Gut Check: Attention Teachers — Are You Excited about Going Back to School?

 

Gut Check Intuition Hunch Instinct Box Mark 3d Illustration

Gut check

 

Summer is flying by! The fourth of July is already a memory.

 

Perhaps you still have that summer vacation to the beach ahead of you. You still have a lot of summer left! But if you are a teacher, I bet you have already begun to think going back to school.
I urge you to take a gut check right now. When you think about going back, are you excited?
Are you eager to get back into the building so you can start arranging your room?
Are you the teacher who goes in early on your own time to put up bulletin board displays?
Did you buy the bulletin board displays with your own money at the local school supply store?
I used to do that. I used to be that teacher. I loved school.
In fact, I loved my job! I never dreaded a single day of work once I made it through my first year. That first year is another story, but I survived it and made it through 32 more years. Not that everything was always peachy-keen. Every school has its challenges after all.
All in all, however, I had a great time as a teacher/library media specialist. Truth be told, I had the best job in the building. I loved being the school librarian. It was the perfect job for me.
 The best days to be a teacher, however, were before the politicians began to meddle in our schools.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against being held accountable for doing a good job. I think everyone should have annual or bi-annual reviews of their performance.
And I think principals should be honest with those teachers who need to step it up. If a teacher isn’t doing a good job, I hold the principal responsible for that.
It is the principal’s job to evaluate honestly and provide honest feedback. Too often, they are too busy, though. They just check the boxes without having done a proper observation.
I know this because it happened to me…a lot!
I went through several evaluations without the principal ever observing me. That should not happen. But it did…too often.
That is probably why the politicians felt like they had to step in in the first place. They observed that teachers they knew weren’t doing a good job and came up with a scheme for evaluating.
The scheme they came up with is flawed, however. I don’t buy into holding teachers accountable for things outside their control. Using arbitrary benchmarks that have nothing to do with real teaching and learning is ludicrous. Tying those arbitrary test scores to a teacher’s evaluation is wrong. It is harmful to all concerned, and the entire system is suffering for it.

School has become less about learning and all about testing.

Something is wrong with that whole picture.
Yet, teachers have been powerless to do anything about it. In fact, they are increasingly powerless to do anything of their own accord.
Would those in the public sector accept similar accountability measures for themselves? Let’s create some arbitrary performance figure for them to meet. Then let’s throw in a bunch of variables that they have no control over. How would that go over? Not well, I imagine.
But I digress. Believe it or not, this is not a post about testing or accountability.

It’s about you as a teacher doing a gut check to see how you feel about going back this year.

If you are excited and can’t wait to start a new year, that is awesome! I hope you have the best year ever!
If you are feeling a sense of dread, though, you need to take note. If you feel a heaviness in your heart every time you consider going back, it may be time for you to consider a change.
Worried woman with book

Unhappy Teacher

It is probably too late in the summer for you to find a new job that pays you commensurate to what you are making now. I don’t recommend that you quit your teaching job without having something to go to.
But if you are dreading going back to school and it’s only early July, it may be time to explore what your options may be.
I always urge people to plan their next move carefully. Don’t be impulsive. Don’t quit your job in a huff. You may need a good recommendation from your principal someday.
But you should think about planning your future. You don’t have to stay stuck in a job you don’t love anymore.
Stuck Inside the Box

Stuck?

Your options may be more varied than you think! I know a lot of teachers think they are stuck with teaching because they are “just a teacher.”
Most of the teachers I know are pretty smart, however. Many of them have talents that are being underutilized. In fact, your current sense of discontent may be the result of your feeling that you could be doing “more” in your career
You should open yourself to possibilities. Let yourself consider what options you may have.
If you aren’t excited about going back to school this year you may want to schedule a chat with me. Sign up for a complimentary 20-minute Discovery Session. It won’t cost you anything but your time. Just click on this link to schedule a time that works for you:
And check out my free giveaway, “7 Signs of Teacher Burnout.” You may find it useful in assessing the level of your discontent with teaching. Click here to download it instantly: https://kittyboitnott.lpages.co/7-signs-of-teacher-burnout/
If you aren’t sure what your dream job might be, download this additional giveaway. It’s entitled, “What is Your Dream Job?” It may help you consider what you else you are called to do. To download it instantly, click here:  https://kittyboitnott.lpages.co/what-is-your-dream-job/

If teaching is still your dream job, that is wonderful!

We need dedicated teachers who want to stick with the profession. The more experienced you are, the better!
For those who are feeling the ill effects of teacher burnout, however, here is what you need to know. If you aren’t having fun anymore, your kids aren’t enjoying themselves–or you–either.
Kids deserve to have teachers who are 100% committed to them. If you have started to feel that your future as a teacher is limited, we should talk. I want to help you discover the world beyond teaching that you may not even know exists.
Until next time.

 

A Message to Teachers about Going Back to School Tomorrow

Christmas memories are quickly fading, and New Year’s resolutions may have already been dropped. Tomorrow, after a long holiday hiatus, it will be time to return to work.

For my teacher friends who will be returning to school routines, I hope you are looking forward to Monday morning with joyful anticipation. You have missed your kids, perhaps, and you can’t wait to hear them regale you with all of their holiday stories of gifts gotten and trips taken.

For some of you, however, you may be experiencing a sense of dread. When I taught and worked as an elementary school librarian, I remember some of my colleagues talking about how they cried on the Sunday night before coming in on Monday.

I couldn’t relate because I loved my job as the school librarian. I knew then, as I know today, that being the media specialist was the best job in the building, and I never took it for granted. I did look forward to coming back after summer vacations and holidays and weekends. I know, however, that some of my colleagues did not share my enthusiasm because they talked about it with me.

It always bothered me to hear of my colleagues’ misery. Some were new mothers, and leaving their babies at the daycare or even with Grandma was excruciatingly painful for them. Others had just stopped enjoying their work but didn’t know what to do about it.

I suspect that the percentage of teachers who dread going to school tomorrow has increased dramatically since my days as a librarian. I suspect this based on the calls and emails I get from teachers who have lost their enthusiasm for teaching.

For many teachers, the fun has been sucked out of the profession by reformers and politicians who never taught a day in their lives but think they know how classrooms should be run. Add to the misery the countless number of tasks that have been added to the plates of every teacher in the country while nothing has ever been removed. (This is a pet peeve of mine, and I complained of it in my last speech before the Virginia Board of Education members in 2012 when I was still President of the Virginia Education Association from 2008-2012.)

Unless you have been a teacher or you have lived with one, and you have personally witnessed the work hours they put in at home, you can’t possibly appreciate the amount of work the average teacher puts into their job when they are not at work. Oh, I know people in business often bring work home at night. I also know that a lot of that work stays in the briefcase all night and is never touched. The work can be caught up the next day, after all.

Not so if you are are a schoolteacher. You have kids who are counting on you to bring them your A-game every single day, and every single period of every single day. You don’t have the luxury of slacking off if you have papers to grade or lesson plans that haven’t been created but must be ready for the next day.

Teachers have pressures to which people in business cannot relate, and they should stop trying. On top of that, if I hear one more time that teachers have it “easy” because they “only” work from 7:30 to 2:30 and they get three months “off for the summer,” I might scream.

Most teachers not only have the massive workload to which I have referred, but many of them have to take 2nd jobs to pay the rent, keep food on the table, buy gas for the car, and pay back massive student loans. Those loans will be anchors around their necks for decades to come because getting a college education today has become so oppressively expensive. But that is another topic for another day.

My first year as a teacher, after paying rent and utilities and budgeting enough for gas so I could get back and forth from work, I had $20 left for food. My roommate’s mom kept me fed, and the $20 went toward buying yogurt cups that I could get for 4 for $1 on sale. Occasionally, my dad would offer a few extra dollars to get me through the month.

I eventually took on additional jobs to supplement my income. Now, I ask you…who does that on a routine basis besides teachers and maybe actors? And why do teachers do it?

I will tell you why. It is because, for the most part, they love teaching. In fact, many of them never considered ever doing anything else!

Now, none of them went into teaching expecting to get rich. They did go into it thinking they could make ends meet, however.

Like other people, teachers want to get married and have children of their own. They want to buy homes and pay for college tuition for their own children. They would like to be able to take the occasional vacation, and they want to be able to live without fear of going broke every time the car breaks down.

As a Career Transition Coach specializing in teachers who are experiencing job burnout, I hear this refrain all of the time: “I love my kids, but it is all of the other stuff I can’t bear doing anymore.”

“All of the other stuff “is “teacher code” for all of the additional paperwork that is now being required of teachers everywhere. For the most part, nobody seems to care about the extra paperwork, but is required for the purpose of holding teachers more “accountable.”

“All the other stuff” is also “teacher code” for being evaluated using rubrics that make no sense, yet these rubrics tie a teacher’s evaluation to the achievement of their students with no regard for where those students live or their readiness for school.

A popular saying among top policymakers has been, “poverty is no excuse” for lagging achievement in our country. The fact is, however, that lawmakers and policymakers completely ignore the fact that sometimes children don’t do well in school because of factors over which their teachers have no direct control.

Some children come to school hungry. That in and of itself is a travesty given that we live in the richest nation on the planet, but it is no less a fact.

Other students don’t do well in school because they can’t see. They need glasses, but optometrists and glasses are not covered by most insurance policies. Still other children may be having trouble concentrating because they have a toothache, but they have no access to a dentist.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So, to my teacher friends and colleagues:  I hope you will be able to start 2016 with a renewed enthusiasm for your profession. If that feels impossible, however, don’t lose hope. Your education, talent, and experience CAN be used in many other endeavors.

I never want to encourage anyone who still loves teaching out of the profession. I do, however, want to help those for whom teaching has lost its luster. I want them to know that they can find help with identifying their transferable skills, writing their resumes, getting their LinkedIn profiles optimized and setting them on course for a career that may be a better fit for them than teaching has turned out to be.

If you are a teacher who wants to hear more about that, let me know. Sign up for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Let’s talk.

 

Did You Get to See This?

This is a link (see below) to an article that Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post has offered. It actually came out several months ago (February 5, 2015) but it popped up on my Facebook page recently, and I shared it with my Facebook peeps just a few days ago. It occurs to me that it belongs here.

The article’s title is “Why Teachers Can’t Have ‘Normal’ Lives.”

Take a look and let me know what you think.

/www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/05/why-teachers-cant-have-normal-lives/

If you are a teacher who is feeling overwhelmed with work, check out this checklist on teacher burnout.

For more information, head on over to my website at TeachersinTransition.CoachesConsole.com.