Get out of Teaching

Get Out of Teaching Podcast Season 3, Episode 10 Coaching Call with ex-teacher Helen

May 27, 2021 Elizabeth Diacos Season 3 Episode 10
Get out of Teaching
Get Out of Teaching Podcast Season 3, Episode 10 Coaching Call with ex-teacher Helen
Show Notes Transcript

Helen explores her emotions from leaving teaching in UK to instructional designer, working online. Helen has experienced criticism as a teacher and as an instructional designer. She has experienced the negative aspects of working in a new environment but still in the Education sector, and has lost confidence.

In this raw and honest conversation, Elizabeth and Helen explore next steps and the actions to take to help her on the next phase of her journey.  

Helen is planning on reaching out to companies she would like to work for. Perhaps even starting her own business. 

Aired on May 27th 2021


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Elizabeth Diacos  0:01  
Welcome to Season 3 of the Get Out of Teaching Podcast. I'm your host, Elizabeth Diacos. In each episode of this season, I'll be coaching a teacher around one aspect of their move out of Education. You'll have the privilege of listening in on the powerful coaching conversations that move people closer to a life they love. So come along for the ride as we get out of teaching. 

Episode 10. 

So hi, everyone, and welcome. And I'm really pleased to have with me on this call today, Helen, who we really have only just met, and Helen has a few issues that she wants to try and resolve around her exit out of teaching. So Helen, what would make this an amazing call for you today?

Helen  0:49  
Oh, gosh, I haven't even thought about that, so, what would make an amazing call? if I could resolve my total confusion and disappointment of leaving teaching. So, because I'm so disappointed, I had a negative leaving teaching experience. So I'm a little bit beaten up as to what to do and a bit downhearted by everything. So maybe to resolve some of that and have some steps to move forward with it, really.

Elizabeth Diacos  1:24  
This is great, because usually I talk to people who were really happy they got out. So it's nice for me to have a different kind of conversation. So I know you've got limited time, it's your morning, it's my evening. 

Helen  1:36  

Elizabeth Diacos  1:37  
Just give me a bit of a picture of like, in, you know, one minute what what's happened to get you to the point where you feel like it's been a bad exit.

Helen  1:47  
Okay, so it was a traumatic exit anyway, as it often is from leaving teaching, it's quite difficult to, I suppose, escape or leave because of long notice periods, and school politics and workloads and guilt and all the rest of it. So that was quite challenging itself. Anyway, I managed to get myself a job and exit. And the job was instructional designer. And it's online, working for an online company, training company. And it's been horrible. The work politics for me seem to have continued from work to this job. And my confidence was quite low leaving teaching because of criticisms, and mixed messages, and just the typical teacher stuff once they get any case, to more of the same really. 

And I've worked really hard at doing an exit, so I did a career changing course and informational interviews and didn't leave until I've got another job. And I thought I'd done everything, everything right. And it's been awful and as for next Wednesday, I will be out of work. So that is the reality of what's...

Elizabeth Diacos  3:13  
Did you quit? Or did they fire you?

Helen  3:16  
Well, it was a 4-month contract.

Elizabeth Diacos  3:18  

Helen  3:20  
And now I did leave three weeks early. I've left. But I may have got pushed I'm not sure about that. It was very negative experience. And I'm just really on the floor to be honest.

Elizabeth Diacos  3:34  
So sorry, it's been very, very traumatic experience for you.

Helen  3:39  
Yeah, it has been, yeah. And lockdown. And it continues as from next week job searching and how to pick yourself up from that. I read lots of stories of people transitioning out and it was kind of my dream to do that and be one of those and I'm one of these. And it's great that you're talking to me because I don't think there are enough. We only ever hear the good stories. We don't hear the the bad stories and actually, hopefully the recovery of the bad story, but you know, I'm sure there's many others like me. Well, I don't know. Cause you don't hear, hear from them. 

Elizabeth Diacos  4:15  
Yeah, well, I mean, I'm sure there are too. It took me a long time to find my feet when I left. And, you know, I sort of sidestepped into the not for profit sector on my way out. It still that that was rude shock. It only paid 40 weeks of the year, they didn't mention that at the interview. 

Helen  4:34  
Yeah, there's a lot of that. 

Elizabeth Diacos  4:36  
The pay was lousy to begin with. And then it was only 40 weeks of the year. And I'm like, "What now?" Luckily, I had a buffer. Do you have a buffer? 

Helen  4:45  
No, that's the problem, really. Literally. Yeah, it's, I'm kind of at the end of the road. I'm sure it'll, well, I hope it'll work out, but no, it's very, very, very stressful and quite challenging to keep pushing forward with it. I do every day, and I am every day, and there are opportunities that come my way, I just got approached 2 teaching jobs this week. You know, when your backs up against the wall, it's very tempting to grab those again. But I have, this is a repeating cycle for me. I get desperate, and I'll go back and I'll be unhappy. And I'll quit again. And so so it continues and it's not worth it. It's no good. It's not worked out before. So why is it going to be any different? You know?

Elizabeth Diacos  5:35  
Yeah, okay. So, so you said that you want to resolve your total confusion and disappointment? That might be a big ask of a 20-30 minute conversation. But I do wonder if maybe we could look at some, at least some next steps because you know, you don't need to see the top of the staircase to take the next step. 

Helen  5:35  
No, that's right. 

Elizabeth Diacos  5:36  
So when you left first time around, what were your first steps? Like, it sounds like you got all this stuff in place? And it still didn't really go well. But you, you did a lot of the legwork that you can now apply again, surely? 

Helen  6:15  
Yeah. So the first time... what do you mean? Because I've, I've left teaching a couple of times throughout.

Elizabeth Diacos  6:20  
Okay, well, I didn't know that. So, thought you did this only once. All right. 

Helen  6:24  
That's why, no, this is a repeat, a repeat cycle, really. This is probably maybe my third... I mean, I've been teaching for over 20 odd years. So I've tried to leave Education a couple of times. And I'd say, always, this is the worst, worst it's been, but I always end up going back because it's too difficult to stay out, because I've just been approached twice this week again to go back and it's very tempting. And then the cycle begins again.

Elizabeth Diacos  6:56  
Yeah. Okay. So let's, let's step back a little bit. What would what would a great life look like? Like, what would be the characteristics of a really great life for you? Well, notwithstanding, let's assume this, eventually that's going to end. Let's assume that that's, you know, relatively on its way out, the pandemic, and we're just looking at what would a great day in a great life look like for, Helen?

Helen  7:23  
Working for myself, to be honest. And well-being or something like that. Or working for myself, teaching nature studies or something like that. But I feel that's kind of impossible right now, because I don't have a buffer. But I don't know.

Elizabeth Diacos  7:43  
Okay, and have you ever kind of named that before? That, that was that would be what you would like to do?

Helen  7:49  
No, yes, I have named that before. So I've done a lot of soul searching. And I've started up a little business as well, which doesn't make any money, sadly. Because, you know, it was another option...

Elizabeth Diacos  8:01  
What's your business? What is that, Helen?

Helen  8:03  
It's called Mandala Minds, Mandela Minds. And it's creative well-being. So it's drawing and coloring, I suppose, using a drawing tool. And doing that mindfully. 

Elizabeth Diacos  8:19  

Helen  8:19  
So mindful creativity.

Elizabeth Diacos  8:22  
Lovely. But it's not making you any money? 

Helen  8:26  
No, because I'm just so split all the time, you know, and I'm job hunting. And so it's really difficult to get my head in into that. What's my priority? Pay my bills next month or build a business? 

Elizabeth Diacos  8:40  

Helen  8:40  
So, yes. Really challenging. Very challenging, indeed.

Elizabeth Diacos  8:47  
Does the UK Government offer any kind of business planning workshops or support for new businesses starting up? 

Helen  8:57  
Yeah, so I'm talking to somebody at the moment and I've got an appointment with him next week. So I keep plugging away at that little bit by bit but, like I say, it's kind of a sense of urgency really to get some cash coming in. 

Elizabeth Diacos  9:13  

Helen  9:14  
Without going back, without going back to teaching and without landing with something like this again, because this has been worse than teaching to be honest. 

Elizabeth Diacos  9:23  

Helen  9:23  
If that's possible. 

Elizabeth Diacos  9:25  
Yeah. Yeah, okay. That's an indictment. All right. So I'm going to give you some homework. 

Helen  9:32  

Elizabeth Diacos  9:33  
I know we've only just met. You're a teacher you like homework, don't you?

Helen  9:37  
Yeah, I love it.

Elizabeth Diacos  9:39  
Okay, so, so a few things I think one you know, if I'm working with people like longer term, one of the things that often they don't think to tap into is their, their network of people. And so there's, ah, some research, it's actually quite old research, but I think it it's probably still relevant, that that your weak ties are really good people to connect with. So they're not your best buddies because they're moving in the same circles that you're moving in. But it's the next layer out. So it might be the husband or the friend or the wife of a work colleague, or, you know, your cousin's best friend, that sort of that, do you know what I'm saying? 

Like the you've got your friendship networks, the thin layers, they're not your closest connections. Because when you, when your closest connections recommend you for something, and you turn out to be a dud, do you know what I mean by that? Is that.

Helen  10:42  
Yeah, we use that slang in the UK, too.

Elizabeth Diacos  10:44  
Okay, good. So it's like, you know, you're no good. If you turn out to be a dud, they lose face, you know, they lose that they're embarrassed. Whereas if you're, if you are actually, you know, connecting with the people who don't know you that well, they can go "Oh, sorry, I thought it might be okay. But it turns out she was, she was, you know, not a good fit." It's, they don't lose as much face, socially. So it's actually a really important thing to think about. But and the other benefit of it, of course, is that, because they're moving in different circles, they know different people, and they're connected with other networks, that might have someone who knows someone who knows someone who could help you. 

So for instance, I get connections from people who want to get out of teaching, they come from all over the place, because someone knows someone and they say, "Oh, you should talk to Elizabeth." And so that's how they find me because it was just like that, you know, they were talking about something else, and it came up and they go, "Oh, hang on a minute. I think I remember I'll just check," you know, so it's just like, they don't have it at the top of mind. But they can they can delve in and find it. 

Helen  11:53  

Elizabeth Diacos  11:53  
So who do you know, who are your connections? 

Helen  11:58  
Yeah, okay. 

Elizabeth Diacos  12:00  
I'm asking a question. Let's get a list.

Helen  12:02  
Oh, oh, well, I'll have to think about that. I don't want to kind of, I've got a whole LinkedIn network there. So perhaps I'll go one, one section up if you'd like. And, yeah, perhaps send you...

Elizabeth Diacos  12:19  
So what you could do, and I think it's really good to go personal, too, so think about your Facebook connections and the people who you know, sort of know you more personally or know of you. And send them a message and say, "Hey, I'm, this is my situation, these are my skills." And you've done all that research already. So you're in a really good position, where you actually got like a list of what you're good at. And this is what I love to do. And this is the kind of area that I'm working in, I'd like to work in. So, you know, you're talking about nature studies and doing something around creativity. And so that sounds to me, like a kind of an outdoor life perhaps. 

Maybe if you were the, if you think about it as if you were in a hotel, would you be the concierge at the front? Or would you be behind the desk in the back room somewhere? 

Helen  13:12  

Elizabeth Diacos  13:13  
Like so think about the kinds of roles you would like. So let me ask you another question. What are the characteristics of a great job for you?

Helen  13:23  
Flexibility. Something in humanities, something with community? Um. That's probably about it, really? 

Elizabeth Diacos  13:34  
Hmm. Okay. 

Helen  13:37  
More about people than the job I think.

Elizabeth Diacos  13:39  
Yep. Okay. So when you're talking to these connections, and or when you're sending messages on LinkedIn, or through Facebook...

Helen  13:49  

Elizabeth Diacos  13:49  
Mention those words, flexibility, community and humanity, because then and say something like, "I'm looking for roles that could, where I could bring these strengths to bear. Are you, I, do you or someone, you know, have any connections? Who might be able to help me find something like that?"

Helen  14:08  
Okay. Well, I don't want to throw a spanner in the works. But I've actually done that task already. The whole Facebook thing and pretty, and the connections, even connections, I don't know. And that was in my run up to leaving teaching, I spent two or three months doing exactly those kinds of things that you're talking about, and came up with instructional design and it's ended up being like this. So I'm happy to go back around the loop and do that again, although I'm not sure how I, you know, it's a bit challenging for me to go back onto Facebook now and go, "Oh, by the way, here's another Facebook about", you know...

Elizabeth Diacos  14:50  
But you don't have to do it as a big post for everyone to see. You can privately message people. Do it that way.

Helen  14:57  
Yeah, it's just a little embarrassing. And, um, difficult once, you know I've done it, I've done it once, I spent a bit I can put it on.

Elizabeth Diacos  15:06  
So that's okay, you can craft a little message and say, "I've been working in a instructional design. But it turns out it hasn't been a great fit for me." That's all. 

Helen  15:15  

Elizabeth Diacos  15:16  
You can say that. And look, you know, you might feel embarrassed, but most people don't care. Because it's not their story. And the other thing is, and you know, that they actually, most people will willingly help someone if they can do it in about five minutes.

Helen  15:34  
Yeah, yeah. 

Elizabeth Diacos  15:35  
So there's more research about that as well. So...

Helen  15:39  
Very helpful, to be honest, they're very kind. 

Elizabeth Diacos  15:42  
So if you think about it is you know, I've got, I've got and tell them, there's a deadline. Say, I really need to get this resolved by the end of, I don't know, mid June or whenever it is, whenever you're running out of money. Like, the sooner the better. Because if people know, there's urgency, and you say, look, these are the kinds of jobs I'm thinking of, or this is the kind of area I'd like to work in. And you give them some guidance. 

Helen  16:09  

Elizabeth Diacos  16:09  
They're not going to come back to you with rubbish that you don't want, but actually something relevant. You might just get lucky. And then, and if you don't, nothing, you've lost nothing except some a few hours of sending messages to people. 

Helen  16:24  
Yeah, okay. I will do that. 

Elizabeth Diacos  16:27  
And, and like, I have this conversation a lot with people. And I know there's a lot of grief and shame around leaving and not having something worthwhile to go to and feeling defeated and lacking confidence. And I have a lot of conversations with people who feel that way. But one of the best ways to overcome all of that is to take action.

Helen  16:48  
Yeah. That's what I do every single day. I'm just not sure I'm moving in the right direction and gonna end up with the same troubles. But um, yeah, maybe I'll I'll try that gain, group of people pop into mind, maybe I should reach out to them.

Elizabeth Diacos  17:05  
Yeah, good, good. And then the other thing is, I think, have a look around and see what organizations would you like to work with, or who's doing the kind of work that you like, that you would like, which might be places like the, I don't know, like, I'm gonna throw some names, I'm gonna pull some things out of the air, and they may not land but you'll get the idea like World Wildlife Fund. You have the Australian Conservation Foundation here, I'm sure there's an equivalent in the UK. Maybe the zoo, you know, zoos, local zoos. I'm trying to think of other things, I'm sure there's like Bush Kinder, maybe that might be a fit for you. So places like that, that are running programs where they trying to get kids involved in the natural world, could be a really good fit, or Bush Playgroup. 

Now I'm pretty sure none of those are going to make you match your teaching income. But you might find that those people are connected with other people who might have something that you, that might be a good fit for you. 

Helen  18:08  
Yeah, okay. 

Elizabeth Diacos  18:09  
So it's not just about talking to your friends or the friends of friends, but also researching and looking into organizations who are doing the kind of work that you're interested in and actually starting to see, like, connect with those people on LinkedIn. So I had a client this morning and she's, she's interested in working with a sort of a Para Educational company that's been around for a long time. And she really likes their work. And I said to her, "Okay," while we're on the call, we had screen share up and she got her LinkedIn profile up, and I said, "Just search for that company in LinkedIn." So she found it. And there were 856 employees of that company. And I said, "Alright, start connecting with those people, because they're the people that are working in the space that you want to be in." 

Helen  18:57  

Elizabeth Diacos  18:58  
They they're going to be, you know, good, good people to connect with. And then you can message them and, and I mean, it might, you might need to pay for LinkedIn premium for a couple of months in order to do that. But, you know, you can do quite a lot of messaging before LinkedIn starts to get narky. Or at least I think you can at the beginning, like before you start doing it really often. So that might be another option. And then a lot of those, you know, those sort of like Bush Kinder and those kinds of places have a profile on Facebook too. And that's, you know, another platform to connect with people. So they're my suggestions for the this kind of first next step so I don't think we're going to resolve the total confusion or disappointment but but but I but can you see that there might be, maybe, a little bit less confusion if you've got a clear direction to work towards?

Helen  19:54  
I think it's stepping outside the box like instructional designer is closely linked to teaching and training. And yeah, it's all kind of the same thing, right? I did that because I wanted to transition and transition quickly and all the rest of it. But actually, I don't think my heart's in it at all the whole training, teaching things, just been doing it too long and need a really good break. So it's, it's trying to move into something that's more well different for me like something in nature, but what I don't know.

Elizabeth Diacos  20:33  
What was your, like, what were you teaching? When..

Helen  20:37  
Creative Media. 

Elizabeth Diacos  20:39  

Helen  20:39  
It was like, Creative Media. So web design, social media marketing, all of that kind of stuff. 

Elizabeth Diacos  20:45  
Right, okay. And would you would you work in that space? 

Helen  20:48  

Elizabeth Diacos  20:49  
Right, okay. All right.

Helen  20:50  
Young, um, no. It's been in - it's on the computer the whole day. And I'm just kind of done with that really. 

Elizabeth Diacos  20:59  
Yeah, yeah, I get it.

Helen  21:02  
Yeah, there are jobs out there. I've been interviewed today for a job. And I was like, I don't know, if I want to sit at home and do this all day, on my own at a distance every day, every month, you know, for how many weeks a year, it's just, it's self-destroying, killing. You know, it's, it's really not healthy at all. So it might pay well, I might have the skills that might be able to jump into a job. So the frightening thing for me right now is like, well, I'm just going to be moving into something entirely different, but I have bills to pay. So what's the priority here? You know, and that's the challenge, really.

Elizabeth Diacos  21:42  
So if you were to take one of the teaching roles that you've been offered, but you knew that you are working on a plan to get out? Would that make it bearable?

Helen  21:51  
No, because it doesn't work like that, does it? You can't get out of teaching, and you're so exhausted. And I just filled out an application form for a job. And it took me four days. Now, I might not even hear back from them. And how, there's no way you can do that when you're teaching? That's how you ended up getting stuck there. 

Elizabeth Diacos  22:09  

Helen  22:10  
You know, so exhausted to move out and beat up. 

Elizabeth Diacos  22:12  
Actually, by the time I got out, I could knock out a an application in 45 minutes. 

Helen  22:18  
It's getting faster. 

Elizabeth Diacos  22:21  
I got like, because I had I'd written so many by the end. You can just copy and paste. 

Helen  22:27  

Elizabeth Diacos  22:28  
I got offered a job, well kind of offered a job, where I - they asked me to send my resume and an application because I thought that was just going to be happening by word of mouth, but I actually had to apply properly. And, and I said to my husband, I'll um, I'll just kind of let's go for a walk or something. And I'll come back and then send it because I'd be ready too fast, you know? 

Helen  22:51  
Yeah, yeah.

Elizabeth Diacos  22:53  
Ready in 10 minutes. And I'm like, make make them think I gave it a bit more thought than that. Because, honestly, I applied for so many similar jobs that I just had it. I didn't have to really change anything except the names at the top of the...

Helen  23:06  
Yeah, I guess it's a little bit like that now, to be honest, I've got a lot of it there and ah yes, it's getting a bit faster. But...

Elizabeth Diacos  23:16  
So you've you've already got a business. So you've already registered as a, I'm not sure what you-

Helen  23:22  
It's more of a hobby really, it hasn't gone to that level. And that's what I'm looking at now. 

Elizabeth Diacos  23:26  

Helen  23:27  
With, with the local business group. So you're talking about doing that. But that's not that's a lot of slow burner, isn't it? Starting your own business is not going to bring in,  you know, the kind of money we need to bring in almost instantly? 

Elizabeth Diacos  23:42  
Probably not. No, no. And I think it's really sick to to realize, you know that that's not going to happen straight away. Do you mind me asking how old you are?

Helen  23:52  
I'm in my mid 50s. Now, which is another, I feel is another kind of I'm just beginning to experience ageism and, which apparently doesn't exist but definitely does.

Elizabeth Diacos  24:04  
Actually, I've just been listening to an audio book by an Australian guy called Hunter Leonard. And here he talks about ageism in the workplace. And he's, that's what his books about. It's called the... Oh, I always forget the title. It's something the, The Experience Equation, I think it is. 

Helen  24:23  
All right. Well, perhaps I'll get that off you afterwards. 

Elizabeth Diacos  24:26  
Yeah. And he, yeah. And he talks about just that experience of being in that, that, that space where you're, you're not valued anymore.

Helen  24:37  
No, absolutely. 

Elizabeth Diacos  24:38  
And that no one will name that that's what's happening because it's politically incorrect, but it does happen. 

Helen  24:45  
Absolutely. And I think it should be high on our equality agenda, because it affects every single one of us. It's going to affect more people in the future for sure. But yeah, it's a very real thing. So that's something else to consider in moving forward as well, what areas of work...

Elizabeth Diacos  25:02  
Well, and that's where he says most most people in that situation they go, "You know what, I'm going to make something of my own because I don't want to have to put up with this nonsense anymore." 

Helen  25:10  

Elizabeth Diacos  25:10  
And then let's make our own business. Yeah.

Helen  25:13  
Yeah, that's kind of where I'm at, really, but I need to make some money. 

Elizabeth Diacos  25:18  
Yeah, I understand. Alright. So I feel like we've, we've, for now we've, we've come to a point where you've got a few things to go and take some action. What's your takeaway from our conversation today?

Helen  25:32  
Well, just maybe to put a foot into the other, the other side, maybe? I mean, I've had that in my head, but not actually done it. Because teachers have a lot of transferable skills, not just a subject that they teach, but all of the soft skills that they have. And that's applicable to anywhere really. 

Elizabeth Diacos  25:50  

Helen  25:51  
So I don't know, just start investigating. So I'm so focused, I've got to get to jobs, that needs to be what I'm doing, because that's, that's the quick fix, maybe start reaching out a bit more formally to some of these other areas of interests, and see what shows up. Yeah.

Elizabeth Diacos  26:14  
That sounds like a good plan, at least in the, in the first instance, and see what comes back from that. 

Helen  26:20  
Yeah, okay, I will do it. 

Elizabeth Diacos  26:24  
All right. Well, it's been great talking to you. And thank you for your willingness to be part of this little experiment where I record the call as well. For a lot of the listeners will be really grateful for your wisdom and insight into your current situation and, and also hearing about what's happened on the way out for you and why, you know, things didn't pan out the way you'd hoped. I think that's going to be really helpful for people to hear and get a little reality check about, you know, this isn't always an easy journey to..

Helen  26:52  
No, it's definitely not. it's not for the faint hearted. I knew that when I did it, but it really isn't for the faint hearted. And hopefully, well, I'm not going to put it out. When I have successfully moved into something that gives me more fulfillment I'd love to come back. And I don't like to be the spreader of bad news, you know, it'd be nice to have a success story at the end of it as well, if you're, if you're up for that. 

Elizabeth Diacos  27:18  
I would love that we could call it Part 2.

Helen  27:22  
Give people a bit of hope, I don't want to make them feel any worse. But yeah, it's good that it's a reality check that it doesn't all the positive stuff that you see on the internet isn't always the case. And yeah, I think the support networks for this kind of experience I'm going through are really valuable to people. So thank you for being brave and coaching, because it's a big game I want.

Elizabeth Diacos  27:48  
Well, thank you.

So Helen's got some work to do, hasn't she? To go away and start reaching out to her weak ties, the connections of connections, and also do some research into companies and organizations that she might be interested in working with, and start connecting with their employees on LinkedIn, she might also need to update her LinkedIn profile, and just start thinking about what she's putting out into the world that's going to help her to create the life that she wants to create for herself. So exciting times ahead, even though it's also a little bit scary. And I'm really grateful to Helen for being willing to share her story and showing up as vulnerable and also just really open about the challenges that she's faced along the way. 

And I'm actually going to wrap it up that, this season, with that episode. However, I do not think that there is no hope for the future. Next season, I'll be going back to interviewing some more teachers who've gotten out of teaching and into a life they love. Thanks for listening, everyone. 

If this is the kind of conversation you'd like to have, here are some ways we can make that happen. You can connect with me via my website, or join the Get Out of Teaching Facebook group, or send me a message. You don't need to stay stuck in a job that makes you miserable. I offer a free 10 minute triage call to people who are ready to explore possibilities for the future, so let's have a chat. You've been listening to The Get Out of Teaching Podcast, please share it with your teacher buddies and for show notes and other resources visit

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