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Can't stop thinking/regretting/feeling crazy -- LONG
Old 05-23-2017, 08:58 PM
 
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Background: I worked in a secondary setting, in a critical-need content area, 4 months short of 10 years of employment.

Important information for background: I worked a LOT of hours (evenings, 10 hour days, weekends). Switched schools (high school to middle and back). Was considered one of the best teachers of my content area in my district. Became stressed, overwhelmed (lack of time at home with family), let personal obligations slide (pay bills late, did not cook often (lead to gaining weight), used summer to do household chores (painting, cleaning, etc.).

Need to add: Husband became frustrated with my job because of issues stated above. Only child is now an adult (early twenties, still living at home) who has a full-time job. I have been home alone during summer break for last four years.

Here is the issue:

I became frustrated in a particular school about three years ago. I hated the atmosphere of the school. Really disliked the principal. He was very nice to me but also unprofessional. I began to feel pressure when it came to students' grades and test scores. (Said principal is now gone from that school.) I only stayed one year. Dreaded going in to school every day. Cried (when I was alone) because I was so miserable. I began to search and apply for jobs outside of education. I interviewed for several but none of them felt right (and the pay was too low). And so began my downfall...

I transferred to another school that I was familiar with. Enjoyed it. Frustrated by small things (building conditions, difficult co-workers (I could mostly avoid/ignore these particular people), felt pressure again for test scores (in a low performing school). My miserableness had followed me. I did not cry every day, but I did feel overwhelmed. The final straw came when I asked for a particular schedule and was denied because I was "one of the best teachers who was needed where I had been initially placed." Great. I felt like I was being punished for being a good teacher. Now I was always going to have multiple preps which meant a LOT of grading, planning, etc. I started thinking of jobs outside of education again. I vented to my husband. He began to hate my teaching job because I was so miserable. So I searched and applied for other jobs. We agreed that we could afford a pay cut for my job. Not a big pay cut, but our happiness was worth $5,000 per year.

I finally got a call for a job that I thought was a dream job. It was a smooth transition. All I had to do was leave my teaching job mid-year. No problem. I did not cry when I left my students or co-workers. I felt relief and happiness. Now I am less than six months into the new job and guess what? Miserable again. I don't HATE this job, I just DON'T LIKE it. I received my first review of the project I am working on today. I was told that I am one of the best people for this job that my supervisor has ever worked with! Great compliment. Still doesn't boost my enthusiasm. I cannot see myself doing this job for a long period of time. Granted, I got what I wanted: a starting and ending time, no work in the evenings or weekends, no overtime, it is government so I get holidays off and a great package for earning leave time. Co-workers are nice. Not great, but nice. I have friends at work, but not close friends. We are confined to a cubicle and do not interact much.

I MISS TEACHING. I MISS TEACHING.
It is what I went to school for. It is something I am good at. It defines me as a person. I feel like I am worth something as a teacher. Kids (most of them) liked me (as a person and as a teacher). I helped new teachers without being asked. I made a difference. I was a teacher in our district that any school would've been happy to have.

My district is finishing the school year next week. For the first time in over 20 years, I will be working through the summer instead of being at home. I taught in my community, so I see many former students when I am out. So many of them tell me that they miss me, ask me if I am coming back, cannot believe that I left, etc. I am sure that all of these things are helping to contribute to me missing teaching. But I know that deep down, I never wanted to admit that I was no longer a teacher. I have to force myself to remember all of the things that caused me stress. All of the long hours and days that I willingly gave (and took from my family). The times that I was so miserable and frustrated with teaching.

I know people who have left teaching and never looked back. I thought this would be me. Some say they would not go back for any reason! At least three of them also took a cut in pay and do not regret it. When I get my paychecks, I hate it. I always think about how much less I am making. I think about how I am not relevant anymore. My job is important to our bureau, but not really important like teaching students.

I am not complaining to my husband but I am dropping hints. He has figured out that I do not like my job. His suggestion is to keep looking for a new job. Maybe transfer within the government (after I get my probation time in). Maybe look elsewhere. I dropped a hint that I could always go back. He said, "Oh no! You're not going back to that mess." (He wasn't telling me what I could/couldn't do, he was talking to me like I had forgotten all of the grief I experienced while teaching.) I've mentioned that what I thought was a $5,000 pay cut is actually a $7,000 pay cut. And in my current job, I have no hope of a pay raise -- government employees do not get raises here.

I've checked with people in my district. If I would return to teaching, I pick up right where I left off. I get to keep my years of experience and the sick days in my sick day bank.

I'm torn. I know that I need to give this current job a chance. So, I am not going to even think about returning to the classroom in August. But, I am thinking about the 2018-2019 school year as the year I return to the classroom. I'm not sure how my husband will handle it. I think he will be upset. But I'm already thinking that I've got a year to get myself organized so that I spend less time at school. I've got a year to figure out how to make teaching work as a career for me. I've got a year to get my household things in order so that I don't get so far behind when I am teaching.

Am I crazy? Am I viewing this from a dazed state? Could I just be grieving the fact that I am working through the summer while all of my friends are home in June, July and early August?

Have any of you ever left education only to return because you missed teaching? Have any of you left education only to find yourself miserable with your new job?

I am sorry for the long post. I haven't talked to any of my former co-workers. I am afraid they will think I am nuts. I talked about leaving for the past three years and now that I've been out less than six months, I want to go back. Any advice, suggestions or input is greatly appreciated. I need reality. This is something that I believe only teachers will understand (which is why husband will never "get it").


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You're NOT crazy!
Old 05-24-2017, 10:37 AM
 
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I can completely relate. Like you, I was great at my job- all kinds of positive evals and letters of rec. But also, like you, I was consumed by my job and my family suffered as a result.

I have been in the teaching field my whole life (with about ten years off for maternity). I have about 14 years in, but the past five years I’ve been let go due to budget from 3 different districts. I see my former students out and about and I see the posts on social media too and it’s incredibly hard!

When I found out my last position was being cut, I started to work towards a medical coding certificate. I passed the test and am now a certified medical coder with no job (and really not much interest in getting a job in that field). I took the classes because my husband saw how much stress I was under while I was teaching and how stressful it was losing my job so often. He (and my grown children) pushed me to make a move to the healthcare field.

SO…right now I am also teetering on the edge of moving forward into a new career or returning to teaching. Every time I think of going back, though, I almost get sick to my stomach. (One look at the Vent board here and I’m reminded of the stress!) There are so many unhappy teachers out there (even with the “perk” of a summer break) who are looking to change careers and are seeking advice.

I have been looking at positions where teaching is a component so that I can stay true to that part of me. I have worded my resume to include my team building talents and training skills in the hopes that I find something where I can still call myself a teacher. My goal is to get a job knowing that I can leave if I don’t like it (no contract yay! ), to realize that I will be working for less pay but will hopefully have opportunities for advancement, and to keep my options open and my teaching certificates current.

I totally understand what you mean when you say “I feel like I’m worth something as a teacher” because, like you, being a teacher is a huge part of who I am. But I also think grieving and questioning your decision is a normal part of the process of changing careers. It’s almost like you were “married” to teaching and now you got a divorce. You invested all your time, money, and energy into a relationship that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. Now you’re in the dating world and dating a new job that you’re just not that into.

For what it’s worth, I think you should stick it out in your new job and start applying elsewhere as well. Find something where you can make a difference and feel good about what you’re doing. Teachers have great skill sets that are definitely transferable to other fields. The fact that you have already made the leap speaks volumes about how miserable you were. Move forward!
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Old 05-24-2017, 04:55 PM
 
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So you left mid-year which I imagine means you resigned, correct? In my district if you resign, you can NOT be rehired for 2 years. Be sure that you can get rehired at your old district.

Most importantly, you need to seek help with feeling no satisfaction with your jobs. Perhaps, this starts because you have some depression issues. Look for some self help before looking for the perfect job that will make you happy.

Best of luck.
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Great advice!
Old 05-27-2017, 12:42 PM
 
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I agree with everything stated in the post above mine.

I think you are fooling yourself if you believe you'll suddenly be happy going back to teaching. Many if not all of the same issues/problems/stressors will still be there.

Something deeper is going on if you are really are miserable at your jobs. Seek some therapy and investigate possible depression.
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