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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Pink Slip Season: How Teachers Can Prepare

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Our goal here at Edutopia has always been to be place to come to as a first-stop resource and also as a place of support for educators. In a perfect world, it's a refuge to gather, collaborate, explore, solve, and exchange.

But it would be irresponsible of us to not address what's happening in the trenches right now, and the current tone in many of our schools across the country.

I'm talking about the possible plague of pink slips going out around this time of year. I know that with budgets as they are, there may even be a much greater flurry of them. With that in mind, I wanted to lend my advice if you are seeking some.

Here's a few things to remember during these times of teacher layoffs:

  • Under any normal circumstances in education, pink slips happen. That doesn't mean you're definitely gone, but it means you could be. The law says that the district must notify you by a certain date of the possibility of your job loss. That doesn't make it ultimately true.
  • Although many teachers get pink slips as a matter of course, don't go into denial and put your head in the sand assuming that your job will be saved in the eleventh hour.
  • Don't avoid planning ahead. It's better to know sooner rather than later, because there's going to be a lot of great teachers out there looking for work.
  • Don't worry, the work is out there to be had. But if you want to be able to pick the job rather than the job picking you, get started in your hunt as soon as you know the pink slip is in the mail.

It's hard, but also try to keep that smile on your face even if the pink slip is on your desk. I've been there before. Most of us have. It's difficult to remember sometimes that what's happening to you doesn't need to trickle down to your teaching practice. In fact, seek happiness in your practice and your students. Focus on them during this time and you might even come out the other end stronger as a teacher.

Looking around my own school site got me to thinking that it seemed a good time to remind the readers out there that there is a way to be proactive.

There are certainly ways to take control of your own employment opportunities. (You might want to start by reading this blog post I wrote for Edutopia about finding your dream teaching job.)

Please share with us your own experiences with the dreaded pink slip, and please also share what resources you think Edutopia might provide to help us all through this hard time.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night
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