a tragedy. What if he had been around someone else? What if had he had the barrel pointed at himself thinking it was empty?
What I know for sure is that the answer to gun violence in this country is not more guns. I applaud the students from Parkland and across the country in their effort to use their voices to speak up. I am proud of them for organizing around an issue that they care about. More of us should do that, frankly. We have gotten cynical. But I digress.
The question for teachers remains. Whether you might be expected to carry a gun to school or not, consider this question. Do you want to sign your contract for next year?
Or is it time to explore your career alternatives?

If you are ready for information about how to explore options outside of teaching, click here.

I am offering a FREE Masterclass entitled, "How to Know When It's Time to Change Careers." 

This presentation for the teacher and mid-career professional who want a change in their career. They want a change in direction professional. They are ready for a new challenge. They feel they are ready for a new opportunity. But they don't know where to begin the search.
This presentation will help you determine (1) if you are ready for a job or career change and (2) what steps you need to take to get started.
You may decide to stick with your teaching career after all. Or you may decide that you want to return to the classroom for next year, but you want to start exploring possibilities for the long-term future so that you know what your options are and what opportunities are "out there" waiting for you to explore
This Masterclass is for anyone who is on the fence about whether they want to teach for the next ten to twenty years. I want to help you decide whether to stay or go armed with all the information that you need.

Vanessa Jackson
Phoenix Rising Coaching
1541 Flaming Oak
New Braunfels Texas 78132
United States of America