I spent 17 years of my adult life working in public education. I served as a teacher, instructional coach, instructional specialist, curriculum coordinator and school administrator. Last month, I resigned from public education and began a new career in property management.
This was not a planned career change. This was the last thing I ever expected to do.
So why did I do it?
A very wise friend once told me that family is like a glass ball. Your career is like a basketball. You drop one and it shatters, you drop the other and it bounces back.
Working parents are constantly balancing and juggling the demands of being a full time employee and a full time parent. Being an educator means giving your physical, emotional and mental energy to your profession. It is that same energy that it takes to organize and lead a family while being a wife, mother, friend, and let’s not forget self-care. Educators give that to school without getting enough back. I remember feeling exhausted, not tired like I needed a few hours of sleep, but exhausted like I had nothing left. I often stayed awake at night thinking about the sacrifices our family was making, the things I was missing, and the role stress played in our house.
When the pandemic started, school was forced to change in an instant. Every process and procedure that was school before the pandemic, CHANGED. Teachers and students were connecting over computers. Teachers were having to find new ways to build and maintain relationships with students. Parents were suddenly part of the classroom experience. This resulted in new challenges and an enormous amount of stress on all stakeholders.
Our family experienced a huge shift in our daily routines. During the first mandated school closure, I got to watch my boys “do school” for the first time. I was impressed with their independence and their ability to work as a small team but they needed more of me. When school staff returned in person, my boys were home working virtually. I started to feel more and more that I was focusing my time and energy away from them and they really needed me. My husband needed me. I struggled with this throughout my career and I would always find a way to justify the work. I was helping children and this was what I had signed up for as an educator. Right? Balancing a marriage, kids, a home, and a career. I often joked that I could only give three of the four attention that was why my house was a mess. But this was different. This felt really unfair to me and my family.
But what could I do? Our family depended on my income. I still loved education. I still wanted to make a difference. I felt like leaving education, even thinking about leaving education, was a betrayal to the entire system. A system that I had dedicated my professional life to for 17 years.
By sheer coincidence, I was offered a position outside of education in property management. Not something I had experience in, but the idea of a career outside of education intrigued me. And, honestly, scared me. Could my skill set transfer to another field? Would I like it? Would I still feel like I was making a difference? Was I having some sort of mid-life crisis? Would a change in jobs solve these conflicted feelings?
I ultimately made the decision to leave public education and begin a new career. A career that gave me more time at home and less stress. My new position has challenges, but they are different and more manageable. I am able to come home and leave work at work. I can give my family the attention and energy that they need right now. I come home at night and I have energy to make dinner, help my kids with their school work, and play a board game. I can give to my family and myself what I was giving to education.
I plan to stay involved in education, but from a different position. I have talked about the importance of parental and community involvement to teachers for years, and now I have the opportunity to be on the other side. (More to come on this soon!)
Stay tuned for more about my career change and the lessons I have learned from it.
Take care and stay safe.