To Leave or Not To Leave

Early in my career, I faced three tough decisions in a six-year period. My wife and I had to decide whether to uproot our family so I could accept a job in another part of the State. Anyone that has gone through these decisions knows how difficult they are. They are multifaceted. There are family, personal, and professional considerations all mixed up in the calculus of decision-making. I know how agonizing these decisions are to make.Recently I talked with three different administrators about their decision whether to leave their current position or not. I am in no way capable of telling someone what they should do, but I can distill some advice to people that are considering leaving their jobs.Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about switching jobs.1. What are your career goals? Any move has to align with what you want to accomplish in your career. You may want to be in a position to become the superintendent of your “home” school district. In that case, getting job experiences in another district may be helpful. The important thing to note is that you MUST spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to do with your career. I have created a workbook that will help you clarify your career goals.2. Keep Family First. When I moved those three times, my children were young. It still breaks my heart that my oldest was torn from my uncle’s dairy farm where she just thrived. However, my wife and I believed that in each move we made, our kids would benefit…and (overall) we were correct. We did not include them in the discussions about moving (they were too young), but they were at the front of our decision-making. In our case, we were moving from one community to another. Here are some more things to consider about family consideration:          A. Will you have to move to a different community?          B. Does where you are moving offer an opportunity for your children and spouse to thrive?          C. How difficult will it be for your spouse to get a job? Do they want to get a job?          D. Will the move create an environment of building positive experiences for your family?

3. What does the move mean professionally? Unless you are forced to change jobs, do not move for a position that is a demotion. I am not talking about salary here. I took a lateral salary move to get to my current position, but it was worth it for a lot of reasons that my wife and I discussed under “family first.” So what are examples of jobs that are promotions?          A. Teacher to a principal or assistant principal          B. Principal to the central office          C. Central office to assistant or superintendentRemember, align your decision to what you want to accomplish with your career.4. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. As a matter of fact, it can be artificial turf that just looks good from a distance. One more analogy, sometimes the green grass is built over top of a septic tank!  Do not give in to the allure of a new job. Your ego WILL come out in these situations especially if you are being recruited. Quiet the ego by grounding your decision in what you want to accomplish in your career and ask yourself if the move will help accomplish that.

About Tom Butler, Ph.D.

I believe that public education is for the public good and that education should be uncompromisingly learner-centered. The New Learning Ecosystem points us away from the old model of education that does not serve kids well. All educators regardless of where they work can help lead and contribute to the New Learning Ecosystem.
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