Four Ways to Create the Change You Need in Education (Instead of Waiting for Someone Else to Create It For You)
How many times have you heard someone say, “Things HAVE to change.” or “I wish things were different.” or (this is my favorite) “When is someone going to do something about this?”
Here’s the challenge: Believing that someone else is in charge of the changes that need to be made and that a strong, brave, and noble hero is out there somewhere and that they’re going to burst through the walls of your school to save the day is probably not going to happen.
Here’s the encouragement: YOU CAN BE THAT HERO AND CREATE THE CHANGES FOR YOURSELF THAT NEED TO BE MADE.
Stop waiting around and consider one of these options you have to make change for yourself:
Advocate for Yourself
This can be very hard for some teachers, but is so necessary in your journey out of burnout. You HAVE to advocate for yourself when you feel the need for change is there but it isn’t happening.
Bethany, from this week’s interview on The Burned-In Teacher Podcast, did a brave thing after a rough first year at a new district. She went over her principal’s head when they wouldn’t support her and her efforts to have better classroom management skills.
She sought better for herself and took a chance and was so glad she did. She was moved to another school, with a supportive and nurturing principal and found a lot of success at that new school.
She also found her “Word of the Year” (CHANGE) and decided that the following changes needed to be made for herself:
change your location
In my experience, I’ve noticed what a huge difference this can make for you and your burnout.
Making a move doesn’t have to be drastic. Even a move to a different grade level or a new classroom can make an enormous change in your career outlook and feelings of burnout.
However, sometimes bigger, more drastic, moves are needed in order for us to feel that we are reaching our full potential: moving to another district or state, changing to a new role with less or more responsibility, or leaving the profession of education altogether.
You are the only one who can decide for yourself what move you should make and when. If you aren’t sure what your next move should be, talk to someone about it. Chances are, they’ve been watching you and may notice some strengths in you that you’ve never noticed yourself. They may even be able to make some suggestions of possible locations (grade level, school, role) for you to move to.
Change your mindset
Bethany mentioned in her interview that she knew that she needed to work on changing her mindset. She said that she know's she needs to focus on what she can control, rather than what she can’t. She also feels that there are more things she has control over than what she sometimes gives herself credit for.
Changing mindset may be one of the hardest things to change of all of your choices, but it can be done.
Starting a gratefulness journal and writing down all that you have to be grateful for is a wonderful way of beginning to slow down and realize all that is good in your life. Thinking about all that is good can sometimes make all that is bad seem irrelevant and small.
Taking time to reevaluate the way you are spending your time in and out of school is a good way to make some decisions on ways you can change the way you look at your job and make some needed changes as well.
Considering a change in your teaching and management style will help you to relate to your students better.
Deciding that you have control over changes tat you need to make in your personal life (that continue to spill into your work day) can help you to feel more in control as well.
Change Your Future
You can’t change your governor’s mind when they pick someone as the State Superintendent, who you don’t like and who is making terrible decisions for teachers and students. It’s also true that you probably can’t change the fact that you haven’t had a raise in five years as a teacher.
However, you CAN change the state that you live in and whether or not you remain in education.
Whoa… it’s hard to type that and keep it there, because this may be a hard pill to swallow. However, it’s very true.
There’s a lot out there in the media lately, about the terrible salaries and living conditions of teachers all over our country. I don’t discount the need for more respect of this very challenging, rewarding, and necessary profession. I do, however, believe that there comes a point in your life where you have to say, “Enough is enough.” and change your future for your health and sanity.
You do have the power to move somewhere more affordable, to get a job that pays you more money and offers you a raise for your hard work and growth, and that respects you and the work that you do. In fact, you DESERVE to feel valued and be rewarded in that way. Everyone does in all professions.
You may find, also, that education isn’t the only profession riddled with problems with funding, an over-emphasis on data, unrealistic expectations, and a lack of respect of its workers.
The hard fact is, not all schools, districts, states, or professions are created equal. You are the only one who can change your future. So…
WHAT CHANGES WILL YOU MAKE?
Something you can do now is jump on over to BIT’s PRIVATE AND FREE Facebook Group where you can share your struggles with others who want to support you. See you over there!