In the past three years I have transitioned out and in to the classroom. Each transition was different based on the space and time of my life. I can't say for sure I transitioned either time well. What I can say, is that I certainly learned a lot, and I am hoping to take that learning with me in future transitions.
About three years ago I was teaching third grade, teaching graduate courses for USJ, consulting for Responsive Classroom, and presenting at regional conferences about technology integration and student engagement. I decided that it was time to expand my work with adults and became a staff consultant for Responsive Classroom where I was able to fulfill that goal. I love the work I do with Responsive Classroom, and was happy that after having my child that my family was able to travel with me. We did this for over a year when I then decided to return to the classroom.
Each transition was difficult for different reasons. When I make another transition I will be sure to keep a few things in mind.
It was pretty easy for me to make that mental shift from teaching children to teaching adults. What was difficult for me in both instances was realizing what skills I had acquired and how I was going to utilize those skills in a fulfilling manner. I have a strong technology background in the classroom and I personally struggled to meaningfully integrate that knowledge and expertise with adults. I acquired a strong skill set of coaching adults and felt a huge loss when the frequency of utilizing those skills dramatically decreased as I focused time and energy on working with children again.
As a consultant, I found it easier to end my workday at the end of the workday. All of the planning, preparation, and execution (outside of travel time) that needed to get done was easily completed within a typical workday. Returning to the classroom, I struggled to balance work and personal life, and to complete all necessary teaching tasks within a typical workday. This was even with me working through lunch and preps, and going in early. I found that the few brief hours I had at home with my family were filled with conflict - feeling the need to be adequately prepared for my students and the necessity to be present with my family.
Next transition I make, I will be sure that I fully consider how all of my skills will be utilized, my thoughts and feelings if I have to sacrifice any of those skills, and how I can ensure that my personal and professional lives are balanced. I would love to hear about your transitions out of or back into the classroom!