This is the year to recreate your teaching career.
There’s nothing like a new year to get you thinking. About resolutions and fresh starts, yes…but for many, it’s also a moment to reflect on the past.
Think for a moment about the past version of yourself. The “you” that you were, back when you first decided to become a teacher.
How closely does your teaching job now compare to what you envisioned then?
Looking Honestly at Your Teaching Career
For teachers, the new year comes at the same time as a break between school terms. If you’re a teacher, by this time you’re back to work, hopefully refreshed from a couple of weeks off, ready to kick off a new year.
The odd thing, of course, is that it isn’t a new year exactly. It’s a continuation of the same school year. By this stage, you’ve had a few months to see what it’s likely to bring. You’ve had time to test out the possibilities and the limitations of your classroom, your curriculum, your administration. And with the holiday break, you’ve probably had a moment or two to reflect on the potential for the rest of the year.
• Is it all that you thought it would be?
• Do you have the opportunity to teach the subjects you’re most passionate/knowledgeable about?
• Are your hours reasonable?
• Does your wage reflect the skill and education you bring to the table?
• Are you able to make a genuine connection with most of your students?
• Is your administration/management supportive in the ways you need?
• Do you leave feeling satisfied with the day’s work?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, yay! Result!
For many teachers, however, the answer is no.
Specifically when it comes to hours, areas of expertise, and personal satisfaction, many teachers find themselves in jobs that fall far short of rewarding career they expected.
An Unsustainable System for Teachers
The fact is that the school system in most parts of the country is desperately overworked. Teachers are routinely giving up more and more of their time, both during the school day by teaching more classes (often in areas where they have little interest or training) and after school as 1:1 tutors.
Why do they do this? The answer is simple: they do it because they love teaching.
They want to contribute meaningfully to their communities and to the world.
They want to inspire others the way they themselves were inspired, whether it was in maths or literature or history or foreign languages.
Most of all, they want to help students discover and achieve their full potential.
My guess is that you became a teacher in the first place because of reasons like these.
How many of those reasons are being fulfilled in your current teaching job?
The Change that Changed Everything
Like you, I became a teacher with a lot of excitement. I didn’t expect it to be a walk in the park–I knew there would often be long hours, difficult pupils, and maybe even a lower pay grade than my education seemed to warrant.
But to me, it was worth those sacrifices to spend all day indulging my love of English literature, and helping young people learn to love it, as well.
I tried not to be daunted by the challenges I encountered: the extra hours that soon became a daily routine, the evenings and weekends occupied with marking papers and lesson planning, and the financial rewards that turned out to be quite low, indeed.
But the straw that finally broke the camel’s back was the paperwork. I realized that most of my extra-long workday wasn’t even spent teaching, but wading through mounds of administrative paperwork. For me, with a young family at home that I barely ever saw, I simply couldn’t justify it anymore.
It’s all very well for people to praise teachers for their unselfish devotion to helping students learn.
But in the long run, this “unselfishness” hurts the teachers, the school system and the students.
How? Because it leads to teacher burnout.
The long hours, the mediocre pay, the necessity of teaching subjects that hold little interest for you, the dealing with paperwork and an unsupportive administration, and above all, the minimal impact that you see from all your work…it’s simply not a sustainable way of life.
I knew there had to be a change in the system.
But I also knew that it was up to me to create that change for myself.
Imagine Teaching On YOUR Terms
Just imagine for a moment that you were teaching only subjects that you are truly passionate about.
Or that the hours you spend commuting, doing paperwork, dealing with social workers, etc. were being spent instead with family, friends, or simply with a good book beside the fire.
Imagine that you were making a wage that reflected the time and effort you put into your own education.
How differently might you feel when you came to work each day?
The new year is a perfect time to reflect on the “old” you…and perhaps to reflect on how you can reconnect to what inspired you to become a teacher in the first place.
This could be the year to take control of your teaching career.
This could be the year when you begin to do your best work.