Random Thoughts

One door closes…..where does that leave you?

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It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in our house. For those of you who are overseas teachers you’ll know what I’m talking about. For those who are not…let me set the scene.

International recruiting fairs start the first of January. Which means schools need to know what jobs to go recruiting for before then. So in December, teachers need to give notice whether or not they plan on returning the following year (depending on your school it’s actually anywhere from November through January). It’s difficult on a couple of levels.

First, you have only been in school for about half the school year and you have to make a decision that will affect you a whole year in advance.

Secondly, most schools make you resign before the recruiting fairs even begin. Meaning there is a period of time when you do not know where you will end up, or even if you will have a job.

Of course the best course of action is to go into your last year at a school knowing it is your last year at that school. You can start the recruitment process early, get registered for a fair, ask for letters of recommendations, and prepare yourself for the move.

Now, that’s how sane people change jobs internationally. How do the insane do it? Well they go weeks getting very little sleep thinking about their future, what they want to do, and if their current school is the right place. They have long conversations as a couple discussing their future.

And then one Monday you say to your wife, “We’re resigning.”

And because she loves you she just says, “OK.”

(FYI: Because you are hired as a couple to international schools you must resign as a couple as well)

We were not expecting this, we were not/are not planned for it. But sometimes you just have to do things. Sometimes there is a voice within you that is stronger than you are and helps push away those fears and allows you to do what you really want to do. My wife left the decision up to me, knowing that there are things I’m wrestling with internally and that it was me that was feeling the need for a change.

Now only if I knew what that change was I wanted.

I announced that I had resigned on twitter this morning and I cannot thank my twitter network enough for their encouragement (and humor) in my decision.

I do not know what I want to do. All that I know is I want to do something “different”. I’m not sure what that is, what that looks like, or feels like at this point, and I’m relatively calm about that which tells me I”ve made the right decision.

Maybe I’ll go play World of Warcraft for a couple months like others have done. Right now I am just loving life and being thankful that I’m in a position that allows me to think outside the box a little, to reflect on what it is I want to do, and how best I can affect change both in myself and within education.

Stay tuned…things just got interesting!


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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Pingback: Darren Kuropatwa

  2. As I write this I am also crafting an email to my district tech leader to contact you! It must be scary to take the risk of resigning so far in advance, but I know you’ll be headed toward a dream job!

  3. I’ve been really impressed by your drive and energy and I am sure you will move on to better opportunities and I hope to continue to learn a lot from you.

    It’s funny seeing people come and go from Shanghai, because you get used to life feeling the same and then all of a sudden 20 people you know have landed jobs in the Middle East, New Zealand and Vietnam.

    I’ve just bought an appartment here so my future is definitely in Shanghai, but nothing is ever permanent. Anyway, good luck with the job hunting.

  4. Danielle Abernethy Reply

    Congratulations on your decision and best of luck with finding your right path in the world.

  5. Jeff I admire you for making what has been from your description a difficult decision which you have been thinking about for some time apparently.
    I believe we all reach points in our lives when we question if where we are in our life or career is where we are supposed to be and making a decision to change is never easy. For many, the decision to leave what we are familiar with is too frightening, the uncertainty too overwhelming, and as a result we never make the change. Congratulations on making the decision, another phase of life awaits you, another door is open somewhere, enjoy the journey in finding it.

  6. We’re behind you. Just like the guy in the Verizon wireless ads, you know?
    That’s the great thing about the connections here, no matter where you are (access issues aside) here we are.

    Best of luck!

  7. Jennifer Wagner Reply

    You MUST know that we all support you 100% and each of us wish that you could come work with us at each of our schools!!

    I am praying for clarity and open doors and dreams that surpass your highest hopes!!

    Can’t wait to hear of your journey!

  8. Congrats, Jeff. I look forward to reading about your next step.

    I see you’re getting a lot of this, but I believe Palm Springs USD is still looking for an EdTech & IT director (one person). There will be lots of opportunities like this for you, I’m sure… but I wonder if you don’t have something even more different in mind?

  9. Hi Jeff,

    I understand the food shelves don’t really run out of supplies until late October in most parts of the country. I would move somewhere warm if you are planning to live under a bridge or something. Of course, there is always one’s parents’ basement.

    Seriously, I hope you find the challenges and opportunities you’re looking for. And please, stay in education. We need you!

    All the very best,


  10. Jeff, I know that at the same time your have anguished over this, you also know that a door is waiting to open, perhaps to something brand new. What ever that new place is, you’ll fill it with a creative enthusiasm and eagerness to learn that has carried you so far already.

    As for the anguish, I felt it twice. First when I left the classroom to take a district position, and then when I left the district to go to the state level. In each case, I’d left a job that I had finally gotten pretty good at, to do something brand new — and that was tough! I was pretty hard to live with…

    The only job change I didn’t worry over was when I left for consulting. That was easy. It was my wife’s idea ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Great luck to you, my friend!

    — dave —

  11. Best of luck, buddy…

    No doubt you will be succeeding at your next endeavor. And if you do ever want to get back into this gig and I am in a position to hire, I’ll give you a call! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Still, happily reading the Stick…

  12. Thanks you to everyone! My network has been my learning vehicle for the past three years and all of you will play a critical part in my future, whatever that might be.

    It still brings a smile to my face to go to bed, wake up, and have comments waiting. Your network never sleeps, is always active, and is always willing….so powerful.

    We’ll see what happens next….stay tuned!

  13. I can relate to this. My wife and I did it last year.

    That feeling of instability in limbo-like situations is unsettling at times yet exciting too. Enjoy the exciting part!

    Good luck to you.

  14. I remember when I told my wife we were moving from Montreal to Winnipeg. I remember the sinking feeling I had in my stomach doing it without a job to go to and a baby to raise. The start was very hard. Looking back, it was a great decision. I’ve grown and learned so much as a result of that move and the things that have happened to me since. Now there’s 3 kids to raise and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Like you alluded to in your post, they say when a door closes a window opens. Just wanted to let you know I’m one of folks on the other side of the window cheering for you. You don’t need luck my friend; you’ve got talent. The rest is details. With a little energy those details will sort themselves out. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  15. Good luck to you and your wife Jeff. You’ve obviously got tons of talent and some institution will be very lucky to have you. All the best, a brave decision, but I am sure a very wise one.

  16. Just read about your decision on Twitter. How exciting, wonderful, and a little scary that must be. Wherever you go, a new adventure is waiting. It’s great that you have the support and freedom to pursue whatever it may be. Best wishes!

  17. Jeff, you’re a mensch.

    The Mariners finally got rid of some dead wood, so things might get exciting around here next season… if you’re leaning that way ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously, good for you. Make the rest of your year in Shanghai one that nobody will forget! – Mark

  18. Though there will be some discomfort in “growing” into new challenges and adventures, it will be worth it – that’s what life is all about! Some do it in a bigger way than others, but it is all about finding a good match and I’m confident that will happen for you and your wife!

    And with our flattening world, you know you can count on your network wherever you land! Keep us posted!

  19. My husband and I have moved between 4 different countries. Each time at the end of our 3rd year we decided the 4th was our last. It was very inspiring thinking the world is truly our oyster and we can go anywhere. We had to keep moving or changing jobs, need to keep fresh, learning and growing. Wishing you the best…

  20. Congrats on your decision my friend. In many ways I am envious of you and your wife. The opportunity to take a plunge into a new adventure in some new location is only a dream for many of us.

    There is some match out there for you. Maybe you’ll become a road warrior with David and Will, maybe not. I only wish you were in my District!

    One thing I am happy about is that in today’s connected world, we can continue to stay with you through the Stick.

    Enjoy the ride…


  21. Big step. It must be a bit scary, though thrilling at the same time. Gone are the old times. Do you remember when you were at university how the professors listed the steps to making a good career? Nothing is like that any more. Work, play, life is an adventure. I wish you and your family a very fine adventure at that.

  22. This shows how far behind on reading I am. Almost 5 days have gone by and I had no earthly idea about this.

    Some very fortunate district will be blessed to have your talents. I look forward to being a part of and reading about this new journey in your life.


  23. I think your blog is FABULOUS!!
    it’s full of helpful information!
    One more, i looked at your clutrmap and was VERY surprised. There are so many dots on it!!!!

  24. You may recall we met briefly at Learning 2.0. My wife and I made a very rushed and ill-researched decision 3 years ago to take up a position in Hong Kong where we found ourselves 12 months later without jobs, little money and poor options for picking up back in Perth from where we had come. 2 years later we are still in love with Hong Kong and have no plans to move on yet. My wife has become the breadwinner and enabled me to pursue my dream of working independently in the field of Educational Technology. (Now if only I can find a way to make it pay the rent!)
    Sometimes doors opens in places we least expect them. We simply need to be open to looking into different rooms.
    Best wishes for the future. I have every confidence it will be a rosey one.


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  28. It is good for making what has been from your description a difficult decision which you have been thinking about for some time apparently.also making the decision,another phase of life awaits,which another door is open somewhere.

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  30. I appreciate your candor, Jeff, and telling it like it is. As a teacher for 17 years and an international one for 8 of those, I can relate to the all-too-familiar, yet scary, change of job process in this particular quadrant of education.
    We, my wife and two kids, made this switch recently and decided to stick in a year sabbatical in between jobs instead of playing World of Warcraft. (not that you did that) During that year, we biked and camped through Europe, toured the USA in a car and visited with our loved ones in our home country for a few months. A few months of that sabbatical, though, that November to January stretch, was spent recruiting from a little apartment in Rome, as our touring bikes sat in a little storage garage.
    This blog post of yours inspires me to embrace my digital profile and really put myself out there both personally and professionally. And build my network!
    I would’ve never thought of Twitter as a means to attracting prospective future employers, or posting blogs to get my name out there. Slowly but surely I’m getting my 21st century mindset.

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