Get Laid Off? Here Are 7 Tips for Teachers Who Have Been Laid Off

7 Tips for the Laid Off teacher

First of all -- DON'T PANIC!

Everyone gets laid off. Everyone. If it's not from that first job at Dunkin' Donuts, it's after 27 loyal years into a company. The point is, it happens to everyone. And it's a good thing.

Even if it's not a good thing, even if you LOVED your job and are DEVASTATED to be let go, it's still most productive to look at it as a good thing. 

Think about all the people in this world. There's a place for every single one of them and you will find another - better - place. 

This I am sure of.

I've been laid off a few times. While initially it was always a shock to get the boot, looking back it really wasn't all that shocking. I was miserable at every one of those jobs and I needed the push to find something better.

So what do you do if you get laid off? Here are some tips from an old pro! :)



1: Apply for unemployment
Even if you live in a Right-to-Work state, that unemployment insurance is there for you. Take it. There's no shame in it. Collect that check, set some aside to pay taxes later and focus on your bright future.

If you were given the option to resign and are afraid that this will get in the way of being approved, talk to someone in the unemployment office. They will understand the backdoor politics.

2: Start making things
Do you want to make bee boxes out of scavenged Japanese knotwood or hollowed out books to sell on Etsy? Do it! This is the time. A little financial stress is great for creativity. I mean, look at Wu-Tang or U2. Once they got rich their music got, well, you know what I mean. It's still good, but is it as good as 36 Chambers or Sunday Bloody Sunday? 

3: Teach summer school
You may really need the time off after a hard year, but teaching summer school shows that you are dedicated and willing to work when others aren't. 

4: Substitute teach
I love subbing. No paperwork, no late nights, no staff meetings, all cake. If you don't get a job by the fall, there is no need to fall into a pit of despair. The best part of subbing is that it's the perfect road to full-time employment.

Subbing is one long interview. When a full-time opening arises, the principal who has seen you in your dress clothes day in and day out will think of you first. And subs are needed. A great teacher makes an outstanding sub. I subbed for a year, then taught summer school before landing my first full-time teaching job. It was worth it. I didn't need to prove my work ethic; it was already obvious.

5: Health insurance
The great diminisher of the American Dream: health insurance. 

The good thing is that there are great breaks in the healthcare marketplace for people with limited income. So if you are thinking you need to take a miserable job just because of health insurance, start a special application on the healthcare.gov site or call and talk to someone over there. It might not be as bad as it seems. 

6: Take an adult education class
The year I subbed and taught summer school was a time of great uncertainty. Would I need to move back home? Would I make rent next month? Even with all of that, I knew that when I did get my next job, that would be it. I'd be trapped in adult responsibilities for the next 30 years so I might as well do something fun that expanded me in an uncomfortable direction.

There are art classes, acting classes, pottery, Photoshop, everything. I took an improvisational acting class because it was way outside my comfort zone. But guess what. Teaching is 80% theater so it turned out to be a great choice. 

7: Remind yourself it's not you
There's a Zen saying that goes something like, "Even if you have to remind yourself 10,000 times a day to come back to the present, that is 10,000 times you were present when you otherwise wouldn't have been."

The point here is that it's not you. And if you have to remind yourself every day all day, that's a better option than falling into the belief that there is something wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are awesome. The job was a bad fit, probably from your end as well as theirs. 

But even if it was you - even if you got caught stealing reams of paper and Sharpies from the copy room and got fired because of it - it's still not you. You are a drop in the bucket. This isn't to downplay your amazingness as a teacher, it's to remember the endless possible directions your life can go.

If you're reading this because you got laid off, you will find something even better than the job that let you go. And you will look back at that job someday and say, 

"Look at me now."

Email me if you need some more encouragement: shana@scaffoldedmath.com. I've been there and am actually excited for you.

And if you're curious, here is a music video I made that year worked as a sub: Illin' P 2 o'clock Groove


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