I'm really struggling. I lost my job in November and I'm in the midst of trying to balance what I do with who I am.
I definitely think there's an expiration date for people who walk away from the classroom -- both in your own ability to understand just what it means to be a real-live bona fide full time classroom teacher and in your ability to maintain credibility as a practitioner in the eyes of those of us who are still in the classroom. That's unavoidable. It is what it is. Your challenge is reminding yourself that your work still carries value. In many ways, you get to empower teachers now in ways that you could never do before. It's a different kind of rewarding, but it is still rewarding, none the less.
(That's just a snippet, but it helps.)
In May, I wrote more about being a teacher...what it means for identity and working. I still think that a teacher is a holistic undertaking - you don't do teaching. You are a teacher. It's unique in the sense that not many other professions can make the same claim.
I think I had it right back in January - I need to stop defining myself by one quality. I may not be in a classroom, my expiration date may be past, but I'm inextricably wound up in education, regardless of what I do. Maybe that's the real lesson.