Electing to stay in or leave a job is rarely an easy decision, but it can be a vital one for your career. When your passion and enthusiasm are being sapped by what is happening on a daily basis, how well can you do your job? How long will you go to work each day without the joy that first filled you?
I have been exchanging emails with a librarian who is dealing with difficult problems in her district. She is a recent part-time hire but has found both the job responsibilities and relationships are causing a problem. Her principal wants her to teach lessons in the classroom, but when she created a sign-up sheet no one was interested. I suggested direct contact with the teachers first, but as a part-timer she doesn’t get lunch and has no opportunity to meet with teachers.
The principal said if she couldn’t manage to set up some lessons he would transfer or get rid of her. He has also asked for an SGO (Student Growth Outcomes) but she is not yet clear on her responsibilities. There are two other librarians and at this time they are refusing to share lesson plans with her. The younger one has become openly hostile.
Whether or not the librarian made some errors in creating relationships with the other librarians, anything she does now will take twice as long to get results. It is also quite possible that she won’t be able to accomplish much. It’s time to start job hunting.
Another librarian with whom I have spoken has seen her budget cut in half and then completely eliminated. Her part-time clerk has been let go and the position won’t be refilled. Being able to read the handwriting on the wall is a critical but often ignored skill. Even more challenging is acting on it.
There are a number of situations where it is toxic to remain. If you find yourself constantly frustrated by one or more administrators who ignore you completely; if you are now obsessing about how they are creating roadblocks to your program to the extent that you are bringing it home every day; it is time to consider moving on.
Are you in a district with antiquated technology and dusty library books with no hope of a change? Recognize that the situation is keeping you from staying current with the profession. You may want to think about leaving.
But, you argue you have tenure. Jobs are hard to come by. What if the new place doesn’t work out? It’s far easier to deal with the devil you know, and it’s a truism that teachers (and librarians) don’t leave a job voluntarily unless they retire or a spouse is transferred. I have faced that challenge. I was in a district for 22 years. I had built a strong reputation. However, a principal who came on board saw me as competition, feeling too many people turned to me (I was also head building rep for the union) and he wanted to be the absolute boss. My superintendent always seemed to know what was afoot and would run interference. On the day she announced she would retire in two years, I began job hunting. I knew the principal would become the superintendent a few years later, and even the interim would be exceptionally difficult with superintendent gone.
I was fortunate, I found a job within a few weeks. I was at my next district for nine years before retiring and loved every minute of it. I didn’t worry about the loss of tenure, although I did regret losing my sick days. Yes, finding a good opening was easier then, but jobs are opening up again.
If and when you decide to leave – be careful. You never criticize your district or people in it. When you interview for a new position, point to what you want to learn by being in this new district. Suggest that you are looking for more opportunities to create a truly 21st century library and 21st century learning experiences for students. Talk about what you want to achieve, not why you want to leave.
There are times when you shouldn’t or truly can’t leave. If you left your previous position less than three years earlier, you need to find a way to stick around a while longer. Employers are wary of those who can’t seem to hold a job. I know someone who stayed in a job because she couldn’t equal her current salary and had two kids in college. That is a sacrifice you make at times. In that situation, when you have a rough day you need to remind yourself why you made that choice.
If you are thinking of leaving, you are in a good position to search for a new one. You have a job which means you interview from strength. Should you hear of an opening that sounds interesting, go for it. Listen to what they tell you in the interview — and what they don’t. If you like it, and they make an offer you can negotiate knowing you don’t have to accept the job.
You want to make a difference for kids. If you are fortunate enough to be in a district where you can give your best, enjoy it. If not, maybe it’s time to move on.