During recent months, as life in the education sector has changed dramatically, I have found myself reflecting upon my job; my career, as a whole. I’ve been an educator since about 2008–and an administrator since mid-2017. Some days, working with teenagers and youth are thankless; exhausting, annoying. Other days as filled with kindness, hope and cheer. I’ve come to understand that this job will always have an abundance of highs and lows; but I didn’t always understand or accept that.
In the spring of 2011 I made the decision that teaching wasn’t necessarily for me. I’d been in the same school for 2 years, taught Computer Science and Math–had multiple “preps” per course (Programming 11/12, Marketing 11/12, etc.) and I was done. I had also been surplussed and laid off the year before (and had gotten back my full job before the start of the new school year) and I knew that the coming deadline for staffing would likely mean another surplus and lay-off. I didn’t feel supported, I didn’t feel that I was “in love” with teaching. So I did my research, and I took a leave for the next school year. My administrator at the time wasn’t surprised when I broke the news; he knew that while I did a good job teaching my courses and promoted our computer science program, I was burnt out. Physically, emotionally and mentally. I packed up my office, stored my resources and instead of surpluses, my school absorbed my FTE (job).
I was free. Free to look for other options, to move out to the city. And so I did. I worked as a freelance graphic designer, I volunteered. I interviewed for non-profit jobs that suited my interests…but didn’t commit to a new position. By winter, my finances began to dry out and a administrator friend at my fiancees’ school joked about having me in to TOC (substitute) for him; and that is how I ended up returning pseudo early from my leave to TOC for the last 4 months of the school year. Let me tell you; being a TOC when you are used to being full-time in the classroom can be completely gratifying. It is humbling when it comes to classroom management but gratifying when it comes to just being in a school, conversing with young people and other educators. I moved school to school, had the chance to meet other educators and students in a variety of grades. It gave me some time to enjoy being in and around the education system, it allowed me perspective. Unscheduled, open time with students and the classroom refuelled me in a way that professional development hadn’t in the past. It gave me the inspiration to recommit to my career, and to make plans going forward to complete my Masters’ in Educational Leadership to achieve my original goal of administration and human resources.
Don’t be afraid if you lose your passion. Either you are going to be a teacher, or you aren’t. Maybe you’ll find your way back to the classroom; or maybe you won’t. You’ll find your passion again, or maybe a new one will rise to the surface. Is it hard to “give up” a full time position? Absolutely. But it will be infinitely more difficult to stick to a job for 30+ years when there are so many options available. Maybe it means looking for another teaching position, or moving grades (even from senior secondary down to primary!). I wanted to share this story because I know that it is hard to quit or take a break from something you thought was where you were supposed be. I also know that I was lucky to have had the chance to realize that despite its ups and downs, education is where I want to be; and I know without a doubt that if I hadn’t had the chance to take time away from it all, I wouldn’t be who and where I am today.