So, When Is It Time To Leave?

It’s that time of year when many teachers begin to ponder their school year. Transfer applications and guidelines are sent out to entire districts, or the teacher may wonder is it time to leave where they are at for various reasons (sometimes having nothing to do with the school or students) home school parents think “survive another year of this?”

I am grateful to be at a campus this school year where I could literally spend the next 10 years…but that is not everyone’s story. In the past, it wasn’t always mine either. Never will I advocate for you to hop from school to school year after year. That’s unstable. I treasure stability and you should too–especially for the kids. However, sometimes our experience is unbearable or does not go the way we thought. Here are a few tips to decide whether or not you need to leave your campus/assignment as a new teacher or veteran educator.

  1. The school is closing.

Yes. This actually happened to a loved one of mine. There are many educational platforms now. No longer is it just the school district and other brick and mortar establishments. Online education is literally changing the way we see education and how we impact our youth. My relative is a high school physics and chemistry (say whooooooaaa) teacher who is very good. When the staff received the notice that due to low enrollment for the next school year they were closing shop, she applied to many schools and even interviewed. Low and behold (and thankfully) the school contacted her and other staff members mid-summer to let her know they had an influx of students register and/or return. Whew, close call.

2. You have been there a very long time.

I have known teachers to stay at a campus for 20 years or more. If you are respected and love the community and adore the kids you work with, by all means enjoy until retirement or for years to come. I personally was in a situation where I was at the same school for 7 years. By today’s standards, that was a very long time. I did not leave hating anyone but the entire dynamic of the school had changed, and in a way, I felt trapped and extremely uncomfortable.

There had been some very negative things happen of which I had no part, but sensing and observing the negative atmosphere at staff meetings, seeing teachers crying, stressed and baffled–it was weighing many staff members down. One teacher even stood up and had an outburst during a meeting to the shock of everyone present. It had turned into a cliquish, fearful, and an oppressed atmosphere of which I did not want to be a part. That, coupled with being there 7 years, was a huge red flag that it was time to go. Had it remained the same inspiring campus when I began, I would have stayed for a number of more years.

For the first time, I got on the transfer list to the surprise of the principal and went to secondary to gain great experience. I wish no harm on anyone there and I have fond memories of my first 6 years there, especially my beautiful students…but when it came to year 7, I didn’t look back.

3. The principal/administration is not supportive.

Here me out. I am pro teacher all the way but I am also somewhat understanding of administrators. I have been on administrative teams outside of the classroom. Administrators make tough calls not weekly but daily. I have seen admin make tough decisions that may not make the teachers happy at the time, but it is detrimental for the students. Decent administrators want to see the students succeed and grow. Great administrators want to see their teachers and students succeed and grow. They are not just worried about their “favorites.”

If you ever have a principal or admin team berate you, verbally or physically abuse you in anyway, file a report with your union and seek their guidance. Why do I say this? It happens more than you know. Ouch. There are many, many good administrators–and there are many who have little teaching experience, a management certification, and a power trip. Don’t let that make you paranoid and critical, just be kindly aware.

Teachers can be non-renewed and unfortunately, some of them need to be. Teaching is a calling and a gift, not a transitional salary position until you get a “better salaried job.” You are responsible for those young lives. Sometimes the principal may support you but you struggled terribly the entire year. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. It just means teaching may not be for you. Accept that, find a new beginning and career, and respectfully move on.

4. You keep getting passed over for a promotion or leadership roles.

If you are a new teacher, have some patience. I consider a new teacher someone who has taught 3 or less years. If you have been a teacher at a campus for a number of years, have a positive record with your kids and professionalism, and are constantly passed over for promotions or leadership roles on that campus, there is nothing wrong with looking at new options.

Do not be bitter and tell half the staff what went wrong. That is messy and unprofessional. Always evaluate yourself and see what you can do to grow. Maybe you were not a good fit for the job. If you feel the pass over was legitimate, quietly start looking for other positions–there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Continue serving your students and though you may be upset, be as professional and respectful as possible, then when the end of the year comes, plan on moving on.

Sometimes your administrator will tell you exactly why you weren’t chosen. Sometimes they are vague or may not say anything at all. Ultimately, it is their decision. Ultimately, you have the right to move on when your contract is fulfilled.

Regardless, keep it respectful.

This a tough topic to write about. Again, I always advocate stability. No campus or education situation is perfect or easy. That doesn’t mean you should jump on the transfer list. However, there are situations, as with any job, that you may need to seek what’s best for you, your health, and your professional future. There is nothing wrong with that.

Teach in the light–


Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light

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