Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It Appears I May Have Lost My Job Anyway

Over spring break, I came to the conclusion that I'd like to move back to Seattle next year. There is no one reason I made this decision. It's come as a result of a lot of different things.

My health has been deteriorating, and I can't really explain it. I've been in a number of doctors' offices in the past week to do a number of different tests to explain symptoms of vertigo, headaches, and chest pains. I'm not exercising as much as I used to, or enjoying the things I used to really enjoy in life. I prefer to live on a human scale (within walking distance of a healthy grocery store, a gym I enjoy, and work), and I can't really live in the neighborhood I work in (doesn't have any healthy food or gyms I want to go to). So I currently commute about fifty minutes each way between work and my apartment. Lastly, I'm originally from the West. My family is there, and it just feels like the time to return. I think my life has become incredibly unbalanced, and I hope to rediscover some of that balance in the last place I had it.

Despite all of my reasons for leaving, I discovered today that there may be a good chance my position wouldn't exist next year anyway. My principal sent out an email today informing us that the chancellor put a freeze on all personel transactions as staff reductions are considered. "There are a few positions that could go," my assistant principal told me. "And yours would be toward the top of the list." She went on to tell a colleague that he and a few other teachers might be in trouble.

When I told my administrators that I wouldn't be coming back next year, it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. It was actually really sad, and I'm not sure I expected that. I've really learned a lot teaching at my school, and, for the most part, I've really enjoyed the staff (including the administrators - imagine that!) and students I've worked with. Despite all that, however, this recent news only served to remind me of all of the ways the NYC DOE is messed up.

The DOE recruited me heavily last summer, provided my staff and I with minimal space and support (and numerous worthless mandates) to educate some of the most difficult students in the country to educate, and may very well be eliminating my position at the end of the year. (I am, by the way, very well aware that the contradictions in that sentence emanate from very different places and political motivations.) Although my AP has often reminded me, "It's only messed up if you think about it," I've had a tough time not thinking about it. I can't help but wonder if the stressful medical symptoms I've recently been experiencing have been, in part, a result of how much I think about it, and how much I've put into this job at the expense of other aspects of my life.

I will leave New York in early July with a sense of sorrow. I love the city, and I love my school. But I will also be glad to get out. I'd prefer my life be more than just my job, especially when that job is so subject to the whims of politics.


  1. I am sorry to hear you will leave NY, Reflective Educator, but it does sound like your body is sending you a message to take care of yourself and your health. I'm glad that you are listening to it. This may not make sense to Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, but NO job is worth your health.

  2. Good luck. The city islosing a good, caring teacher.

  3. What a loss for your school, but I'm sure you'll find an equally fulfilling teaching job in Seattle.

    Whatever you decide to do next, I hope you'll keep blogging.

  4. Martin of CanberraMay 10, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    I have admired your energy in commenting and reflecting on your recent teaching positions (and very usefully to me the systems in which you were working). I expect your health will improve in the west and your mind will still be thinking. Looking forward to the ongoing blogs. This comment from the other side of the world, Australia.

  5. I agree with reality-based educator. You can leave (if that is, indeed, what happens) knowing that you did good work. Taking care of yourself IS job number one.

  6. Reflective Educator, I wish you all the best. Sounds like the stress is getting to you. Like others, I hope you will continue to blog --

  7. I too wish you all the best. Your insights into the ed deformities in NYC are much valued and I hope you keep blogging from out there where there are some great activists. Keep an eye on Bill Gates.
    It is understandable that there is a good chance health issues are connected to the stress of the job. You will find out this summer when hopefully, everything bad goes away. Best of luck.

  8. Take care of yourself first! I recently realized how my health is so much more important than my job. I once has an administrator tell me, "This place will still run if you're dead and gone." And she's right, I didn't realize that until someone actually verbalized it! I hope the move is a good one for you.

  9. I think your move back to the West Coast sounds like a smart idea. When I was a teacher, I worked in one school where I actually became sick from the stress - not a good situation. After I left that school, I realized there was no need to live that way. I'm sure the same will be true for you and that you'll find a great fit at a school in Seattle.

    Hope you keep blogging - I enjoy reading your posts!

  10. Yes, please keep blogging! We all enjoy your great insights.

    I agree with your decision to go back to Seattle. My advice is to find a job where you feel relaxed and fulfilled. I know I told you that I tried several different teaching positions until I found the one (teaching first grade) that felt "right." I felt eager and excited to go to school each day and that's how you should feel.

    Although I enjoyed teaching low-income children I would not recommend it at the present time because these teachers are being blamed for conditions beyond their control. I hope you accept a postion in an affluent Seattle school where the test scores will always be high and the parents (usually) grateful and cooperative.

  11. Although we have never met, I feel like I'm shadowing your moves. I taught on the West Coast, came to DC, thinking about NYC, and ultimately back to the west coast. Best of luck in all that you do. I know I'll still be looking towards your blog. Also, saw this today in my own job search and instantly thought of you.


  12. Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I don't think I could continue working in education without a place to vent my frustrations, share my successes, and receive feedback on my thoughts. So the blog will certainly not be disappearing anytime soon.