Ah, summer vacation! For the teacher who doesn’t have to work to cover the rent until she receives the next school paycheck, it’s fabulous. Freedom. You get to sleep in…no alarm clocks for you. You get to take your time getting ready for the day. There are no school bells marking off the day period by period. No one is coming to observe you. You have no plans to make. There are no papers to grade.
It doesn’t get much better, does it?
But what happens when it is time for school to start again?
Will you be excited and eager to get your school supplies rounded up? Will you be eager to find out who your children are going to be? Will you start going to school two weeks early on your own time to get your bulletin boards up and your textbooks unpacked?
Or will you be filled with dread?
A client told me today that she feels like throwing up every time she thinks about going back.
That’s not good!
At least, in her case, she is actively looking for other employment. In fact, that is why we were on the phone today. I was helping her make sure that she is customizing her cover letter and resume for the jobs she is applying for. She has recognized that teaching no longer makes her happy. She has lost her zeal and enthusiasm. She wants to do something else. But wanting to do something else and finding something else are two different things.
So, may I ask. If you aren’t excited about going back in August or September, what are you doing about it? Are you preparing your exit plan? Perhaps you should.
Teachers often feel that there is no good time to be looking for a new job.
After all, you are tied up with a contract for most of the year. And that is true. But that should not serve as an excuse for you to stay shackled to a career you no longer love. Life is simply too short for you to be forcing yourself to go back when you feel sick to your stomach at the thought.
So, why not take some time this summer to start investigating your alternatives? You may decide that you are happy with teaching after all. When I was young, that happened to me. I was dissatisfied with my career prospects as a teacher, so I went in search of someone who might help me get out of teaching. In fact, I explored several options. I took a test to see if I might be a good fit for the insurance industry. Nope.
I went to a career counselor. Back then, they worked in agencies instead of independently like they do now. The job the counselor offered that I might qualify for was with a paper supply company. I would be the person who stocked shelves for stores that sold the company’s stationery and other paper products along with pencils and other office supplies. I couldn’t help but think I would be bored with a job like that. Plus, the pay wasn’t as much as I was making as a teacher.
In the end, I decided to stay.
Instead of leaving the teaching profession, I decided that I needed to invest in an advanced degree so I could qualify for the stipend my district offered. I stayed right where I was, but I felt better about my career choice. I had given myself permission to explore the options that might be “out there.” Having found that they weren’t as plentiful as I might have thought, I was satisfied to put my time and energy into a new advanced degree.
I was the school librarian, and at the end of the day, it was the best job in the building. I came to appreciate that, and I loved my job for the remaining 20+ years that I stayed with it. But I learned a valuable lesson from that experience.
And later, when I realized that my teaching career had come to an end, I decided to retool and reinvent myself. It was the best decision I could have made, and I am happier now than I have ever been with my career choice as a career coach who helps guide others to the kind of job satisfaction I now feel.
If you are unhappy with your teaching career and you self-identify as burned out with teaching, you should be spending some of your summer vacation thinking about your future. Just because the pain and pressure of last year are now behind you, you have no guarantee that it will be any better next year. And chances are it could be even worse!
Do yourself a favor and consider that exploring your various options might be worthwhile. After all, you are smart. You are well-educated. You have skills that go beyond the skills needed to teach. You can do a lot of things that you may not have considered before. And best of all, no matter what you decide regarding whether to stay or go, you will feel more empowered. You will have taken the steps needed to determine if your burn out is real enough to make you want to consider leaving.
Enjoy your summer.
But don’t waste the entire summer vacation in the sun and at the pool if you think you might want a different career sometime in the future. The job fairy will not come looking for you without some effort on your part.
So think about it. What do you want to be doing when school starts this fall?
Until next time.
Kitty J. Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP is a former educator and Past President of the Virginia Education Association. After over three decades teaching and advocating for public education, she retooled and reinvented herself. She became a Certified Life Strategies and Stress Management Coach and a Career Transition & Job Search Coach trained by a nationally known career expert. Kitty specializes in helping teachers who are suffering from teacher burnout. She is the owner and CEO of Boitnott Coaching, LLC and the founder of TeachersinTransition.com, TeachersinDistress.Wordpress.com, and
Do you need help looking for your next career opportunity? Why not try out a 20-minute complimentary Discovery Session? Just click here for my calendar. I would love to chat with you about your possibilities.
Not sure is you are experiencing teacher burnout? Check yourself with this free checklist. Click here: https://kittyboitnott.leadpages.co/7-signs-of-teacher-burnout/