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5 Minute Clinic: The Secret to Career Clarity

I’ve known I wanted to leave the classroom since I started teaching. I’ve never had a dream job or an ideal in mind, but I always felt that I would eventually choose something different.

In 2017, I had the first inkling that it might be time to move on, but to be honest, I wasn’t really ready. In 2020, I had an awakening - as many of us did - that it was truly time for me to make moves, and at that point, I felt ready to make the change.

Although I felt ready, there was so much that I didn’t realize I needed to figure out. I remember feeling confident about what I had to offer and about how I looked on paper, but I struggled to decide what I wanted to do. I had no idea what kinds of jobs to apply for and I was nervous that if I wasn’t careful, I’d jump into a new situation that was worse or - as my dad would say - “from the frying pan into the fire".

For a short while, the murkiness of the future clouded my confidence, and I grew increasingly frustrated because I felt stuck. I scrolled endlessly through various websites looking at job titles and wondering if I really did want to change.

Then, one morning during the summer, it came to me. Suddenly, I realized I needed to put my thoughts on paper. I needed to understand why I wanted to leave, what I wanted to gain from leaving, and how my new role needed to support those other pieces.

I’m NOT a career coach but I AM someone who has experienced the challenges that come with leaving the classroom. It took me F I V E years of gaining experience, confidence, and clarity to take the leap. If you’re a teacher who’s curious about the possibilities of a new opportunity, whether it’s a new career or even a side hustle beyond your classroom walls, here’s my advice:

#1. Identify what makes you YOU by determining your "special sauce".

Understand your special sauce and how that sauce enhances every space you enter, every relationship you develop, and every role you occupy.

#2: Be confident about what YOU have to offer.

You are more than “just a teacher.” It is YOUR very being that MAKES the role. A lot of people can DO the thing, but it’s the way YOU choose to show up based on your unique perspective, experiences, and values that breathe life into the work

#3. Clarity is KEY.

Know exactly WHY you want to pursue something new, WHAT you want to gain from it, and HOW your values are reflected in this new venture

#4. Invest in YOURSELF.

Clarity is key because it is a metric for you to continually evaluate your choices to ensure that your role is serving you in the way you need and/or want it to.

Once I got clear about why I wanted to leave and what I needed from my new role, I enrolled in The Teacher Career Coach course from Daphne Gomez. Her course helped me understand how to translate my special sauce, skills, and confidence on paper. It was also super encouraging to have access to a community of other folks who’d had similar experiences!

If you’re considering whether your current classroom is still the best fit, I’ve created my Guide to Career Clarity for Educators to help you get clear about your current role and identify what you need (and want) from a new opportunity. Keep in mind that choosing change is hard, even when you want it. Every decision comes with its own challenges and benefits. Every shift comes with an adjustment period.

#5. Do the damn thing!

At the end of the day, you can plan until your heart’s content, but plans don’t matter if there’s no action behind them. A new friend of mine, Dr. Michelle Schmidt Moore, talks about the idea that confidence and clarity come from just doing the damn thing, evaluating your action, and refining the process. It’s through that evaluation and refinement that you become clear about what works, what doesn’t, and what your next steps should be. After all, clarity isn’t any point, it’s a process, and it’s in the process that good stuff happens. Don’t worry about having the perfect plan. Identify the essential next best steps and go for it!

I know it’s scary to think about taking the leap. I’ve been exactly where you are. That’s also why I believe you can do it! You do hard things as a teacher every single day. Sometimes you’re successful and sometimes you struggle, but at the end of the day, you use each experience as data to inform future choices. See, you already have exactly what you need to move toward your goal!

I hope you feel empowered to take action and get clear about what you want so you can experience the confidence that comes from realizing that YOU GOT THIS!

Resources Mentioned in This Episode


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