“Old keys won’t open new doors.” I’ve been meditating on variations of this idea for a couple of weeks now, both as it applies to my own life and the teaching profession as a whole.
In my life, I seem to vacillate between two versions of myself: Version A, bold, optimistic, inspired, calculated risk-taker, and Version B, timid, more pessimistic, worried, and risk-averse. I can’t help but wonder which of these versions has been making most of my decisions lately, and if it’s the version best suited to carry me into the future I want to create.
Despite leaving the classroom 3 years ago, I still repeat the same cycle: inspired, work up to near burnout, pausing only to find myself disoriented, reorienting myself again, and thus the cycle continues. The awareness of repeating this cycle is what leads me to the question above. And so, I’ve decided it’s time for a different approach. When discussing my most recent dance with burnout with my counselor, she suggested I describe in excruciating detail what I want my life to be like five years from now. She called the exercise “Contemplation”. I’m still getting to know this future me, but I’ve decided that if I want to have her life, I need to start making the choices she’d make now.
As for the teaching profession, many teachers go directly from someone else’s classroom to their own. The current career path laid out for teachers is a very narrow one. We’re only taught one way to seek and apply for a job - one way to market ourselves to only one type of employer. Then if you’re able to secure a teaching position, you essentially stay there regardless of how much education you have or professional development you do. The path to professional advancement is even more narrow unless you want to leave the classroom. I believe that’s why it’s hard for many teachers and non-teachers to visualize teaching options existing outside of educational institutions.
Teaching, while being my dream job, is my third career. I worked in sales and healthcare before returning to school to get my teaching degree. I think that’s why I’ve refused to accept the poor treatment of teachers by schools and society, and why I dared to think I could open my own business to teach 3 years ago. Other professional careers do not have these limitations. No one blinks an eye when someone with an advanced degree in almost any other field goes into private practice. Think finance, counseling, marketing, interior design, nursing, technology, engineering, trades, … the list goes on and on. Education doesn’t have to be any different. With so many seeking options outside of traditional, institutional learning, now is the perfect time for teachers to consider the same entrepreneurship options that other fields have been enjoying for decades.
I started the Private Practice Teacher™️ as a way to help other teachers enjoy the freedom, respect, joy, and consistent income that I enjoy as a private practice teacher. As I reach the first anniversary of starting my teacher mentoring business, I see even more potential for private practice teaching. Now, I see it as a way to elevate our profession as a whole - a way to show society what we and our students can accomplish when we have the autonomy to practice our craft the way we know it should be done.
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