One of the most awful parts of my diagnosis was the loss of my career. Teaching was more than a job to me — it was part of my identity. I wish I knew then that my loss wouldn’t be as total as I had imagined.
Don’t give up on your career. Find ways to stay involved and to contribute by sharing your knowledge and experience.
Following are things I do to keep up with the teaching community that may bring a little light back to you:
1. Keep in touch with your community. This will allow you to maintain a connection to a significant, rewarding part of your life. At first, I found little ways to stay involved with my old community, mostly through Facebook. But it wasn’t the same as hugging 37 students every morning or catching up with co-workers and parents in the afternoon. Then the ice bucket challenge rolled around. I was shocked and delighted when every student from my former class poured ice water over their heads. They also held a bake sale fundraiser. A few of the parents and kids even sent me letters. I never imagined that they missed me as much as I missed them. I now have more pen pals than I can keep up with. My husband also had to leave his job to be my full-time caregiver. He keeps up with co-workers by meeting them for trivia night once a week and hosting regular movie nights so that I can be involved.
2. Become a mentor. See if your former employer has a mentorship program in place, and if not, propose creating one! If you are looking for something less formal, you might enjoy mentoring a family member or friend who is new to your field. I have really enjoyed talking shop with a cousin who is currently in teacher training school.
3. Stay active in professional dialogue. LinkedIn is a great space to share and to respond to posts about what is happening in your industry. You might even write your own articles. If you’re not a writer, here are some tips to get you started. These activities facilitate conversations with other professionals around the world. What could be more stimulating? I also have found a creative outlet in websites like the lesson plan-sharing platform Curriki. Seek out field-specific forums and see what you have to offer!
If you miss your professional life, I hope these ideas will help fill that hole in your heart.
Have your own ways to stay connected? Share them in the comments section below.
Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.
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