Personal finance and financial independence: it’s about money.
Often times people also point out that it’s not really about money. It’s about time and freedom.
But the past few months have reminded me that I’m not only interested in those things.
I want more money. I need more time. I love the idea of having more freedom. But more than anything, I want some sense of control in my life.
The problem with this is there is no clear way to chart any of this. There’s no Excel formula, no new app, no online calculator that can outline the pathway to more control.
So much of life is out of our control.
I know that many of the stalwarts of personal finance love to say that life is a series of choices. Common advice that is regularly trotted out is to focus on what we can control. I suppose if we had too much control over our lives things would be boring. No one would grow. Everything would remain the same.
But I suppose something that continues to stand out to me is how little control I really do have even as a veteran teacher who loves my career. I love my students, my building, and my coworkers. I love my job. I often sing its praises from the rooftops. But now that I’m faced with more change yet again, I’ve realized that unsettled feeling is a symptom of losing a little more control.
Let me explain.
“But You Have Tenure”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this phrase, I would have reached FIRE by 30.
Yes, I work in a profession where tenure is a thing.
Yes, I am a tenured teacher.
My job is still wildly unstable. Not only has the teacher evaluation model changed significantly in recent years, but so has education in general. Everything from funding and resources to school boards and student populations is different. If my bosses wanted to fire me, there’s no question in my mind that they could do it in a single year’s contract. It happens every year in our district, often in my own building.
Plus, people are leaving the profession in droves.
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So do I actually think I will lose my job?
Yes and no.
I don’t think I’ll be unemployed come next fall. But I know with certainty that my job assignment will look dramatically different.
I joke that I am the ping pong ball of my work because laughing is better than crying. I’ve shifted content areas, teaching teams, and grade levels more times than I can count. I no longer buy spirit wear simply because it’s a rare occasion that I could wear it for two years in a row.
This past school year, our school decided to try a full push-in model to do away with special self-contained classes. I agree with this model philosophically, and I love my classes, but I cannot lie: this shift required a tremendous amount of work and time. I had to either revamp or recreate every single lesson.
None of that matters. Not just because I am here to do what’s best for kids and I will always strive to do that. But also because I’m changing grade levels again next year.
It’s a good thing it was what was best for kids. Otherwise, it would be really disheartening to see long-term plans crumble again.
“See Me…on Monday”
Change is inevitable. And it can be good. Though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m more inclined to side with Sheldon.
What really frustrates me, though, isn’t the fact that I’m being moved again. It isn’t even just the fact that I was told, not asked. It’s how it happened. Because you know what they say, the devil is in the
My boss gave half of our building their teaching assignments the day before a long weekend. The rest of us would find out the following Monday. That’s one way to make a long weekend really feel long.
I tried my best to ignore the gossip, but the rumor mill churned so loudly that I was all but certain I was moving grade levels. It wasn’t so much a matter of if I would move but where to.
For someone who has been through it so many times, you’d think that I would shrug it off. Or that I would console myself with the fact that the two teachers who are retiring this year are also moving grade levels. Or I would take solace in the fact that I wasn’t being fired (been there, done that!).
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But the truth is, I spent the entire weekend thinking about how unnecessary it felt.
I could have stayed in my position. It still exists. But because someone at some level decided to shuffle the deck, a handful of people are having their working lives upended. Again.
Losing Control of a Career I Love
This news isn’t disastrous, but I know what it means. I have three new preps with new curriculum that I’ve never taught. It’s a new group of teachers working together, so it’ll also take time to forge new relationships. It means a lot more work.
I’m excited, and I know I’ll do well. I will give it my all because it’s what my kids deserve. But it’s also a great reminder about how much I want more control of my own life. It’s hard to be in a position that is stressful and time-consuming and nothing close to what I would have chosen for myself.
I know some of you will read this and commiserate. Other people, though, are going to question why I don’t just leave. Starting over in another district could invite more control in my life, but it almost certainly wouldn’t. At least not at first.
As someone who has started over before in a new district with new curriculum, a new community, and a new tenure process, I know firsthand that it isn’t easy. Sometimes, it is necessary, but right now, it isn’t. Instead, I’ll rely on my coworkers and myself. I’ll start reviewing curriculum maps and choosing text sets now. I’ll work throughout the summer, and I’ll enjoy a lot of it. I’ll be equal parts excited and nervous come fall, but I will be prepared.
And as much as I will continue to love my career, I won’t ever stop wishing and working for more control.
So Tell Me…How do you build more control into your life?