A year ago, on January 4, 2015, I drafted the post below but never published it. I was struggling and knew that if something didn’t change soon, I’d go over the edge. It was a really, really, tough time for me……
Jan 4, 2015:
What do you do when what you do is no longer what you wish to do?
- Sweat All The Things.
- Be determined to make it happen.
Reality continues to shift.
As I write this post, it’s Sunday evening. In a few short hours, I’ll return to my high school classroom and my students, after two weeks’ winter vacation. We will catch up ~ talking of gifts and family visits, travels and test scores (ACT and SAT scores were being posted during our time off). We will laugh and tell stories. Then, we will pick up where we left off in December. Inevitably, we will count the days to our next vacation (nine).
Despite being back with my students, time away from the classroom continues to clarify for me: I no longer wish to be there. I’m ready for a new chapter. I have disconnected…
In September 2014, I talked with my principal.
I began putting the wheels in motion to make a change, discussing with my principal that I was ready to leave the K-12 classroom (for the second – and final – time), and didn’t want to return to the classroom at the start of 2014-15, but wasn’t completely sure what else I wanted to do… yet.
I hoped he would understand my need for change. He did, thankfully, though my transition turned out to be a lengthy process. Leaving a teaching position in the middle of a school year is generally frowned upon (and not something I’d ever do under ‘normal’ circumstances), but I knew my health and mental wellbeing were being compromised with each week that went by. I was overwhelmed, depressed, and filled with anxiety as I considered my options. I needed to get out, but what would be my next chapter? I tinkered (again) with leaving Education, but wasn’t sure …… I desperately looked for a *sign* that would help guide me.
Soon enough, several *signs* practically hit me in the face, and I figured it out. I wanted to return to Career and Technical Education as an Instructional Coach, this time on campus instead of at the district level. While I was ready to leave the classroom, being able to interact with students every day is important to me – to stay connected to the reason we do what we do in Education (and being an administrator is not on my Bucket List).
Instructional coaching allows a teacher to be part of a leadership team, but not have to manage staff, budgets, facilities, etc….
Instead, an IC focuses on supporting teachers and their students by positively influencing effective instruction – from teaching and learning strategies to time management, organization, and relationship-building through professional conversations, modeling, side-by-side teaching, and feedback- much like an athletic coach, but without the cursing, push-ups, or laps.
Time seemed endless as I waited for the ‘right seat on the bus’ to open up. It was during that time that I turned to art as a respite. As I struggled to go to my classroom each morning and my inner writing voice that had been my early-morning friend, had fallen silent as I struggled, I needed a way to focus and … cope.
Exploring art and other creative writing helped me through a difficult time. Time well spent, some might say… I’m a glass-half-full-sorta gal, after all. RobinLK Studios was established in 2015.
Fast-forward a year: January 2016
Next month, I’ll celebrate my one-year work anniversary on my current campus.
Working as an Instructional Coach and mentor, I support new teachers as they enter the teaching profession as career changers while also supporting seasoned teachers who often tell me no help is needed, thank you very much.
I do this as I work on my own growth as a peer coach and learn how to manage my high expectations so I can meet teachers where they are without stepping on toes.
To be sure, I’ve had lots of growth opportunities in the first year coaching here, but these make me understand the bigger picture:
It’s not about us. It’s about something much bigger than each of us (which I’ve known a long time, but sometimes need a swift kick in the butt). We need to get out of our own way, sometimes.
So, what do you do when what you do is no longer what you wish to do? My humble advice:
- Accept that change is necessary for your own wellbeing (and for those around you – who have to deal with you!).
- Dig deep. Ask the tough questions. Discover who you are (or as someone said to me, “Figure out your sh*#!).
- Find your passion.
- Take the leap!
I’ve come to realize that being disconnected isn’t a bad thing, though sad sometimes, as we leave a part of ourselves behind… Instead, it’s part of the process of life, an opportunity to see the stepping stones on our own path to something better(?), different(?)…. more fulfilling…. perhaps.