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How to Transition to Teaching at a New School

How to Transition to Teaching at a New School

Having to change teaching jobs can be hard, but you can do it with these steps.

You were just informed that your position is being terminated. Whether this was due to budgetary constraints, low enrollment, a disagreement with an administrator, or some other reason, you're on your way out and you'll be teaching at a new school next year. It feels awful, but it's not the end of the world—there are plenty of other schools out there. So what do you do now? How can you leave gracefully while setting yourself up with a great new job?

It's OK to Acknowledge the Disappointment

Leaving an old job and searching for a new one can be emotionally draining. Don't downplay the experience—it's hard. Acknowledge the disappointment and possible embarrassment, but don't dwell too much on these feelings. Soon, you'll have moved on to something better. Leaving can be hard, but teaching at a new school is an exciting opportunity.

Remember the Kids Come First

Keep the kids in mind. Work until the end, just as you would if you were returning. I have taught in six different schools over an 18-year career. I never told my students I was leaving until the last few weeks of school. There's no need to distract them with your personal issues, such as why you're leaving or what you're doing next. Leave it until the end to keep them focused until the end of the school year.

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Don't Burn Bridges

There's no need to make a big fuss over leaving unless you've been treated inappropriately (in which case you should be seeking representation such as a union). Tell teachers with whom you have collaborated closely that you will be moving on, and make sure to spend time with them before the end of the year.

Further reading: Different School Types: Finding Your Match 

Get a Good Reference

If you're leaving the job due to circumstances unrelated to your performance like downsizing or budget cuts, getting a few letters of reference should be quite easy. If the reason for your departure is due to a dispute with an administrator, it might be more challenging. If you and your principal are on poor terms, look for other people within the community to write you a reference. I have written numerous letters for others from my perspective as a classroom coach, grade level chair, or fellow teacher. A positive reference from a coworker is better than a negative one from an administrator.

Network to Find Your New Job

Job fairs are both an effective way for you to look for a new job and a fun way to network with other educators. I have found many of my jobs through word of mouth when a fellow teacher tipped me off to an opening at their school. Bring a stack of resumes, reference letters, and examples of work you've done in the classroom. Be proud of the work you've done—don't be afraid to talk yourself up.

Try to schedule interviews so they don't interrupt your current teaching job. If this isn't possible, ask for a half day off. Showing a portfolio of past work can be a good way to convince interviewers of your teaching skills. If you're proactive, positive, and confident in your teaching abilities, interviewers will feel good about adding you to their staff.

Further reading: Networking for Teachers 

Although losing a teaching job is a definite challenge, there are straightforward steps you can take to find your next position. I have always enjoyed changing schools—the exposure to a new community and new methods has made me a better teacher. You might even find that your new school is a much better fit for you than the old one.