Your lessons are fine, and your career is developing adequately. But is your current teaching job giving you the satisfaction you need? You know you're not happy, but you also know looking for a new teaching position will take a huge amount of effort. Is it worth it?
Change can feel scary. Moving to a new role in a different school can be nerve-wracking and time-consuming but, ultimately, it can leave you feeling rejuvenated in your career.
These teachers say that gamble is worth it. They sought a fresh start, and explain why they decided to make the move. Here are their five reasons why a change of job can be as good as a rest.
1. New leadership means a new lease of life
Every leadership team has its own management style and what works for some colleagues may not work for you. For instance, you may want more autonomy while others prefer clear direction from leadership.
It’s important to remember that just because you don’t get on with your current senior leadership team, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work well with a different set of leaders in another school.
Beth Bennett, a special educational needs and disability coordinator at Parklands Primary School in Leeds, left her former school where she had worked for 17 years after finally realising that the style of leadership wasn’t right for her.
Bennett credits her new school’s “positive and proactive leadership” for rekindling her love of teaching.
“It’s the positivity and the trust in me to do my job. There is nobody looking over my shoulder and checking what I’m doing. I look forward to coming to work,” she says.
2. The right school for you makes all the difference
Making sure your school matches your teaching philosophy and ethos is key to having a healthy work-life balance. The culture of every school is different and it's important to try to find a school that’s right for you.
Dan Corns, an English teacher in Wolverhampton almost left the profession entirely but found that applying for a new role in a new school transformed his teaching experience.
“I was happy to leave teaching altogether after 12 years. I couldn't deal with the overload of data, the negative wellbeing of staff and the shrinking of the subjects I loved to exam-only as opposed to a wider curriculum,” Corns explains.
However, Corns decided to apply for the position of key stage 3 coordinator, as a last-ditch attempt to make teaching work for him.
“I was very nervous but it felt like I could present the version of myself that I wanted to be: no health issues; no arguments with SLT; it was a truly fresh start," he says.
“This last academic year has been the best of my now 13-year career. I would advise anyone thinking of leaving the profession to look around carefully. Give yourself every opportunity to find a school that is right for you as much as you might be right for it.”
Read one teacher's quest to find the right school
3. Climb out of that rut
Sometimes you can plateau in your job, and moving schools can provide a new set of challenges to make you improve as a teacher. This doesn't always mean a step up. Sometimes a step sideways into a new environment can be just as beneficial.
Jennifer Grotier, headteacher at Shorefields School in Essex, had been at her previous school for 17 years when she felt she’d reached her peak as a deputy head.
Grotier then made the move from a mainstream primary school to a severe learning difficulties (SLD) special school and, in less than a year, made the step up to headship.
“I love it," Grotier says. "I have had to learn a lot very rapidly about SLD. I was really fortunate to work with the previous headteacher for a year, to learn all that I could.
“Changing jobs has made me grow, given me freedom and it's definitely the best career move for me.”
4. Wipe the slate clean
Moving to a new school offers a new beginning. It gives you a chance to give a new first impression to the staff, the leadership and the children.
“You can go into a new school without a fixed image of you. If you go somewhere new you can kind of reinvent yourself,” says Anna Keen, Year 6 teacher at St Michael’s Primary School in Gloucestershire.
A move also allows you to establish new relationships. For example, moving up to a middle leadership role in your current school can mean managing colleagues who were once on the same level as you, which can sometimes be awkward.
Similarly, if you’ve been at the same school since you were newly qualified, some colleagues may always view you as a “new teacher”. Beginning at a new school allows you to break free of preconceptions and gives you more opportunities to grow.
5. Finally, you can make an impact
Lots of school leaders are on the lookout for a member of staff who can breathe new life into the staffroom, especially in schools where there is little staff turnover. So, just because your current headteacher dismisses your “wacky” ideas, doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same.
"The expectations between schools is different, and what might be set in stone in one school might be very flexible in another,” says Dawn Child, science, geography and phase lead at a school in the North of England.
“I want to make an impact but some schools are resistant to change,” Child adds. “There has to be a willingness to listen to the wealth of experience from all staff.”
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