Finding A Job In Education That Works For You
contributed by Anne Davis
Feeling trapped in a teaching position that’s not working out for you?
Tired of dreading going to school each day? Not looking forward to next year?
There are a million reasons why your current teaching position may not be working out for you. Whatever the reason may be, it’s not too late to make the decision to make a shift in your career.
With a bit of research, patience, and preparation, you can find a career that provides you with more than just a paycheck and maybe a restoration of that hope and purpose that got you into teaching to begin with.
1. Create a teacher statement of purpose
Write down, in one sentence, what your ‘purpose’ is as a teacher–why you teach. Read more here about developing a teacher mission statement.
2. Evaluate your current and past positions
The only way to ensure you don’t end up repeating history (i.e. landing the kind of position that doesn’t work for you) is to evaluate your current and/or past positions.
What was it about the jobs you liked?
When are you at your best?
What didn’t you like?
Were you interested in specific positions in education, or only teaching? If the former, which? Is it the title and pay or responsibilities and opportunities?
Analyzing each of your previous jobs in this way and creating a list of pros and cons gives you a clear map of school cultures and related educational career opportunities that will and won’t work for you.
3. Clarify–and be honest–about your strengths
To find a job in education career that best suits you, you at least need to know what you’re ‘good at’ and what you’re not,’ then consider the latter category in terms of professional growth opportunities. Are these things you can get better at or are they simply not in your native ‘wheelhouse’?
Move on to your interests and see where the overlap with your strengths. Are you creative and abstract and interested in curriculum design? Consider a position in that field.
Are you more interested in building relationships with students and helping them achieve their goals and you happen to be ‘good’ with older students? Consider a position as a high school guidance counselor.
You get the idea. Find the sweet spot between your strengths and interests and the kinds of positions in education that are in-demand.
4. Talk with educators in different positions
By now you should start to have some ideas of what you’d like to do in education.
To get a clearer understanding of whether or not other positions in your school or district–at other grade levels and in other capacities–could be good for you, try talking with other educators in some of those positions. And when you do, try to get an authentic picture of what their day-to-day job is really like.
For instance, if you were interested in becoming a small business lawyer, you would contact a nearby firm to see if you could talk with attorneys, paralegals, and clerks about what it’s like to work in that industry. Obviously, education is similar. In addition to teaching traditional content areas and grade levels, there is also special education, literacy special
You can ask questions like what path they took to get where they are, the pros and cons of the job, and whatever else you may want to know. After hearing the details of a position, you can then determine whether it really is something you want to pursue.
5. Develop yourself professionally
Another way to get an idea of which career is best for you would be to take a few classes.
These courses whether online or in person, free or otherwise give you a more in-depth understanding of the career and all it will require. Whether you go to construction management school, take real estate classes at a local community college, or do a few crash courses through online sources in your spare time, you could be lucky enough to get some hands-on experience that can draw you closer to your passion.
At worst, you’ll have more opportunities available as you grow.
6. Align personal and professional goals
Your lifestyle can be greatly impacted by your career shift.
It’s a good idea to determine in advance whether the career you’re choosing will work in the best interest of yourself and anyone else you’re responsible for.
For instance, if you do have to go back to school for a degree, can you still work full-time, or will you need to find a part-time job for the time being? If the career you’re interested in will require more of your time and energy, do you have someone who will be there to help with kids or other responsibilities at home?
How will any of your personal relationships be impacted? Though chasing your dreams is what everyone should do, if it’s at the expense of your loved ones, you have to consider the trades. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done but rather that you have to be strategic in your planning.
Whether you want to become a teacher, literacy specialist, administrator, or some other kind of education professional, there are several avenues, tools, and resources to help you get there.
Simply start by using the information above to determine which path is best for you, then begin setting smart goals that will eventually lead to you landing an education job that truly works for you.