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Pink Slip Season: How Teachers Can Prepare

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

ELA Teacher, Middle School, Curriculum Coordinator TOSA
Related Tags: Teacher Leadership
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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.

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Heather Wolpert-Gawron

ELA Teacher, Middle School, Curriculum Coordinator TOSA
Related Tags:

Comments (6) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Jeremy Jones's picture

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If you are an educator that is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that more of Houston's low-income students graduate from college, I encourage you to apply to work at YES Prep. See us at

Please let me know if you have questions!

Kim's picture

I just received my fifth pink slip in five years today, and it is still a bummer, but I know that the district just has to figure things out. One thing that's different this year is how deep the budget cuts are going, and with class sizes going up, there's a good chance that I won't be placed back at my school.
I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity to try out a new school and new grade level! Attitude is everything, right??

Huber's picture

My district is at the whims of my state who has decided to create their own version of Race to the Top. Yes class sizes are increasing and money is being lost. I think what we are witnessing is the end of teacher contracts as we know it anyway. This article definitely puts things in the right perspective. Every year when I'm faced with a pink slip due to only having a yearly contract I focus on the variables that I can control and don't stress about those that I cannot. If the pink slip comes, I'll dust myself off and start over again somewhere else.

Camille's picture

I teach right next door to you in good old South Pasadena.I have taught there for 14 years and things have never been so challenging. I just thought I would join in your words of encouragement that things will get better and right now it is about being a comfort to those who are in the worst possible position. Such a shame, we have some amazing teachers at our site.

Albert's picture

I'm right around the corner in Deer Park. There is a misperception that teachers have a lot of job security because of our contracts. But that only gives the district an easy way to let a teacher go at the end of the year with less paperwork than keeping that teacher. I've never seen it done unfairly or arbitrarily at my school. But still there is some tension around this time waiting for the new contract to land in my box. It would be difficult to keep smiling after getting a pink slip. But we have to keep in mind that our student's parents are often much worse off than a teacher scrabling for a job in May. At least we have paychecks coming until July.

Ryan's picture

I am located on the east coast (Hudson Valley area; 1 hour north of NYC), and the cuts being made in my area are ridiculous. Hundreds of teachers and teacher assistant jobs are being slashed, one school nearby where I have taught staged a rally that was organized by students to protest their teachers being cut. Over 600 of them marched around the school's track. It does not help the cause that our state government has asked many schools to give back some of the stimulus money that was awarded to them due to budgetary reasons.

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