I've had some travels in my teaching journey. I began working at a school I had done some of my college observations hours in and was hella happy there for 8 years. Then we got a very "interesting" principal and I bailed after a year of her tyrannical ways (side note: she's been canned by 2 districts since then).
Turned out, the new principal was likely an undiagnosed sociopath, and when my father was given grave medical news, she was completely unsympathetic, did absolutely nothing to help me get a leave, and even tried to stiff me on some pay during the hardest time in my life. Bounced again, this time resigning, because there was no way I could be a good classroom teacher and support my father through the end of his life. I was able to land a coaching job at a local university that started the following month, which afforded me the flexible schedule and lack of classroom teaching responsibilities to be the daughter I needed to be and then to navigate the first 18 months without my dad. Those 3 years were great, and I learned an incredible amount by being an outside insider in various schools and districts, but I missed the real work of teaching and having my own classes to work with.
From there, I tried a year in a nearby suburb because my now-husband and I were thinking of moving outside the city. That was the easiest job I've ever had, but also the most boring. I had one prep and taught it to 3 blocks of kids. The pay was crap, probably due to the extremely bloated "support" staff of coaches and various titles that I don't really understand and never got any support from.
So then I came back to the city I love. Last year I worked at a school where a former AP of mine took over. It was not my jam, and I was yearning to get into a 5th grade position to shake up my repertoire a bit after 15 years of teaching middle school math.
Now, finally, I have come full circle back to the school where I began my career. My then-AP is now our principal and the vibe is back to the magic that prioritized kids and their families back in the good old days. I learned so much from my pit stops along the way, and I needed them to grow within and beyond my career, but I'm so happy to be "home" where I will finish my career.
The most important things I learned:
- We are not martyrs. Find the place that feels like home and treats you like the beautiful human you are.
- We are not trees. Leave the place that isn't serving you and is causing you harm.
We are in a strange time in education, and too many districts are showing how little they value us by ignoring the global pandemic that is raging around us. Classroom teachers are omitted from the narrative, while we are the ones doing the actual work of nurturing youth through this challenging time. I see you and I value you and I know that the work we do every day matters. The haters know this, too, and know they couldn't cut it in our shoes. We need to take care of ourselves, and I challenge you to do whatever it takes to make that true for you this coming year, and beyond. Remember your worth and act on it. Be brave and say no when you need to.