updates: asking for more money to stay, the disorganized project manager, and more

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. How to ask my company to pay me more if they want me to stay

I was the reader wondering how to ask for a raise as a coworker was leaving, I was taking on more work, and I was being approached for jobs that pay more than mine.

I followed the script you provided almost exactly. I was so nervous, but my manager reacted very well and told me I was valued and they’d see what they could do.

Less than 2 weeks later, my manager came back with a promotion and 20% raise! I’m much happier now with the workload since I feel like I’m being compensated more fairly, I’m excited to have a new title, and I’m getting to be involved in more items that I think will prepare me for even further advancement.

Ultimately, I was terrified to ask for a raise but am SO thankful that I did. My manager respects me a lot and wanted me to be happy and engaged at work, and was so receptive!

Thanks for your advice!

2. I’m forgetful and disorganized — and I’m a project manager

All the advice I received from both you and the comments was completely correct. My efforts to improve my organization and punctuality at work weren’t enough to avoid getting fired.

I was thrilled that it happened though. Like you said, forcing myself to spend all day every day in a role that was completely wrong for me was incredibly cruel to myself. I was making myself completely miserable, and for what? So I could become kind of passable at my worse skills? I followed your advice and considered other fields where I could play to my strengths instead.

A few comments actually pointed out that working as a teacher sounded perfect for me. There is no chance to procrastinate on projects, as class will be there tomorrow no matter what, and the reactive nature of answering questions and addressing individual student’s needs would likely suit me better than the proactive work of project management. I got my substitute teaching licence in the fall of last year, and since then have been working as a sub. I absolutely love it. Instead of dreading going to sleep at night knowing it will bring more disappointment, I eagerly await new and exciting classes. Like some folks said, being away from an environment where I was always so far behind on everything actually did wonders for my productivity and organization.

I’m currently saving so I can go back to school and get my full time certification.

A bunch of comments also suggested that I might have ADHD. I had never considered that possibility, but the sheer amount of people saying my story sounded like a textbook example of ADHD behavior made me think. I got diagnosed last summer and started on Adderall. I got to tell you, that stuff is life changing. I finally get how someone can potentially be on top of all the little things in their life when I’m on it.

So thank you so much for your advice! I feel the best I’ve felt since I was a kid and I know you and your community are a big part of that.

3. Was my “probably not, but maybe” response to a recruiter appropriate?

I’m the poster who sent a recruiter a wildly entitled response.

I really do appreciate the feedback, as (appropriately) harsh as it was, and tried to take it to heart. What ultimately did me a lot of good in terms of getting my business-etiquette expectations reset was going through both ends of the hiring process firsthand — finding a new position, and then switching to the other side of the table and trying to hire a replacement for my role!

While there’s a lot I would put up with for a strong enough candidate for a purely-technical role, trying to backfill a team-lead position meant also paying attention to people skills; contrasting my own prior behavior against the (far more considerate) responses from the candidate pool has been humbling. Also, in one of the possible new positions I interviewed for myself and didn’t get, they made it clear in a courtesy follow-up call that I’d passed the technical side of the interview but failed the soft-skills end.

I still appreciate your response, and those of the commentariat, to my earlier letter. Thank you again!

{ 84 comments… read them below }

  1. Queen Ruby*

    LW2, I was prescribed Adderall at age 39, and it’s been life-changing for me, as well! It’s an amazing feeling to know I can actually manage my life! And gone is the anger and frustration over feeling out of control. It’s made me into the person I was probably supposed to be lol

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      The first time I took adderall I was like, wait, is this how most people’s brains work? It’s so quiet in here now.

      1. Mary Dempster*

        I was a commenter on the disorganization post re: ADHD, and I remember being shocked that a lot of other’s brains were working like that all along. You mean I can just start something, and complete each step until the task is finished? Huh. How about that.

      2. Jessica Ganschen*

        I’ve been on Adderall for about two years now, and there are still moments where I go, “Wow, I’m being so productive today! It’s so easy switching tasks and getting stuff done! …Oh right, it’s the literal doctor-prescribed brain chemicals that I took this morning.”

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          Thanks to all of you for reminding me it is time to talk to my doctor about my dosage.

      3. Cat Lady*

        This is exactly how I felt! I sat at my laptop and just wrote the emails that I needed to write. It was wild. I texted a coworker and was like uh is this how everyday is for you??

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Same here (well, age 45 instead of 39). Suddenly I can follow through on things – I’m in the process of lining up a new job with a $20K raise, studying all the stuff I’ll need to support me in that new job, dating again after years of not being able to motivate myself to try…

      I only wish I’d been diagnosed twenty years earlier.

      1. Stinky Socks*

        I was diagnosed at 47.

        I think the inattentive-types are easier to overlook, and if you’re smart, it’s possible to coast thru quite a lot of school without grades suffering.

        Suddenly being able to, for instance, STOP for a second before mindlessly starting another game of solitaire, and ask myself if that’s what I actually wanted to do, was kind-blowing.

        1. Bubbles*

          After years of suspicion, I just got formally diagnosed at 42 and am about 3 weeks into my adderall journey. The trigger for me finally getting help was that I was offered a promotion. I knew full well that the luck I had “faking it til I made it” was going to run out and just being smart and personable wasn’t going to be enough to succeed as a project manager. My work is already getting much more organized. I’m excited about this new and improved brain!

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’ve actually got a call scheduled today with a health professional because I also suspect I have ADHD. It’s been eye-opening reading about it. What really pushed me to try and get a diagnosis was the Ologies episodes about ADHD. The host (Alie) is married to a guy who has known he’s had ADHD for ages but she didn’t realize she had it until last year. I was like, hey, my brain has trouble shutting off and I really have trouble concentrating, so maybe that’s what I have too? I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?


      I’m so excited, y’all. I’m 39 too and recently diagnosed with ADD. It’s going to be a few weeks till I can get in with the specialist to start medication. I’m so excited to find out what having an attention span actually looks like.

    5. OnlyPositronVibes*

      I was diagnosed at 7 years old, in the late 80s, as a female, with inattentive-only ADHD (Called ADD at the time), if that gives you any idea of how BAD my ADHD is. Literally failing 2nd grade while scoring in the highest percentiles of standardized testing. I was not given medication at the time due to the “Ritalin will turn your kids into ZOMBIES!” scare. I learned to mask, and power through, and became a high-strung people pleaser that freaked out at negative, or even neutral feedback.

      A near mental breakdown in my mid-30s led me to ask my doctor to try ADHD meds to see if it would help with my depression & anxiety and… WOW. I can focus! I can clean! I can control my RSD (Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria)! The mean little voices in my head actually shut up! It’s now my mission to help other women around my age get diagnosed/on meds. We tend to be attracted to each other, and it does come out better when I can say “Have you ever thought that you might have ADHD? Cause I have it, and you seem to have some similar traits.”

      Bravo, LW2! I’m so proud of you and happy for you!

      1. Tea and leptons*

        I’m trying to get a diagnosis (at 47) and it’s hard to even find a doctor who will assess me for it. In the last few days I’d decided I was just making a great big fuss about nothing and just needed to try harder/be more disciplined/wear a more hairy hair shirt. But when I read things like your post, it spurs me on to get a diagnosis. So thank you.

        1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

          I wish you much energy and executive function as you go through this process. It’s hard to find people who deal with adult ADHD to begin with, and I live in a very rural area, so locating pretty much any service is extra exhausting and folks are stretched thin. I managed to get into a psychologist’s office for testing and evaluation, but I can’t get in to the mental health NP to get started on meds till July.

          You deserve encouragement and support, not a hair shirt!

        2. ADHD too*

          If you can’t find a doctor locally there are qualified psychologists who will test you remotely and prescribe medication. We did that for my adult son. He was originally diagnosed as a child and took meds all through school. He decided in college that he didn’t want to take them anymore and has been off meds about 6 years. After a couple of academic suspensions and a little growing up he had decided he needs meds to be successful in school if he wants to take more than one class at a time. Our GP was not comfortable prescribing meds for him even though she knows he has on adderall before.

    6. The Pied Piper*

      It was this blog, including the comments on this letter, as well as an Ask the Readers post about overcoming procrastination – both of which had commenters describing their ADHD, adult diagnoses, and treatment – that got me to my doctor, also.
      I’m 52 years old and was also prescribed Adderall, and agree – it is life-changing. I can still procrastinate if I decide to, but I can actually focus on my work. I meet deadlines, my productivity has increased many times over, and I don’t dread the day when I get up in the morning.
      So…I want to thank all of the commenters – I would NEVER have th0ught of this, much less pursued treatment otherwise!

    7. Whimsical Gadfly*

      I wish I could find my magic bullet

      I’m trying to get good with my Concerta. If only the med that made me functionally organized didn’t require me being organized enough to take it appropriately…

      I got diagnosed at 40 after being on another med that reduces impulse control (it got banned in higher doses for creating gambling and shopping addictions, but at low doses is the only treatment for my brain-ish tumor.) Just destroyed all my masking. Can’t stop taking it, and afraid to mix other meds because a number don’t play nice with it.

      I probably need a higher dose on the Concerta but insomnia is already an issue :/

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Same; I was diagnosed at 31 but I never found a dose of Adderall that worked well for me and the side-effects were too much so I gave up. It sucks that finding the right medication can be a long and difficult process when the thing you’re trying to treat makes you terrible at following through on long and terrible processes.

        I’m mostly doing okay without it though, so I guess my diagnosis is pretty much just for my personal knowledge at this point. It just lets me understand myself better and be kinder to myself now that I know I’m not just “lazy” or whatever.

  2. I'm A Little Teapot*

    #3 – Soft skills can be improved on! You are not doomed. Informal mentoring has really helped me, as has paying attention to how others operate. Practice has improved me. I’m never going to be as good as someone who’s just naturally great at people-ing, but I did go from terrible to adequate.

    1. redflagday701*

      And the fact that OP3 took the feedback so well is a very good sign of their capacity to improve their soft skills, I would say. Fundamentally, so much of it is about recognizing that other people matter and treating them accordingly!

  3. CheesePlease*

    Op #2 – this is such a happy update! congratulations for having the courage the switch fields, seek a medical diagnosis and have hope for a bright future. Bravo!

    1. Siege*

      Agree! And I want to add on, OP 2, you talked in your first post about really trying to force yourself to overcome your “shortcomings”. As another person with ADD (no H for me) I hope you’ll work to reframe your shortcomings as different strengths. We have a lot of really strong skills, and teaching is a GREAT position for us, and it’s not a negative that we’re not organized in the same ways as other people are. The more you work to your strengths and skills, the greater your success is going to be, where if you fight what you’re good at, it’s going to be hard. I know you got a sharp lesson in that with losing the PM job and getting the teaching job, but it’s worth reinforcing. You’re not less than others just because you have to buy your dopamine.

      1. Thirteen Years and Counting*

        “You’re not less than others just because you have to buy your dopamine. ”

        Wow, thank you. I needed to hear this today.

        1. Kaitydid*

          My therapist used to say, “it’s like pie crust, if you can’t make your own, store bought is fine.”

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    LW2, it’s always nice to hear from people who took advice to heart, especially when the advice was “this is a you-thing.”

    I think in very technical roles you’re often choosing from very smart people who can be taught any missing technical skills–and soft skills are considered much harder to teach, and so more important to demonstrate up front.

    Also, credit to Topsy-Turvy for recognizing this as the rare case where the email should have been a meeting.

  5. Robbie*

    OP#3, the first step in improving those soft skills is recognizing they need to (and can!) be improved. Way too many people don’t even get that far. Nicely done, and best of luck!

    1. BRR*

      The way the OP handled receiving such a large amount of critical feedback and responding in the comments and with this update so gracefully is outstanding. Being able to not take this amount of feedback personally is a huge asset and I have a large amount of faith in them.

  6. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Updates like #2 & 3 make me happy. It’s so gratifying to hear about when letter writers actually take Alison & the commentariat’s advice and it works out. I know the responses in the comments to both letter writers (especially #3) were hard to read but I’m glad they inspired so much introspection for both letter writers! It’s never easy to admit you’re wrong, but as my favorite YouTube personality said “There is dignity, grace, and humanity in changing your mind.”

  7. Double A*

    I’m so thrilled to hear LW 2 is going into teaching! Teaching under the best of circumstances is a challenging job, and right now it can be especially tough but I feel like all we’ve been hearing is about how miserable it is. The thing is, when it’s a good fit for your skills, it can truly be an incredible profession. It’s so creative, challenging, intense, and interesting. Welcome to the field!

    Also, I would suggest seeing if any local districts who might be willing to help you pay for your credentials. Teachers are in high demand right now. If you get a long term sub job and are liked by admin, they’ll be a big help in navigating what can be a stupidly bureaucratic process (kind of the opposite of what we need with a shortage…)

    1. Teachers needed!*

      Yes I came to say this! OP 2, you may just be able to get a teaching job and become certified along the way! No need to take on more debt. If you lived near me, you’d have district fighting over you.

      1. Teacher*

        Yes! I’ve been teaching over a decade and agree with both Double A and Teachers needed! Under the right circumstances teaching is incredible, challenging, intense, and always interesting. (One of my 7th graders once asked me, on a particularly difficult day, “Why would anyone want to be a teacher?” I told her, “It’s never boring.”) (That’s also why teachers are so prone to burn out. Under the wrong circumstances for you, it can be very damaging to your mental health in an insidious way.)

        Do not go into significant debt to be a teacher. There are few opportunities to raise your salary significantly to offset the debt. And there’s no need for it! There are plenty of opportunities to get hired while you work on your certification instead. There are lots of them out there through charter schools and alternative certification programs. Additionally, in my experience, colleges of education are terrible. Besides wasting your time and money, many encourage ineffective teaching methods that are not based on the best research and then need to be unlearned. (I know some people have positive experiences, but that’s been mine.) I’ve personally learned more from the professional development offered by the schools I’ve worked at, experienced colleagues, and professional development I’ve sought out on my own.

        I came here to mention in case it’s helpful that, once you are a certified teacher with your own classroom, you will have a lot more paperwork, documentation, grading, and planning to worry about. In the first year especially, it can be quite overwhelming. My sister-in-law has been a substitute for years and we sometimes compare our experiences. She loves interacting with the kids and being a positive influence (she works at our hometown school where her kids have grown up, so she really gets to know all of them), but has chosen not to pursue certification partly because she sees how late the regular teachers stay to do all the other work. When you are the full time teacher, though, you get to dive into the subject matter, read the books, and take responsibility for planning the learning for your class, which I really enjoy and find rewarding. You also develop more meaningful and longer term relationships with the students than most substitutes have a chance to. It’s important to learn how to grade, plan, document, and contact parents efficiently, and a good mentor is invaluable.

        I’ve moved in the opposite direction from you, going from teaching to a more admin role coaching other teachers and managing projects/initiatives/inventory. What you said about teaching being more reactive and in the moment and fitting better with your strengths makes a LOT of sense. I have struggled in my new role to learn how to manage a more complex to-do list that involves other adults and a constantly changing calendar. I would be miserable in a full-time project-management role. There are benefits to having a reliable schedule and being “on the stage” much of the day. It encourages a flow state.

        I’m sure that what you’ve learned about organization will serve you well, and you’ll a great teacher! I’m happy for you finding a job that you look forward to!

    2. Sorcyress*

      One more teacher throwing in to say that there are opportunities to get your credentials without going into debt…and also to say that as someone with an education degree, I learned WAY MORE and made WAY BETTER CONTACTS by being a substitute for four years than I did in the four years of college. Substituting, especially if you can look for long-term gigs, or paraprofessional roles, or summer school, or after-school tutoring, or all the other little fiddly “assist” roles is a GREAT way to make contacts and connections and get people thinking about and remembering you fondly.

      Welcome to the fold. It’s a safe space for us ADHDers.

  8. Frank Doyle*

    Hopefully this isn’t too off-topic: in re: LW#3, what is the meaning of the term “backfill” and how is it different from “fill?” Is it to indicate that this person is trying to fill their own position that they are leaving? I’ve seen the term before but I don’t completely understand its usage. TIA!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I am not LW3, but my understanding is “backfill” and “fill” can both be used for a position the company already has (example: Tom quit his llama groomer job and now we need to [backfill/fill] the llama groomer position). “Fill” can be used for a newly-created position (our company is expanding into the widget market and we need to fill the widget assembler role) and “backfill” would not be used in that scenario.

      This is just how I’ve heard these words used. There could be more nuance, different interpretations in different fields, etc. I’m no language expert.

      1. Lyudie*

        This is how I have heard it used. There is an existing position for a llama groomer, the current llama groomer is leaving for a new job so we have to hire a new llama groomer. Instead of a situation where you have one llama groomer and decide you need two llama groomers, so a new position is created that you must fill.

    2. H.C.*

      For me, backfill (to hire for a position that was vacated by someone else due to promotion/transfer/departure/etc.) is a subset of fill (to hire for any open position, be it newly created, recently vacated, or something else.)

      1. pencildragon*

        This is my understanding too. My current boss was promoted from Senior Llama Groomer to Camelid Management, my current coworker will be taking on some of those more advanced grooming responsibilities, and then they “backfilled” the position by hiring me as an entry-level Llama Groomer, with no prior experience.

        I’ve always assumed that the difference is moving everyone up and hiring a lower-level person to develop into the pipeline of talent, rather than trying to hire at the same level as the person who got promoted out of the department or retired or whatever

    3. NotARacoonKeeper*

      My understanding is a bit different than the others – I would use ‘backfill’ to describe the situation where we’re filling a role that has been vacated by a promotion. As in: if we promote Sally, we’ll have to backfill her role, but if she’s not ready we’ll have to fill that role with an external candidate.

  9. kiki*

    Update #2 was really gratifying to read. It’s actually okay to quit something you’re not good at. The world is big, there are lots of fields and and positions. It doesn’t always make sense to push yourself at something you hate and aren’t particularly inclined to do. If you wake up every morning dreading work, it’s worth considering leaving. And it’s not a failure, it’s just figuring out that something isn’t for you.

  10. Goldenrod*

    These are all wonderful updates!

    OP1: Well done!!
    OP2: It is so satisfying to see an example of how important it is for people to find work that plays to their strengths. Everyone has talents, they just need to discover what those are.
    OP3: Your update is incredibly gracious and you are a shining example of how to gracefully receive feedback.

  11. Doctors Whom*

    LW 3 if you are reading….

    First of all this is a happy update and I am glad for you!

    Your original letter read a lot like a colleague of mine who has a tendency to lecture people when responding to questions, instead of thinking about what is the information necessary for the other party to have in order to meet their needs. The writing style was in fact so similar that I thought you might have been this colleague – but I got a little into your experience and realized that wasn’t the case:)

    I am curious to know if there are any other books or articles in particular that you read while you were learning to reframe your expectations and how you engage. The person I am dealing with *thinks* they are great at soft skills stuff, but the tendency to lecture seeps out into communications with colleagues and often into having to give feedback resulting in extensive rework because he got so worked up in providing the lecture that he didn’t provide an answer to the actual question.

    This person is someone I work with a lot; I have a lot of respect for what they bring to the table but this habit is causing a LOT of friction with other people right now, including some of his direct reports. I would love to be able to spend a little time with any kind of resource that might help me figure out how to frame feedback for him so it is received, and also be something he would willingly digest. Asking him to be direct and provide what is really needed by the asker just hasn’t done it by itself. (And I have been direct: “I understand what you are motivated to consider here, but this doesn’t answer the question from the Chief Oompa Loompa. They asked if you think the proposed llama shaving measurements are compliant with the new regulation, but you’ve spent a page telling them how important good llama grooming is and how we should only hire experienced llama groomers who are motivated by their passion for camelid coiffures.”) So I’d be grateful to know if there was anything that you read (other than AAM:)) that particularly spoke to you and contributed to your growth.

  12. Clorinda*

    Hey, OP2, do you have to save to go back to school for certification? I didn’t. My state has an alternate certification path for career changers which meant I was able to acquire the teaching certificate while taking courses and passing tests WHILE teaching full time. You obviously have the credentials in your field, at least enough to substitute. I think most states have an alternate certification, and some large districts run a similar program on your own. Go to your district’s website and have a look.
    Going back to school is great, but being paid while you do it is even better! It was a three-year program for me, and it was excellent.

    1. Clorinda*

      Edit: large districts run a similar problem on THEIR own.
      (English teacher type good.)

    2. ArtK*

      A friend of mine got her credential through such a program and has been teaching for 20 years since. She moved to another state and now that state won’t accept her credential because it wasn’t from an accredited school.

      1. Clorinda*

        I think the programs have evolved. My certification from the state is exactly the same as if I’d graduated from a college with a teaching degree.

    3. Elysian*

      I also did an alt certification program to get a teaching certificate and think they’re great option for someone like the OP. Many districts have their own, or the OP could look into something like The New Teacher Project.

  13. Toddler Teacher*

    LW #2 – You’re update quite literally brought me to tears. I dropped out of college because of my ADHD and inability to organize and meet deadlines. Teaching was the career that saved me from my spiral of feeling like I would be a failure for the rest of my life. Many years later and I am thriving, and am even in charge of overseeing all curriculum planning and new employee training at my current job, things I never thought anyone would ever entrust me with back then. Congratulations, and I hope we get another update when you start taking classes for your certification!

  14. JustAnotherWed*

    OP#3, I agree with Alison’s assessment that your response to the recruiter was too much, but I understand the sentiment behind it. Your original email was nearly 1000 words. A shorter version can capture your concerns and also set the framework for the topics you want to cover in the recruiter phone call.

    ” Sounds great, I’m interested! Here are some considerations on what I’m looking for in my future roles.
    – Growth opportunities to lead high-impact projects, at the [Tech Lead / Senior Staff Engineer] level.
    – Work that is both important and challenging. What would I be working on at NewCo?
    – Cutting-edge technical stack. What is NewCo’s tech stack?
    – Does NewCo experiment with high-risk/high-reward investments? Is NewCo an early-adopter of new technologies, like [NewLanguage-A] or [NewLanguage-B]? I am especially interested in companies exploring [Language-M], [Language-P], or [Toolkit-R].
    – Opportunity to work with coworkers with domain expertise in [subfield-1], [subfield-2], [subfield-3], etc.
    – Companies with a commitment to diversity

    If this role seems like a fit, I’m looking forward to chatting further. I’m available Wed 8-11am or Fri 2-5pm.”

    1. Antilles*

      Even that’s still too much detail for an initial email. It’s no longer a page long word-vomit that will get completely ignored, but it’s still too much. It’s also not likely to get any useful information either – both because it’d be easier to jump to “we can discuss those when we talk” and also because it’s a recruiter/HR head in this case who probably doesn’t even have those sorts of nitty-gritty technical details anyways. The likely response is going to be something like this:

      Great hearing from you Wed! Lots of detailed questions, but on the whole, this definitely seems like a great fit. Our company is always involved in critical and interesting work, we’re an industry leader in staying on the cutting edge and we pride ourselves in hiring an experienced and diverse workforce. We can go in on all these details during our next steps. Friday afternoon works great, can we say around 2:30 pm for a phone call

      1. JustAnotherWed*

        Oh I agree, as *I* would never send such an email. But if OP is compelled to send an email that addresses their job criteria, this version is 120 words vs the original 920 words. And, at least the recruiter will know that OP may raise these topics in the initial phone call, and will hopefully be more prepared to answer (vs. “I don’t know what stack the dev team is using”).

  15. Heffalump*

    OP2, I’m glad you’re in a better place. When I read your original post, I thought, “It sounds like a tone-deaf person aspiring to be a concert violinist.”

    I also thought of the old joke about the guy who beat his head against the wall because it felt good when he stopped.

  16. freddy*

    OP2, is somebody cutting onions in here?? Seriously, I’m so happy for you. Your relief and positivity just shine through your letter. And we need teachers! You are in a better place, and you’re doing important work that not just anyone can do. Good on you for asking the question, listening to input, and acting.

    In fact, you’re making me reflect more on my own situation. It’s not as dire as yours – a lot of my work absolutely speaks to my strengths (people management and sales) – but I’m bad at project management and it’s a not-insignificant part of my job. You’ll understand better than anyone else how that’s the part that makes me miserable and self-judgy. Your experience is making me think I should explore other options that allow me to stop bashing my head against the wall of project management.

  17. hayling*

    OP#2, so glad you found a better fit! And schools are *desperate* for subs (and teachers!) right now, so you’re really doing a great service to your community.

  18. Wisteria*

    “I’m the poster who sent a recruiter a wildly entitled response.”

    You were not wildly entitled. You were just not calibrated to where those questions should come up in the interview process. They were all fair questions and concerns–just not as a response to an invitation to chat.

    1. Purple Cat*

      I agree, I went back to the original letter and thought “Out of touch” but not necessarily “entitled”.
      Either way, it’s good that LW3 took the feedback to heart and has been working on their skills. Growth is good!

    2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      Agreed. It wasn’t entitled at all, just the wrong timing and medium for perfectly reasonable questions.

  19. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    I’m excited that LW2 has found something that uses their skills—but to clarify, teaching, especially as compared to subbing, has a bunch of pre-work (and post-work for that matter). While, yes, the day starts whether you’re ready or not, it starting without you prepping ahead of time is a recipe for disaster. I’m not talking “review the material and make copies” but “none of my kids respond to the way this is presented in the book so I’m spending 7 hours creating an entire new unit.”

    The whole school year in many grades/subjects is nothing more than a nine month project. Does X connect to Y and can I deliver Z before A or should Q be moved up three weeks to fit W in etc. Again, the world needs passionate teachers, I’m happy LW has decided they’re one of those, but it’s really not a show up and go job.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      You should prob ignore me though, as I may also just be jaded as someone who literally won their district-wide Teacher of the Year award during their last year of teaching. I loved the job, and was good at it, but I’m happier, mentally and physically healthier, and much less stressed now. My reviews said things like “With each action she takes, you can tell she was born to do this” and I quit and never looked back. Again, just ignore me. I’m the a-hole.

    2. Retail Dalliance*

      I was scrolling to see if someone would post something like this. I’ve been a teacher for 10 years and I would like to heartily echo this sentiment. I am going to begin by saying and affirming: YES to switching careers, and especially YES to coming onboard to the wonderful world of teaching!

      But (and of course there’s a but) I really need to state: teaching is not a reactive job. It is very much a proactive job. Sure, your class will come and you’ll need to teach that day no matter what–but procrastinating anything can result in a less-than-stellar end product. I procrastinate too, but I always feel the negative effects of it.

      Teaching is also full of deadlines that absolutely need to be met–namely with assessments, grading and report cards.

      I guess my point here is that the use of the word “reactive’ concerns me. I am so happy LW2 is enjoying subbing. This is perhaps THE career for them! And I want to be welcoming, especially as a representative of a profession that is frankly in dire need of more passionate, driven people. But I do need to frame teaching as a labor of love, one that benefits GREATLY from sustained, consistent, advanced planning and an incredibly proactive mindset.

      1. misspiggy*

        You can treat teaching reactively if you’ve done enough groundwork, at least compared to project work. And all teachers need to be able to adapt to their students on the fly. Responsive is maybe a better word.

    3. Sorcyress*

      I’m going to slightly push back on this, as an ADHD teacher who spent several years as a substitute before becoming a full-time classroom teacher. YES you definitely have to have your lessons prepped beforehand –there are very few cases where you can just fully wing it. BUT, if you’re someone who struggles with doing anything until the last minute, this is a job that really does hand you convenient deadlines every day.

      I’m five years in and I still just come to school early to prep for that day –would things be better if I could prep a few days or weeks in advance? Absolutely, but that’s not likely to happen with the way my brain works. But I do well, I get good remarks from my boss, and the students are learning the material and passing their courses. And one advantage of being several years in is that my prep has gotten easier and more streamlined –I hardly ever use _exactly_ the same presentations as last year, but I can increasingly use parts of them and only have to make half the slides fresh.

      (I will suggest that looking for roles where you’re the sole teacher with that specific kind of class might be easier than if you have multiple teachers on the same one –because of the way I work, I do much better when I don’t need to coordinate with the other “9th grade llama rearing” teachers and can instead just focus on the “9th grade teapot painting” course that no one else has any sections of.)


  20. Excel-sior*

    Delighted for all 3 LWs, but especially for LW1 as I’m in a similar situation, having asked for a payrise and it currently being considered.

  21. Alexis Rosay*

    OP2, I’m so happy for you! Kudos for seeking out a field that works with your strengths.

    I’m very introverted and a planner and I used to be a teacher—I loved certain aspects of it but the exact things you thrive on were so difficult for me. I ended up going into project management!

    1. pencildragon*

      oh my gosh I came here to say something very similar.

      My degree was in teaching, and i loved all the theory and classroom work in my education classes, but the second I stepped into a classroom I FROZE. Hated it. Hated every second of it. Managed to graduate via sheer determination, but it took me awhile to really absorb the “why focus on your weaknesses when you could play to your strengths?” concept.

      Just recently started a new job that’s relevant to my actual strengths, and the feeling of actually being considered competent and not-a-failure for the first time in ages is absolutely incredible. I still get nightmares about teaching sometimes, even though all I did was one semester as a student teacher.

      Now I’m doing supply chain stuff, which is all moving parts and planning things now for deadlines 2-6 months out, and I LOVE it. Have been thinking project management sounds fun too.

      Funny how our brains can all be so very different

  22. MK*

    OP3, good for you that you were able to take the criticism in good faith. Out for curiosity, how did the recruiter you sent the email respond?

  23. Dawn*

    LW2, I’m glad you got diagnosed and are enjoying teaching! As a teacher, I’d caution you to be vigilant, if you choose to move into the profession, to be aware that a lot of the expectations of project managers are expectations of teachers too. As a sub, you come in and do the plans that someone else has made. Working full-time as a classroom teacher looks very different than working as a sub. It is not “reactive” work at all. You are not only planning curriculum and units in some cases (depending on where you teach and the amount of freedom you have on this … I developed my entire curriculum from scratch, for example, whereas other schools literally prescribe day to day what you must teach) but using those student questions and student work to differentiate learning so that each student makes progress. This is on top of juggling other obligations, meetings, and committees, again depending on your school. For example, you don’t want to start a new unit or a big project the week before state-mandated testing. You do have to be able to change on the fly, but you also have to have a sense of where you’re going (getting your students to reach the grade-level standards) and plan how to get there. Even classroom management shouldn’t be truly reactive; if it is, you’re likely reacting wrongly. Again, you should be thinking through and planning how to react to various student behaviors based on their needs.

    I don’t want to discourage you from the profession and lord knows we need more teachers, but anyone who is describing this work as reactive or done all or mostly on the fly doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It takes a TON of planning and organization, and there are always 16 balls in the air and just your two hands to catch them.

    1. gyrfalcon17*

      LW2, you could also remain a sub. When I was in high school, one of the teachers just did sub work and we were always happy when she showed up in our class because she was such a great teacher. (No knock meant on out regular teachers, of course.)

      1. Sorcyress*

        This this this! The downside is that the pay tends to be shit, but that can be very different in different districts (even ones very close to each other) and if you’re willing to look around, and supplement with tutoring/summer school/adult ed/whatever you can make an okay living.

        Nothing wrong with being a full time sub! I’d go back to it in a heartbeat if I could afford it, I was in some ways much happier and more balanced NOT being in charge of my own class.

    2. Retail Dalliance*

      +1. Not reactive. The best teachers are ultra pro-active. I think LW2 can become pro-active even with the ADHD diagnosis and perhaps even excel, but the “reactive” adjective applied to teaching really isn’t good.

  24. Ozzie*

    Aw, thank you LW #2 for the update! I remember your letter and am so glad to hear you’re doing better – both professionally and personally. You sound much more positive in this letter than your last, and I hope your saving and schooling goes well!

  25. rosyglasses*

    Love these updates!! So much happiness in my afternoon reading the successes people have found.

  26. I Don’t Know It All*

    OP2 – Have you checked into transition to teach programs? With the shortage of teachers right now, you would likely have a good chance at getting hired on a temporary or restricted license while you went through a program of that nature.

  27. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    The first and second updates warm my heart. And LW3, well done for recognising your flaws and working on them.

  28. Kiki*

    I was a teacher with undiagnosed ADHD and I had a terrible time being organized and on top of things. Even with meds, teaching is not for me. You cannot underestimate how organized you have to be. And they observe you and micromanage you like crazy, kids have short attention spans, behave badly and there is too much disrespect. It is not all easy and hunky dory. It is a very hard job. In your shoes, I would NOT become a teacher. You will be too stressed out.

    1. Double A*

      I feel like of you’re energized by being sub, which is just about as much disrespect as you’re gonna experience as a teacher, then you’re very likely to enjoy the career. It absolutely takes a lot of planning and organization, but it also involves a ton of improvisation. You can have a plan in broad strokes and make it through the day. Once you have built up your resources, it really can become mostly an on-they-fly job as you reuse material and tweak it each time. Those first years building up your resources is rough though!

      I don’t think ADHD cuts one way or the other when it comes to teaching; it could be a strength or a drawback. But I do know that many of the best teachers I know have ADHD.

    2. Sorcyress*

      Different schools and school districts have VERY different styles. My first teaching job was at a private school which was almost entirely hands off for me…and then didn’t hire me back after my first year with little warning of what had gone wrong.

      My current school is not micromanagey, but it does have a lot more mentoring and support opportunities. I got observed every few months my first year (and in my fifth year I’ve been observed once) and the conversations with my department head afterwards were always extremely helpful in figuring out how to improve moving forward.

      That being said, I’ve been medicated ADHD most of the time I’ve been teaching –I know days where I miss my meds are always harder.

  29. JelloStapler*

    LW1- I am simultaneously so happy for you and do jealous. That would be unheard of in my industry. More like “here’s more responsibilities with that 3% raise”

  30. Be kind, rewind*

    I’m so happy for #1! We always stress over these conversations and think they are going to be difficult, but sometimes it’s super easy to ask for and get what you deserve!

  31. Sally*

    Hey #1, as a former teacher with ADHD, I just wanted to advise you that some teaching positions and some populations of kids need their teacher to be highly organized. A lot of classroom management depends on things like consistency and having very structured routines and spaces. Kids from stressful environments rely on this even more, and if you have ADHD, you need to make sure not to let the kids’ chaos amplify your own vulnerability to chaos. There is also an awful lot of work that you have to do nightly, including lesson planning and grading, after you’re already tired, and you have to make sure to do it efficiently so that it doesn’t slow up your life.

    As a sub, the regular teacher has organized the classroom, lessons, and paperwork. All you have to do is to follow the structure. Its quite another thing to be the person who creates these structures.

    I highly advise you to try to get yourself into a long term subbing position where you are responsible for the grades and lesson plans.

    However! It depends on the position. I think that art, music, and athletics would be much easier, because you’re not having to handle all these masses of student papers. Special Ed might be great, first because you know firsthand what it’s like to struggle with an invisible obstacle and be held back by it. Also, there are fewer kids in the classroom. Yes, there are fewer kids because each one needs more support, but I’m guessing you are pretty great at adapting to kids who are different. You could be a counselor or school psychologist, which again doesn’t involve involved lesson plans and herding 200+ kids and their mounds of papers all day every day.

  32. Aunty Fox*

    LW 2 I’m so glad for you. I’m currently trying to start the process for an ADHD diagnosis so really just wanted to say I’m so pleased for you!

  33. TeechaCrajee*

    Oh, no! Someone came in with organization problems and the advice was…to become a teacher???
    I’m sorry, but I was a teacher for ten years, and one of the reasons I changed industries was because MY ADHD and organization issues. It wasn’t a problem when I was subbing, no…but if you’re teaching homeroom? Or elementary? You need to be SO organized!

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