Why working in a school that you hate, might be the most important thing you ever do.

If you’re in a school right now that is sucking the life right out of you, buckle up because I’m about to help you see the incredible opportunity you’ve got.


Grab a cozy blanket and a G&T, it’s story time:


Meet Heidi


In her third year of teaching, Heidi was wanting to spread her wings and experience other schools and year levels. Her current school was great. The kids were awesome, families really supportive and her colleagues were an absolute hoot. But she couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to be in a school where she wasn’t known as the BT who Googled: ‘pictures of melons’ while her computer was connected to the big-screen. Yes, it was time to cut the apron strings and head out to a new school!


In just a few short weeks of sifting through Gazette alerts, Heidi found a school that looked perfect. It was much closer to her home and had a vacancy for a year ⅚ class which would be the perfect challenge after working with juniors for three years. 

During the interview she dazzled her new leadership team with her enthusiasm, work ethic and curriculum knowledge. They snapped her up that day and Heidi couldn’t be happier about jumping into life at a new school.


Heidi was about to learn some hard facts of life. Not all colleagues want to get along with you, not all leaders are interested in supporting you and most definitely; not all schools are created equal. 


It’s fair to say that all teachers are faced with a range of challenges that spice things up a bit, but Heidi, she was plunged into a whole new world of not just behavioural challenges, but BEHAVIORAL CHALLENGES. You know the ones, chair hurling, swearing, door slamming, calculator smashing … the things that a school and RTLB specialists usually support a teacher with. But no, not Heidi. Her support came in the form of comments such as ‘clearly you just have to try harder’.


That was just the start of it. When she needed a colleague to lean on, they were nowhere to be found. Lunchtimes were spent by teachers in their classrooms and the most vibrant thing about the staff room was an overwatered fern, slowly dying in the corner. When they did get together, the conversations between staff could best be described as moan-bonding sessions where anyone was fair game when it came to hurling complaints.  


What the hell had she done? After just one term, Heidi had felt herself go from Ms Frizzle, to Ms Frazzled. She’d lost all of the enthusiasm that she started the year with and was absolutely kicking herself that she ever thought that the grass was greener in this hell-hole that was masquerading as a school. 


As far as bedtime stories go, this one is about as feel-good as the opening scenes of Bambi but as all Disney movies have taught us, the good guys can always get a happy ending. 


Sometimes the circumstances that we find ourselves in just suck and we think ‘urgh, I just don’t want to be in this crappy job anymore’. 

YESSSS - let’s take this thought and run with it!


First Step:

Swap your don’t’s for do’s. 

If you’re in a school like Heidi’s, your school has given you a pretty great gift - it’s shown you where your boundaries are and what you are, and are not willing to accept. You’re living and breathing what you don’t want and there’s absolutely no point dwelling on that for a moment longer because you’ve got more important things to do, like going on a quest to find what you do want. Write a list of the values and qualities that you expect from a school that you would be thrilled to work in. 

🔘 I want to be in a school with a dynamic staff culture

🔘 I want to be in a school where I will have the support of a coach

🔘 I want to be in a school with an engaged LSC

🔘 I want ...

🔘 I want ...


Next Step:

Why do you deserve all of this good stuff? Why do you NEED it? Create a vision that is so real that you can reach out and touch it. If you can describe why you need to find a school that is a perfect fit for you, feel it, see it, BELIEVE it; you’re much more likely to get out there and achieve it. 

🔘 By finding a school that is a perfect fit for me I gain:

     △ Being able to bring my best self to school for the kids

     △ An enhanced sense of wellbeing

     △ My spark

🔘 By finding a school that is a perfect fit for me I lose:

     △  Stress

     △  Negativity

     △  …



Get out there and get it. It’s time for YOU to get out there and start interviewing some schools. Look at your vision and write down some questions that will help you to make a fully informed decision about which school you will choose and get busy asking them. Ask at the interview, ask at a school visit, ask the teachers who work there - get as much information as you need. 


Here’s my filter for everything: if it’s not a ‘HELL YESSSS’ then, it’s a no. 

If you’re offered a job, it doesn’t mean that you have to take it. As we’ve learned from your crappy school, it’s worth holding out for something amazing. When you are desperate to leave you’ll accept anything, when you’re focused, you’ll accept something extraordinary. 


Life is too short to be in a shitty school because we need all of our teachers to absolutely THRIVE. 

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