If 2021 taught me anything, it is that no one is coming to save teachers. We need to save ourselves.
No one is Coming to Save Teachers
I tweeted this in response to a wonderful educator I follow on Twitter, @PernilleRipp, and noticed that it received a good amount of traction.
The Current State of K12
It turns out K12 is essential because we allow parents to participate in the workforce, we are custodial care. Not so much our actual services, but that we allow others to provide services.
With an unfunded mandate, we pivoted to provide online schooling options. While broadband was unreliable, we persisted in providing the learning environment we could via bus routes, and packet pick-up and drop-off stations, and endless web conferencing meetings. And in this process we exhausted ourselves in the spring of 2020, not knowing we would still be exhausted nearly two years later.
And so teachers are quitting.
Teachers Must Conserve Energy
Those educators who stay should form energy conservation strategies immediately or risk an existence worse than a career change, the never-ending exhaustion that is teaching right now. Consider boundaries for work hours, workload, and additional responsibilities.
Easier said than done? Yes and no. If you want to make it through the rest of this school year you have to do this. And teachers need to evolve their career skills to include selectively enforcing self-preservation techniques.
It is often difficult to answer no when asked to do more. Consider how you can share the reasons you are conserving your time and energies with your colleagues. You do not have to justify why you are not willing or able to take on additional responsibilities, but as a segway into increased confidence you can mention how you need time for family responsibilities after school when declining.
Teachers Leaving, should Leave
No judgments against those educators exiting the classroom. Trust your instincts if it is time and plan your exit wisely. You should be planning your exit already if you are leaving.
Are you able to evaluate if you will want to return to the classroom? This is the only question you need to answer now – because this dictates when you resign. If you are not going to return to the classroom, resign and leave now to gain the advantage of early applications to related career opportunities. If you think you may return to the classroom do your best to remain through the end of the term for the benefit of future K12 employer reference checks.
Consider all the curriculum, educational technology, and specialty vendors you know from your years in the classroom. Connect with/Follow them now on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to monitor for career openings. Look for current connections you have in these companies and request introductions or referrals to HR/hiring managers now to discuss your future.
No career is more care-centric than K12 education, but it is time for us to turn that care inward.
Whiteleather, M. (2021, December 8). To keep teachers from quitting, address these 5 key issues. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/to-keep-teachers-from-quitting-address-these-5-key-issues/2021/12
2022-02-06 at 12:55 pm
K-12 had been headed down this path for at least a decade. And I’m certain it’s going exactly as it was planned — maybe even better since apparently no one anticipated the pandemic.
That said, we only have one life, one family, and we must take care of ourselves. I know we’ve been programmed to care about everyone but ourselves, but it’s time that changed. Start building your team of people who care about you and have your back. Those who try to make you feel guilty — well, they just took themselves off your list of people whose opinions you need to care about. ‘
If you’re having health issues, get out now.
If you think you can make it to May/June, start planning your exit now. Find a job, start a business/side gig. Research your options.
I stepped out to continue my education and am better off mentally, physically, and financially. Even better, I still get to teach — but on my own terms.
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