Teaching is a position with a lot of pressure and can be both mentally and emotionally draining. This is my story of why I want to quit teaching.
I do not have the traditional teacher story, I never wanted to be a teacher growing up. In fact, I fought the calling for a long time. I moved around so much growing up, three elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools, as a military brat and the one thing that was universal to me was Mathematics. In a world of ever-changing states, countries, friends, politics, global warming, and fashion, the one thing that gave me solace was numbers. They were constant, and they made sense.
As I began to look at Post-Secondary Education, I knew that I was good at a few things; travelling, sports and math. I came into school as a Political Science major, I mean, I was so well travelled and bilingual so naturally I was going to become an Ambassador or Consulate, right? I looked at the four-year plan and immediately changed my mind, there was no way I was going to sit through four years of Political Theory, Philosophical Foundations of Public Policy, or Political Theology and not pull my hair out.
The next bright (debatable) idea I had was to change my major to Sports Management, I was a college athlete so it made sense. Fail. The last thing to try was Math Education, I felt like I could do it in my sleep, AND it gave me vacation days, AND I could work in a dynamic environment AND get the change I was looking for. Bingo that was it, I was going to be a Math teacher.
My Classroom Experience and Why I Want to Quit Teaching
I spent 8 years in the classroom; two states, two countries and three curriculums. I enjoyed it in the beginning- sacrificing my evenings, weekends and breaks to work extra jobs to supplement my income was expected, and just what I had to do because passion conquers all, right? With the financial stress, came the added layers of over-testing, prescribed curriculums, showcase lessons that taught nothing, paperwork on top of paperwork, unrealistic expectations, lack of accountability on administrators and disrespect from parents and students alike. Through all of this I still enjoyed it, but after awhile this was why I wanted to quit teaching.
Let’s have inclusion but differentiate it. We can differentiate but use the same resources and stay on the same pace. We give effort grades but blame the previous teachers for inflated grades. Let’s use positive reinforcement but not hold students accountable for poor behavior. Why not give the black teachers all the black students but act shocked when there is a lack of racial tolerance. Let’s try this new educational practice but we’re not paying for resources. These are all reasons why I want to quit teaching.
The Hardships of Teaching
Not to mention, no one warned me of the emotional trauma I would have to endure; I’ve had students arrested, murdered, raped, beaten, taken from the home, sex-trafficked, hospitalized and neglected. Attachment is inevitable in teaching, and it hard to watch students fight battles that exceed the institution of school.
I did not want to be a quitter, but I wanted to get out of the hamster wheel. My soul needed a break. I found myself suffering from self-esteem due to impostor syndrome, which many other teachers actually suffer from as well.
Making an Impact
I wrestled with the idea of changing careers because I was an excellent teacher. The kids needed me, and it was good representation for minority students. I needed to be the change I wanted to see and because I did not want to start over. The guilt set in and I felt I was abandoning the students and the future of the world. That’s how much weight I carried with me.
Here’s the math: 100 students a year for 30 years. I could impact 3,000 individual lives of the next generation. Who would want to give up that responsibility? But when the good outweighed the bad, when I felt myself being less compassionate and less understanding, I knew it was time to go. Starting over and having nothing became less of a fear and more of a necessity to feel that peace. I left.
In hindsight, which is 20/20, I wish that I was exposed to more options. I could’ve been working for NASA, Apple, Google, anywhere in the STEM field, but instead I taught Math. Don’t get me wrong, I am appreciative of the meaningful experience. Not many people could say that they impacted so many lives. But, I always wonder how my life would be different if I did not pursue K-12 education.
Opportunities for Teachers
There are many different opportunities for teachers out there now. This includes many remote jobs for teachers, and even state positions for teachers. All of these are great options if you, like me, are looking to try a different path.
Next Steps to a New Career
One of the biggest mistakes that I see teachers make is that they try to navigate this process alone. Often, they put off “researching” until the very last minute. Which sets them up for a very stressful application season. I want to help you get some clarity in the options available to you. To know EXACTLY what you need to do (and not do) in order to get your foot in the door.
You don’t have to do this on your own.
With the help of an HR expert with over 10 years of experience and a team of former teachers, I’ve created a guide to support you in the early stages of your transition out of the classroom. Tap the button below to learn more.