The past few months with a new job have allowed me to seriously reflect on personal happiness, health, and guilt-free options.
You probably all don't know my work history, but I started an awesome retirement in February 2017.
In July 2017, I then was hired on by the same school system as a part-time teacher (itinerant) for hearing impaired children. At the time, it seemed like a perfect marriage between my former career as a speech-language pathologist, and my other former career as an educator for the deaf. I was hired as the only teacher of the deaf for this district.
After beginning that new job in August, I resigned in January. Why, you may ask? After all, I was in fact very familiar with the school system, IEPs, community, and the special education field. I did have 25 years experience with this same system. What could go wrong? With me, it was a lack of anticipation.
1. I didn't anticipate the work-related anxiety. I started in August, and by September, I was having difficulty functioning at home. The 'anxiety knot' (for lack of a better term) simply wouldn't go away.
The job was part-time, two and a half days a week, but even when I would leave it on Wednesday, it wasn't until Saturday that I could function.
The picture below is a screenshot of my resting heart rate, as measured by FitBit. Basically it shows how well I've been sleeping at night. The lower the heart rate, the sounder the sleep. Even though I was only working part time, my nights were filled with worry about my students, and feelings of angst about the job. I finally decided I wasn't getting paid enough to drag the worry around with me 24 hours a day.
2. I didn't anticipate how the lack of instructional funding would affect me. North Carolina seems to expect that teachers purchase supplies out of pocket, and that was certainly true for me. I was forced to raid random bookrooms, purchase materials from Teachers Pay Teachers, submit DonorChoose grants, and otherwise beg for scraps.
3. I didn't anticipate that I wouldn't have enough time to teach the students. Too many high needs students, too little time (I was only half time), too many schools, no instructional money---all leads back to reason number 1.
4. Myriad other reasons involving serious student equity issues, my own feelings of isolation in the job, no 'guide book', low pay, low morale in the entire special education department. It was impossible to stay happy. Since I already had health insurance and other benefits with my pension, there was no incentive to stay. I hope that if any of you readers are seriously unhappy in a work setting, you feel free to explore other options.
5. New job! I'm looking forward to spending lots of time with the grandkids! Isabel was born January 10 joining her big sister Lily!
My hope is that the school administration will look at this particular position and make some changes. Bumping it to full-time would be one---as of now, the position is still vacant. With no benefits, and a half-time salary, few people will line up to even interview. Other changes would be to include the teacher in a professional learning community to reduce the feelings of isolation. Providing instructional funding would be a necessity, as well as adequate office space. Providing a mentor for a new teacher also seems vital.
Given the state of turmoil that NC education is in, changes are doubtful. I can only hope, for the children's sake.