Having good days and bad days are part of working in a school. However, if your bad days begin to outnumber your good ones by the dozens, it might be time to think about changing your job or moving schools. Here are 9 ways to consider the question, “Should I quit my job?”:
1. You are not inspired to make small gestures
It sounds silly, but if you are not compelled to do small acts of kindness, there’s trouble. A box of donuts in the staff room and planned fun during meetings can seem inconsequential, but small gestures add up. If you are not doing these tasks to keep morale afloat, you have a problem on your hands.
2. You don’t laugh at work
Working with families, students, and teachers can be very hard work sometimes, and a sense of humor is a major asset. If you work in the front office, you undoubtedly see the not-so-pretty underbelly of school life, and that can weigh on a person. If you aren’t laughing at least once a day with any of the people you serve, you may have principal burnout.
3. Your relationships are not evolving
As an administrator, your most important job is to create and nourish your relationships with faculty. When you are new at a school, it can take time to establish connections. All faculty members have different relationships with authority, and it can be hard to bridge that gap at times. In time, you need to have established a connection with every person that you work with directly. Those relationships will differ in scope, but over time, you need to establish trust on both sides. If that is not happening, your work will be that much more difficult.
4. You can’t admit to making mistakes
The ability to name your mistakes is powerful currency. Not only does naming mistakes help you retain your humanity in the eyes of colleagues, but it helps you remember that you have room to grow. When you can’t admit to making mistakes, you signal to others that mistakes are not okay. When your colleagues can’t own mistakes, serving kids’ best interests becomes nearly impossible.
5. You feel pressure to always project an overworked, stressed-out version of yourself
In negative work environments, it is easy to be inauthentic. You should want to work in a school where the respect of your colleagues comes from a recognition of your empathy and humanity, not how well you conform to the stereotype of an over-worked, out-of-touch administrator. If you have to project a false facade of respectability, it may be time to move on.
6. You feel like you are competing with other administrators
Teammates do not compete with other teammates. Administrators who do not present a united front can divide the community in long lasting, harmful ways. It’s normal to disagree with those that you work closely with, but your internal disagreements have no place beyond your office walls.
7. There is not a wide diversity of lived experience in your faculty or administration
For a school to be healthy, it must commit to being intersectional, and that starts with hiring. Intentional intersectional hiring means seeking candidates with a diversity of lived experiences across race, class, age, gender, ability, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity. Without this representation and diversity of perspective, a school runs the risk of failing to meet the needs of the community.
8. You do not have a long-term vision for the work you want to do in your community
As administrators, we are used to supporting and helping others, and we overlook our own needs. We need to think big and set goals, just like our colleagues in the classroom. Without vision, you are operating without plan and just keeping the seat warm for the next person.
9. You’ve stopped assuming good will
In Rising Strong, Brené Brown writes that life is easier when you choose to assume that the people around you are doing the best they can. Your ability to see the good intentions of others lies in how you frame the story of your relationship with them. With students, it’s easy to see how their youth and a lack of experience shapes their choices. However, it can be harder to move past the mistakes that other adults make. Doing an administrative job well depends on empathy and the ability to move past personal difficulties. If you find that you cannot give coworkers the benefit of the doubt, it may be time to move on.
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