It’s Time for Teachers to Buckle Up

I don’t know who you voted for, and at this point, it doesn’t matter. It’s water over the dam. If you are a public school teacher, or you are married to a public school teacher or you  are a proud product of our nation’s public schools, buckle up. We are in for a rough ride for the next few years.

Public education has been under siege since 1983 when the Reagan administration dropped the bombshell report, A Nation at Risk on the country.

I started teaching in 1975, and public education had already begun to be questioned before 1983. The media and certain pundits had started to complain (even then) that the public schools in the United States weren’t keeping up with other nations when comparing test scores. Of course, those same members of the media and those same pundits routinely overlooked the fact that post-school segregation, more students from more diverse backgrounds were taking standardized tests like the SAT, and when disaggregated, the U. S wasn’t doing that poorly in comparison after all.

The United States has, until recently, been a place where education was valued, and until about 20 years ago, it was a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that the country needed to invest in public schools so that students could be given an equal opportunity to succeed. The United States, after all, has been the place where anyone could be successful no matter how humble their beginnings. A good education and a willingness to work could lead to a successful career and a better life.

Oh, how things have changed! Today, we have re-segregated our schools as a result of backing off the intention of Brown v. Board of EducationWe don’t even fake for “separate but equal” anymore.

In urban areas, schools are neglected to the point that buildings are falling apart, and no one seems to care. Those who are pushing for charters and choice also don’t seem to care that not everyone will have the luxury of school choice…and no one is yet addressing what will happen to those “left behind.”

Given that we now have a President who apparently couldn’t care less about public education given his choice of Education Secretary, it is time for public school teachers to wake up to a new reality.

If there had ever been a year for a teacher to be a one-issue voter with that one issue being education, this would have been it. I suspect, however, that like many people who wanted “change,” many teachers voted for change as well. Like I said, buckle up. We are about to see “change” like we have never seen it before across the board–including in our nation’s schools.

 

Do You Need LinkedIn? Yes…Yes, You Do And Here is Why

People often tell me that they don’t use LinkedIn. They may have an account that they set up a long time ago, but they don’t remember what their password is, and they haven’t looked at it for years. They think they don’t need it. They are wrong.

Here are the typical comments I hear:  “I am a teacher…I don’t need LinkedIn.” “I am in business on my own…I have a website…I don’t need LinkedIn.” “I am not looking for a job…I am very satisfied where I am. I don’t need LinkedIn.” And so it goes. Everyone is wrong!

To those who believe that they are exempt from needing a LinkedIn profile that is fully optimized and ready for”prime time,” I cannot put it more plainly. You are just wrong! (Or, to quote one of my favorite Big Bang Theory TV characters, “You couldn’t be more wrong.”)

Everyone should be using LinkedIn. Period.

Just as billions of you around the world use and enjoy Facebook for family, friends, and fun, your LinkedIn profile is the virtual and literal “link” between you and the rest of the professional working world. Whether you are looking for a job or happily employed where you plan to stay until you retire, you need a fully optimized LinkedIn profile!

Why am I so passionate about this? As a Career Transition and Job Search Coach to teachers who are burnt-out and are looking to springboard into the business world as well as mid-career professionals who find themselves at a career crossroads for any of a variety of reasons, I believe that LinkedIn is rapidly becoming your new, online resume. Just as everyone needs to be able to present an up-to-date hard copy resume of their work experience, everyone needs an up-to-date and fully optimized LinkedIn profile.

I offer webinars and presentations on LinkedIn profile optimization, and I provide critiques of LinkedIn profiles for those who want advice on how to make the most of the features that LinkedIn provides. (My next webinar on LinkedIn Profile Optimization is next week, Thursday, July 21 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. To register, click here.)

In that webinar, I teach attendees the basics regarding what elements to include in a fully optimized LinkedIn profile starting with their photo. Frankly, I am stunned by the photos that some people use on their LinkedIn profile. They apparently don’t appreciate that LinkedIn is not Facebook. It is not Twitter. Nor it is Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat or any other totally completely “social” social platform. LinkedIn is a social platform for professionals. Its express purpose is to allow professional people from all over the world to be able to connect with one another on a professional level and to network in a professional manner.

LinkedIn is where you can showcase yourself as a professional or as an entrepreneur in ways that you cannot duplicate anywhere as easily.

If you aren’t sure what you need to include to provide an optimized LinkedIn profile, I have had a graphic designer create a 14-point checklist designed just for my clients. It is graphically beautiful, but it also includes the practical and pragmatic graphics that convey how you can create a LinkedIn profile that includes the most important elements starting with your photo, your headline, your number of connections, and the need for you to customize your URL. I am offering it for only $1 even though I believe it is worth much more. This guide helps users understand exactly where everything should go and why.

Stress Self-Assessment

No matter where you are on the career continuum, you may want to give this unique, one-of-a-kind LinkedIn Profile Highlights Checklist a look.

Since it is only $1, you have no reason not to take advantage of it.

But if you aren’t yet convinced that you need to be setting up a LinkedIn profile, take a look at some startling facts:

  • Over 430 million LinkedIn users around the world to date and growing by…
  • 2 new members every 2 seconds.
  • Over 128 million users in the United States alone
  • Over 106 monthly unique visiting LinkedIn members
  • LinkedIn is used in over 200 countries and territories in…
  • Over 20 languages
  • 70% of users are outside the United States
  • 94% recruiters are using LinkedIn to look for talent
  • There are 6.5 million active job listings on LinkedIn

Need I say more?

If you remain unconvinced, consider this one last fact of life. Nothing ever remains the same. You may be happily employed today, and your job might disappear tomorrow. It happens. Companies merge, and departments are phased out. Jobs are eliminated. Workforces are downsized. I know one man whose company decided to move across the country. He was invited to go along, but he chose to stay put for personal reasons. He had no idea how hard it might be for him to find an equivalent position in a speedy fashion. He had to start his job search from scratch and try to get it from 0 to 60 mph in a hurry. Had he been keeping his resume up to date and his LinkedIn profile optimized and ready, he could have shaved weeks off his search.

I don’t have to tell you that we live in precarious times. Nothing is guaranteed. Right now, however, I believe I can safely say that if you don’t think you need a LinkedIn profile, you are simply wrong, my friend. So why not fix it and get started on your profile right away?

Order your LinkedIn Profile Highlights Checklist and get started.

Why Teachers are Leaving, and Why We Should All Care


As another school year winds down, I find myself communicating with dozens of teachers each week either by phone or email. The conversations run along similar lines, and the theme remains consistent:  “I love my kids. If I could just teach, I would be happy to continue, but there is more to it than loving kids, and I just can’t do it anymore. Can you help me?”

This conversation breaks my heart every time I engage in it, but I do so because I want to help those teachers who are experiencing the pain and heartache of burnout.

Without exception, the individual with whom I find myself talking is smart and talented and started out with high expectations and pure intentions. Each one once had a sincere desire to be a great teacher. The experience of each person I have talked to has varied from five to 26 years. Some have been in one school, and others have been in different schools, but the story lines are similar regardless of whether the teacher in question is calling from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, or Richmond, VA. “I just can’t do it anymore. Can you help me?”

unhappyteacher

I tell each of them that I can relate. I left public education after being one of its fiercest advocates four years ago. I took early (I mean early) retirement because the idea of returning to a classroom to teach to curriculum standards I didn’t believe in and administering tests that are a travesty were unpalatable options for me. I left teaching and public education prematurely because I was burned out after four years as President of the Virginia Education Association. In part, I left because I knew I didn’t have the physical energy or stamina to take on teaching middle school English. I hadn’t taught English since 1980! Mostly, I retired early because I didn’t have any desire to participate in a system that I believe is counter to what is in the best interest of children.

So I quit–I took early retirement–and I now help others leave the profession sooner than they had thought they would so that they can discover what other career paths they can pursue instead.

My new mission in life is to help others accomplish what I have managed to accomplish for myself:  find work that plays to their natural strengths, their talents, and their natural abilities.

Work shouldn’t feel like such a chore.

Are you experiencing teacher burnout? Not sure? Download the 7 signs of teacher burnout by clicking on the button below.

For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here

For those who are not teachers, here is why you should care about the epidemic of teacher burnout that is rampant and affecting teachers all over the country. If they all decide to quit, and the ones who are eligible all retire in the next few years, who will be left to teach?

Charter schools have become the rage, but they haven’t delivered in spite of all the hype about them. I don’t believe they are the answer.

And even if charter schools, private schools, and virtual schools were suddenly to provide the answer, they cannot possibly address all of the needs of all of the children who currently have a barely surviving public system to support them.

I worry about the future of public education in the country, but I am dedicated to the individual teachers who call me asking for my help. On a macro level, I think we are about to experience a teacher shortage of epic proportions. I worry that no one seems to care.

On a micro level, however, life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t enjoy…no matter what it is.

If you are a teacher experiencing the pain of teacher burnout and stress, here is a “cheat sheet” of suggestions for how you might better manage the stress of your current situation. Click on the button below:

For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here (1)

Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or just a citizen with a passing interest in what is happening in the world, I believe you should care about what is happening to our teachers and in our nation’s schools. The grinding nature of the job has become too much for too many, and they are looking for a way to escape. I am here to help them, but I also worry about the vacuum that is being left in the wake of their leaving.

We should all care about what is happening to public education in our country…before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers, Are You Feeling the Painful Symptoms of Burnout?


Since I recently changed my headline on LinkedIn to “I help burnt-out teachers find career alternatives that are perfect for them because work should be fulfilling and FUN!” my LinkedIn connections have gone up almost 400 in less than one month. I am receiving at least four messages a day from teachers of all ages and all stages of their careers asking for more information about what I do. They want to know how I might help them because they have self-identified themselves as “burnt-out.”
Spring is the time of year when the feelings of exhaustion and a sense of overwhelm are most acute for teachers and students. Spring testing is driving every activity in every classroom across the country. Students in schools where passing the benchmarks is a given feel less pressure than those who attend at-risk schools. In those schools that have been deemed “failing” or “at-risk,” students feel the pressure just as much, if not more than their teachers. Kids know that their futures depend on upon how they do on standardized tests. For seniors, graduation hangs in the balance. Regardless of age or grade level, for those who don’t test well, this isn’t a fun time of year.
Fgrade
For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here

When I talk to them about their interest in my services, teachers tell me pretty much the same thing:  “I still love my kids, and if I could just teach without all of the other “stuff,” I would be satisfied to stay. (They often use a more descriptive term than “stuff.” I’ve cleaned it up for a G-rated audience.)

The problem is that the other “stuff” has become a non-negotiable part of the job!

Arbitrary standards that are attached to equally arbitrary test scores which have been linked to teacher evaluations (thanks for nothing, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan) have made teaching an untenable proposition for a large number of teachers.

While the economy was crippled due to the economic melt-down of 2008-2009, many of the teachers who started suffering from job burnout long before now stayed put because there weren’t a lot of other jobs available to them. As the economy improves, however, the possibility that there might be other opportunities available to them has created a desire for many teachers to want to at least explore their options.

When teachers contact me, I tell them that I can’t offer them a job. I am not a recruiter. I am a Career Transition and Job Search Coach specializing in working with teachers who are feeling the pain and disillusionment of job burnout and who are ready to explore their professional alternatives.

Teachers need my help because many of them fall into the trap of thinking, “I can’t do anything else…I am ‘just’ a teacher.”

Here is the thing:  Because teachers are well-educated, have a solid work ethic, learn quickly, and are good communicators, they are ideally suited for many other lines of work. They just don’t know it yet! And that is where I can help.

What makes me an expert? I was a teacher and librarian for over three decades. I then went on to become the President of the Virginia Education Association. When I left that job I was burned up…worn out…done.

teacher burnout

I couldn’t find the energy or the desire to go back to the classroom although had there been a library for me, I probably would have gone back. What I was offered was a middle school English position which was out of the question for me. I knew I didn’t have the physical stamina. I didn’t have the emotional resilience that I would need to deal with middle schoolers. More importantly, I didn’t have the desire.

I believe that children deserve to have teachers who want to be with them. So, I retired a full six years earlier than I had planned.

Once I made the decision to retire, I felt relief flooding over me. I knew I had made the right decision for me. I took some time off to rest, and I needed a lot of rest.

At the end of six months, I decided it was time to reinvent and retool myself. That was three years ago.

I have established my own business, and I worked with one of the premier career coaches in the country where I received top notch training. I then launched out on my own, specializing in working with teachers who need my help in finding a new career path because their teaching career no longer lights them up or provides the sense of joy and satisfaction they hoped to find when they decided to become a teacher.

Melissa Bowers, a former teacher now turned writer, recently nailed it with 7 reasons teachers might not want to teach anymore in her blog which was offered in Huffington Post I believe many teachers will be able to relate to one or more of those reasons.

So what to do if you are ready for a change? Before we can determine if you need help, you should determine if you are, in fact, suffering from the symptoms of teacher burnout.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you find yourself dreading going to work, feeling anxious on depressed on Sunday night before having to go to work on Monday?
  2. Do you feel stuck and unhappy because you don’t see room for advancement or promotion?
  3. Do you feel that you have control over your classroom and your curriculum, or do you feel that all of the major decisions are made for you, and you must comply…or else?
  4. Do you feel disillusioned because teaching isn’t what you thought it would be (or it has changed since you started)?
  5. Are you having trouble with sleep because you are worried about finances, your students, your general sense of overwhelm?
  6. Are you lacking the energy and drive you need to be consistently productive and effective on the job?
  7. Are you having physical issues such as headaches, backaches, gastrointestinal issues or other ailments?

If you answered “yes” to any of these seven questions, it might be time to consider making a career move.

 

stressed woman on computer.

For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here (1)

Regardless of your current level of job burnout or just general stress, if you are still reading this post, it means you need to consider taking action today to get yourself out of the rut of a job that no longer serves you. You are considering new goals or ridding yourself of a situation that is sucking all of your enjoyment out of life.

You get one shot at this life. You need to make the best of it.

If you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions that have worked for you, I hope you will share. My only rule for commenting on this blog is to keep it civil, keep it appropriate and keep on topic.

If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me at http://kittyatcareermakeover.coachesconsole.com or fill out the contact form below:

Until next time.

Thanks to Shutterstock for the photos.

 

 

 

Why Teachers Can’t Win

Detroit City school teachers called for a sick-out and closed 94 schools in the beleaguered city today. The sick-out is the result of the teachers learning over the weekend that Detroit Public Schools will not be paying them after June 30th unless the legislature comes to the rescue with additional funding. The problem with that is that the teachers will have already earned the money that they won’t be receiving for July and August.

Ironically, Teacher Appreciation Week began this week.

Teachers can’t win because they are halfway expected to work for free and to do it without complaining. The public has grown used to a paradigm that involves teachers sacrificing everything and working their hearts out, and even using their own salaries to pay for classroom supplies that their districts won’t provide.

It is ridiculous.

What is even more ridiculous is that the commentators on the news this morning…the pundits who have an opinion about all things whether they know what they are talking about or not criticized these teachers when none of them have a clue as to what kind of sacrifices teachers make daily. Additionally, politicians and legislators won’t own up to their culpability. Somebody has mismanaged millions of dollars or else the money would be there to pay those teachers. Where is the outrage about that?

I was a teacher for over 30 years. I never had to go out on a sick-out. I also never had to go without a paycheck, although I worked second jobs for two-thirds of my career in order to make ends meet.

The narrative that charter school supporters and education reformers have created is that teachers should be selfless. They should be super human beings. They should be the Superman that everyone is waiting for, and it is beyond ridiculous!

Let’s face it…without a sick-out today in Detroit, the rest of the country wouldn’t know about–or care about–what is happening there.

It is true that when teachers don’t show up to teach, it takes a toll on their students. I guarantee that there isn’t a teacher on the picket line today who isn’t aware of that fact.

Having said that, taking the news of no paycheck this summer without taking some drastic action would only embolden legislators to take the risk that they won’t have to ante up to pay their teachers for work already performed.

Teachers can’t win because if they fight for themselves and their own families, they are criticized for being selfish. If they don’t fight and just keep working for nothing, however, they embolden other legislatures to do the same to their teachers.

They can’t win.

And it is ridiculous.

 

 

Are We Headed Toward a Teacher Shortage?

Bureaucrats at state levels of government have been warning of an impending teacher shortage for years. As they eye the bubble of teachers who belong to the Baby Boom generation, the numbers are self-evident. As Baby Boomers retire from teaching and take off to reinvent themselves for new endeavors (like I did), the number of new teachers in the proverbial pipeline doesn’t come close to matching the number who are leaving.

In this article posted in Huffington PostAFT President, Randi Weingarten,  argues the case for how a teacher shortage could become a national crisis.

I would suggest that the corporate reformers and members of the anti-union coalition around the country will cheer at the notion that their tactics are working. Legislators who have been offering anti-public school legislation based on ALEC‘s boilerplate templates won’t be sad to consider a teacher shortage, either. Instead of seeing a teacher shortage as a national crisis, they will see it as a win in their column and a way to further their agenda which is, I believe, to dismantle public education altogether. They will then be able to turn education over to charter schools (both public and private), private and parochial schools, and virtual schools that will assist the home-school movement.

Those in the media won’t be sad to see a teacher shortage either. Many in the mainstream media have deliberately and consistently contributed to the deterioration of the teaching profession as a profession for over 30 years, starting with their promotion of the negative narrative first presented in The Nation at Risk Report (1983).

I have been a public school advocate my entire adult life. I am a product of public school education and earned two masters degrees and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. From 2008-2012, I was the President of the Virginia Education Association. I went to battle with the then Governor and then Republican-led legislature during those years, trying to explain why due process for teachers doesn’t translate to tenure (a job for life). Most of the laws that were passed during that time were counter to what was in the best interest of public education and the children who attend our public schools. Additionally, the attack on teachers was vicious and personal. It was all part of a larger agenda which is to discredit public school teachers so that public schools can be dismantled and turned over to corporate entities who want to cash in on the charter school movement.

I left that position worn out and weary from the battle. The idea of returning to the classroom to teach again made me want to weep from weariness. I knew I was too physically and emotionally exhausted to do justice to my prospective students. I decided that for me, returning to what I feared would be an environment centered on testing more than teaching was a bridge I could not cross. So I left. Since then I have been coaching and counseling teachers who are burnt out and ready to find something else to do with their lives.

Teaching has ceased to be a truly professional endeavor. Teaching has become more about following a script, keeping up with the pacing guide, and testing for the sake of testing. It is ridiculous, and everyone involved knows it, but the political will to fix the systemic problems and address the underlying social issues that contribute to the problems in education leave teachers feeling helpless.

Teachers feel beaten down by what has happened to them and their profession. Some are still fighting the good fight, and I cheer them on because I want them to win.

Many are leaving the profession in frustration, however. They leave because, in spite of the fact that they still love their students, they hate all the other trappings of teaching in today’s data-driven environment.

I admit that I feel guilty on occasion about offering assistance to those who want to leave. I detest the idea that their leaving might speed up the dismantling of public education. I know in my heart, however, that life is just too short to do anything you no longer enjoy. I also believe that children deserve to have teachers who want to be with them. As a result, I want to help those teachers who no longer want to teach to figure out a way to do something else. Do I believe there is an impending teacher shortage? Yes. Does that make me sad? Absolutely. Do I believe that we can fix the systemic problems that are causing teachers to leave? I am not sure.

In case you still care about public education as a public good, whether you are a teacher, a parent or just an interested citizen, if public education is to survive, more people need to be willing to speak up for and defend it. So far that hasn’t happened, but I haven’t given up hope completely. Just this past weekend, a group of dedicated teachers gathered for a conference of members of the Network for Public Education. I am also aware of a group on Facebook of which I am a proud member:  BATS for “Badass Teachers.”

Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Julian Vasquez Heilig are just a few high-profile individuals who continue to advocate for public education and public school teachers. They, along with leaders in each of the teachers’ unions, the NEA and theAFT, are working hard to try to carry the message that we should not give up on public education. I am so glad they are still fighting.

At the same time, however, I get calls from teachers who are asking for my help. “I still love my kids and if I could just teach, I would be happy to stay. I can’t stand all the other stuff that goes with it, though. The endless testing, the meaningless paperwork, and administrators who no longer support me have made it an untenable job. I can’t do it anymore.”

If there is an impending teacher shortage, it should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

 

 

#1 Thing You Need To Know if You are Thinking about Changing Your Career

I am obsessed with the notion of being a “Career ‘Makeover’ Coach.”

I think the reason for this is that I want to help people who find themselves at a career crossroads figure out what they want to do that will be perfect for them because I think work to be fun and fulfilling!

I want people to be doing work that is in alignment with their core values.

I want them to be working in a career that taps into their unique gifts, talents, and aptitudes.

And I want them to be happy to go to work every day instead of dreading it.

I recently posted this message on my Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter pages:
If you hate Mondays

Photo by Shutterstock.com

It isn’t enough to know that you want to make a change, however. You have to know what you want to do to replace what you are already doing. 

Lack of clarity is the #1 problem I hear from most of the individuals with whom I meet on a regular basis. 

Along with a lack of clarity, however, is a misunderstanding around the purpose of your resume. Most people mistakenly think that the first thing they need to do when they are ready for a job change is to write their resume. They think they should sum up all of their qualifications from their entire working career and plop it in a resume that they then upload into a database and they wait for some magical combination of events that might land them a new job.

It doesn’t work like that anymore if it ever did.

Today, you must first decide what it is you want, get crystal clear about the direction you want to go, and THEN you are ready to write your resume making sure that your resume matches the job description for the job for which you are applying.

Most people don’t get that in the beginning, and that is why they struggle so with the whole process of job hunting. Few people really know what they are doing when they start out which is why people increasingly need some sort of professional help.Clarity…knowing what you want and then having the courage to go for it. That is the #1 thing you need to know before you start looking for a new job or a new career.

Read, journal, meditate, pray…do whatever you need to do in order to get in touch with yourself and consider what you want to be doing with the time you have left on the planet. Do you want to be working in job or career that is meaningless even though it may pay the bills? I think most of us would opt for less money, frankly, if they knew that they were doing work that was meaningful and would impact the lives of others in a positive way.

It isn’t just hype to consider that your work and your mission and purpose in life should be aligned. I happen to believe that it is why we are here. We don’t want to leave this life feeling that we didn’t make a difference to someone. It is in our DNA to want to leave a legacy.

What do you want yours to be?

Career and Passion

Photo by Shutterstock.com

Until next time.

Photos by Shutterstock.

For questions, contact me by email or call me at 804-404-5475.

 

It's Time for a New Job