Teachers in Transition

Teachers in Transition - Episode #128 - Interview with Vanessa Jackson

September 09, 2021 Kitty Boitnott
Teachers in Transition
Teachers in Transition - Episode #128 - Interview with Vanessa Jackson
Transcript
Speaker 1:

Are you a teacher who's 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 some other kind of job or perhaps pursuing a whole different career, but you don't know what else you're even qualified to do. You don't know how to start a job search. You just feel stuck. If that sounds like you, I promise you're not alone. My name is kitty Boitnott. I'm a career transition and job search coach. And I specialize in helping burn out teachers, just like you deal, not only with the stress and overwhelm of your day to day job, but to consider what other careers might be out there waiting for you to join me for teachers in transition. In some episodes, I'll be speaking to stress management techniques and how you can manage your stress on a day to day basis. In other episodes, I'll be talking about career transition. What tools do you need to be successful in a job search when you're moving from one career into a totally different track. These are questions that you need answers to, and I can help you find those answers. My name is kitty . Boitnott welcome to teachers and transition.

Speaker 2:

Welcome back to another episode of teachers in transition, the podcast and the YouTube channel. My name is kitty Boitnott and I am the owner of Fortnite coaching and the founder of teachers in transition, a specialized in working with burnout teachers who are ready for a career change. I'm also a stress management coach. And so if you've listened to this podcast in the past, you know that some weeks I talk about career transition and other weeks I talk about stress management strategies. This week, we'll be talking about career transition and I have a very special guest with me this week. The Nessa Jackson, who is my most recently successful client, she sent me an email last week with the subject heading employed, exclamation, exclamation exclamation, then that's. And I've been working together since the first of this year. We first chatted together in December of 2020. And she told me at the time that she'd been listening to this podcast and walking through the neighborhood, catching up on each episode, once she found it. So today I'm going to allow the NASA or not to allow, but ask Vanessa to share her experience of working with the teachers and transition a company and working with me and the jumpstart, your job search programs , so that people who are listening can get a sense of the excitement. She feels about her new job and the journey that it took to get her here. So welcome, Vanessa. I'm so glad that you've agreed to do this interview today. I'm so happy to be here. We're going to just jump right in and I'm going to ask you a few questions and then you just speak to them from the heart. However you were moved to answer, to start out with what particular challenges were you dealing with that led you to enroll with me to help? Let me help you with your job search. Um, so I will go back a little bit. My, my husband retired from the military, and so we were moving back to our home state, which is Texas. And it was really hard for me to find even a teaching position because I been teaching for 20 years and it makes you expensive to hire in the state of Texas. And then there's a lot of things that I've learned through this program that I did absolutely wrong in that job search. And I, so , um, what really led me to , to sign on with you was listening to the podcast when, when I knew that I needed to leave teaching, because it had gotten to a point where it was time to go. Um, I did, I like to research. I like to dig in for information for people who are fans of Gretchen Rubin. I'm a questioner, which means I question everything and I do all the research before I dive into anything. And I came across your podcast and I started at the beginning and I listened to every episode. And I like you were saying, cause every morning I would walk my dogs in the pre-dawn hours before school. And so I would listen with one ear and a podcast and, and, and I just , uh, and as I was getting ready for my Workday and it made a lot of sense. I , um, uh, you know, I , um, let's see , I liked the fact that you had also taught a very long time, like, like I have, and your work with the Virginia educators association, it's you were speaking very deeply to things that I was experiencing, where you poured out your heart and your soul and you left everything on the classroom table. And then it's like, they rubbed, you threw a cheese grater and said, well, we're done with you now. What ? So I, I just, I identified with you. You're very calm when you talk. You're very, it's comforting to listen to you. So as silly as it sounds, it was very enjoyable to listen to you. And I was so worked up at the time. I needed a calming influence. It's interesting. The first time I ever heard anyone comment on my voice was when I was student teaching and my supervising teacher came to observe a class I was teaching. I think they were seniors is a senior English class. And her comment at the end was you have such a calm voice. It's a very pleasant voice. You'll need to guard against lowing your students to sleep. I have remembered that, but I've heard other people come in about my calm, demeanor . I get excited, but I apparently do have something of a calm, demeanor. So that's, that's nice to hear. And thank you for saying that well, and you also, you specialize with people who are looking for a more traditional work environment, as opposed to being self-employed or , uh, often the freelance world. And in , in one of my early jobs, I, I, the boss came back one weekend from Vegas where she made payroll, which was a horrifying thought to me. And I was like, I don't want to be in a place where that's a requirement. So I was looking for a more traditional role, but a more traditional style company, right? And most all of my clients are looking for, you know, more traditional position. They may not want necessarily nine to five. And of course the pandemic has thrown everybody into a more or less remote working situation, at least for the time being. But as opposed to starting your own business or striking out on your own entrepreneurial route, even though that's what I did, that's not really what I identify with. And so I deliberately chose to work with people who are looking for more traditional jobs, as opposed to starting their own business. I know people who specialize in coaching, the folks who want to start their own businesses. And I direct them to those resources when it's appropriate, but I enjoy teaching people how to find work that is more traditional. So what particular answer or instruction or inspiration did you discover along the way that helped you in your particular journey? I really like how the modules are laid out. There . There are the videos there. There's not, they're not extremely long. They're not too short. There's pretty much one per module. Occasionally there's a little extra somewhere. There's a lot of clickable resources. You directed me to books that I could go look things up. And again, my little researcher soul was like re I read every, I read everything. I could get my hands on the Abby kohat book. Uh, the, what color is your parachute? I went through all the quizzes. I did all of the things. I was not maybe as good about filling out that entire of book. I was really in a bit of a fight or flight mode I needed out. And , uh, I had, I had initially landed you advocate against maybe going back for a degree, but before I found you, I had already jumped into that because I looked around, I'm like, oh, healthcare is one sixth of our economy. There must be jobs there given the status of everything. Uh, there's not really as many as you would think. And they're less interested in recycled teachers, I guess, for want of a better term. Um, but thankfully that was just pay as you go. So it's not like I'm in for the whole thing and I can walk away. Um, and you know, my degree made me overqualified for a lot of walking entry positions, even though I was completely willing to walk in at the bottom and learn something, because that's how it works. Um, networking, you were, you were stressing networking, and that is so the hardest thing for me, because, you know, I'm not comfortable with rejection and rejection. I have the ability to perform as an extrovert on demand, but I'm , I'm introverted at heart and just cold calling or reaching out and being that, that was just a really hard thing for me to tackle. So admittedly, I put that off and ironically, it was your network that came through for you. So tell that story. Um, absolutely. So, I mean, I was, I was applying for jobs getting nowhere. I mean, I was a little haphazard about it while the school year was still relying on just because there was so much that needed to be done during the school year. But , uh , I started applying more vigorously in June, especially after I had dropped that resignation. And at the end of July is when I finally went Facebook official until all of my friends. Um, so I've left the classroom. It was a very hard decision and I'm still grappling with kind of the grief of that. Uh, but just, Hey, letting everybody know and oh, by the way. So I'm looking for work in case anybody knows of any leads hit me up. And , um, a friend reached out that I've known since elementary school. He claims primary school cause we had separate schools for that. But I only remember as far back as fifth grade , um, specific examples where we worked together and he said, so this is what we do. And we have this opening and it's in like sort of my neighbor pod. And you would be just kind of there , uh , kind of one over in one down. And if you're interested and was like, I am absolutely interested in, I could do a bunch of things. Well, and I knew I wanted to work with people and try new things. And so he talked with me one afternoon and we just chatted and he kind of wrote down all the things that I was telling him is he was asking me questions about what I did. He completely rewrote my resume, just rewrote it. He said, and he says, okay , not check it for spelling, check it, make sure it represents what's going on. And so I did and I sent it back and he presented it at the Monday morning meeting and said , I think that she would be good. They talked about it. They interviewed me. I got my first interview before that week was over. And he chatted with me and said, well, you know, the person you're going to be interviewing with, you know, you're not going to be able to get much of a read. And , and it was difficult because it was a remote interview and there nobody had cameras on. So that is hard. It was a little, yeah. So it was , um , it went really well. I mean, I connected with the manager and we laughed. We talked, I'm like, this is, this is what I am. This is what I can do. And I was pretty straightforward about where Y you know, inadequacies would be , uh , you know, I am overqualified. I am under experienced. I know I can do these things. But , um, so I was recommended to go to the next level of interview, which was, you know, put off a little bit because people had time off and sorting schedules. So between the first interview and the second interview, they got into my resume and the job description changed to sort of match some of my talents. It went from just service delivery coordinator, which is kind of looking out for a group of people to an training facilitator. So I will be doing more training, facilitating, and less delivery coordinating. Um, and it it's very that second interview. I don't think when it's as well as the first, but it went well in effect . They offered me the job because the interview was on a Friday and they told me, they're like, Hey, so we'll tell you Monday, you know, we'll get things set up. Uh, we'll let you know Monday. And I was walking my dogs around the block in the daytime now that I'm, you know , unemployed. And , uh, it was before eight o'clock in the morning. And the job offer was in my inbox. And it was for more than they told me the range was. So it is almost what I was making with my official 17 years of teaching experience and my master's degree. And , uh , the stipend that came from being a music teacher in Texas. And it's just below that, but it is fully remote. I'm my home office. Uh, it's fully remote. I, my first ever room with a window , uh, I was a band director and the band halls don't typically have windows. I don't have to let my neighborhood know when I'm going to the bathroom. And every day is now bring your dog to work day , which I just mind like the curl up at my feet. And I, I couldn't even have dreamed of anything like that. Um, the, the group coaching calls, it was so wonderful to be in a group where everybody had, you didn't feel alone. I mean, even though you're at your school, you're thinking to yourself, well, maybe this is just local or maybe this is just me, but then you realize that it's gotten to be a much bigger problem. It's a national, it's an international problem. Wow . A lot of your clients have a lot of experience because it gets, you know , if you're leaving teaching in that five to 10 year range, it's not so bad. It's kind of a sweet spot for a lot of companies. But at the point where you have more than 15 years of experience, or more than 20 years of experience, because technically I've been in a classroom since 95, but there was a lot of subbing, a lot of military spouse anyway, it just makes it, made it hard. And it was really nice to be around other teachers and realize it was not alone. Right. Full package that I could talk with you. One-on-one when I needed it. Yeah. Oh, yes, you did. We did invest in the full I did. It was worth every penny. Um, it's interesting how, when I started the group coaching back in 2017, I was hoping that the main benefit would be that I could help people stay on track. That's why we only meet every other week. Instead of every week. I want to give people a chance to be doing the work along the way. And then by having the group calls, my intention was to just help people feel like they had some structure and support as they work their way through the program. What was serendipitous about it was that people began to compare notes, share experiences, and suddenly they became their own little community and it was beautiful to watch. And in fact, I got a picture from a couple of clients. It's been two , two or three summers ago. Now that one from Ohio was traveling to visit relatives in Utah and stopped off in Texas to hook up for coffee with one of the other members of the group. So they sent me a picture of the two of them standing under a tree and told me that they would have never become friends if it had not been for me and the program. So that's just an extra cherry on top of the benefit of being part of the group. So I'm glad. And we're going to miss you now that you've graduated from the group and you'll be welcomed to drop in on us anytime you want, because the, the way the program has evolved, no one ever really leaves. I mean, you know, if you get an opportunity beyond this job, this may just be a bridge job for you. Then you may want to come back to brush up your skills and refresh your , uh , resume. I do want to point to the fact that your friend was able to help you custom the resume that you, that he took in for you. So there were a couple of nuggets in that because one of the things that people don't often remember that they need to do is to tweak their resume for every single job that they're applying for a one step . When I came back to the state, well, I mean, unless somebody tells you, how are you going to know that the one and done the days of the one and done resume are over forever, I think, and you need to be prepared to customize your resume for every job that you were applying for. And it takes work. Your friend was clearly clever enough to know that you had the skills that he had to help you present them properly so that you would look like a viable candidate in spite of the lack of experience that you have had. The other thing I was going to say, as teachers, we are hardwired to deflect, you know, oh , well, thank you. But it was really the work of, or, well, the kids. Yeah, no, it's, it's hard to take credit for and for a lot of teachers , um, it also was a huge help in , and this puts you in the 80 to 90% group of being hired because someone personally recommended you as opposed to going cold through , um, of job, job board, like the , you know , like monster or indeed, or the ladders, or even LinkedIn, only a small percentage of people who go completely cold through the system ever get hired. Someone along the way has to give the CA the candidate, a nudge in order for them to be considered serious candidates. So you had that double whammy help from your friend and how hope you plan to take him out to dinner sometime , um, to thanking for, for his, I, it , to see him at the reunion here, reunion coming up. Yeah. So as we begin to wind up today, Vanessa would like to ask you, if you would be willing to, if you were talking with a teacher friend who was expressing unhappiness or stress with their current teaching position, what might you tell them about working with teachers in transition and the jumpstart program? So I've already done this a few times. Um, I do start by having people go to your podcast because most people , um, you know, when they're just thinking about the idea, a lot of people like to kind of scope it out before they dive in, and the podcast is a wonderful way to kind of get to know you and who you are. Uh, and, and all of us need the help with the stress so that it did . I send them there first, I've done it actually like in some Facebook groups. And so , um, and I do point out, you know, this is where your focus is , and this is what you can do. Um, and I point out that there was just a lot of emotional support. Uh , I am a solid member of that sandwich generation. So I've taken care of people above me in age and below me in age. And , uh, it was nice to have someone looking out for me that because my poor husband just, you know, w it was a big transition leaving the military. So we were all kind of finding our footing. It was very hard for him to watch me struggle the way I was struggling in the last year. And I needed the mental support and the emotional support and all the things that I didn't know, like job scan, that was a fabulous tool. Isn't it? Isn't, it, it is a fabulous tool. I highly recommend it as well. And , uh , the Photofeeler was another good one that really helped. I got to go in on my LinkedIn profile using Photofeeler , uh, you, you know, you walk through, you walked us through in the group call and as well as in the jump start , your job search program about optimizing the LinkedIn profile. And that is also extremely valuable so that you don't look like a cookie cutter. Yeah. And , um, I w I wanted to point out too , and it, and it just flew out of my head. What was it that I wanted to point out? Hold on. I'll think of it. Or maybe I won't, maybe it wasn't that well, meanwhile, I'll , uh , while you're, while you're out, hopefully something I say will spark. It says my jobs remote my new company so that they were going to send a laptop. Ah , and that didn't seem so out of the norm, for me, schools will routinely give their teachers a laptop. As in a laptop arrived actually two hours after they told me they were going to send me, I don't know when they nailed it, but , uh, and then three or four days later also arrived a docking station, a headset, a keyboard, a 24 inch monitor on adjustable job . Wow. And I was like, wow. And then I went out to my teacher bins that I have packed up for the moment. And as I was digging through all of the office equipment that I've ever bought in the past , uh, and I was like, there's such a big difference. You know, I was able to, I got my little containers and organizing my things. I, I learned, I may have a sticky note problem. I think I found 45 different little packages of sticky notes, not, not abnormal for teachers. And I do remember what it was. You mentioned grieving leaving the classroom, but feeling some grief about leaving. I wanted, I wanted to point that out that that's normal. I don't know that I've ever worked with a single teacher who wanted to leave it no matter how much they wanted to leave. There was a certain sense of guilt and a necessary grieving period, because most of the people that I've worked with only ever planned to be teachers, they weren't thinking about alternate careers. Now that's about the same for my younger clients. You know, I've had one client who had only been teaching for three years and she had already figured out, yeah, this is not what I signed up for. It's not, not what I want, but most of my clients are in that range between 15 and 25 years. And when you've been teaching for that long, and you have the heart of a teacher and you have invested so much of yourself into your teaching career, it would be unusual if you were able to walk away from it all those years, all those experiences, without a certain sense of grief, the good news is that you get over it pretty quickly. And as you undertake new challenges, you begin to recognize the skills that you developed as a teacher that you can use in this new endeavor. And you will start to feel validated in a way that you probably haven't felt validated for a very long time as a teacher. Um , two of my clients just recently wrote me notes about how they've been told so many times since they got through new jobs, what a wonderful job they're doing, nothing like that. Did they ever hear from their administration before they left teaching? So when teaching is like, thank you for finishing this now, here's, here's some more the next, can you, can you also cover this? Yes. Yeah . Anyway, the grief is normal, but it's temporary. That, that was what I wanted to say. When that had that brain freeze a few minutes ago. I I'll , you know, I'll miss the students. It was never the students. I mean, for me, it wasn't even the parents. I got along very well with all the parents. It's the system. And it's a collection of a lot of policies, at least in Texas, from the state level down. Oh, it's, it's not the , the, the magnifying glass of the pandemic. Just I, to be honest, I love education. I still love teachers. And I still love my students. I'm at a point where I feel I can do more for them from outside the classroom than from in it. So for my family, my attitude has always been, once the teachers hit the point of burnout, they aren't having any fun anymore. And if they aren't having fun, their kids or their students are not having any fun. And kids deserve to have teachers who are with them who want to be with them who are not simply hanging on by their fingernails, trying to get to the place where they can collect their pension. And there are a lot of teachers out there who feel like they're hanging on by their fingernails, just trying to make it to their pension. And it's a disservice to their students. But more importantly, it's a disservice to themselves. I have always believed that life is too short to stay in a job you'd no longer love. And when you know, it's time to move on, it's condiment. So thank you for agreeing to share your experience this this morning. I really do appreciate it. And , uh, I'll be letting you know when the podcast is going to be dropping. That's awesome . Well, you know what ? Listen to it. I still listen to you. It'll, it'll still weird for you to be listening to yourself, but , uh , it'll be a nice, weird too . I hope . Um , I also just want to thank you for, well , gosh , everything. You're welcome. It's my pleasure. I've enjoyed working with you. I'm going to miss you as you move on, but for sure that you'll stay in touch no matter what. Oh , absolutely. Okay. All right. Well, I'm going to call it quits for, for now, and I will be back on the podcast again next week.

Speaker 1:

So there you have it, an episode of teachers in transition. I hope you enjoy the information and I hope you'll plan to come back. Please subscribe to teachers in transition so that you can be alerted of future episodes. And let me know if you have any questions or topics that you would like me to specifically cover in a future episode, I'm more than happy to help with individual questions as well. So email me at kitty , not at boys , not coaching.com. If you are interested in finding a new career or just enjoying your life more, this is the place to start. I'm Katie Boitnott and this is teachers in transition.