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A Teacher's Record

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: I recently quit a teaching job that I loved because I moved out of the area. I started another job that was an hour's drive from my home after giving birth to my son (he is now 4 mos.)

I have found the drive to be difficult, the students lacked zest, and I felt as if I was neglecting my own children. My discontent led me to be an ineffective teacher. Therefore, I decided to quit after working only 3 months. Will my decision adversely affect my teaching career?

A: Your decision may or may not affect your teaching career. If I interviewed you today for a teaching position and you told me that there was a gap in your teaching career and then went on to explain why, I would not be favorably impressed if you explained it as you did in your letter.

I believe you made the right decision in quitting because you had very good reasons to do so. It is important to recognize what your priorities are and in your particular position, you were able to stop working and focus on the most important thing in your life right now.

I am concerned when you say the students lacked zest for learning. A teacher who is excited and motivated about what she is teaching creates in the students an enthusiasm for learning. This is part of the job and a part that allows us to be creative and bond with the children. It requires time and effort to do this and perhaps you were unable to do this at this time.

A difficult drive is a difficult drive. When accepting a job that involves a long or difficult commute, it is always best to try driving it under the worst conditions to see if in fact you can tolerate it.

When you identified neglecting your own child, you are really prioritizing your own needs, an excellent thing to do. This may be the most important reason for quitting your job. When you go back to the work force, it is very legitimate and acceptable to have taken time off to raise your children.

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After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.


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