This is the time of year when everyone has either signed a contract for the coming year or let their principal know they will not be coming back. This means the opportunities for moving into a teaching job that is a better fit for you are most abundant.
New teachers often find themselves “settling” for a job that hasn’t quite been what they had hoped for because they are afraid they won’t be able to find anything better. They sign their contract in April and think they are locked in for another year. The fact is, most districts have cut-off dates up to which you can still get out of that contract without penalties. If you are not feeling quite right about the teaching job you have, be aware of that date and do something about it!
The most important factor you should consider as you are thinking about your teaching gig is “does this job make me happy?” If there are things your school/district asks you to do that go against your fundamental beliefs, you may need to look elsewhere. If there are elements of the school experience that are missing and that you feel passionately should be there for your students, you may need to look elsewhere (and/or try to convince administration to facilitate the inclusion of those things). If the administration at your school or district doesn’t seem to back you up with regards to discipline, you may want to look elsewhere.
You will definitely want to look elsewhere if your administration is asking you to do something that you believe compromises teacher ethics. I have a teacher friend who had to leave his school for that specific reason. Don’t fall into that slippery slope. If the administration is asking you to do something that you believe is wrong, it’s time to move on.
The bottom line is, don’t settle. Young/new teachers often don’t realize that not all schools are created equal. If you have considered leaving teaching altogether, but haven’t given other learning environments a try, you are not only cheating yourself, you are cheating the students whose lives you would have impacted had you stayed in the profession.
Edutopia has a good article with tips for finding your dream teaching job. Another great resource is other teachers. Try to establish a good network of teachers from other schools. Talk to them about what they like or don’t like about their school or district. Look into teaching at an academy or magnet school, which are often more cutting-edge than traditional schools. Some teachers find their niche in private schools. Others may find that virtual teaching is the thing for them.
Give it a shot – you deserve to be happy.