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Square Pegs and Round Holes

John W. Pinkerton


Most of my working life was spent among teachers, coaches, support staff, and administrators in the local school system.

Many of these folks are in the wrong jobs.

I knew I was in the right place and job when I observed the principal sweeping the floor of the hallway in the school.  He wasn't doing this to show off to anyone.  I doubt that he even knew that I was still there.  He just cared enough to try to keep his school building clean.  He too knew that he belonged.

However, one of the saddest things that I  observed through my thirty-five years in this school district were folks who were in the wrong jobs and did not have a clue.  After all, they had gone to college to obtain a teaching certificate, and they obviously had good intentions, and they had been hired, and were being paid for their efforts.

I felt sympathy for these folks who tried so hard to make their square peg fit in a round hole.  I could see they were miserable trying to fulfill the requirements of a teacher.

Perhaps they didn't have the proper personality for the job.  Perhaps they didn't have a strong enough spine to stand up to the obstacles they encountered.  In some cases, they just weren't bright enough.  Perhaps they didn't actually like kids or didn't have a sense of humor suitable for working with kids.  All  of these are indicative of a “teacher” who is in the wrong job.

But, they pushed on day after day and were miserable day after day never realizing that they weren't at fault.  They were simply in the wrong jobs.

Perhaps they would be great sales people, or secretaries, or bookkeepers, or any one in a million different jobs available to them.

Most teachers surrender their teaching jobs after five years.  I've advised many bright young teachers to prepare themselves for other jobs within the educational field.  Many did and after five years found themselves needing to move on from teaching.

I spent twenty-five years in the classroom.  It suited me.  I was an exception to the rule.

As for administrators, holy crap.  There were only a couple who were in the right job.  The remainder reminded me that a service station somewhere was missing a good employee.

As coaches, well, we can't all be Bear Bryants even if we dream of such glory.  Those who were good teachers in the classroom were probably in the right field: most were neither.

As for support personnel, some of the best school people fall into this group.  If they're not, they either are weeded out or weed themselves out pretty quickly if their jobs do not fit them

In today's world, there is little point in being miserable in one's job.  Quit.  Seek another job and then quit again and again until you are happy in your work.  Although my experiences are within the school framework, I believe the principle applies to all fields of work.

Life is brief.  Make the most of your time on earth.