Ten Ways to Ensure Job Mobility
By NAfME Member MJ Robinson
CONGRATULATIONS! You just accepted your first job and you could not be more excited. You have called all your family and friends. You are ready to celebrate, then get your classroom ready for the first day of school. All the hard work of four to six years of undergraduate course work and hours spent in practice rooms are about to pay off. Now, you get your own set of students to impart much knowledge, wisdom, and experience upon. However, maybe roots and stability are not what you are looking for. Perhaps you are wanting to job hop for the first few years and explore your options. Here are 10 tips to ensure you will not be tied down for too long.
- Dress to Impress. There is no reason why the workplace can’t be a fashion show, especially if you are teaching high school. Your students may be very close to your age and you can share fashion tips. When preparing clothing ensembles, think club night. Recommendations include but are not limited to low cut tops, spaghetti straps or even sleeveless, leggings as pants with short shirts, tight or low cut pants, etc.
- Social Media is your personal scrapbook; post everything! Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter; all of these are a place for you to store all of your memorabilia. Keep track of everything from crazy spring break trips, details from bachelor/bachelorette parties, and the night you learned how to do a keg stand. You can also use social media as a place to broadcast personal views on politics, religion, your coworkers, and even your students. These are memories you really want to document and keep. Social media serves as free storage and will be there forever.
- Students Are the Best Friends to Have. This point is especially true if you teach high school because they will be so close to your age. Accept their friend requests and/or follow them on social media. Spend time with them socially outside of school other than school sponsored activities. Also, take them places in your vehicle. They may be shopping for a new car or just need a ride because their parents are still at work. There is nothing wrong with taking a kid home who does not have parental supervision.
- Air Your Grievances and Frustrations Everywhere and Often. Every day will not be duckies, bunnies, and rainbows. There will be hard days that you feel may break you. These days are learning experiences that will make you a better teacher. However, you must get through them to learn and you must have an outlet for your frustrations. The best way is to vent. Vent publicly. Go out with your coworkers for drinks and/or dinner and let it out. Be very specific in your complaints because they may have insight or empathy. Also, there may be patrons listening to your conversation that can offer advice.
- Advertise – You Are a Walking Billboard for Your School. You will be given quite a bit of spirit wear as well as a school ID that will probably include a photo. Wear these items everywhere you go. The term ‘everywhere’ includes but is not limited to the liquor store, the bar, and various social gatherings where pictures may be taken. Refer back to tip #2; you can advertise your school on social media if you are sporting your spirit wear.
- Stir the Pot and Play the Lead in the School Drama. Hone your interpersonal relationship skills and talk to everyone about everything. Sharing is caring, so share teachers’ stories and experiences with other teachers. You may work with very shy and private people who do not know how to share their personal and/or private business as well as you can. Lend your assistance by putting their personal lives on display. Also, if there is conflict between teachers, get in there and help to air everything out in the open. Let them know and the members of their team know what the other is saying about him/her. This is the quickest way to get a resolution and for everyone to move on.
- Stay in Your Bubble. There is no need to work with others. You went to school for four to six years to learn your discipline and pedagogy. What is the point in collaborating with Math, Science, English, etc.? Isn’t it the job of the Math, Science, and English teachers to teach their content area? You will have your hands full with teaching music all day with three to six preps, depending on the grade levels you teach. Also, you will have after-school commitments that require extra planning so do not waste your time with cross curricular collaboration.
- Pick and Choose Meetings and Duties to Attend. Duty assignments and meeting schedules are merely a suggestion. The administrative team makes the yearly schedules available to you at the beginning of the year to give you an idea of how busy you can be or how much free time to anticipate. It is a courtesy to you so that you may plan your personal interests accordingly.
- Ignore Those Parent Emails and Calls. Let the parents do their job at home and you do your job at school. The two are in no way related. It is none of their business what you do with their children in your classroom and you do not need to know what the students’ lives are like outside of your classroom.
- Ignore Feedback from Your Administrative Team. What do they know about teaching music? You are the one who has the music education degree and possibly the student loan debt to prove it. Many of your administrators have no music experience outside of their own time spent as a public-school student. Also, they have been stuck in an office and being a figurehead for the school, not in the classroom. The feedback you get from administrators in just busy work to fill up the required paperwork from the district and/or state.
Follow any or all of these ten tips and I assure you that having roots and stability will not be a problem.
About the author
NAfME member MJ Robinson is a music teacher in Summerville, South Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Murray State University and a Masters of Music Education from Boston University. Mrs. Robinson has served as a music teacher in elementary, secondary and collegiate levels in both Tennessee and South Carolina. Her teaching experiences include 7 years teaching elementary general music, 11 years teaching high school band and 4 years as a university adjunct. As an instrumentalist, Mrs. Robinson specializes in brass performance but has a strong interest in woodwinds, percussion, piano, and ukulele as well. MJ is an active member of Women Band Directors International where she serves as Historical Curator. The organization has published her articles in their quarterly journal The Woman Conductor.
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