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Can a teacher make a comeback?

Kelly Gilfillan

Hello all - new girl here. :)

I'll try to make this short and sweet. After five years of teaching high school English and two years of teaching part-time at a community college, I lost my job due to budget cuts. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I realized after the fact that I was so burned out and that my work was suffering because of it. Now, after being out of work for over six months, I am considering going back to the classroom. Yes, part of this is due to feeling like I have to; unfortunately, there are not a lot of people willing to hire an English major groomed solely for the classroom. However, I do genuinely want to return; before I burned out, I enjoyed teaching immensely and it was something I could see myself doing for the rest of my career.

I can blame a million things for my burning out and blame plenty of people, including myself, but looking back, I have a pretty good idea of how I could avoid it in the future if I start working now - before I have a job. I have considered going back to school for a MS in counseling so I could become a guidance counselor, but unfortunately, I'm still paying off the student loans for the Masters in English that people kept assuring me would help my education career.

I know I want to be in the education field. I know that I love working with high school kids. However, the bottom line is that in close to seven years of teaching, I still have a lot to learn. I was by no means a veteran, but I was still making a lot of newbie mistakes.

So, tell me, can this teacher make a comeback? I appreciate the advice!

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Third grade teacher from Michigan's Upper Peninsula

" I enjoyed teaching

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" I enjoyed teaching immensely and it was something I could see myself doing for the rest of my career." Yup you belong back in the trenches. I have no idea how to go about it but if you follow your head/heart you will find your way. You wonderful English teachers have always freaked me out. Writing is so hard. Peace. But i sure love good writers.

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Kelly, As a 30 year veteran, I have burnt out and resurrected numerous times. Of course, it is possible. I believe my best teaching actually came after ten years. Go for it. Kay Greenberg

English Teacher / Technology Coordinator / Instructional Technologist

Teacher Burnout

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Kelly, I think you should look at all the factors that contributed to your burnout, and if most still exist, you might be setting yourself up for a repeat. I taught English for 25 years, before I became the school's Technology Coordinator. I was beginning to feel worn out before I left the classroom (inner city high school English). I had been English Department Chair and taught all seniors and an occasional junior class. After 5 years of managing our network, repairing computers, leading workshops, providing programs and software for my colleagues, we had a political shakeup (new inexperienced principal assigned to our school by Arne Duncan) and I was put back in the classroom without my consent. I was given 5 freshmen English classes (our most unruly students), which caused me to burnout. I took 2 months of sick days, before I returned to complete the second semester. My point is that I was an excellent teacher, who chose to move on to something else needed by the school. When I was placed in a situation that I did not want, which was way beyond anything I could manage, I burned out. Please don't allow yourself to be put into an untenable situation. You know what you need to be successful. If you can help it, don't accept anything less. The best I could do was take two months of my accumulated sick days to preserve my health. Sidebar: I returned to the news that the entire faculty was going to be displaced (fired) at the end of the semester. They called our school a turnaround school.

Faculty at NCCAT

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I deal with teachers all the time who are under tremendous pressures to juggle the demands of the classroom with their personal lives. Some of them are able to get some relief by leaving the classroom and assume other roles in their schools, but this is not an option for most teachers. What seems to work best to deal with and prevent burnout is to: (1) make sure that you are fully engaged in and happy doing the work you "really" want to do, (2) take care of your health and psycho-emotional needs DAILY by finding what works best for you to relieve stress, and (3) surround yourself with a few teacher mentors who have successfully gone through circumstances similar to your own. It takes a tremendous effort for a teacher to find healthy ways to have a balanced life and you have to really search for what works best for you. Go for it and don’t allow anything to block that super teacher inside of you from emerging.

Rachel's Challenge Rep.

Reignite the Passion!

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I was never a classroom teacher, but am an educator for a school culture program. I would love for you to check out our conference this summer that is focused on REIGNITING THE PASSION for teaching along with some amazing sessions on creating a safe and productive classroom environment and working with difficult students. It is not a "normal" educational conference, check it out: www.rachelschallengesummit.org

Burnout!? Don't become a school counselor

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I have been a school counselor for the last 15 years, and I can tell you, as will any other educator, it is one of the hardest jobs in education. The multitasking alone will easily lend itself to burnout, as will the massive amount of paperwork, data entry/analysis that goes on. How I handle my burnout, is to continually challenge myself to learn new skills, try things that scare me, take lots of professional development and....remember why I got into education in the 1st place-to matter and make a difference in the lives of students.

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seven years? you were not burn out, you are still questioning if this is for you. after seven years you should be saying I got this and start cruising. It sounds like teaching was something to pass the time until something better came along. If this is not the case then quit complaining and find what it is thats missing in your delivery of instruction to meet the kids at their place in life.

Regardless of the

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Regardless of the circumstances of your burn out (we all struggle with being overwhelmed at times), if the passion has returned then get back at it as soon as you can. Just remember to keep on learning and modifying your instruction, delivery, assessments, so as not to become stale. You don't have to reinvent the wheel each day, but don't become stuck in a rut. After 17 years, I understand your frustrations. Just keep working and maintaining your sanity by challenging yourself to continue to develop as a teacher. Good luck.

Still looking for a way to use my credential in secondary math & science

Sandra, That was incredibly

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Sandra, That was incredibly harsh. I would hope that Administrators would be more understanding of what teachers are doing and feeling. Often burn-out is caused by some small irritant that gets really big (mine was an administrator, BTW)
I loved teaching English and German, but was a little leery of whether I was teaching the literature end of it appropriately for our students (they did well, despite - or because of - my efforts.)
After the burn-out confrontations, I went out into the "big world" and did a lot of different things. Now I am trying to return - in a completely different subject, math & science, but finding the job market very tight.

Wisconsin educator at present

Secondary/Post-secondary Instructor, Assistant Administrator

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My first Edutopia post, and I am feint. Having had numerous professional positions ripped from beneath me vis-a-vis failed referendum,"re-alignment", and superintendent whimsy, I cannot directly relate to burn-out although I have empathy for those who live it. Because the education matrix includes a wide swath of possibilities, I have always pursued aspects of education that intrigued me: at present, educational pursuits in intentional communities, i. e. the Owenites in New Harmony, Indiana, and Upton Sinclair's Helicon Home Community. Don't make a comeback; never go away however how difficult. semaj

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