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An Open Letter to Any Educators Being 'Let Go'

Updated: Apr 18

by Rebecca Thomas




Dear Fellow Educators (friends),


If you are reading this, you have likely received the difficult news that your employment has been terminated due to budget cuts or downsizing. I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, and I deeply empathise with the turmoil of emotions you must be experiencing right now.


Having been in your position just recently, I remember all too well the feelings of shock, sadness, anger, instability and immense stress that come with an unexpected job loss. With it comes the crushing pressure to provide for your family in this already ‘stretched’ financial climate; it’s suffocating.


The education field was your passion and your calling. Your job gave you purpose and security. To you it wasn’t just a job, it is who you are.


What will happen to the children, schools, leaders and education services you were supporting? For most of us, teaching isn't just a job - it's a service. Having that identity rocked by forces beyond your control can leave you feeling empty, lonely and helpless.


Filling in your CV at the ripe old age that’s somewhere over forty is an uncomfortable feeling. You worry that you are going to be too old on the pile of other expectant candidates that are also now on the same job search as you. You know the competition will be fierce.


From out of nowhere you begin to gaze at job adverts that have nothing to do with the career you are an expert in, you are trained in, and have worked hard in. A career you have spent your life ‘giving to’. You begin to stare at ‘hotel waitress’ adverts and ‘estate agent’ jobs and think to yourself - hey I could do that, maybe the tips are good? Maybe it’s time for a change of career? Maybe I’ve had enough of education? Maybe this is supposed to happen to me?


You go through the ‘restructuring process’. Intense meeting after meeting, hoping that there will be a glimmer of light for you next time, hoping that someone will give some feedback that suggests they have ‘overlooked’ something, or you wildly hope that the redeployment offer will be viable and suited to your needs. These thoughts haunt you as you lie awake, unable to sleep.


Then one day as you sit on a sandy beach with snot running down your face - you cry to the one person next to you who you think will understand.


You didn’t want your friend to see you snivelling on the beach that day, seeing you broken and vulnerable, seeing you give up hope. Despite what you feel in that moment, the people around you don’t think you are useless, they don’t think you are not good enough because you got made redundant. It is no reflection on yourself, your skills, your attitude…the negative thoughts are just in your head.


Remember that you are so much more than your job title. 


You are a lifelong learner, a beacon of knowledge, a nurturer of young minds. 


The Government may have let you go, but they cannot take away the remarkable person and professional you have become through years of dedication to the people you have served.


While the job search road ahead may feel daunting, please don't lose hope.


I see your resilience, your wealth of transferable skills, your drive to make a difference, if you didn't have those skills to start with you simply wouldn't be where you are right now. Though institutions may sometimes lose their way, the world will always need passionate educators like you.


So hold your head high. Take the path of grace over bitterness.


Someone once told me that although it’s hard right now, 'difficult doesn’t last forever'.


Use this between-chapter as a wake-up call to explore new opportunities that may reignite your purpose. Whether it's a fresh classroom, an educational services role, a career pivot or whatever lies ahead, I know you will emerge stronger. I did.


For now, give yourself permission to feel all those yucky feelings. Let the snot run down your face and the tears sting in the salty wind. Reconnect with your support systems. Lean on your friends. Rejuvenate your spirit, reset your wairua. And when you're ready, update that CV and market those superpowers to the world.  


This is not the farewell you deserved, but it is a transition ripe with possibilities.


We educators don't just teach content - we shape lives. Your impact will ripple far beyond any single institution.  


With deepest appreciation for your service,


A Colleague

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