Diaries of a #transitioningteacher: It’s Not a Linear Path

Dear Diary,

In the spring of 2021, I sat at a desk of one of my three schools and Googled the question, “What can teachers do outside of the classroom with a teaching certificate?” Okay, it may not have been word-for-word that question. But it was pretty darn close. I had just finished up a second master’s degree (can you relate with being an overachiever?), one that confirmed how much I wanted to do something beyond the classroom, something with adults and not kids, but I knew I didn’t want to go into school administration. Hell, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, just not do what I was doing.

That question landed me resources that were heaven-sent: Teacher Career Coach and Teacher Transition. I signed up for about everything they had to offer and devoured it like last night’s cheese pizza.

My teacher transition was officially set into motion.

Photo by Vojtech Okenka on Pexels.com

Podcasts.

Blogs.

Facebook groups.

YouTube videos.

LinkedIn.

Courses.

Anything I could get my hands, eyes, and ears on.

This was just the beginning.

When I started, I kept everything to myself. But then I got brave. I told my husband, also a teacher. He asked, “Well, what else will you do? Maybe you’re just going through a phase. Once the pandemic is over, and things are back to normal, you’ll love it again.” I told him I really had no idea what I’d do, but it wasn’t just a phase. I wanted O-U-T out.

Next, I set up a meeting with my Curriculum Director. She obviously had this feeling at one point, too. She started out as a teacher. I figured she would “get me” because I, too, wanted to work with adults. I knew this was coming from a place deep within my soul. I also knew that teaching in the traditional sense just wasn’t fulfilling me anymore. I got what I hoped for from her: validation. I wasn’t crazy! I’m telling you I had thoughts that I must be crazy to want to leave a secure job, good benefits, and a retirement plan. With my first cheerleader by my side, I decided I could do this.

My transition out of the classroom has looked a lot like the artistic process (I’m an art teacher, wink, wink).

  • I got the idea
  • I explored, researched and experimented
  • I developed and designed an exit plan
  • I revised A LOT
  • My work of art is still in progress, but I now have a clear vision of the ultimate masterpiece

While you’re here, let me tell you about it. I thought for sure that I wanted to transition into Instructional Design. I love all of the behind-the-scenes planning, creating, and assessing of learning. As a department leader, I also enjoyed creating and leading professional development. It seemed like a no-brainer! I enrolled in an ID certification program. I had my resume professionally rewritten. That helped. I applied for a writing position for the university I earned my second MAEd from – and got the gig! I officially became a published author. I thought for sure this would fill my cup because I could serve a larger audience with my voice. It did, and then some.

I started to narrow my bigger career focus onto ID jobs, and landed 2 interviews with companies I loved. Both times, I ended up rescinding my application because my intuition nudged me against them. Each interview was amazing. The women I spoke with were friendly and personable, like the ones you’d go out for coffee with or have over for dinner. I just knew that the roles were meant for someone else at that time.

So I kept on going. I applied to jobs to get out because I was filled with anxiety, stress, and didn’t feel like I was living in my purpose. At times, I was embarrassed thinking that if parents, colleagues, or the community knew this, they would think less of me. The teacher guilt was overwhelming.

What kept me going? I could have easily thrown in the towel and said, I tried, it didn’t work, I know how to teach, so I’ll just do that. It’ll be okay.

Photo by ROCKETMANN TEAM on Pexels.com

Experiencing a major transition in life is hard. Especially when you feel alone in the journey.

In a crazy turn of events, my life got even more challenging.

In the fall of 2021, Covid-19 ran amuck through my house, which meant a ton of quarantine for my family (all of us in school as teachers or students). I volunteered to stay home with my kids during their marathon quarantine because I wanted a break. A break from the career I never thought I’d leave. A break from the job I didn’t feel aligned with anymore.

In an attempt to salvage some of my sick days, my husband stayed home with our still-quarantined kids one day. The day I returned from quarantine.

This was the worst day of school for me. I didn’t even make it through the day.

That morning, news of my mom passing pushed me right into panic mode. And for the first time since my teacher burnout panic attacks, I sobbed in front of my students and colleagues.

Can you believe that I was so ridden with stress and anxiety from my job that even while I was grieving, I still desperately looked for different jobs? That led to overwhelm and burnout, round two.

Luckily, and what probably really saved my ass, was that I started my NLP Life Coaching program at the same time of my mom’s death. It was scheduled to begin at that time anyway. This was part of my #edxit plan. It was divine intervention. I had held onto so much childhood “stuff” that it was easier to really do the inner work because I had nothing else to lose.

My NLP program began with we, the students, being coached for 8 weeks. The rest of the year-long certification program involved learning how to coach. If you’ve never heard of NLP, check it out. Or reach out to me! I’ll gladly get on my soapbox and tell you how much it changed my life for the better.

Coaching ended being a journey of self-exploration and discovery. As I learned how to coach, I was coached. So much was processed that I had kept inside, where even I didn’t want to see it. I tapped into the exact reason I chose education in the first place. I learned why I burned out as a teacher. I discovered how my self-worth was wrapped up in education and had to make the decision to stop that toxic cycle. I realized I chose to teach because it was my safe, emotional place. It was self-serving, but I didn’t need my job to serve me in that way anymore. I want to serve others now, not myself.

So here I am.

Starting another school year.

This time around:

  • I am an Educator Wellness Coach.
  • I am a cheerleader for struggling teachers.
  • I am an entreprenuer.
  • I am a transitioning teacher.
  • I am an art teacher.
  • I am using my voice when others are afraid to use their own.
  • I’m building something bigger than myself.
  • I root for others when they don’t know how to stand up for themselves.
  • I am here for you because I am you.

As I turn the page of another chapter titled, Career Transition, I am able to look back at the parts of my journey that didn’t make sense at the time. I can now see how there were dots falling into place and being connected even if I couldn’t see it happening at the time. Now I move forward with an awareness of those dots, and a knowing that I can create dots to connect with ones already in place. Are you going to join me for the next part of my journey? I’m creating it. I’m the author and the artist. I’m making this for you and for me.

Until next time.

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