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.
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