How I Saved My Teaching Career: Reprise

Dear readers:

I’ve received some comments and missives recently from discouraged teachers who have stumbled upon my blog and have found it helpful.  This makes me very happy.  However, there’s a place I want to send them, and I can’t.  So I’m going to try to fix this problem.

A few years ago, I published a series of posts called “How I Saved My Teaching Career” in the TimesOnline’s education blog, School Gate.  Those posts have long since disappeared behind a paywall, and so I am no longer able to link you to them, or to send teachers to consult them in hopes of alleviating their burnout hell.

Sarah Ebner, the lovely and generous editor of School Gate (which is still alive and kicking if you have a Times subscription), has given me permission to repost “How I Saved My Teaching Career” here on Classroom as Microcosm.  Accordingly, over the next four weeks or so, I will present you with a revised version of that 8-part series, in which I outline my journey: miserable teacher on the brink of quitting to rejuvenated teacher full of inspiration and hope.  (That’s what the movie trailer would look like, anyhow.)

Monday will bring you a brief introduction, and will be followed by posts on curing burnout in seven not-so-easy steps.

  • STEP 1:  Take stock.  Is it worth it to stay?
  • STEP 2:  Take time off.
  • STEP 3:  Find and appreciate your (educational and other) community.
  • STEP 4:  Face your fears.
  • STEP 5:  Keep learning: get more training.
  • STEP 6:  Take up meditation (or another contemplative practice).
  • STEP 7:  Start a blog.

I hope that those who haven’t read these will find some solace and support in them somewhere.  And if you were around in 2009 when they were first launched, I hope revisiting them in their updated form will remind you of some of the things that I find I often need reminding of!

In the meantime, I would love to hear from any of you, either now or along the way, about moments you’ve felt that teaching was too hard to be worth it.  What did you do to get past that feeling?  Or did you decide that teaching was no longer for you?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Image by John Boyer

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6 responses

  1. Starting a blog… that is what helped (and continues to help) me through so many things. My blog is a place to vent and reflect and just think about what happens each and everyday. I am excited about this series!! It’s funny too because my post today was about the part of teaching that I love the most. It is taking the moments to reflect on the positives that helps me on the tough days.

    • TFE: I would have been in about my fourth or fifth year of CEGEP teaching, but my fourteenth or fifteenth year of teaching overall. CEGEP was a very different experience from what had come before.

  2. I am on the verge, NO, not of a nervous breakdown, but of retirement from teaching English in a big collegiate, after a few years teaching at a college and many years teaching adults ESL and English. In all it’s been a shocking 35 plus years. I’m returning to my initial career in journalism. I am so interested in your amazing blog, so full of sense and truth-speaking. Thanks. I think I’ve kept the juice for teaching by changing schools, changing how and what I teach about every 10 years. Staying in one place for too long made me itchy to start something new; less a hating where I was, than an impulse to grow in a “forced” way. I look forward to continue following your career, advice and ideas.

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