I have hundreds of kids. I’m a teacher. I’ve always been a teacher. I thought I’d always be a teacher.
Most parents do something called “Family Planning” and decide when they have enough children; they determine when their family is “just right”.
Is there a parallel for teachers? Can I do a little “Teacher Planning” and decide that my career has been “just right?” I’ve had enough kids. I’ve loved them, and now, is it time to let the youngest student grow up and leave the nest? Er, I mean, graduate?
Second career? No idea.
I have been thinking about the proverbial second career for a while. Fear and indecision have held me back. What do I want to do? No idea. How am I going to do it? No idea. What the heck am I thinking leaving the only career I’ve ever known? No idea.
But, I’m going to do it regardless. What will happen if I leave teaching? No idea. What will happen if I don’t leave teaching? I do know the answer to that one. I’ll always wonder, “what if...” I’ll be disappointed in myself. I can’t live with that.
Taking the Plunge
Once I made the decision to take the plunge into a second career, I still didn’t know what to do next, job-wise. When career planning, common questions include, “What do you enjoy? What are you good at?” Ummm. Trolling garage sales?
I’m also good at planning, organizing, managing a classroom. Reviewing that list, no career is immediately apparent, other than teaching. (And yes, even garage sale-ing is a skill helpful to teachers. The money for many classroom materials comes out of the teacher’s pocket. It’s a fact. Hence, teachers learn to make a dollar s-t-r-e-t-c-h.)
While seeking a new career, it can be helpful to identify one’s skills by reflecting on previous jobs. I’ve been a camp counselor, a PE teacher, a waitress, a swim coach, a ski instructor, and a nanny. Oh, and a laboratory assistant, but I walked away from that job with only one skill - acid-washing test tubes - and that isn’t very versatile.
The goal is to combine what you enjoy and what you are good at. That is much harder than it sounds. I think it also involves a bit of dumb luck.
Three years ago, I read an article about a woman who held “craft weekends” in her home. She planned and organized art activities. She managed a small group of participants. Hmmmm. Planning, organizing and managing. Check. At the time, I thought to myself, I could do that. I might really like doing that. Then I went back to teaching.
But the idea simmered on the back burner of my brain. Last fall, I stumbled across a website offering a similar service. At that point, an idea was conceived. Dumb luck - I was just lucky to pick up that magazine containing that article. I was just lucky to come across that website while searching for something else.
A person can’t decide to be lucky, but one can decide to remain receptive at all times, so when something unlikely, unexpected or even far-fetched presents itself, it can be viewed as an opportunity. A possibility.
The Start of Something
I wish I had a secret recipe for how to select a second career. I would love to offer people some tangible advice, but I have none. The exercise of taking inventory of one’s skills is most definitely valuable, but that is no secret. Maybe the exercise of remaining open-minded and curious is equally valuable.
I resigned from teaching this year - my career has been “just right”. This is the first year that I’m not looking ahead to fall and the start of the school year. I may not experience the start of school, but I know I'll experience the start of something...
(Wondering about the photograph at the beginning of this blog? It is the starting line in the stadium in Olympia, Greece. That seems unlikely, somewhat far-fetched. I wouldn't have expected it to look like that.)