Should I stay or should I go now?

I’m driving myself crazy thinking about my job. Do I want to stay? Do I want to leave? It’s gotten to the point that I don’t feel like I can trust my own thoughts on this stuff anymore.

The drama at work was resolved–quickly and crazily. Before they could count the official ballots for the “vote of no confidence,” we had a staff meeting. The first hour of it was business as usually. Then, without warning, our principal was at the front of the room announcing her resignation. It was a practiced and polished speech about how she needed to do this for her family and she feels drawn to working with recent immigrants, like she did when she first started teaching. It was made all the more awkward since we knew it was complete and utter bullshit–she had clearly been made aware of what was going on and saw the writing on the wall: either she resigned or had her name dragged through the mud. Understandably, she choose the former.

The speech was over in three minutes, but I couldn’t even look at her. I felt so bad. It was so awkward and horrible. I still can’t really believe it happened, even though I totally understand why it did.

Then our superintendent came to the front of the room. We didn’t even realize he had arrived. He quickly and unceremoniously announced that with our principal’s resignation he would be moving the principal from the other middle school into her position at the start of the new school year, moving up that school’s VP into the principal position, and opening their VP slot for someone new.

The best part about all this? The principal at the other middle school was our vice-principal ten years ago, and he was not particularly well-liked by much of our staff. He left our school to be principal at one of our district’s elementary schools, and then moved to the other middle school. I heard he was not well-regarded by the staff at the elementary school, but that they consider him competent enough at the middle school. He’s been there for several years now and successfully ushered them through some intense construction projects, which will being on our campus next year.

At the end of the announcement there was complete silence for an interminable amount of time. You could hear an eye blink, and it just kept going and going and going. The superintendent made some joke about how he finally knew how to get our staff to stop talking. No one even laughed nervously at that.

When he, and our vice-principal, finally left the room, two male teachers had to whip their dicks out about it, one wanting to bad mouth our new principal and the other insisting he shouldn’t try to sully the waters with his negativity. One of them left in a huff, muttering under his breath.

It was all so incredibly stressful.

With that change in leadership the staff will no longer be going after the vice-principal. She has been passed over as principal of our school twice now so I’m sure she’ll be looking for something elsewhere anyway. I’d be surprised if she were here next fall.

So that is that. I never had any problems with this man as our vice-principal, though he did seem a bit ineffectual when he was here. It sounds like he’s had ample time to grow and improve over the last decade and I’m determined to feel positively about his return. Our staff has run out the last three principals and as many vice-principals in the last decade, and the devil you know is usually safer than the devil you don’t.

All this means I don’t feel as much pressure about finding a new job for next year, which is good. I think about whether or not I actually want to leave a lot these days. I worry about all the prep time that will be needed at a new job, and the stress of learning a new school’s procedures and getting acquainted with their staff. I worry I won’t do a good job of teaching higher level Spanish, that my language skills aren’t up to par, that the pressure from parents will be intense.

This summer I will be paying for my son’s spot at day care and I intend to use it, at least some of the time. I will put my daughter in at least 4 weeks of camp as well. I had big plans to do a final push at the house, to really make some hard choices about what to get rid of and solidify habits that will ensure our space doesn’t become cluttered on a daily basis. I wanted to start cooking regularly so that I could bolster my skills during a low stress time, in the hopes that I would be able to fall back on those newly minted skills during the higher stress time of the school year. I wanted to just take some time for myself, and rediscover where my interests lie.

If I get a new job I’ll spend all summer packing my old classroom, getting acquainted with the curriculum, prepping for the first months, and setting up my new classroom. I would definitely have the time to do all of that, which is a big plus, but I wouldn’t have time to do any of what I was originally planning, which is a big minus because I’ll need the uncluttered house and the low-grade cooking skills would really help next year, when I’ll have less time, and be more stressed, than I am now.

And intriguing things are happening at my school next year too. It is clear that the district and board assume our pilot is a formality and that we will adopt a partial block schedule with FLEX times next year. I would love to teach creative writing or some other class once or twice a week. I also recognize a need for me to reinforce my classroom management skills, which I’ve let lapse out of sheer exhaustion since my son was born. Classroom management has never been my strong suit, but I do believe I could do a much better job if I had the time to focus on it. Strengthening that skill would make me a much more effective teacher.

My Spanish skills themselves have been lapsing as well. I don’t talk to my kids in Spanish nearly as much as I used to, and I listen to English books on tape much more frequently than Spanish. I need to make Spanish a priority again, especially if I want to teach higher level classes.

It may seem obvious that I’m leaning more towards staying, and I do admit that’s my current inclination. But I’m not sure if I feel that way because I’m scared of change, or failure, or both. I still plan on applying for some high school positions, but I think I’m doing so with the hopes of NOT getting the jobs, so that I can tell myself that moving right now isn’t an option and I can stop wondering what I should do. The thought of getting offered a job, and actually having to make a choice, is terrifying. It’s so terrifying that I worry I won’t put my best foot forward in the application/interview process, that I’ll subconsciously sabotage myself to ensure I’m not faced with a choice.

My thoughts are so twisted around on this topic that I don’t feel like I can trust my own inclinations right now. I’m not sure if I think one thing because I actually think it, or I’m scared or I’m avoiding some other unidentified emotion. It’s exhausting, and I have so much going on right now, I can’t burn mental energy endless dancing around all the possible what ifs? I’m driving myself crazy.

6 Comments

  1. Hmm. I’m glad the immediate crisis is over, although it sounds like there may still be rough times to come. Right now, I’m feeling a lot like you are about job searching – it’s so much easier to stay put, and something new requires energy & risk. But I’m trying not to let inertia get in my way. I will only get less happy at my job the longer I stay. So every week I try to do something, no matter how small. One scary step at a time.

    1. I read a really good article just this morning about dealing with uncertainty: ask yourself, what good could come from making this change? I have thought a lot about what I’m trying to get away from, but I think articulating the good I hope might come out of finding a new job will help me understand if I really want to do it. I’m impressed that you keep taking steps to find something new. I’m going to look to you for inspiration as I get started. I just need to brush up my resume so I can be ready to write cover letters and take some more definitive steps.

  2. 1. Keep breathing.
    2. Until and unless you have another job offer you have no decision to make. Remember this.
    3. Consider taking a one or two week working break this summer in a Spanish speaking country by yourself. You husband often has to be away for business etc… this would be an equivalent. I do not think you will do this…just consider it.

    1. I have actually been thinking about how I can get my kids with me to a Spanish speaking country for a summer. I think this summer probably won’t work as I already have some plans made, with tickets purchased, but if I start planning (and saving for it) now, I could probably make it happen for next summer. I really want to live abroad with them for a year or two in a Spanish speaking country too, so a summer would be a good place to start.

  3. Yes, taking the children would improve your odds of going dramatically. And trying it for a summer makes sense. In traveling with children it remains hard for children to connect with other children native to the foreign country. Look for opportunities to do this as otherwise your children are most apt to see only other foreign traveling children and no language/cultural exchange occurs.

  4. “It may seem obvious that I’m leaning more towards staying, and I do admit that’s my current inclination.” If that’s what you want, then there’s no shame in it.

    It’s also possible to keep an eye out, brush up your skills for your own satisfaction, and then make a decision if you see something that excites you. In looking for jobs myself, I’ve definitely noticed the difference between just another job, and one that excites me. Without that excitement, a decision is so much harder.

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