Battling Teacher Guilt About Leaving the Classroom


Teacher guilt is something that impacts many teachers throughout their career. Teacher guilt can hit you when you want to spend the weekend with your family rather than grading papers. And it hits especially hard when you consider leaving.

Teaching can be such a fulfilling career. The feeling that teachers get when a student finally “gets it” can be so rewarding. But many other times, teaching is draining. I believe this is because as teachers, we wear many different hats every day.

In a single day we are a teacher, counselor, data analyst, referee, janitor, mentor, nurse, and a social worker. After many years, the mental, physical, and emotional toll can be too much for some of us.

If this challenge is making you question a career change, just know; you are not alone! Teaching is a profession where you need to be able to fully commit to it in order to be the best teacher you can be for your students. Do you feel fully committed? Motivated? Energized? Do you feel that you have a well-balanced work and home life?

Or, are you considering leaving teaching? What is stopping you?

When you’re completely burnt out, it’s common to wonder what other jobs can teachers do?

I know for me, and for so many of us out there, leaving this profession is scary. We worked through so many years of undergraduate and maybe even graduate school with no plan B in mind. There are so many factors that make us pause and question our decision to make the leap into another career. One of the biggest factors that make us halt in our tracks? Guilt. 

Experiencing Teacher Guilt

Teachers strive for perfectly decorated classrooms, well-managed students, and the ability to manage our time. When we don’t meet our own high expectations, we start to panic.

Will our students be okay if we leave them? What will my colleagues and administrators think of me if I leave? Will my family and friends support me, or will they think I’m a failure?

These questions and these feelings are totally normal! In The Teacher Career Coach course there are resources to help you overcome the guilt you may feel about leaving the classroom.

Everyone deserves to be in a job that they love… or at least feel content with. Your students deserve to have a teacher that can give 100% in the classroom. Family and friends deserve to have their loved one feeling healthy. Most importantly, you deserve to feel accomplished and happy in your career.

By: Katie Zarco Cardoso

Help for managing teacher stress & burnout

Too many teachers downplay their mental health struggles thinking it’s just “new teacher jitters” or part of the position. My final year of teaching at a toxic school environment completely broke me. After walking away from that experience and finding happiness, I was shocked at how conditioned/numb I had become to being consistently unwell.

You should not feel intense dread about your career on a daily basis, period. If you are miserable more often than happy, let’s try to find solutions to support you:

Recommended reading: The Teacher’s Guide to Self-Care by Sarah Forst. You can also listen to Podcast Episode 14, where Sarah shares actionable advice on how to implement self-care into your routine.

Blog Post: Stress Management for Teachers; 5 Strategies to Implement Today

The Teacher Career Coach Podcast Episode 31: Blake Blankenbecler, Therapy for Teachers

Finally, if you’re struggling day-to-day it may be worth it to look into a therapist. Get started today with TalkSpace, a private, online therapy with flexible plans to meet your needs.

And if managing stress brought on by teaching isn’t enough, it may be time to look into alternative careers. If you’re at a loss when it comes to figuring out your options, check out our free quiz below for customized suggestions teachers transitioning out of the classroom.

Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course