Meet Angie Crockwell, a music teacher who came to me for help with her job search early in 2017. She was on a sabbatical from her job as an elementary school band teacher when she found me and reached out to me for assistance with her job search.
In spite of her passion for music, Angie had gotten burned out with her job as an elementary band teacher. She was feeling the physical symptoms, and when she contacted me, she was already dreading the thought of returning to her school in the fall.
She had hopes of finding a position as an arts administrator in a non-profit, but as time went by, she had little luck finding those types of positions and landing them even if she got as far as an interview.
Angie decided to work with me because I had been an educator myself and I understood her feelings. After our initial complimentary strategy session, she decided to try the Starter Program which was intended to help her gain some clarity around what she wanted—and needed—next in her career.
A few months after completing the Starter Program, she reached out to me and asked about what her next steps might be. She decided to upgrade to the Group Coaching Program which gave her access to the rest of the program I offer: (1) instruction on how to write a resume directed toward the next job you want; (2) help with an optimized LinkedIn profile; (3) learning how to write a compelling cover letter; (4) auditing social media profiles, and (5) preparing for an interview among other things.
She also benefitted from the group coaching support. It was eye-opening to learn that she wasn’t the only teacher feeling the way she felt. In fact, in her particular cohort, she was one of three music teachers going through the program!
Listen to Angie’s story in her own words as she explains how stressed out and unhappy she was when she first came to me and how happy she is now in her new position as a high school band director. She has found her passion for music and teaching again!
Angie’s experience shows that sometimes all you need to recharge your batteries or overcome the pain of burnout is to make a change in grade level, school, or school district. You may not have to leave teaching altogether to find your joy in teaching again.
Of course, if you have decided that you DO need to leave teaching in order to enjoy your work again, that’s okay, too. Life is too short for you to be spending it in work that you don’t enjoy, no longer find fulfillment in, or feel that you aren’t making a difference by doing anymore. Whatever it is for you that will fill you with joy again, that’s what I want for you.
I hope you found Angie’s story uplifting. If you would like to learn more about how I might assist you in making the change you want, please reach out to me and make an appointment for a no-obligation 20-minute strategy session. It won’t cost you anything but 20 minutes of your time…and it may change your life forever.
Sign up now.
There are people in the general public who think that teachers have an easy job. They have no idea. These are often the same people who can’t wait to send their one or two children back to school after a break. They never stop to think that their kids’ teachers manage 25 to 30 kids all day long five days a week.
We are all more stressed today than ever. There are many reasons for this. Just consider what has happened in the last few weeks:
(6) And if you are a political junky, you can’t stop watching the drama that is playing out in Washington, DC. Regardless of your personal politics, the division and the polarization that has gripped the country is taking a toll on all of us, even if you try to block it out.
It’s almost too much to think about. Yet, think about it, we must. It’s part of our current reality, and unless you live under a rock or in a cave, you cannot be unaffected by it all.
All of these factors impact stress and burnout in teachers and other busy professionals.
Right now, I am just speaking to teachers, however.
If you are a teacher, that may sound familiar.
Teaching has grown to be a difficult job because of the increased demands upon teachers in general. Again, people in the public have no idea what their child’s teacher does in their time off. And let’s be honest. They don’t care. They are unaware of the hours it takes to prepare for a typical day or lesson. They don’t understand what goes into grading papers. They just don’t get it. And why should they?
So, what’s a teacher to do if they are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed with the job with no remedy in sight? If the stress goes unchecked, it may lead to burnout, and burnout could mean changing your whole career path. Wouldn’t it be better if you could find a way to manage your stress and avoid burnout altogether?
That is what the next several posts will be about. I will offer suggestions for teachers. These suggestions will include specific tools, techniques, and strategies for managing their stress. These recommendations will help you feel more relaxed and less stressed. They will also help you build physical, mental, and emotional resilience.
Want to know more? Then subscribe to TeachersinDistress.com right now so you can get alerts as the next few posts are offered with tips, techniques, and tools that will help you feel less stressed out and overwhelmed.
Again, to get the free stress test, click on the graphic below:
A few months ago, I went in search of people who are offering podcasts related to education, and I found that there are many. In fact, many of them are connected through the Education Podcast Network. I reached out to a number of these individuals and connected with them through LinkedIn so I could follow their work.
In the process, I connected with one young teacher who is passionate about empowering teachers. She offers both a blog and a podcast and is a member of the Education Podcast Network.
Gretchen Schultek Bridgers who offers the podcast, “Always a Lesson” asked if I would be willing to be a guest on her podcast. I was thrilled to do that, and the resulting interview was released just this morning.
If you feel that you may be experiencing the signs or symptoms of burnout, don’t despair. There is hope. Perhaps you will hear something in this podcast that will spark an idea or generate an action plan. I sincerely hope so.
And if you have any questions about what you might be able to do if you decided that teaching isn’t what you want to do anymore, we should talk. Make an appointment for a no-obligation strategy session by using the form to the right of this message. It won’t cost you anything but a little bit of your time, and it may help you decide on next steps in your career.
Enjoy the podcast by clicking here.
Until next time.
Since I help teachers who are experiencing burnout find alternative careers, I am often asked the question, “What else can I do besides teach?”
And my answer is, “That depends. What would you like to do?”
It isn’t a trick question, yet it seems to stump more people than it doesn’t.
The frequency with which that exchange takes place makes me wonder. Have we been so conditioned to believe we have to take what we think we can get that we don’t dare go for what we want?
It is ironic, isn’t it? Teachers are often the very people who inspire and motivate their students to reach their full potential. Most people can recall that one special teacher (at least one) who saw something in them and made them feel like they could stretch themselves toward a goal that felt unattainable. Teachers routinely encourage their students to stretch outside their comfort zones. They see things in us that we don’t see or feel in ourselves. Right?
Many of the teachers I speak with on a daily basis, however, believe that their own options are limited.
The typical conversation starts with, “What are the options for teachers? What else can I do with my education credentials and experience?”
My answer is always, “You can do whatever you want…but you have to believe that you can, and you have to be willing to take some chances.”
And there, I am afraid, comes the rub.
That is not a criticism, but it is an observation, and it is based at least in part on my own experience.
Teachers like to play it safe. For the most part, we are rule followers as well as rule makers. We believe in rules, and we believe in practicalities. Having something “stable” may outweigh having something that feels less predictable.
Many teachers tell me, “I have to have a job with benefits.”
I get that. Getting a job with benefits was the main reason I took my first job. My mother was determined that I take whatever I could get because her insurance company would be kicking me off her plan within a few months of graduation. As a nurse, she was keenly aware of my need to “be covered.”
And I am not unsympathetic, I promise. Upon retirement, I started paying almost $600 a month for my own insurance because I wasn’t willing to take a risk that I would stay healthy.
So, having a job with good benefits is a good thing.
Every individual has to make that choice for themselves. I am in no position to advise you to quit your job and not have a plan.
But I am suggesting that it isn’t helping you if you aren’t willing to look at all of your options.
These days, it is possible to have insurance without being tied to a job you don’t feel invested in anymore.
And it is worth taking a risk, perhaps, if it is one that would pay off in the long run.
Unless you are approaching retirement, if you are in the category of “burnt-out teacher,” it may be time for you to check your alternatives. But start with the right questions. What were you born to do? What is your true passion? What is your mission in this life? If you have a magic wand, and you could do, be, have, or accomplish anything in the world without fear of failure, what would you be doing instead of what you are doing now?
If your answer is, “Nothing. I was born to teach, and I plan to teach for the rest of my life” then that is great news! We need good teachers. We need dedicated and committed teachers, and I wouldn’t dream of encouraging you to leave.
BUT, if you are not enjoying teaching, and you think there must be “something else out there” that you could do instead, we should probably talk.
It’s your life. It’s your decision. And there is no time like now to start if you want to make a change.
Until next time.
I just read an excellent article by Ashley Lamb-Sinclair in The Atlantic. It is entitled, “Why Teachers Need Their Freedom,” and she describes how she and her co-teacher used some of the techniques offered in a book called Teaching Content Outrageously by Stanley Pogrow. I applaud Ashley for being willing to take a risk. I am sure her students enjoyed the lesson that she described in the article, and I do not doubt that engaging them differently make an impact.
I agree wholeheartedly with the premise that teachers need their freedom when it comes to deciding how to teach effectively. They have been trained, after all, to do just that. The dilemma, of course, is that few teachers feel they have any freedom or autonomy at all.
For them to feel “free,” they would have to break the chains of restraint that most districts are imposing upon them.
I talk to teachers every day who feel the restrictions upon them in such a way that they feel chained–strangled, even–by the uncompromising demands made by their administrators.
I have to wonder if Ashley and her co-teacher would have used the lesson described in her article if it had been a day that they were being observed by the principal for evaluation. Perhaps they would have. It would have been instructive for the administrator to see, but somehow I doubt that they would have felt the “freedom” to be that innovative on observation day. I hope I am wrong about that. But even though they might have been bold enough to offer that lesson for administrative observation, I know many teachers who wouldn’t feel that kind of confidence.
In fact, the teachers who call me are talking increasingly about their profound sense of burnout with their jobs. They talk about feeling overly restricted by the demands of the administration to comply with rules that don’t make a lot of sense to them.
Just this week, a teacher who cares deeply about her students said to me, “I feel that I am out of integrity with myself because I am doing things that I don’t even believe are in the best interests of my students.”
She was referring to the endless round of tests that she is required to administer. Learning is taking a back seat to testing. It doesn’t seem to matter to the people in charge of schools these days if any authentic learning is taking place. Everything hinges on how well the students do on their various tests.
People, in general, like to feel that they have some control in their lives including how they conduct themselves on the job. When you feel that every move is prescripted and every decision is made by someone else, it tears at the individual in a fundamental way. I believe that this is a cause of the rise in teacher burnout that I am witnessing just anecdotally.
The teachers who call me say without exception, “I still love my kids. I love teaching, but it’s all the other stuff I don’t want to do anymore.”
I know how they feel. Part of the reason I left education and started this business is that I could not bring myself to participate in the teaching of arbitrary standards and administering tests that have little real meaning. I long for the days when I was treated like a professional. And most of the people I talk to feel the same way.
I wholeheartedly agreed that teachers DO need their freedom. I wish they had it. I wish they felt like they could declare it for themselves. Few feel that they have that freedom, however. And the result is teacher burnout on the rise.
If you happen to be one of those teachers who feels that your job is causing you undue stress, the first order of business that you should address if your stress level. I invite you to download a free PDF on stress management that offers some simple but effective strategies for managing your stress and becoming more resilient. To get the free report, click here.
And if you think you might be suffering from symptoms of teacher burnout, you may also download another free PDF that offers 7 questions that will help you determine if you are burned out and your level of burnout. Get that PDF by clicking here.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.
Until next time.
I have to say I do not envy teachers who are headed back to school this fall, and for those who are already at it, I hope you are doing okay. What is happening in the country at the moment is hard enough for adults to understand. I cannot imagine trying to explain it to children. Yet, at some point, depending on the age and maturity of the children you teach, you will need to try to explain it.
Students are taught basic fundamentals of respect for adults in the room and their classmates. They are told that it isn’t okay to hit, bite, or punch their classmates, although I am told that hitting, biting, and punching is on the rise in some areas. (I was told this by an HR person for a large school district, so I trust it to be an accurate depiction of what is happening in some places.)
Bullying is not allowed in our classrooms. In spite of that basic premise, we are all well aware that bullying has become a national epidemic.
We also teach that facts matter. And (I hope) we teach that history, when ignored, has a bad habit of repeating itself.
We don’t just teach the fundamental curriculum. We teach students the importance of caring and sharing and having empathy for one another.
How in the world does a teacher teach these fundamental concepts to impressionable children when the leaders of the free world–and I am not just talking about the President of the United States but any leader in Congress or any state official who is guilty of arguing on national TV that somehow, two wrongs make a right? Because at the moment, that is exactly what I hear many of them are doing.
I am writing this post because I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing adults argue that just because one group did something wrong it is somehow okay for the other group to do something wrong.
Two wrongs do NOT make a right…they make for two wrongs that build on one another and only exacerbate an already bad situation.
As teachers, it is your challenge to somehow communicate that in spite of whatever your students may be hearing on TV or in community discourse, fundamental goodness, honesty, integrity, and justice are not things of the past.
We must keep those concepts alive if we are to survive as a civil and just society. It is imperative that every teacher in the country make this their number challenge for this year.
I know it is easy to get sucked into the nastiness. Please hold yourself above the fray. Please remember that we need you to stay strong. We need you to be good role models for our children.
Don’t give in out of weariness that all this craziness is creating in all of us. You may be the only example of goodness that your children get to see! It is up to you to be a light. It is up to you to bring about an understanding of what civil discourse is all about. It is up to you to try to maintain a cool head in spite of the confusion going on around you.
It is a heavy burden, and I am sorry to lay it on you, but I worry about where we are headed if cooler heads–and kinder hearts–don’t prevail here.
I write this blog for “teachers in distress,” and I am usually writing for those who have considered that maybe they have come to the end of their teaching career. I help those folks figure out what else they might do instead of teaching.
But today’s post is dedicated to those teachers who are showing up in the nation’s classrooms now and in the weeks to come. You must meet the challenge ahead of you. I don’t envy you, but I am glad you are there. Your children need you. Your country needs you.
Whether you teach civics or history or math…whether you teach 5th grade or kindergarten…we need you to be the voice of reason. We need you to bring a sense of balance and justice and ethical decision-making to your job every single day. We need you to teach your children about fairness and individual rights. We need you to do all of these things.
Thank you for being a teacher. I appreciate you more than you can possibly know and today more than ever.
Until next time.
It’s “Back to School” time! Sales for school supplies, school clothes and shoes have all started. Even if the school doesn’t start for you until after Labor Day, you have already started thinking about going back, I bet.
In my last post, I recommended that if you are a teacher and you are contemplating your return to school for another year, it may be a good idea to do a “gut check.”
After writing about that, I had teachers tell me that they literally feel sick to their stomachs when they contemplate going back for another year.
That isn’t good.
Here is what I know for sure.
If you go back with an attitude that you are just hanging on by your fingernails, your kids will sense it. You aren’t going to be having any fun, and neither are they.
It bothers me that teacher burnout seems to be on the upswing. After all, if everyone left teaching all of a sudden, what would happen to our kids? Who would teach them?
On the other hand, if you are a teacher who is experiencing the pain and heartache of burnout, it is a cinch that you aren’t doing your best work anymore, and you owe it to your kids to either get your burnout handled or look for something else to do.
Taking care of the burnout may be the simplest approach. Have you taken advantage of the free e-book I wrote a couple of years ago on stress management? If not, I invite you to take a look at it. It is a simple, straightforward approach to 7 strategies for managing stress more effectively and proactively. Burnout is the result of stress gone unmanaged for too long.
Take a look at the book and download it by clicking here: http://kittyboitnott.leadpages.co/ebook.
If you aren’t sure if you are experiencing burnout, perhaps you would benefit from checking out my free 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Assessment. To download the assessment for free, click here: https://kittyboitnott.leadpages.co/7-signs-of-teacher-burnout/.
If your burnout goes beyond needing simple stress management techniques, it may be time to explore other career alternatives. As a Career Transition and Job Search Coach, I specialize in helping teachers who are feeling burned out explore their career options.
For many teachers, just knowing that you have options helps alleviate some of the sense of being stuck where you aren’t happy anymore.
So, I urge you to take note of how you feel as you consider going back to school this fall. If you are excited and looking forward to it, good for you.
If you are filled with dread at the prospect, it may be time to get help. Contact me by visiting my website at TeachersinTransition.com.
Sign up for a complimentary Discovery Session. I would love to talk with you to see if I can help.
Until next time.
Summer is flying by! The fourth of July is already a memory.
This case study highlights the success of Deanna Forsythe, a teacher from Wisconsin.
Deanna enrolled in my “Jumpstart Your Job Search Program” in late April 2017. She landed her new job as the Director of a Mathnasium Center in mid-June
This was, without a doubt, the quickest success I have seen as a Career Transition Coach!
I would like to take credit for it, but Deanna did the hard work. My program and our one-on-one consultations contributed to her success. She was responsible for her fast transition, though.
The average job search today, from start to finish, is generally four to nine months. Given that Deanna’s process from start to finish took place over seven weeks is definitely not the norm.
What I observed about Deanna was her positive, “go-getter” attitude. I am sure she was a phenomenal teacher. She has all the right characteristics for an outstanding educator. She is extremely organized; she was highly motivated and hyper- focused; and she was eager to be successful.
She felt that the system didn’t respect her expertise as an educator anymore. She had even changed from one position to another in hopes of a better situation. She was disappointed to find that that change didn’t fix the problem, however.
She also felt that she had more to offer than was being used in her current situation. Hear in her own words what she wrote to me about what led her to seek out my services:
“I have been an educator for over 20 years, working in the private, public, and choice sectors. I have supported children of varying ages, academic abilities, and behavioral needs. Over that time, I noticed a profound shift in the field of education. Demands placed on teachers continue to increase, Autonomy continues to decrease. I recognized at that point that it was time to utilize my skill set from both my BS and MA in a way that was far more productive, meaningful, and fulfilling to me.”
She took to the program with enthusiasm. The program includes online tutorials, recommended reading, exercises, and activities. She tackled the program as though she were undertaking a new advanced degree. She set up a system for herself, and when we held our first consultation, she was wide open to suggestions. She didn’t come into the program with a preconceived idea of where it might lead.
She knew there had to be something “out there” where she could contribute in a more meaningful way.
She also expressed her love for animals and how her dream is to one day be an animal healer. I encouraged her to continue to explore that. We don’t listen to our inner wisdom often enough. We shut down because we have convinced ourselves that certain things “aren’t possible.” I try to get my clients to embrace the idea that “anything is possible.” It is, in fact, “possible” once you believe it is.
Listen to Deanna’s testimony in her own words as they relate to her experience of the work we did together:
This video conversation holds several key pieces of information. Deanna made use of the entire program starting with getting in touch with herself and remembering what brought her job and peace.
Here is what she said about the nature of the instruction and inspiration she got from following the modules and the results she saw:
“I developed my professional portfolio through LinkedIn (lesson 7). Others in the field I am in accepted my invitations, and I continue to meet and expand my network today.
Also, I closely followed Kitty’s modules regarding bringing life to one’s cover letter/resume (lessons 3-4). I applied for the position I currently accepted, and within 24 hours, I received a response of interest.
A breakthrough I experienced was I recognized that I held the cards. I simply needed the support of someone like Kitty who has ‘been there, done that’ to guide me through the process of reinventing myself.”
There are usually side benefits to taking part in programs like this. Sometimes they can be unexpected. Here is what Deanna said about one of the benefits she received from working with me one-on-one:
“Kitty’s ability to relate to and validate my frustrations as an educator in today’s world was valuable to me. I no longer felt alone. She is an excellent empathic listener!
I also felt supported in taking baby steps, as reinventing one’s self can be an overwhelming process. She understands the challenge in breaking new ground, as she was once in my shoes.”
I always ask people if they would be willing to offer a recommendation on LinkedIn or a testimonial for my website as I draw my work with a client to a close. I did the same with Deanna. Here is what she offered that she would tell her friends and colleagues about working with me:
“I would (and already have) recommend you to others who are looking for more fulfillment in their professional lives. You are authentic. You have experienced this journey firsthand, and that lends credibility to your interest in supporting me to do the same.
You also have experience leading others outside of this realm/position, as former president of VEA, and that also lends credibility to coaching others, in my opinion.”
So, there you have it. Another satisfied client. Another teacher who has decided that the system has failed her and it’s time to move on. I am confident that Deanna will be successful in her new role. She only need bring half of her enthusiasm to her new role as she brought to her job transition program, to that, but I know she will bring 100% to that new endeavor.
I am also confident that while she will bring tremendous value to her new position, she will learn as well as contribute and she may have even greater things waiting for her in her future.
It is a pleasure working with people like Deanna. She saw a need to make a change in her life, and she made it with confidence and determination.
What about you? Are you ready to take charge of your career and your life?
If so, I urge you to contact me for a 20-minute complimentary Discovery Session. Just go to my calendar here to sign up. It won’t cost a thing but 20-minutes of your time: https://kittyatcareermakeover.coachesconsole.com/calendar/.