teacher resignation letter to principal

6 Tips for Writing A Teacher Resignation Letter To A Principal.

Abbey Vogt

Writing a teacher resignation letter isn’t always fun, but it’s a necessary step as you prepare to leave the classroom. Whether you’re breaking your teacher contract or leaving at the year’s end, you’ll need to submit an official letter of resignation. In many careers, giving your two-week notice is standard practice when you’re leaving your position. However, when it comes to leaving teaching, (unfortunately) it’s a little more complicated. Why? Teacher contracts.

Teacher contracts are binding agreements between a teacher and a school district, outline the terms of employment. I always recommend waiting to resign from your current position until the end of the year if you can. However, if you know you cannot wait until the year’s end, I highly urge you to read my post about breaking teacher contracts. Writing your teacher resignation letter is the most formal way to notify admin of your intention to break your contract.

If you need help leaving the classroom, check out the Teacher Career Coach CourseThis step-by-step guide has helped thousands with a transition from teaching. Save time and get support with every step of picking a new path, rewriting your resume, and answering tricky interview questions.

Now, if you’ve stumbled upon this post and aren’t quite ready to resign, be sure to save this post for when you do! And if you have other unanswered questions (like what jobs hire former teachers, what to know about leaving a pension, or how to rewrite your resume) make sure to check out my Teachers Changing Careers FAQ page.

And who knows? Maybe reading this post will give you the push you need to take the next step toward the future you want.  

Reasons For Writing A Teacher Resignation Letter.

Although teachers resigning from a position isn’t something schools want to see happen, more and more teachers are facing this reality. Whether it’s due to a toxic work environment, teacher burnout, mental or physical concerns, an offer for a new position, or other personal reasons, there are times where teachers cannot fulfill their remaining contract. 

Other times, they must back out of a contract they already signed for the upcoming year. If any of those situations resonate with you, you likely need to start considering writing your teacher resignation letter.

Regardless of why you’re resigning, my biggest piece of advice is to do so without burning bridges. (If possible.) I know this can be easier said than done. Keep reading to learn some of my top tips for keeping it short and professional. You’ll even find some templates you can plug into your very own teacher resignation letter.

Tips For Writing A Teacher Resignation Letter To Your Principal

Teacher resignation letters can be particularly challenging to write for many reasons. In some cases, you’re simply unsure what to include. What should you say? How much information is too much? In other cases, you may be tempted to air out your grievances. (Which, like I mentioned, I suggest you don’t do just in case.) 

It’s essential to take care and consideration when writing your teacher resignation letter as it may impact your professional relationships and any remaining time at the school, whether it’s another few weeks or the rest of the year. 

So, what should you consider when writing your teacher resignation letter?

Teacher Resignation To Principal Letter Tip 1: Remain Professional.

Whether you’re looking to remain in the field of education or not, I always urge against burning bridges throughout this process.

Personally, I was working in a highly toxic environment during my last years teaching. If you can relate, please hear me when I say I know it’s easier said than done to keep disgruntled thoughts out of your letter sometimes. Now, you definitely don’t have to be over the top nice. But the truth is, you learn something from every experience, good or bad. So rather than being negative, consider keeping it professional with one of these simple sentiments: 

  • I’ve learned so much during my time at [SCHOOL NAME].
  • Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the [SCHOOL NAME] community.
  • I’m grateful for my time at [SCHOOL NAME].

Remember, a resignation letter is a big step moving forward. It’s not a place to state your concerns or complaints. I am certain you had voiced concerns prior to leaving, and your action of resigning should speak louder than words. Therefore, steer clear of any negative tones or accusatory language, regardless of how you may feel about your administration, district, or overall experience. While it may be difficult (like it was for me), the best thing you can do to be the bigger person is to maintain your professionalism as you move on in your life.

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Teacher Resignation To Principal Letter Tip 2: Be Concise.

You want to keep your teacher resignation letter short and sweet. There is no need to ramble on about all the reasons you’re leaving. (More on that below.) Instead, keep it to the facts. Most importantly, you want to state your full legal name and the fact that you are resigning. You’ll also want to be sure to indicate when your last official day will be.

If you’re not exactly sure how to keep it so concise, consider borrowing one of these templates: 

  • I write this letter to officially submit my resignation as [INSERT TITLE] at [INSERT SCHOOL NAME] effective as of [INSERT DATE].
  • Please accept my resignation from my position as [INSERT TITLE] at [INSERT SCHOOL NAME] as of [INSERT DATE].
  • I, [NAME], request to officially resign as [INSERT TITLE] at [INSERT SCHOOL NAME], effective [INSERT DATE].

While it might be tempting to include further details about your experience or future plants, less is more. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t mention a line about something you enjoyed about the school, community, or students—even if you are thrilled to resign.

  • I’m grateful for the [X] years I spent helping the students here learn and grow.
  • It was a pleasure to serve as [LIST ANY POSITIONS YOU HELD] during the past [X] years at [SCHOOL NAME]. 
  • I am thankful to have spent [X] years with the incredible staff, supportive administration, and inspiring students at [SCHOOL NAME]. 

Teacher Resignation Letter Tip 3: Keep The Details to a Minimum. 

A big question surrounding writing a teacher resignation letter is, “Should I tell them why I’m leaving?” Technically, you are not legally required to disclose the reason behind your resignation.  If you are pursuing a new career, I suggest leaving out any details about any offers or a new position. It’s likely that your employer already knows your reason for leaving, especially if you have a good relationship with your admin and discussed your decision beforehand. There is no need to reiterate any of these details in this letter.

It’s also important to note that not everyone leaving teaching had a negative experience. In some cases, the job simply no longer serves them. So, if you truly enjoyed your time in the classroom, you most certainly can include a brief explanation. However, I suggest keeping it to 1-2 sentences. Try one of these templates: 

  • I recently decided to accept an offer closer to home. I appreciate your understanding as this is the best option for me and my family. 
  • I have received an offer in a new position and, while I’m sad to be closing this chapter, I am excited to apply the experiences I’ve had to this exciting new opportunity. 
  • After much thought and consideration, I have decided to resign from my position as [POSITION TITLE] for personal reasons. 

Teacher Resignation Letter Tip 4: Give Proper Notice.

Whether you are ending a teaching contract early or backing out of a contract for the upcoming year, you want to give the school proper notice. If you are leaving mid-year, try to give admin enough time to find a suitable replacement. I understand some situations might be more time-sensitive than others, so aim for a minimum of the standard two-week rule if possible. This will help the admin, other teachers, and the students with a smoother transition.

I know a lot of anxieties can surface when it comes to making your decision known, but you just have to remind yourself that this is the right thing for you. And while you want to tell your principal and admin first, it’s normal to want to break the news to your students and, in some cases, their parents as well. However, I suggest checking in with administration before formally reaching out to parents. Some schools may want an official replacement before any announcements are made. 

Teacher Resignation Letter Tip 5: Know The Rules.

Before officially sending your resignation letter, be sure to know the steps required by your contract. Some districts may require you to submit your letter to HR or the superintendent. Others might have the principal handle it. Regardless, teacher contracts usually have specific “rules” regarding resignation. Before moving forward, be sure to thoroughly review your contract—or ask a union rep for help. The last thing I’d want is for you to be blindsided by something you could have prepared for. 

BONUS TIP: Have A Conversation Face-to-Face.

I don’t know many people who actually enjoy confrontation or having a difficult conversation. However, it’s a necessary life skill. Besides, if you have a good relationship with your principal, they deserve a face-to-face conversation rather than just receiving a letter. If you don’t know what to say, you can follow the same guidelines mentioned above. Moreover, you can thank them for all they’ve done for you. You can even consider asking how you can assist through the transitional period. 

I encourage you to schedule this meeting even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye with your admin. Yes, this is going to be an emotional conversation. However, remember to air on the side of professionalism. If you don’t think you can keep it polite, I totally understand. But again, you don’t want to burn any bridges. So, just keep it short and concise if needed. You simply never know who knows who, when you may need a reference, or if you’ll need to reach out to your network in the future. This is an opportunity to practice difficult conversations in a professional environment, a skill that can help you as your career your progresses outside of the classroom.

Resigning From Teaching Can Bring Up A Lot Of Emotions. 

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by a flood of emotion when writing and/or delivering your teacher resignation letter. It’s important that you acknowledge and work through these emotions. However, it’s also important to remember there’s a reason why you’re resigning in the first place. 

Chances are, you’ve put a lot of thought into your decision to take this leap and leave the classroom. Yes, writing a teacher resignation letter and even discussing your resignation with colleagues can evoke a variety of emotions. You may feel teacher guilt over leaving your students, but this is where you need to remind yourself that it’s okay to be selfish here. Trust me. Your students will be okay. You might have guilt around leaving your coworkers and adding more to their plates. Again, you have to remember you are only in control of your situation. And you are doing the right thing for yourself.

As far as the overwhelm, stigma, and uncertainty you might face as you face a new chapter, try to focus on the exciting opportunities ahead. And the best part? You don’t have to face these feelings alone. In fact, you don’t have to navigate your career transition alone either. 

Want to learn more about resigning from your teaching position? Be sure to subscribe to listen to an upcoming episode of the Teacher Career Coach Podcast which will be focused on it!

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