A couple of weeks ago, we received the good news that my husband, Jim, had passed all of his tests and requirements to receive his second master’s degree in education administration. He has worked extremely hard to keep up with written and practical work while teaching 5th grade, volunteering for several committees at work, and being a Dad.
His first master’s was more to satisfy state requirements without much change in status or salary, this one would open the door to whole new positions with higher pay grades. In fact, he has an interview tomorrow for a position that would give him quite a bump in salary. While I really hope he gets the new job, I am also nervous. Is changing careers at this point a smart or dumb move?
We’ve Had Lots of Change Already
Over the past two years, I have completely changed my work schedule and am rapidly closing in on the point of not owning my own business. Owning your own business is never a sure thing, but at least you can’t get fired. I have three different part time positions now that seem pretty solid, but I could lose one at any time.
He is a Really Good Teacher
While I am biased, Jim is an excellent classroom teacher. He taught seventh grade reading for several years, then moved to 5th grade. His 5th grade class has had the highest scores in the distict for three years running. I can’t tell you how many people have told me how great he is or how much their son or daughter loved him. I tell him it’s because he operates on a 10-12 year old level, but he seriously does try to treat pre-teens as people. He’s very strict, but fair, and tries to relate on their level, even if that means playing Justin Bieber music in the background during class. His school district is one of the worst paying ones in the state, and often loses good teachers to admin positions or to other districts. I’m happy for us, but sad for the students who won’t get to have him as a teacher.
New Positions are Fickle
Since Jim has been teaching for 12 years, and he does a good job, his position is pretty secure. Unless he does something crazy, he really won’t get fired. In about 11 years, he can retire and receive a small pension for the rest of his life (as long as the state doesn’t go broke!)
All administrative positions are at will, so if he gets this new job, he could be let go for any reason. This position is new and won’t be popular, I’m afraid.
Colorado is in the process of adopting a new teacher evaluation system. It would mean that teachers will be evaluated on merit, test scores, and student surveys. Essentially, bad teachers with tenure can’t stay forever if they suck. The position Jim is interviewing for is as a coordinator for the new evaluation system. He has been on a test committee for the past year to determine requirements. The state said districts have to implement this policy, but didn’t say how it should be done, so this committee has been deciding how the new evaluation system would work, and the new position is to make it happen. While any change is scary, good teachers aren’t too worried, while the crappy ones are a bit nervous. I’m doubtful things will change much for a while, but change has to start somewhere, and the person in charge is not generally popular with those who might have to actually work a bit harder.
Even if he didn’t get this job and was able to get hired in another position, like principal, it’s still at will. Principals get fired all the time, especially in districts with bad test scores.
Sometimes You Have to Go For It
We decided a while back that if a position came available, Jim would go for it. While nothing is ever a guarantee, we’ve made huge financial strides over the last few years, and I think we could weather a job loss. At worst, he’d have to go back into the classroom, essentially taking a demotion. While it might be hard on the ego, we’ve talked about it, and he says he would do that if necessary.
I think burnout is a reality with most jobs if you are there long enough. Neither of us wants to be that person who hates his or her job but keeps showing up because of fear or complacency. So, I’m nervous for this new change, but also very excited. Fingers crossed that Jim gets a new job!
What do you think of teacher evaluations? Would you give up a secure job for a more risky one if it paid better and was more exciting?