It’s 9pm on Sunday night. Are you ready for school tomorrow? Excited for your lesson? Looking forward to seeing those sweet smiling faces?
Does a sinking feeling of dread feel like a lead weight in your stomach? Will you toss and turn all night, anxious about the day ahead?
I have been in both situations. For my first thirteen years in the library, I loved what I did. Mondays were no big deal because work didn’t really feel like work. Sure, there were challenges. There were teachers that I didn’t click with. Parents who blamed teachers for everything. Admins who made choices I didn’t agree with or understand. But for the most part, I was left alone, trusted as a professional, and able to keep the drama from infiltrating the beautiful safe space I had built in the library.
Then I changed schools.
I still loved my students and my teachers, but toxic administrators made doing my job extremely difficult. Yes, there were red flags in the interview that I chose to ignore. In my first few weeks at this school, I butted heads with administrators, mainly about my role as a librarian. I witnessed the administrators–yes, all of four them–bullying other colleagues, and they tried to bully me, too. We clashed philosophically, and as my first year there ended, I knew the only way I could change it was to leave the school. I finished my contract the next school year and left.
Eighteen months after leaving, I am thankful for this difficult situation. I ended up doubling-down on MrsReaderPants, which for many years had just been a fun hobby. Now, I am able to do this full-time and homeschool my boys. That bad situation motivated me more than anything could have.
Are you also in a situation that is no longer tenable for you? Here are some signs that I noticed for myself:
- I dreaded Mondays. And Tuesdays. And Wednesdays… I was working only for the weekends. I was biding my time.
- Though I had waited for the weekend all week, all I could think about on Sunday was the fact that I had to go back tomorrow.
- I was constantly thinking about how I could change my situation.
- I fussed about work at home. A lot. Too much.
- I found myself avoiding situations and conversations with certain administrators. This was very unlike me in past schools.
- I started fantasizing about getting fired. About going out on a high note, George Costanza style. Because stress makes me funny, apparently.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you read those signs above and found yourself nodding along, what can you do about it? I was lucky and was able to leave, but I know it’s not an easy thing to do. So what can you do if you have started to dread your workday?
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEMS
I had 13 great years in the library and three years as a classroom teacher before I came to this school. It was very easy for me to identify that I was once quite happy in my schools, and where exactly that went wrong. I changed schools and suddenly had significant philosophical differences with my new administration. They were interfering with a job that I had already done for 13 years, have a Master’s Degree and state certification in, and loved so much that I felt it in my bones.
Like too many administrators, especially in international schools, they knew nothing about my job. But they thought they did.
If the problems start suddenly, it’s easy to identify them. But sometimes, negative feelings about work come on slowly, perhaps over many years. If you were once happy with your job and are unhappy now, ask yourself, what changed? What is different about today that was not the case when you were happier at work? Can you get back to that, and if so, how?