Teachers in Transition

Teachers in Transition Episode 181 - Guilt, Gaslighting, and Identifying our Skills

December 16, 2023 Vanessa Jackson Episode 181
Teachers in Transition Episode 181 - Guilt, Gaslighting, and Identifying our Skills
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Teachers in Transition
Teachers in Transition Episode 181 - Guilt, Gaslighting, and Identifying our Skills
Dec 16, 2023 Episode 181
Vanessa Jackson

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Show Notes  

Today on the podcast, in our segment on stress and health, we explore the guilt and gaslighting that teachers experience and how to use lists to halt anxiety and overwhelm, and we’ll start figuring out our transferrable skills as we continue our mini-series in the What Color is Your Parachute book.

How to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Abuse

What is Gaslighting and How to Respond

What Color is Your Parachute 2024 and the Workbook 

PDF of Parachute Skills Grid 

And remember to send stories to me at TeachersinTransitionCoaching@gmail.com!  I can’t wait to read them.  

Transcript of this podcast

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Show Notes  

Today on the podcast, in our segment on stress and health, we explore the guilt and gaslighting that teachers experience and how to use lists to halt anxiety and overwhelm, and we’ll start figuring out our transferrable skills as we continue our mini-series in the What Color is Your Parachute book.

How to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Abuse

What is Gaslighting and How to Respond

What Color is Your Parachute 2024 and the Workbook 

PDF of Parachute Skills Grid 

And remember to send stories to me at TeachersinTransitionCoaching@gmail.com!  I can’t wait to read them.  

Transcript of this podcast

Teachers in Transition Ep 181 – Guilt Gaslighting, and Identifying our Skills


Are you a teacher who is feeling stressed out and overwhelmed? do you worry that you're feeling symptoms of burnout - or are you sure you've already gotten there? have you started to dream of doing something different or a new job or perhaps pursuing an entirely different career but you don't know what else you're qualified to do. you don't know how to start a job search and you just feel stuck. if that sounds like you, I promise you are not alone. my name is Vanessa Jackson; and I am a career transition and job search coach and I specialize in helping burnt out teachers just like you deal with the overwhelmingly stressful nature of your day-to-day job and to consider what other careers might be out there waiting for you. You might ask yourself, What tools do I need to find a new career?  Are my skills valuable outside the classroom?  How and where do I even get started?  These are all questions you deserve answers to, and I can help you find them.  I’m Vanessa Jackson. Come and join me for teachers in transition.  

Hi!  And Welcome back to another episode of Teachers in Transition. I am your host, Vanessa Jackson - a compassionate Career transition and job search coach who specializes in working with burnt out teachers who are ready for a career change but are not sure where to begin. Today on the podcast, we are going explore the prevalence of guilt and gaslighting, our teacher hack with lists, and identifying and translating our skills as we continue Part 3 in our mini-series in the “What Color is Your Parachute” book. 

So in our first segment, we are going to talk about a fair amount about guilt.  There is a lot of it going around this time of year.  Personally, I never think I have enough Christmas gifts for people, I worry that I’ve left someone off the list, I haven’t done enough to give others’ an amazing experience. I often find myself feeling a little bit guilty for things absolutely beyond my control.  You get the idea.

Guilt is often used as a method for getting more work out of teachers without paying them for it.  Let’s do a put a finger down exercise:  Start with your your hand open.  Put a finger down if you’ve ever heard 

1.    It’s just this one little extra thing – it won’t even take five minutes. 

2.    I know you’ve shared your concerns about little Aiden throwing chairs, but they’re just small chairs. 

3.    If you just worked harder at building relationships with the kids you would not have these problems…

4.    You should be doing it this way, not this other way (that we told you in the first place)

5.    Can you cover another class?


6.    And the granddaddy of them all:  If you loved the kids, you would… 

There’s that lovely poem that always caused me to feel guilty I am going to read it for you now.  It’s called 

'Cause I Ain't Got a Pencil

I woke myself up

Because we ain't got an alarm clock

Dug in the dirty clothes basket,

Cause ain't nobody washed my uniform

Brushed my hair and teeth in the dark,

Cause the lights ain't on

Even got my baby sister ready,

Cause my mama wasn't home.

Got us both to school on time,

To eat us a good breakfast.

Then when I got to class the teacher fussed

Cause I ain't got no pencil.


By Joshua T. Dickerson


I think that poem inspired me to buy thousands of pencils in my career.  I went through  a couple thousand a year.  Finally, I got tired of the expense of buying all the pencils.  Then I felt guilty about that too – because a kid didn’t have a pencil. 


As I was digging into this topic, I realized it is more than just a guilt trip.  Sometimes it turns into full-blown emotional manipulation. For example: 


1.    Emotional Blackmail 

a.     In this tactic they go directly to your feelings to get through to you what they want you to do. It starts with the demand. And if you say no, they continue to pressure you until you give in. It might start with a flattering light quote you are the best person for this job because …” reasons, and if that doesn't work then they move to threats.

b.    If you hold your ground, with an “no,” you might find little moments of ostracism. And when you acquiesce, they might reward you with kindness. It never lasts does it?

2.    I am going to focus on Gaslighting because it is SO rampant in the educational world. It leaves you feeling so confused it makes you question what you thought you heard, and it leaves you doubting yourself. This can have a serious impact on your self-perception and mental health which is probably why so many teachers are so anxious these days

a.     The four types of gaslighting include

                                       i.    Countering – when your memory of the events is questioned.

                                      ii.    Withholding – when someone pretends not to understand you or refuses to listen to you.

                                     iii.    Trivializing – when your feelings and concerns are disregarded or you are made to feel stupid for even having them. 

                      iv.    Denial – when the other person refuses to be responsible for things they do or say.


3.     Some people their status to punish and criticize you. They blame you for things outside your control.  In fact, I could make the argument that a primary, unspoken point of standardized testing is to blame schools (who then blame) teachers for things outside their control, but we’re going to leave all those worms in the can right now. 

Why is gaslighting so prevalent in education? An article in medical news today suggests that it might stems from people with personality disorders but it also works as a component systemic oppression. A direct quote says :people in power sometimes use it to damage the credibility of a person or group, which disempowers them.”  Raise your hand if you have evert felt that your credibility has ever been damaged? I see you.

So how can we respond because it can be tricky. You want to make sure that you document things, and you need to document them as they happen. Always follow up in an e-mail: “as per our discussion in the hall on this date at this time, we agreed on this thing with these parameters.”

I highly recommend sending them to yourself in a blind carbon copy BC to your home e-mail address. If you ever get to a point where you decide to take official action, it would be awkward if your work emails went away.

But what do you if you aren't even sure if they're really gaslighting you or not? You can take notes after your conversation, you can use the voice memo app on your phone in your pocket.  You can use that voice memo to record your immediate thoughts (I hear Matthew McCannaughy wrote much of his recent memoir through voice memos in his car).  You could also record conversations with your voice memo app in your pocket - most likely this will just be a supporting reference for you. If you are in a two-party state, both parties must agree to be recorded for anything to be admissible in the future, but if you live in a one party state, then only one party has to be aware of the recording. You would be the one party.  

You can talk about what is happening with a trusted friend that HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SCHOOL, DISTRCT.  It’s better if they aren’t even in education.  My trusted friend when I was going through the worst parts of it lived out of state.  And we all have that one friend who is very happy to call shenanigans when we are the ones at fault.  It can help you determine if you are the problem or not. Chances are it is not you. 


In our next segment, our hack for the week is useful when you find yourself spiraling because there is too much, the stakes feel too high, and/or you cannot figure what to do next.  It is such a simple hack but that’s what makes it hard.

Make a list.  
 When you are SO wound up (and who isn’t this time of year), you have to do a brain dump. Get everything out with no worry for level of importance or order.  Type it out in a note on your phone write on the back of an envelope or in a planner if you have it available.  Dump all those thoughts out of your brain.  Then you can group the tasks, and prioritize them.

There are different ways to prioritize. 

1.    You can think of it like pots on a stove.  Which one is the one is boiling over?  Have any caught fire?  Do those first.  Can your turn down the heat on anything and let it simmer? 

2.    You can group them by the amount of time they’ll take.  Sometimes it feels great to just get a small thing done which can propel you to getting more things done. 

3.    You can group your tasks by location – this can help you be more efficient when getting things done if working around the house or running errands.  It can also help to separate work tasks from home tasks. 

4.    When you see a large task, sometimes it helps to break that down a little bit.  Dinner isn’t a chore.  There are 3 parts to that one.  There is the Mis-en-place where you get everything ready to go, the actual preparation of the meal, and then the clean up.   In our house, if you cook, you don’t have to do the dinner dishes.  It helped encourage my kids to cook when they were growing up. 

I had this moment just this morning.  I had SO Many things to do.  I was literally turning in circles in my office trying to figure out what to do.  So I sat down and made my list. And when I could SEE it all, I calmed down.  I was able to prioritize my tasks, and I was able to focus on one task at a time without worrying that I would forget the others. 
 And because I had my list, I was able to keep on track.  Did I finish my list?  Nope.  I have added those to tomorrow to work on.   Did I add to my list. Yup – almost forgot all about this week’s menu plan/shopping list, but I was able to fake my way through that at dinner just like I had it planned that way the entire time.

And as a bonus tip this week – if you find that your mind is racing and full of thoughts preventing you from going to sleep – do a brain dump.  Write the thoughts down.  Your brain is just worried you’ll forget them. Write them down.  They’ll be there in the morning for you to pick back up. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is: “I’ll remember that!”  We don’t.  We remember after we realize we forgot.  Just today, I was grateful to Past-Vanessa who set an alarm in her phone about a meeting.   Planning is one my big skills.  And it is one I LOVE. 

And speaking of skills that we love, for our next segment we are moving into petal three of mini-series that we are doing based on the book “What color is my parachute” by Richard N Bollles with Katharine Brooks.

Petal Three is about our transferable skills.  This is the part that really catches a lot of teachers by surprise. Teachers have a lot of amazing and desirable skills in the workforce, but we don't know how to say it in corporate lingo.  Also, we tend to be very proud of the things that we have accomplished as a teacher and rightfully so, but we tend to talk a lot about our teacher accomplishments. Corporate America does not care about our lives as teachers. They care about our skills.

According to the book we're going to look for our favorite functional skills and personal traits that we can transfer to any field of interest. This includes things that you were born knowing how to do and things that you have learned how to do. When you write down your entry you want to make sure you use strong action verbs.

Let's talk for a moment and talk about skills that you have. A lot of people think they don't have any skills but “skills” is actually a very misunderstood word. And this misunderstanding has been put forth by many companies, employers, HR departments, and other experts. The word ‘skills’ just means something that you're good at. Sometimes it refers to talents or abilities.  Skills are placed into two categories: one is hard skills the other is soft skills. Hard skills can refer to things like technical knowledge or practical knowledge.  Soft skills are what we are most familiar with in the world of education and refers to our emotional intelligence quotient. Our “EQ.”  This is an area where teachers can rise above the field of applicants. We have amazing time management and organizational skills, we are excellent at doing 3 hours’ worth of work in one, we communicate well, and we are calm under fire.

I worked for a staffing company. This means we would find people to work for other companies. We had one person we had hired who was very unprofessional and threw a tantrum to his manager at the company we hired him for. After the dust settled, I was talking with the manager at the other company, he commented that he had never been treated that way ever in his career. And my only thought in the back of my head at the time was “clearly you had never dealt with angry parents.”  I received consistent accolades for being able to work with difficult people. And I have to tell you that none of the difficult people that I worked with were terribly difficult at all. 

So remember, you have a great many valuable skills. And what's better is that so many of these skills are transferable. All teachers have experience talking with people on the phone and in person – and to a wide range of people.  Former teachers are usually comfortable helping other newer colleagues learn the ropes. Former teachers naturally drift to mentor positions or training positions.  You have the ability to SPEAK to GROUPS of people. This is your free reminder that more people fear public speaking than they do death!!

The skills are the most basic thing that you can do. Think of them like the bricks to build a house. Some of these skills that you have may not be something that you would put on your resume, but they will lead you to further insights about yourself. Fun facts about me is that I do freelance work as a musician. I am a piano player.  I do a lot of work where I accompany others. That gives me skills beyond just hitting the correct key at the correct time - I am a detail-person with the ability to see the big picture.  I think a lot of teachers have a strategic gift that they overlook. Teachers can envision an end product, and then think backwards to break all of the tasks down.  After a while, we do this almost naturally, and we forget that it is not a common skill for everyone to have. 

So once again, get out something to write with and something to write on. Or start a new tab in your Excel spreadsheet.  If you’re driving, exercising, or cooking, listen now and let the idea of skills marinate in your brain a little bit.   

Let’s list skills.  

It can be hard to encompass all of the things that you do, so you might wanna work on this for multiple days. Ask friends and family what they think that you are good at doing. We are going to start by listing everything.  We’re gonna throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. As you go through your list you can cross out the things that you do not like.  Group them into categories: The book has a cartoon that starts with these three categories: 

1.    Your people skills

2.    Your skills with information and technology 

3.    Your skills with things


List all of the programs and apps that you know how to use: I know that during the pandemic I gained a lot of skills in simple video production and podcasting, and more. One of the things that surprised me when I left teaching and worked at a job out in corporate America is that I actually had very solid Microsoft Office skills. I had colleagues who would ask me for tips on PowerPoint presentations and some of the little tricks that I knew in Excel.   A lot of people know how to work IN Excel, but do they really know Excel? That’s a skill. 

List it all. Are you good with a  Cricut? List it. Know how to build something with wood?  Are you good with words? Do you write well? 

You can attempt to divide this into hard and soft skills as you go, but you might also want to do that in a separate pass. When brainstorming, it helps to not have the flow interrupted. 

Once you have your list sorted, go back and highlight all the complex skills.  If you typed this into an Excel sheet, you could set up conditional formatting and assign some numbers to the skill in a different column to help you quantify it.  (Pro tip: The answer to everything is somewhere in Google. Just ask.).  Difficult and complex skills tend to be more valued by future employers.

When you have higher level transferable skills, you will end up with more freedom in your position, and you will probably have less competition when you are job hunting.  A spoiler alert and our end goal here is that once you know your favorite transferable skills and your favorite special knowledge then you can approach organizations with your passion and skills for that area.

The next step is to write an episode or story in your life. This won't be the last one.  There will be seven in total.  Feel free to type if that works better for you.  Currently, I do not recommend the dictation in Microsoft Word because it's driving me insane. Frankly it's best just to type.

Your story will address the following points

1.    your goal is what you wanted to accomplish

2.    some kind of difficulty or obstacles or drama that you faced when you were working to achieve this goal

3.    and step by step guide of what you did to achieve your goal

4.    and finally a description of your results and any quantifiable or measurable statement of that outcome.  

a.     This isn't all about numbers, it can include soft skills too

The book suggests that you do not take a story where you achieve something big. As an example, someone who finally gets a degree after 30 years. Write a brief episode or task – but not too brief. 

And now go back and give your story a title. You'll need that later

Next thing is to analyze your story for your skills.  This is where it really helps to have that workbook or the book with the Parachute Skills Grid conveniently printed inside, but I have included a link to the PDF on the publisher’s site in the show notes. You might want to print that out. The book takes the idea of skills with people, skills with data or ideas, and skills with things and then breaks down different verbs that fit into those skill areas.  The idea is that you analyze your story to see which of those boxes you can check off

And then the book tells you to do that six more times for a total of seven stories.  I will put a link to the book and the workbook, and I urge you to check it out if you are looking to leave teaching.

And then finally when you have finished all seven stories and analyzing all seven stories, you go back, and you look for patterns. You look for things that come up several times. As I used to tell my students, 

·        Once could be an accident 

·        twice could be a coincidence and 

·        three times could be the start of a trend

And once you have found your patterns, find your priorities. Remember this is not just about discovering what you can do, but also what you want most to do. Next week, I’ll share one of my stories. 

This is a pretty big petal to look on, and this is getting a little long, so we'll pick this up next week. That will give you extra time to really work on the stories and we can deep-dive analyzing them next week. 

I would love to hear some of your stories! You can mail them to me at Teachers in Transition coaching at gmail.com.  I'll make sure that is in the show notes too. 

If you need help analyzing some of your stories or you need help thinking through what you want to do, feel free to reach out for a complimentary discovery call. I would love to help you go through this process, so you can find a job that will value you - so you can find a job that allows you to enjoy coming to work again without feeling quite so overwhelmed. 

That’s the podcast for today!  If you liked this podcast, tell a friend, and don’t forget to rate and review wherever you listen to your podcasts.  Tune in weekly to Teachers in Transition where we discuss Job Search strategies as well as stress management techniques.  And I want to hear from you!  Please reach out and leave me a message at Teachers in transition Coaching at gmail dot com.  You can also leave a voicemail or a text at 512-640-9099.  
 I’ll see you here again next week and remember – YOU are amazing!  


Show Notes – Guilt, Gaslighting, and Idenitfying our Skills

Today on the podcast, in our segment on stress and health, we explore the guilt and gaslighting that teachers experience and how to use lists to halt anxiety and overwhelm, and we’ll start figuring out our transferrable skills as we continue our mini-series in the What Color is Your Parachute book.

How to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Abuse

What is Gaslighting and How to Respond

What Color is Your Parachute 2024 and the Workbook 

PDF of Parachute Skills Grid 

And remember to send stories to me at TeachersinTransitionCoaching@gmail.com!  I can’t wait to read them.  

Transcript of this podcast