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- When the Fire is Gone: Real Stories for Survival, Resilience, and Heartbreak When Dealing with Teacher Burnout - March 11, 2020
Yesterday in my staff meeting, we found out that the founder of my school was leaving the school to pursue other career opportunities within the district. He was obviously torn between his decision to stay at the school he founded but eventually opted to do what was best for him professionally. As he broke the news, I watched fellow teachers get emotional and struggle to realize that in all probability, our school is likely to change. Some teachers have been at the school since its inception while newer teachers wondered how this change would affect our school and community.
After several rounds of questioning (by the teachers), we left all still feeling a little uncertain. Would the district hire someone who could lead an urban school like ours? Would the district listen to the community when replacing our leader? Or would we have to work with someone who had no interest in keeping our vision alive? While there was the talk of a possible replacement, there were many teachers who felt like it was almost certain that a new administrator would come in and change everything we had worked eight years to build.
At the end of the meeting, some teachers decided they were going to leave with him while others were too “shell-shocked” to actually make a decision. As I drove home, I pondered what I would do. If I wanted to, I could certainly “pitch” that I needed to go to the new school with him. I could also decide to be loyal and stay at my school and suffer through a potentially harmful administration. Or I could figure out what was best for me and my professional career.
While the third choice (at times) seems foreign to teachers, the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that at this time of transition, I needed to look out for me and do what was good for me professionally. I have seen excellent teachers want to pursue other things in education, but due to their unfaltering loyalty to their schools, they stay in their schools way past their expiration date. On the other hand, I see schools (and districts) show no loyalty when they have to lay off fellow educators and transfer them with no say in the decision.
The path of teachers looking out for ourselves professionally is one less traveled. Teachers are taught to be selfless and always put us last. So when I announced this to other co-workers, I could tell that I was doing something out of the normal. I was going to be loyal to myself and find the best professional opportunity for me. That could mean me staying at my current school, leaving to pursue other career options or even taking more time developing The Educator’s Room and promoting our books , “Keep the Fire Burning: Avoiding Teacher Burnout” and “How to Finish the Test When Your Pencil Breaks.”
As I go through this period of transition, I have to keep these things in mind:
1. Keeping my resume updated. I’ve always kept my resume up to date and gleaning with all of my accolades. This is crucial because many jobs come quick and leave fast! Be ready!
2. Being proactive and applying for other opportunities. So many times I’ve passed up on glorious jobs because I was comfortable being an educator. However, the truth is that in order to grow, I must get uncomfortable.
3. Staying positive. During times of transitions, there is always doubt, rumors, and uncertainty. I have to remember to stay positive throughout it all.
In the end, I’ll be fine professionally because I’ve made sure that I have choices. Do you?