Teacher turnover

I am job hunting.

I haven’t been fired, laid off, or anything. Nothing has changed since the start of the school year. But something’s different than last year.  I’m on-call, no regular hours, and haven’t been getting phoned as regularly as I have on my on-call days in the last few years.  It also comes at a time when we were just thinking that my hours were regular enough that my wife didn’t have to go back to work this school year.  Now, she’s in her third trimester* and there’s no going back even if she wanted to.

There were next to no job postings this school year in my district, and none that I was even remotely likely to get.  This is despite me having taught in varying capacities here for over three years, despite having experience teaching both senior math and having a uniquely strong background for teaching computing.  All this in a time when we’re “expanding our use of technology”.

So I’ve taken phone calls day by day, going from school to school, watching our savings account get smaller and smaller as my pay checks fail to pay the bills.  Looking ahead to an unpaid two week Christmas break.

I’ve churned over in my head whether to write this post, how to write this post, what to say, what I shouldn’t say, what would be unfair or unnecessarily burn bridges.  Thinking all of these things just tended to make me think of everything that’s been unfair, getting me angry, not getting anywhere.

Today I’m just tired of it. Where would I even point fingers if I wanted to? Administration who are trying to wrestle the money they need out of a funding model that keeps them starved thin, playing chicken with budgets until the very last second? School boards making everything as “efficient” as possible to make ends meet? A Ministry of Education that underfunds, undermines, privatizes, blames teachers, hijacks their professional autonomy … and gets re-elected for it? Do I blame the majority vote in the province?

I don’t like how things went down.  But I believe in something greater than myself, greater than politics of any size, that has something better in store for me.  So I wait.

In the meantime, I wanted to tell a bit of my story because I’m tired of hearing excuses and victim-blaming around “teacher turnover”.  Some of us freaking love this job, are fighting hard to do the best we can, to innovate and empower and care.  But we also have a family of our own to take care of and bills to pay.  Sometimes all it takes is one bad year and sticking around just isn’t an option anymore.

I don’t know what’s coming next.  This isn’t a goodbye from teaching yet.  For all I know, someone’s mat leave is coming up next week that is exactly the right fit for what I can teach.  Or maybe one of those programming jobs I applied to will call me for an interview, and I won’t get to cross paths with my former students during class time any more.  I’m still considering a Masters program in Ed Tech and Learning Design, so maybe I’ll still be connected with education but from that side of the table someday.

That’s all for now.  Cover letter later.


* Baby on the way is a giant “YAAAAAY!” and not a downer, lest you think I’m being horrible. But it’s part of the reality of what we’re locked into now financially.

3 thoughts on “Teacher turnover

  1. I’m sorry, Josh. This is really frustrating to me.

    When I graduated from university, I left Canada to find full-time work because back in 2002, I think things were even bleaker, or at least they looked that way from the outside.

    When I returned to Canada from being abroad for 7 years, I worked in a private school despite being interested in working in a public school because I just knew I couldn’t make 4-5 years of partial wages work for my family. I even applied to an vice-principal call for Victoria (before I learned that they nearly always hire from within their district) before I found my job at Stratford Hall.

    By the way, congratulations on the baby on the way. That is exciting news!

  2. Hey, man. I haven’t really kept in touch, for which I am sorry. On a lark, I zoomed by this site, just to see. This post may be a month older than this comment, but I hope something is working out for you. I’ve had you in my thoughts lately, for whatever that’s worth. I don’t know what else to say. You are still my friend (at least in my head), so I still wish the best. I wish I could be of more help.

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