Are you considering quitting teaching?
During the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I kept seeing headlines about the “Great Resignation,” where employees (not teachers) were quitting their jobs to find more fulfilling work.
The Covid-19 pandemic helped people re-evaluate their lifestyles, and many realized that the constant hustle of modern living was not sustainable.
Even my husband, who diligently commuted almost an hour each way to his job before the pandemic, was now starting to question why he had to fight the Greater Toronto Area rush hour traffic for a job he could do from home most of the time.
There has been a surge in quitting teaching-themed online articles. Some recent articles that come to mind are:
- “Why So Many Teachers Are Thinking of Quitting” by The Washington Post
- “Burned-out teachers are sharing their Great Resignation” stories on TikTok by Fortune
- “Teachers Are Quitting, and Companies Are Hot to Hire Them” by The Wall Street Journal
- “What Teachers Who Might Quit Are Really Thinking” by Education Week
Disclaimer: The resources mentioned in this blog post were found due to research; none of the links are sponsored.
Reasons For Quitting Teaching
- You cannot complete all the tasks you have been assigned or are required to do. I must constantly explain to non-teachers how the role has changed since “they were in school.” We are expected to ensure students are learning the curriculum while being social workers, nurses, therapists, administrative assistants, food providers, etc. (I cannot tell you how many middle school teachers have been asked by a parent or a principal to personally pack a Grade 7 or 8 student’s backpack at the end of the day to make sure they have all of their materials). Planning lessons is the tip of the iceberg.
- You can find a higher-paying job. Depending on where you teach or what year of your career you are in – you might not be able to make a living wage. Just under ten years ago, a new teacher in my district with two university degrees could not make enough money to cover their rent, food, and other basic bills. They were living off their credit cards.
- The stress is overwhelming and has required you to seek medical intervention. It seems like every week teachers are posting on social media that they have had to take a leave of absence from work due to personal reasons.
- You don’t feel safe at work – school shootings, workplace injuries, parental harassment, the possibility of contracting an illness – all of these things weigh on the minds of teachers. Teachers do not enter this profession thinking they will be injured at work. The career path does not seem like it should carry the same amount of risk as other, more inherently dangerous, careers.
- You cannot find a work-life balance that works for your family. I believe every teacher should find a sustainable system that works for them. If a system cannot be achieved and your relationships and health are declining, it may be time to re-evaluate. I love staying late (usually until 6 pm) at school once a week and getting my copies made, putting a huge dent in my marking pile and planning for the week ahead. This is almost 3 hours of uninterrupted time. It is unimaginable how many things can get done in a focused space. This system only became sustainable when I became more experienced in my role. When I was a new teacher, planning for a curriculum I had never taught before, with barely any resources except a textbook (now many districts provide next to no resources), it was not uncommon for me to stay late every night.
- You feel that it’s time. You do not need to identify with any of the reasons stated above. You are in charge of your body and your life. You get to choose what your future includes.
Things To Consider Before Quitting Teaching
- Do you have enough income to pay your bills until you find a new job? Look at your finances and see how long you can survive without income. If your savings is not enough to cover your expenses, ask yourself – would you consider working a part-time job (retail, temp work, fast food) while looking for full-time employment?
- How will you cover your healthcare expenses? This will look different depending on where you live and what kind of health insurance you need. Americans can look at this website to help determine what their needs might be. An American teacher on Instagram recently shared that she found calling the HealthCare.gov phone helpline informative and would recommend it instead of relying on the website. In Ontario, where people’s taxes pay for healthcare, many still want and need extended health benefits. When you quit teaching, you might lose these benefits. If your new job does not come with these benefits, consider researching how to acquire them by paying for them yourself.
- Is your resume ready for the non-teaching world? Take time to review current resume trends and look at a variety of resume templates. Make sure your resume is easy to read and that it is formatted properly. Employers get many resumes, and you do not want them to dismiss your resume because of spelling, grammar or formatting errors.
- Create a detailed pro and con list. Write down everything you can think of that can go in each column. Do not edit or limit yourself. Then share it with a trusted friend, family member or professional. You do not need to make this decision on your own.
- What will happen to your pension (if you have one)? Before you make any decisions, call your pension provider and work through different scenarios.
Other Education-Related Career Possibilities
- In-Person Tutoring
- Work for an Ed-Tech company in a variety of capacities
- Online Tutoring or Teaching – like this online reading program.
- Virtual Assistant – many Teachers Pay Teachers sellers or other online businesses need help. Reach out to your favourite online businesses and ask if they are hiring.
- Become an educational consultant. I found a course for this called Transition Into Educational Consulting.
- Check if your local community college, university, or public library is hiring. You might just be qualified!
- Did you notice I did not say, “start selling your teacher resources”? Selling your teacher resources is not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you want to start your Teachers Pay Teachers business, sign up here and work through their TPT University lessons before fully committing to this idea.
Other Career Possibilities
- The sky’s the limit. You have so many transferable skills. You are not “just a teacher.” Take some time to review popular job search websites and read through what employers are looking for. I think you will surprise yourself.
Suggestions For Teachers Who Want To Stay
Staying in teaching or quitting teaching is your choice. If you want to keep teaching, here are some ideas for you. These might not be feasible for everyone’s unique situation, but I offer some suggestions.
- Consider changing schools and districts or switching from public to private or vice-versa.
- Consider switching grade levels. Try a new grade if you have always been a middle school teacher.
- Consider switching to a part-time assignment. One of my favourite teaching assignments was when I had just over a 0.7 assignment. I finished Thursdays just before 1 pm and did not have to return to school until 8:40 am Monday.
- Consider switching the method of teaching – from online to in-person or vice-versa.
- Consider taking a leave of absence to re-evaluate and have the space to make this decision.
- Consider starting a gratitude journal where you write down daily things that bring you joy.
- Reach out to your district and/or union and see if they have an Employee Assistance Program. These programs range from mental health support to nutritional information or legal advice. If your district does not have a program like this and you have a significant other, ask them to see if their employer has this available.
- Think about how you can manage your teacher burnout so you can remain in the profession. This blog post, Strategies To Avoid Teacher Burnout, can hopefully provide some ideas.
Teacher Career Change Resources
- YouTube Video – 20 Years In – Why I Quit Teaching and What’s Next
- YouTube Video – Resume Reboot for Teachers, Free Editable Templates for Educators
- Teachers Changing Careers: FAQ
- When to Quit Your Teaching Job and Why It’s Ok
- Switching Careers from Teaching: A Comprehensive Guide
- Surviving the Non-Renewal Process
If you are considering quitting teaching, I hope these resources are useful.