I know that so many of you are frustrated, tired, and worn down. You’re tired of testing your students to death, of not having support from your administration or parents, and trying to understand curriculum and teacher evaluation systems that seem designed to trap and fail you.
This breaks my heart. My friends, I’m begging you today: please don’t judge the profession or your effectiveness as an educator based on a lousy teaching placement.
Teacher morale is not in the gutter in every school.
There are supportive administrators out there and parents who will have your back.
There are schools where you are allowed to teach and not just test, where kids are allowed to be kids and not just data-processing robots.
There are places out there where you CAN love teaching again.
I’m not saying those schools are easy to find, or that you can saunter in and demand a job. I know this is complicated stuff and I can’t fix a tough job market. I’m simply encouraging you not to give up on a career you once loved because you have a particularly challenging group of students or a misguided, micromanaging superintendent.
Don’t blame yourself or question your abilities as a teacher.
Don’t blame the entire teaching profession and lose faith that this can be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs on the planet.
Sometimes the problem is not YOU. And it’s not teaching, in general. It’s your particular placement.
I know firsthand the power of changing teaching positions. After just three years of teaching PreK, I was certain I was burned out and not meant to be a teacher anymore. Then I moved up four grade levels, and my passion was completely renewed. There was nothing wrong with the teaching placement itself, it just wasn’t right for me anymore. I needed a change.
Later, I relocated and ended up at a school where the working conditions were so depressing, I came home and cried every night. This time, the problem was the school, so I transferred to a nearby district as soon as I could find an opening, and once again, I loved my job. Eventually another principal was assigned to the school and made my life miserable. I suffered for two years before finding another position—and all that enthusiasm for my work came rushing back once again.
The message here is not that you can run from all the problems in education, or that it’s simple to find the right job for you. What I want you to understand is this:
The right school and grade level make all the difference in the world. You can love your work, and you can make a difference. Don’t give up your dream just because you don’t love your placement, or people in positions of power have lost sight of what matters.
Once a month, I’m going to feature an interview with a teacher who still loves his or her job and is excited to go to school each morning. Believe it or not, I’ve got dozens of teachers who are willing to share their stories. Some of them are in their ideal teaching placements, and others have simply learned to adjust and make the best of what they’ve got.
These educators are going to tell us how they keep from getting overwhelmed by their students’ needs and prevent the demands of the school system from weighing on them, their advice for balancing work and their families/personal life, and practices or mindset shifts they recommend that other teachers try in order to increase their sense of motivation, purpose, and enthusiasm.
If you are a teacher who’s found a teaching position you love, please, share your story with us and spread the message that teaching can still be a great job. Tell us in the comments, or email me and I’ll send you the interview questions and feature your story in a future post.
And if you are a discouraged teacher, please, hang in there. Hold onto your vision and keep trying to make it work. There is hope for you in this profession.