Did the beginning of the school year feel like the beginning of a prison sentence? Are you already counting the days until the winter break? If so… it may be time to start a job search.
As scary as this may be, there are many great reasons. You may be in a toxic environment or an unsupportive school district. Maybe there’s been a recent change in administration, and you know your program will soon be under fire. It is probably affecting your relationships with family and your health. But what alternatives do you have? Librarians and teachers rarely think of leaving a job when they have tenure, but as a leader, hopefully, you have become good at reading the “handwriting on the wall.” It’s worth it to take the time to be honest with yourself. You know when things are not going to get better.
I have been in that place, and I took the leap after being in a district for 22 years. I had a brand-new library I had designed, a small but decent budget, and the respect and support of my teacher colleagues. What I didn’t have was a supportive principal who had been there for about 5 years. He would thwart my efforts whenever he could. What helped me was a very supportive Superintendent. When she announced her retirement in two years, I knew my work life would be completely miserable with him in charge. And he was likely to become the Superintendent once the Assistant Superintendent had a chance to take over for a few years. I began my job hunt that day. My new job proved to be everything I wanted and more, and my prediction was also correct. Three years later, the principal was the Superintendent.
Leaving is not always the answer, which is why you need to seriously consider all aspects of the situation. A colleague of mine had been in charge of school library with a very limited budget. She jumped at the opportunity to go to another district which paid more, and her daughter was starting college. In the new situation, she was the junior librarian. She thought it wouldn’t be a problem. The senior librarian was a good friend. Within six months, the friendship was in tatters, and the dream job had lost all its luster.
The first step in planning to leave is to know what you want and what you cannot accept. If the job has everything you want, but there are things you cannot accept, don’t take it. For example, I was willing to drive 1 hour but no more to a job, I had to be the senior librarian, and the library had to be attractive. For my colleague, the money was her primary and overriding purpose in changing her job. Having made that choice, she needed to remember it was her choice and to find ways to adjust. She ultimately moved to an elementary school in the same district.
If you are considering leaving, read Greg Vanoourek’s post Why We Stay in Bad Jobs Too Long. He goes through the reason why people stay, what makes a job wrong for you, and the downside of staying in a job too long. Although it is tailored to the business world, there’s enough there to help guide your decision. You are not likely to find a job in the middle of the school year, so you have time to contemplate the pros and cons of staying or leaving over the next few months. Be strategic. Think about your priorities and your deal breakers. Be clear about what excites you and what you bring to a position. Consider where you want to be in the next five years. Talk to your librarian colleagues in your PLN. And do talk to your family. A job affects so much of your life; it is worth it to have one that brings you joy.