518: Job Security

Teacher with a laptop

Most people feel pretty secure in their employment – or as much as you can in an uncertain economy that can cause even a well-established and well-managed company to have to downsize their staff. Most know, barring a major screw-up on their part, they will be employed right on, barring any major economic problems beyond everyone’s control. You get hired, you do your job, your job is pretty secure.

And, then there are teachers.

Teachers get a yearly contract. I know why school systems do this – they don’t want to have an employee walk out in the middle of the school year, leaving them with classes to cover, and little clear idea of where and how to proceed. To help prevent that, school systems in the USA offer teachers a yearly contract, that covers employment for the upcoming school year. And ONLY the upcoming school year.That means, every year, every stinking year, every teacher in the USA faces the possibility that their contract won’t be renewed, and they will be looking for a job, at the last minute.

The truth of the matter is that teachers do leave awful schools in the middle of a contract – it is called breaking your contract, and every school I have ever applied to tried very, very hard to discover if I had ever done such a heinous thing, ever before, to any other school. It is severely frowned upon – you broke your word not to leave them in the lurch, regardless of what they did to you as an employee.  They don’t want teachers who are willing to leave the school if the job sucks. And sometimes the job sucks. Sometimes any job sucks.

I got through an awful year at my second school by promising myself three times a day I would quit. I said I would quit when I got there, first thing. Once I was there, I said I’d quit at lunchtime. Once I made it to lunch, I promised I’d quit at the end of the day. At the end of the day, I got out of there and went home. I finished that miserable year. Without breaking my contract. It was miserable.

In twenty-five years of teaching, I have never had a secure job. When school systems dithered too long to offer contracts for the next year, I usually applied to another school who was looking. I have to be employed. I cannot wait and hope. At least as an international teacher, most contracts are for two years, so I get to do the whole searching thing only every OTHER year, instead of EVERY year, like in the USA.

Meh.

 

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