5 Questions Teachers Ask Before Making a Big Change

Change can be really exciting but feel really scary and most times we oscillate between emotions. Whatever change you may be contemplating, there is always a leap between the old and the new. There is always the space and time where you know nothing. You don’t have new evidence or proof yet. There is no guarantee.

After the year we’ve had many teachers are wondering how to create a safer and more sustainable way to teach. Teachers are searching for better work/life balance. While some are exploring ways to relax, recoup, set boundaries and are getting all kinds of support from therapy to coaching (with me!). Many teachers I know are also contemplating changing grades, schools, in some cases countries as a way to feel better. 

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Humans are creatures of habit who don’t like change very much so accepting that there is no guarantee is a really hard thing. Instead we must find intrinsic value in the exploration. 

Sometimes there is plenty we can do within ourselves to explore, adjust and make a current situation work. There is mindset work and paradigm shifts that can feel like all the help we need. Other times, getting out of a difficult situation is a proactive step teachers can consider. Only you can know what works best for yourself. Here I offer some important questions you may not have considered.

Whether you are contemplating a grade change, school change, country change or complete career change, here are 5 key questions to ask yourself before taking the leap. It may not change your desire or your decision but they will help you get clarity. And with clarity comes confidence and choice and true empowerment. 

5 Questions for Teachers

What are my core values?

Values are what give us direction and the clarity of knowing who we are and want to be – both as teachers and as humans. Values need to be set intentionally and internally with a focus on who we are ‘being’ rather than what we are achieving. They are qualities of action that help us understand what we need. When our values are really clear for us we make more sound decisions. It becomes easier to choose what it is that we really want. And we can better trust ourselves to make the ‘right’ decision to move forward. You can align your values with your goals and ensure they are meaningful to you.

What is my ‘come from’? 

When you look at the root of any choice or action, humans are designed to either avoid pain or seek pleasure. Getting to know where your drive is coming from is the key difference to choosing consciously or choosing based on conditioning and old patterns.

In the case of my teacher burnout, I was avoiding pain big time, even though I had no idea at the time. I just knew I didn’t have the capacity to do it anymore – the student behaviour, the critical parents, the judgement I felt. I also learned that running from the pain didn’t mean I was clear of it, it still came back to me until I processed it.

Are you running from something painful? 

Are you running towards something more fun and exciting or safe? 

Where does your need ‘come from’?

What am I learning/what have I learned here? 

I don’t know who said this first but this but this is my mantra lately: Life is happening FOR me not TO me. In order to really maximize growth, take some time to reflect on your learning experience and wisdom gained, both personal and professional. 

Have you learned everything in your current situation that you need to learn?

Turning experience into wisdom can only happen through honest self-reflection. When we are ready to learn our lessons we can know if we are complete and ready to move on or if there is something more here for us to experience. 

How do I want to feel in 1 year?

This question usually presents as “where do you want to BE in 1 year?”

I’d encourage you to get really really clear on how you want to feel in 1 year time. 

Do you want more freedom, balance, security, love, acceptance? Do you want more adventure, safety, variety or connection? 

What changes need to be made to feel how you want to feel. Then you can set goals and make changes accordingly. 

What beliefs do you have about change?

Everyone has deep ingrained beliefs about change. Get clear on what yours are. Write out a list of all the things you’ve been taught consciously or unconsciously about change. 

They might sound like: 

  • “Change is hard.”
  • “What if I’m wrong?”
  • “What if I make it worse?”
  • “I’m going to mess this up.”
  • “I don’t trust myself.” 

The good news is that you can adjust any beliefs that don’t feel really true to you anymore. Recognizing and shifting beliefs allows us to craft new, more helpful ones, that feel better. So, you can replace any beliefs that do not serve you with more helpful ones. Consider alternative ways to think about change and uncertainty.

The more we bring these patterns from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind, we can work with them to actively change them so they don’t have as much power over how we feel and choose.

Take Action

And once you’ve gotten the clarity you need – you can take informed action! 

Regardless of where you are on the change excitement continuum and whatever the change you may be contemplating, there is always a leap between the old and the new and there is always the space where you know nothing. Finding the intrinsic value in the journey, in the exploration – that’s gold!

If you feel stuck or stagnant or ready to change, you must DO something different, you must BE something different. This can be simple as simple as a habit or as complex as changing jobs and moving countries! Change one thing, in one area, and watch how that change becomes a catalyst for growth and change in your life. It might be a glass of water, a morning routine, a walk after teaching all day or setting a boundary.  Be proactive, take imperfect action. 

My teacher, Alexi Panos says; “Don’t be afraid to start over again. This time you’re not starting from scratch, you are starting from experience.”

ANDREA TESSIER is a master educator turned wellness coach for teachers.  She helps teachers overcome burnout and overwhelm and fall back in love with teaching again so they can experience freedom and make an impact that inspires others and changes lives. Informed by 13 years in the classroom, a degree in advanced psychology and a deep dive into personal inquiry she supports educators on their journey to heal, love and rediscover their passion.

Andrea is the founder of Conscious Classrooms – a wellness coaching business that supports educators around the world. It is built on the belief that education is the pathway to a positive future and educators are the guides that help children thrive. By giving teachers the value that they deserve, classrooms can be spaces of conscious authenticity. Through 1:1 coaching, group coaching and professional development at the school level, teachers rediscover the joy in teaching and lead inspired lives both inside and outside the classroom. 


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