Today I learned via social media that a person had been hired to replace me in the position from which I resigned in early October. It came on the heels of seeing a press release that included a grant I had written and obtained for this same organization – a piece of independent work and one of which I was especially proud of completing.
However, the problem with grants is that they are ongoing and sometimes, employment isn’t. Don’t get me wrong; it was my decision to leave this job – a position that included far more outreach and event planning than the planning and provision of community education. “I am a teacher, not a party planner” was the mantra that kept reverberating in my head day after day, event after event. After being out of the office for slightly over a month, I am surer than ever the decision was the right one for me. I am a much more pleasant person, not brewing over what was said, done or not done, criticized or not heard in the first place. Truly, I was not myself in this position. The more I tried to adapt, the more frustrated I became.
Part of the reason for this is that I do not think most people understand what environmental education is and/or what an environmental educator does. I understand human development, teaching, methods of engagement, curriculum development, as well as student, teacher, and community needs. Arguably, I do communicate well. I understand educational philosophy and pedagogy and want to extend educational experiences outside of the classroom. But, this job required me to spend time on other things: events. It was a mismatch.
There were other problems too. One of the most significant in my mind is that I was not properly introduced upon hire nor given a proper orientation to the position. Although I bear some responsibility for not speaking up about these shortcomings because I “allowed” them to occur, it was still up to leadership to provide. The organization for which I worked had a large fundraising event this past weekend. It is my hope that the newly hired person, who took over the position I held, was at this event and introduced to EVERYONE! I would suspect that the board of directors was there and hope that she got to meet each and every one of them. That piece was never in place for me. Even as I left, and wanted to request an exit interview, I was emailing some board members I had never met. This was extremely awkward, and unfortunate.
So, what’s my point? It’s just this: we are all replaceable. Although I performed well, I let myself become frustrated by many facets of this position. It could have been a great job for me. It turned out not to be. I was so intent on doing well on the facets of that job I did not enjoy, it greatly diminished the time I had to spend on the things I felt mattered and was adept at providing. Today, I was able to see that we are all replaceable. And, sometimes, that’s a good thing – for everyone involved.
Me???? I’ll just go on teaching like I’ve always been meant to do – with or without “a job.”