Now that we’re in the second part of the school year, we already know what’s coming… The Intention Form
Intention Form… Commitment Form… “Are You Staying Or Leaving Us” Form
Whatever your school district calls them, they’re on the way to your teacher mailbox within the next few weeks as administrative staff go over the budget, numbers, and prepare themselves to comb through the district job site for candidates.
I remember getting this form the first year I taught.
“Transfer” or “Will Be Leaving the Teaching Profession”
The intention form itself seems to be magic. As soon as you pick it up, you’re taken back in time to the first day of school. Depending on your situation, you may begin seeing all of the chaos you endured throughout the year. It’s as if the piece of paper is a reminder of what will take place the following year, depending on what you select. Depending on your school, you may experience the same thing and in that moment after the flashback, you’re ready to put “Transfer” or “Will be Leaving the Teaching Profession.”
“Request a Grade Change” or “Stay Where I Am”
But then, you begin to think about your 3 or 4 students who experienced some growth moments throughout the year. You think about the other 3 or 4 students who you’ve shown to most amount of tough love and support, whether it resulted in a ROI or not. You entertain the idea of possibly looping up with you class so that you can continue what you’ve started. If you’re anything like me, you recognize the work and effort you’ve put in and refuse to allow anyone else to reap the benefits of your blood, sweat, and tears. At that point, you’re ready to “Request a grade change” or “Stay Where I Am”.
You come to a crossroads looking at the intention form in your hand.
But you realize that we still have 4-5 months of school left, which means that if you are bold enough to state that you’re transferring or quitting the profession, you have to deal with everything that follows. Exit interviews, odd stares, petty comments, and a feeling of exclusion and frustration. You realize that no matter what you say or try to explain to your administration, it won’t be good enough when it comes to convincing them that you leaving is a good thing.
Even though you’ve been entertaining jobs in other districts or other fields, you don’t feel like looking over your shoulder the next 4-5 months.
So you lie on your intention form.
You allow the fear of what everyone will say bridle your tongue when in reality, the opposite needs to happen.
Hear me out.
The Truth Shall Set You Free
I believe that as teachers we need to start telling the truth. Not just in the area of intention, but when it comes to letting the administration know how you really feel being a part of their staff.
It’s time for them to hear it. Not in a screaming, “I hate it here!”, disrespectful manner, but in an exit interview.
Near the coffee machine.
When you get that call to their office right after turning your form in at a time no one is around.
We do a disservice to the schools we give our time to when we don’t tell the truth about how things can be improved from the inside. Maybe they’ve heard it before, but sometimes it takes a shock to their system to really wonder, “What Happened?”
Telling the truth on your intention form is the shock they need to make them ask the right questions. Not an email over the summer, followed by blocking their phone numbers.
We cannot be afraid to speak up and speak out. We, as teachers, must begin to value our voices again. What we say has validity and insight. Regardless if they heed your warnings or ignore them, they can no longer say they didn’t know. You still planted a seed of truth that could one day blossom into a more attentive and understanding administrative team. You may not reap the benefits, but some teachers down the line will.
More important than however, is you.
Walking In Your Truth
Sometimes what ends up happening is that we try to downplay our experience and find flaws in the incidents that removes the seriousness of what’s been happening in your classroom. If it happened, it happened.
And when you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough.
Don’t be afraid to step away to gather yourself, heal, and regroup when it comes to teaching. Be honest with yourself about the current state of teaching in your life. Walk-in your truth. Take care of yourself. Whether you decide to stay or not, the show will go on… with or without you. Your students will still learn. They will still be exposed to content. They will figure out a way to make it without you.
But you, my dear friend, cannot make it without YOU.
Don’t be afraid this year.
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