Q: I always wanted to be a teacher so I could help people, specifically children. I used to babysit when I was in high school, and the kids loved me. I came from a big family and always entertained the kids when we had family parties, so I knew working with children would be a good field for me. What I didn't realize at the time was that most families were not like mine. I see that now, as a teacher, I have to deal with the parents — and some (more than I care to say) are not the kind and loving parents I knew as a child. I want to work at a school like the one I attended instead of the one where I currently teach, but I don't know how to explain I want a change in my environment without sounding like a snob.
A: Don't wait for teaching jobs to appear. Choose all the schools you like in the neighborhoods where you want to work, and email them your resume and cover letter. Describe the types of classes you teach, the atmosphere you create for your students and the results you have achieved. Environments change from school to school depending on the administration, the location and the families in the area.
Stop worrying about being thought of as a snob. Say nothing negative about the school where you work; instead, list the many positive memories you had as a child in school. Remember, you're emailing your resume to the school's director, who values the school's programs, location, environment and families. If you don't hear from the administration, follow up with a second email or a phone call. This will help you get a feel for the atmosphere at the school.
If you are asked your thoughts about the differences between the new school and the one where you are teaching, explain that the school to which you are applying reminds you of the one you attended as a child, and that you have wonderful memories of it and would like to be part of such a program. It's far better to compliment the new school than to spread negativity about the one where you teach. Since you come from a similar background to the potential employer, the head of the school will understand your desire to be a part of that type of environment again.
But if you think that families will be as loving and jovial as yours was, you may be in for a big surprise. There are kind, loving families in all cultures, races, religions, ethnicities and social standings, just as there are difficult, negligent or even cruel parents in all categories as well. Look at the many family members, friends, acquaintances and co-workers you have met throughout life. Some may be wonderful, while others may simply be better at hiding their egregious behavior. No particular group has a cornerstone of kindness.
If you would simply prefer to work for a school in a location that draws from families more like your own, go for it, and forget the guilt — but don't be shocked when you get an inside look at the parenting skills of families you thought would be perfect. All children start as innocent and sweet until they are affected by unfavorable or damaging situations. Those are often the children who benefit the most from kind and understanding teachers so they can see the world is filled with both good and bad.
Childhood is the most important time in one's life to build a secure, loving foundation. If you went into the teaching field to help bring children joy and positive memories in learning, you will be contributing significantly to them, regardless of the school's location and families involved.
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.
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