Jordan became a teacher because she loves working with kids!
What exactly does she love about teaching kids?
She experiences a unique joy and sense of pride when she is able to guide them through a process of setting goals and seeing them achieve them. It is those “a-ha” moments when they finally get it that makes teaching such an empowering way to make a living for Jordan.
But often doing what we love to do isn’t as easy as we think!
I’m inspired by Jordan’s relentless pursuit to not only do what she loves, but to also do it in a place she loves doing it.
In the few short years she has been teaching, she has voluntarily left two previous jobs and is now teaching in her third school.
Some might call Jordan a job hopper!
I call her committed!
Jordan has an incredibly impressive level of integrity in the quality of her work as an educator and holds equally high standards for the school where she teaches.
Jordan is no ordinary teacher. She says:
I’m quirky and have a lot of energy and that showed up in my classroom.
She refuses to compromise her philosophy and values on education and teaching, and finding a school whose values are in alignment has been no easy task.
Plenty of people go into teaching with high aspirations for inspiring and motivating students, and yet over the years they lose that spark. You’ve probably had a teacher who should have hung up their hat much earlier in their career.
Jordan isn’t one of them. She’s going to keep her spark!
Jordan combines her quirkiness with a project based approach to learning. She uses her creative and unique mind to engage students in hands on learning that empowers them to solve real world problems. This approach makes sense to her because students play an active role in what and how they learn, as well as collaborate with their peers and take an interdisciplinary approach to their learning, combining science with the arts.
Today, Jordan teaches in a school committed to creativity and project based learning. For example, they staff a teacher whose only job is to introduce theater into all core subjects, including math and science. Last year in her former school, Jordan led a project about Zombies, learning how to calculate and graph the accelerations and instant velocities of a slower zombie and a faster one. They also received a lesson from the theater teacher in zombie makeup and costume so that they could contribute to other students’ projects. This project was heavily criticized by the administrators. And she was told:
There is no place for creativity in a science classroom. Science is not a place for public speaking or the arts and science and math should not necessarily be aligned.
And only to make matters worse, she was disciplined for including creative and engaging projects in her classroom, despite the fact that the school had presented itself as a project based school. In the end the school gave her a scripted curriculum and required her to get assignments approved.
So she left.
And she left without having another job lined up.
Jordan was scared! She had left her first teaching assignment in the public school system because she saw students getting pushed through the system and didn’t feel she could contribute to that practice. She then moved into the private school system hoping to find a workplace that practiced at a higher level of integrity.
You can imagine her disappointment when she found herself teaching in a school that was not who they said they were and told her she expected too much from the “girl” students and she might be better off teaching “boys”!
Really, they said that.
She began to question whether or not she was actually fit to be a teacher, and maybe “quirky” people like her weren’t cut out for this kind of work. But she didn’t give up, and more importantly used those bad experiences to improve the way she went about finding the right workplace.
She knew she loved to teach, and more importantly knew what and how she wanted to do it. Now she had to find the place that was a fit for who she was not only as a teacher, but also as a person and employee.
Understanding the practices and culture of an organization is something we overlook so often in our job search because we’re hungry for the job. But if we are choosing to spend upwards of 40-70 hours in an organization and with a group of people, shouldn’t we know just as much about that as the position itself?
So this time, she began to pay attention to the details, the behavior and the clues that was going to tell her not just about the job, but also about the place where she was doing her job.
She wanted to know, “Does this school walk the talk?”
So rather than just asking about the position, she kept her eye out for more:
- How do people react around administrators come into the room? Do they get nervous or anxious or feel comfortable?
- How late do teachers stay at school? Are they overworked?
- Are the classrooms equipped? Are teachers spending personal income on resources?
- What is happening in the classroom? Are students engaged and working on projects or is the teacher lecturing the entire time?
All of these questions gave her insight into the practices and resources of a potential school. Her previous experience equipped her with the ability to evaluate both the position and the workplace to ensure her own needs would be met, both as a teacherand employee.
While job hopping wasn’t the plan, she has learned a lot about what she is looking for in a place of employment and how to ensure the potential employer has it.
This hasn’t been easy. Making change is hard and comes with a lot of fear and anxiety. While Jordan has found a school she believes is in alignment with her teaching and personality, she is now again, the new kid on the block. She knows she must be cautious with her opinions and take time to build relationships and trust.
In the end she believes it has all been worth it. She says, “If you wake up every day hating what you do or dreading going to work or feel like you are done growing, then it is time to move on.”
She suggests we do “self-checks” to make sure we are doing what we want to be doing in a place we love doing it. These are questions you have to ask yourself from time to time to figure out if you are happy with your job.
Here is her list:
- Is this what I want to be doing?
- Is this in alignment with my beliefs?
- Am I serving a purpose?
- Is this fulfilling?
- Is this what I want to be doing?
- Do I like what I’m doing?
It is brave to stand up for your beliefs and risk your job to do it. Jordan reminds me that we don’t have to compromise what we believe, but that to do so we must be willing to manage criticism and uncertainty.
When I asked Jordan if she had any advice for her generation, this is what she said:
Take risks, follow your gut and beliefs and don’t be afraid to work; you’re going to have to put in the hours, and it may be hard, but it is worth it once you have found the place that works for you.
Do not discount your bad experiences, they can be really valuable.
Figure out what you don’t want to do, and do it.
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