How to tell if teaching is still a good fit for you

Rob Donatelli's QUEST framework can help teachers determine if teaching is still a good fit for their lives or if they need a change.

As a teacher, it is healthy to evaluate where we are in our career. Is what I'm doing now still a good fit? Are there changes I need to make? And more. 

Rob Donatelli has invented the Q.U.E.S.T. method of evaluating are as a teacher and to help you determine how you should move into the future. We dive into this method in today's show to help all of us answer the ever-important question “Is teaching still a good fit for me?”

Rob's book A Teacher's Q.U.E.S.T.: An Educator's Journey of Discovery and Rejuvenation includes this framework.

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    This week's guest

    Enthusiastic, creative, & innovative Business Educator at Dallastown Area High School in York, PA. Author of A Teacher’s Q.U.E.S.T. Blogger for the Donatelli Edzone. Leader. Speaker. Blog:


    🎙️ Show Notes


    Key Takeaways:

    1. Teaching's Dual Nature: Teaching is highlighted as both a rewarding and challenging profession, underlining the dual nature of the job that includes the satisfaction of impacting lives and the difficulties that come with the responsibility.

    2. Burnout is Common: Educators often experience burnout, especially towards the middle of the academic year, due to the demanding nature of their work and the constant need for adaptability.

    3. The Importance of QUEST: Rob introduces QUEST (Question, Understand, Explore, Solutions, Test) as a framework to help educators rejuvenate and rediscover their passion for teaching. This approach emphasizes introspection and proactive problem-solving.

    4. Personal Stories and Fables: The discussion includes references to a fable about a teacher named Kelly Baker, illustrating the journey of self-questioning and seeking change, thereby making the concept of QUEST relatable and practical.

    5. Self-Reflection and Growth: Both Vicki Davis and Rob Donatelli share personal anecdotes about their experiences and moments of doubt in their teaching careers, showcasing the importance of self-reflection and the continuous journey of professional development.

    6. Life Beyond Teaching: The conversation acknowledges the necessity for educators to have interests and commitments outside of their profession to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

    Resources Mentioned:

    • A Teacher's Quest: A book by Rob Donatelli, serving as the focal point of the discussion and providing insights into rejuvenating one's teaching career through the QUEST framework.

    • The Wheel of Life: A tool recommended by Rob for self-assessment across various aspects of one's life, offering a visual representation of where improvements can be made.

    Actionable Tips:

    1. Engage in Self-Questioning: Regularly assess your happiness and satisfaction in your professional role and personal life to identify areas for growth.

    2. Explore New Pathways: Don’t be afraid to consider changes within the educational field or even outside it if it means reigniting your passion for your work.

    3. Invest in Personal Well-being: Make time for hobbies, relationships, and self-care activities outside of your professional responsibilities to maintain a balanced and fulfilling life.

    4. Seek Professional Growth: Look for opportunities to learn new skills, embrace new technologies, and innovate in your teaching methods to keep your career vibrant and engaging.

    5. Utilize the QUEST Framework: Apply the steps of questioning, understanding, exploring, testing solutions, and testing them in your professional and personal life to facilitate continuous growth and rejuvenation.

    📝 Transcript

    I used AI in either Premiere Pro or Riverside to help with this transcript. I did proofread it. If you see mistakes, just contact me and let me know. YouTube autotranscripts are not pre-viewed. Thank you!


    Vicki Davis (00:00)

    Today we're talking with Rob Donatelli. He is a 13 year educator, innovative business educator at Dallas town area high school in York, Pennsylvania. He's author of a teacher's quest. He blogs He's a speaker and does a lot of really cool things. But today, Rob, we're gonna talk about.

    five ways to rejuvenate and rediscover yourself as an educator. So where are we as educators?

    Rob Donatelli (00:30)

    thanks again, Vicki, for having me on again. It's always a pleasure. The job's always been a very rewarding job, but it's also a very challenging job. And it's demanding, So ever since the pandemic I'm sure you felt this way as well, but there was a lot of changes. There was a lot of things that we were trying to do and.

    build that kind of airplane in the air and fix things. And so, as educators, we're always making so many decisions we're trying to help our families be successful. We're trying to take care of ourselves.

    It is not uncommon. we're around day 100 right now for people to just feel kind of burnt out in February and March. And that flame starts to flicker towards the second part of the year.

    Vicki Davis (01:15)

    And it can be challenging. this is year 23 for me. And there's some common things that I've kind of started learning. Okay, this is typical how I might feel this time of year, but you have an Quest that is part of your awesome story that you've created.

    What are these five ways that we can kind of get rejuvenated?

    Rob Donatelli (01:39)

    So Quest is an acronym for to question, understand, explore, solutions, and test.

    And just to give a little teaser, Kelly Baker is the main character, has no reference to anyone I work with. I just picked a name that I thought sounded good for a fable, but she's just a 12 year veteran English teacher. And it's day 100 of the school year, the snow's fluttering down, she's sipping her coffee, and she's just starting to question things. She's been teaching 12 years at a high school, English, and…

    she's starting to ask, and like a lot of people do, is this it? Am I meant to be here for the next 15, 20, 25 years? so she ends up being at the grocery store on a Saturday with her children and runs into her former professor at a university, Dr. Grandin, they were so excited to see each other and he really inspired her to go into education. So he invites her.

    to come back to the university to grab a cup of coffee and catch up. And she sits down with them and kind of just pours it out that she's struggling with some things personally, she's struggling, you know, just some things at school, not that our life's bad or anything, but just those normal feelings. And so he invites her to go on a quest and she kind of like mocks them and says, what am I, seven years old at quest, you know? But it's a very practical tool that we can…

    Vicki Davis (02:51)


    Mm -hmm.


    Rob Donatelli (03:10)

    Take to again question where we are in life understand it look and explore Solutions and then test them. So I'd love to you know, share how we can apply each of those quickly if you'd like me to

    Vicki Davis (03:19)


    Let's do that. because you know, these are not just questions you would ask as a teacher. It's a question you ask about any role you might have in life. it is not a bad thing to question. honestly, last year, I probably came as close as ever to no longer being a teacher. A lot of different reasons, but.

    I was going through those questions and actually probably what kept me in teaching is a student who made me his star teacher. And it happened as a surprise and I didn't really know what to say. Everybody's like, you know, talk about how great it is to be a teacher. And I'm sitting there thinking in my head, OK, if you'd asked me any other year, but this year, I would have given you a great speech. But right now I'm speechless. Right. But by the time he had his third thing, which was, you know, the state.

    I was feeling it again. So it sounds like it's a process. Take us through that Rob.

    Rob Donatelli (04:24)

    Sure, we live such busy lives, as you said, Vicki, it's so important sometimes just step back and question where we are. the first part of Quest is just asking yourself some questions like,

    Are you currently on a scale of one to 10? How happy are you where you're at with your job? Like what are some things that you're liking that you're doing right now? What are some things that you're not liking right now? Do you feel valued at your school or your workplace? I think that's a huge one. what's the culture like at your workplace? Do you feel connected to people? Do you feel disconnected? I have a whole list here of different things that we can ask. And then, you know, in our personal lives,

    How happy are we with our lives outside of work? As educators, and I'm saying this from an educator standpoint, if we give 110 % to education, but we don't have hobbies, we don't make time for friends, we don't make time for family, we don't make time for religion, church, whatever that may be, we're gonna get burnt out. Those are the things that fuel us up to give so much back is.

    just asking yourself, am I doing any hobbies right now? Like what's something fun I could be doing? Do I go out on a date night with my spouse? do I have a relationship with, God? Am I going to church if that's something that, you believe in. So I think when we question and we ask some of those tough questions and there's models out there, the wheel of life is something that is awesome. If anybody wants to look up and do this.

    Vicki Davis (05:52)


    Rob Donatelli (05:52)

    In like three minutes, it's just a wheel and it asks you eight categories, kind of just about your life and where you rank, where you fall on a scale of one to 10, like finances, your health, your job, things like that. So that allows us to paint a picture, right? When we really reflect on questioning understanding, we can say, this is where I'm at right now. Some of it's messy, some of it's really good.

    Vicki Davis (06:17)


    Rob Donatelli (06:20)

    And I think that opens the door to explore what it is that we want to do.

    And then, you know, change is never gonna happen in a day, in a week. It takes small disciplines day in and day out. So when we take time then to explore and take those solutions that we wanna improve about ourselves and question and then test them, I think we learn a lot about ourselves.

    Vicki Davis (06:33)

    Mm -hmm.

    Rob Donatelli (06:45)

    the thing that I wanna leave people with is you're never stuck. So life is certainly a journey, it's not a destination. And if you feel just burnt out, if you feel stuck, and maybe this is some harsh wisdom, but…

    It's up to you to figure out and test those solutions and go question things about yourself. maybe if you're feeling like you're burnt out in a sense, what do you do? Ask yourself, what am I doing differently? Where am I exploring new technologies, new tools, new lessons? Am I trying AI? If you haven't been out to dinner with a friend in over two months, call somebody up and try to go out to dinner and.

    you know, reconnect with those relationships. So we're never stuck, especially as teachers. I know sometimes in education we get into and we feel like this is the only thing we're ever gonna do. But whether you decide and you choose to stay as an educator, which I love doing, it's a super rewarding profession, but super challenging. And we all question it from time to time, whether we're doing the right thing, or you're in a job in a workplace, there's always things that you can do.

    to just change life up and explore different ways to approach life a little differently.

    Vicki Davis (08:03)

    So we need to question, we need to understand, we need to explore options, we need to look at solutions and then test those solutions. And I know for me, interesting, and I'm just gonna relate this to this, sometimes people fall in different categories. They might change jobs a lot because they always think there's something better, right? And when I think of that, I think of a study that just came out about the transfer portal in college basketball and basically found that when you transfer, you don't play anymore and you don't really…

    have that much difference. So it's not really making that much of a difference. There are times to change a job, but probably not all the time, because when you go to a new job and you have the same problems you have before, you finally have to realize that, okay, maybe this is something I need to learn to do differently. But there is a time where you do have to change. I mean, I've been at two different schools and sometimes you do need to change. If I hadn't changed schools,

    I would have been out of the profession because that's just where I was, you know. I think it's healthy. Don't you think Rob to ask questions?

    Rob Donatelli (09:07)

    Absolutely. I could say five examples and I'm not going to for time, but I'll just share one. The gentleman in our department and our business department, he was a phys ed and health teacher for 12 years with fourth and fifth graders. And he was just like, I need a change. He loved business. He had a passion for it. He asked himself some tough questions. We had an opening two years ago and he is so happy that he made that change. So.

    It's not always, hey, you got to get out of education like you said. I always like this quote, the grass is always, not always, but mostly greener where we water it, right? So where we choose to focus and try to improve things a lot of times, it's a little bit greener, but maybe it's even just changing, going from the high school to the middle school. Maybe it's going from elementary to the high school. Maybe it's going from teaching.

    Vicki Davis (09:39)


    That's right.

    Rob Donatelli (10:04)

    XYZ to a curriculum director. Like change is healthy, change is good. And I wish sometimes in education there was more options, I guess, for opportunities for teachers to change. That's part of the job. But like you said, it's very healthy to ask those questions and to talk to people about it. And I don't know if anybody needs to hear this, but if you're really struggling with your profession in any way,

    There's life coaches out there that are willing to sit down and just, it's not a therapist, but somebody just like, this is where you are, let's talk through it. Let's have some great conversations and ask those questions and try to come up with some solutions. So.

    Vicki Davis (10:46)

    And what's the poem, what are you gonna do with your one wild and beautiful life? And you know, people aren't gonna ask those questions for you. You have to ask them yourself. You wanna live life intentionally. You don't wanna come to the end of it and realize you were trying to just please other people. I mean, it's okay. As I tell my students, there's seasons and reasons and it's okay to…

    Rob Donatelli (10:51)

    I've heard that.

    Vicki Davis (11:14)

    to shift and do things a little bit differently sometimes and to ask these questions. I think this is a really healthy conversation. I will say that there are certain times of the year I've learned not to make decisions. Like May, but because, you know, the last day of school and you go into post planning and everybody wants to talk about dress code and vent and you're just like, no, it's like, seriously, no, like I don't want to do this, but.

    Rob Donatelli (11:28)


    Vicki Davis (11:42)

    It's really healthy and I think Quest is a great way to look at it. So the book is A Teacher's Quest, A Fable Story by Rob Donatelli. Rob, thanks for sharing this story and asking some good questions that we all need to be asking.

    Rob Donatelli (11:58)

    Absolutely. Thank you so much, Vicki, for your time

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    Vicki Davis

    Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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