Leaving with dignity

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There are myriad reasons to leave a job: promotion, relocation, retraining, family, personal, health...However, one point of agreement is that no one wishes to leave on bad terms - it’s not good for the school, for your pupils or ultimately for you. Whatever the circumstances, aim to make the parts of your exit that you can control as dignified as possible. You’ll thank yourself in both the short run and the long.


Get your story straight

Your reason for leaving may be as straightforward as it seems: promotion or move are the most obvious examples. However, for most, the reason for leaving is a little more complex, and may involve personal decisions that do not need to be common knowledge. It is not dishonest to only share part of your choice with your colleagues. Whatever you do choose to share, be aware that it will quickly become public knowledge (there’s nowhere like a school for chitchat!) and your decision may well be subject to scrutiny by those wishing to dissuade you. Be absolutely sure of what you are willing share before you start the resignation ball rolling and, if at all possible, keep your story short, sharp and positive - ‘a new start’ or ‘an opportunity’ are good go-tos if it’s difficult to find the upside.


Give as much notice as possible

For non-leadership team teachers, the required notice period is one term (the old half term) and dates each year for resignation are readily available on sites such as the TES. If possible (and it’s a big if),giving your school more notice than this can go a long way to smoothing your exit path. If you have made an advance decision, there is usually little to be gained for you or your school by keeping it quiet. Letting management know early allows them to recruit and feel that you are not deliberately putting them in a difficult situation - even if you are leaving due to ideological differences or a more challenging issue, it is unlikely to be improved by handing in notice too late for a replacement to be found. Make your final weeks as positive as possible by giving management time to replace you.


Know your boundaries

Most schools will be sorry to lose a member of staff who has chosen to leave, and may well look to keep hold of them in any way possible! Be clear about your boundaries and stick to them like glue - especially if you are staying local. Do you want a complete break from the profession or the place? Then supply or invigilation are not for you right now. Are you willing to offer help to your department after you’ve left? If so, for how long and in what role? Will you answer emails, phone calls, or will you go in by prior arrangement? Whatever you decide (preferably before you resign your role),be clear with your colleagues and don’t move your boundaries. You will appreciate the break and your colleagues will appreciate the clarity you have provided.


Overall, you deserve to leave with dignity. A planned departure is rarely without a tinge of sadness for happy times past, but the thrill of new possibilities is usually enough to carry you through. Good luck in whatever you move on to next!

For the audio version of this blog, please visit: https://youtu.be/ZbaEUrRXIa8 

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