Life After Teaching, Part One: Four Reasons Why I’m Better Off

Last month, essays like Randy Turner’s “A Warning to Young People,” and Christine McCartney’s Letter of Resolution, gave voice to teachers who have decided to quit the profession, and those who’ve committed to stay despite their shared frustrations, including standardized testing, merit pay, and Common Core Standards.

After four years as a high school biology teacher, Rose left her job, and the education field, in 2011. In today’s post, she reflects on the joys (yes, the joys) of leaving teaching.

Starting a new job is like starting a new relationship.  In the beginning, you’re just getting to know each other, and as time goes on, you decide if you’ll go long term. Sometimes, you realize you love your partner, but the relationship just isn’t healthy.

This is what happened to me with teaching: though our relationship had wonderful moments, I became increasingly unhappy, and decided to end it.

It’s been two school years since I’ve had the pleasure (and sometimes pain) of teaching teenagers. I now work in a cubicle pushing papers and have a much more stable relationship with my job.

Why I’m glad I left teaching:

1.  The simple pleasures of a desk job.

In the morning, the office and my cubicle are quiet and calm. I can ease into my day by enjoying a cup of tea while I go through emails. I use the bathroom whenever I want. I slowly eat my lunch. Full adult conversations are the norm!  This goes for thoughts as well. I can think through a problem and be confident about the decision without being interrupted fifteen times by students, colleagues, or P.A. announcements.

Several health problems went away, like indigestion (from scarfing my lunch before giving a make-up test during my lunch break), foot pain (Goodbye, Dr. Scholls!), and headaches (Yes, I had chronic tension headaches). I’ve also had fewer colds and flus (I come in contact with 30 office workers in a day instead of over 100 students and faculty). I call these simple pleasures because, while they are not earth-shattering changes, they still make my day easier.

Imagine going to the bathroom when you need to...

2. I got myself back.

Teaching takes a lot of physical and mental energy. I was drained when I got home. I didn’t have time for hobbies, friends, or anything else except grading at night.  Now, at 5 o’clock, my workday ends when I leave my cubicle…truly. I don’t think about it until the next morning when I get to work. After work, I read a book, cook dinner, and spend time with my family. I even have time and energy to exercise and take an art class!

Pottery class after work, anyone?

3. A weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I can be myself in public, in private, and at work.

As a teacher, I felt like I had to project this “perfect teacher” persona. I had to be the epitome of calm, conservative moral behavior. I felt like I could not go out to a restaurant, have an alcoholic beverage or sneak a kiss from my partner without worrying if a student or parent saw me.  Society puts this tremendous pressure on teachers as if their every decision, act, and word can inspire or devastate students.  If a student failed, it was the teacher’s fault. If the student succeeded, then it was the achievement of the student alone. Teachers shoulder all the responsibility, but get little recognition for their students’ achievement. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with this pressure anymore.

No more Ms. Perfect

No more Ms. Perfect…

4. My frustration with the American education system dissipated.

I entered teaching as a typical new teacher: bright-eyed, idealistic, and ready to inspire tomorrow’s leaders. And then the reality of teaching slowly, but surely, squeezed the passion out of me. When I tried to shield my students from the problems that plague the system, it seemed useless. It became hard to face the students, parents, administrators, colleagues, and myself knowing all the problems with the education system and feeling not only powerless to solve them, but forced to contribute to them (I’m looking at you, standardized testing).

I felt like a teenager who just got a summer job at her favorite fast food restaurant.  Instead of eating what I loved every day, I never ate it again after I saw how it was prepared.   So when I left teaching, I stopped struggling with the gap between what I wanted teaching to be, and what it actually was. My anger towards the system has dissipated, but a small bit of frustration will always be there because I still care about students.

The calm after leaving teaching

Former teachers, what have you gained from resigning or retiring from the classroom? How did leaving help you reflect?

What would make teaching a sustainable job for more people?

FOLLOW-UP: Read my one-year reflection on this post.


Life After Teaching, Part Two: Four Reasons Why I Miss Teaching

Life After Teaching, Part Three: Yup, I Joined the Club.

Life After Teaching, Part Four: Five Little Things I Look Forward to at My Desk Job

Life After Teaching, Part Five: Why I Don’t Need Summers Off Anymore

Life After Teaching, Part Six: Five Things I Learned in Year Two

Life After Teaching, Part Seven: Five (More) Things I Learned in Year Two

508 thoughts on “Life After Teaching, Part One: Four Reasons Why I’m Better Off

  1. What a sin that the education system is losing so many good teachers. Last spring, after a particularly heinous year with too many needs, not enough support and parents from hell, I told my principal that I would not be back the next year. I have been off all year trying to recover my mental, physical and emotional health. Despite racking up a mountain of new debt, I finally feel better. I am going back part-time in the fall to a new school in a new position with my fingers crossed.

    • What a sin, indeed! I’m sorry to hear this year has been so difficult for you, and am glad the time away from school has helped you recuperate. Thank you for reading and sharing your story — and best of luck to you in your new school!

      • I am a high school art teacher. I have a BFA and my masters. I am having a hard time deciding what job I would be qualified for. What sector was your new job? Any suggestions on finding a job after leaving teaching?

      • Hi aalisam,

        My new job is in the communications office of a large nonprofit. I really enjoy being able to contribute to a cause I care about, but now with the work-life balance I’d dreamed about as a teacher.

        I suggest that you take an inventory of your skills, and arrange informational interviews. The informational interviews really helped me discover what other kinds of jobs exist. I hope these posts on what I learned from my career change will help you get started:

        I also found the book, What Color is Your Parachute, useful for general job search tips.

        Good luck!

      • Your story is very interesting. Thank you for sharing it! I had a burn out and decided to quit teaching. For years I read forums and articles on the internet about people who quit teaching. I used to google the sentence “I hate teaching” or ” teaching is ruining my life” pretty much every day. I felt like a loser for not being more motivated about the job. I felt guilty and scared to move on to another type of job. I quit because of my health but I should have quit way sooner when I started feeling miserable every day about going to work and I lost my ability to sleep and eat well because of stress. Quitting was the best thing I ever did. No more stress, no more guilt, no more doubts. I used to think that I would feel better about teaching as I gained more experience but it was the opposite. I know many discouraged teachers will end up on this forum trying to decide what to do and being afraid of ruining their career. My opinion is the following: if your heart races like crazy and you get a sick feeling in your stomach every time you walk into that classroom and it keeps getting worse every day, it’s probably time to walk out. There is life after teaching and it’s not bad at all. I now buy less things because I have less money but I also have a lot less stress and that is worth more than money can buy. Also, that good teacher vs bad teacher thing is totally overrated. We are all different and we all have our own issues to deal with.

      • Thanks for reading and joining the conversation! I know your story will help others feel validated and hopeful about finding life after teaching for themselves.

        One year after leaving teaching, I can also say that life is now much less stressful and that this alone made leaving worth it.

      • Hey aalisam,

        I am a middle school art teacher with a BFA and my Masters in teaching. I started teaching in January and I have not been happy since I started. Did you ever find another job outside of teaching?

        Thank you

    • I, too, Googled “What to do after teaching” and found this article. I feel better and worse. I switched careers and didn’t start teaching until I was 32, which was 14 years ago now. I love teaching, but lately I hate being a teacher. Things really changed for me after a fight in my classroom left me with a broken spine and partially paralyzed. I underwent 13 procedures, and I can walk again, but I’m in constant pain. My sons were just 4 and 6, and I’ve never had the chance to even play sports with them because of it. At any rate, after my injury, the school system basically punished me, and now 5 years later, they’re saying that my performance isn’t what it should be (How could it be? I am between THREE SCHOOLS!). I have other skills, but they’re all 14 years out of date. This year will likely be my last year, according to the powers-that-be, and I’m at a loss for what to do. I can’t leave the area because my ex-wife and kids live here, and I can’t bear to be without my boys.

      I’m saddened to leave my chosen profession, but maybe I’ll find that “next great thing”.

      • I can’t believe that the school system was allowed to ‘punish’ you for something that happened in their system!!! You were injured on the job. I don’t understand. My heart goes out to you. I hope you find a job that appreciates your talents and doesn’t hang you out to dry when something goes wrong.

      • Hi Jack,

        I’m so sorry that your school ruined teaching for you at the expense of your body and your family.

        But this doesn’t mean that you can’t find your “next great thing”; in fact, you may find that you are stronger now, mentally, and even more motivated to make a positive change than when you switched to teaching.

        These last few months of school are a great opportunity for you to research new fields (or get in touch with old contacts if you’re still interested in going back to what you did before). Use informational interviews to help you figure out what jobs could be a good fit, and how to develop or demonstrate the skills they call for.

        Here are some posts on my own job search. Hope they’re useful!

      • I too suffered a major series of spine injuries on the job. I had eight fusions and am now back a work after being out almost 10 years. I cannot get a permananent position, nor can I get over my trauma and feelings of guilt, regret, anger and hopelessness. I wish I could somehow afford to just walk away, but I’ve yet to figure that out. Im extremely depressed and scared and every day is a struggle. I applaud you on your physical and emotional recovery. I’m just a lost soul whose life really sucks right about now.

      • Stephanie,
        I’m so sorry this happened to you but I’m glad you are now physically well enough to work. It will take a longer time for you to recover emotionally, and a therapist could help you greatly with this process. Researching a new career might also help you feel more optimistic about the future and help you take concrete steps to move forward. Check out my post on informational interviews for tips on how to do this.

        Thank you for sharing your story and best wishes for a full recovery.

      • I too suffered with years of back pain and developed a disease due to stress and fear in the classroom. your back pain can go away forever! I tried chiropractors, physical therapy, massage therapy, inversion table, EMS stimulation, ultrasound therapy nothing worked!

        A $7 dollar book helped of all things. Please for the love of God read this book called: Healing Back Pain by Dr. John E. Sarno. It is a New York Times Best selling book. I recommend it to everyone.

        Your back pain will stop. It is a short read and a Very Good Book. The Body heals but the Mental pain still persists.

        After 10 years of backpain a simple $7 dollar book healed me. God Speed and God Bless!

      • I also Googled I hate teaching and what you can do with a teaching degree besides teach. I’m a student studying teaching and I’m in my final year. The only reason I did teaching is because my mom said it was a good idea and I didn’t know what to study. Now three years later I honestly hate teaching so much I don’t have a passion for it at all I’m not comfortable in front of the class and being in that leadership position. I hate the fact that I didn’t change to something else in my first or second year. Now I’m so close to getting my degree and i feel like I can’t go on.

    • I taught in a very large urban public school system for 11 years. A year ago I couldn’t take it anymore and quit. Today is my one year anniversary of having my identity back. Part of me is very sad this morning as I would have been waking up now and getting ready for the first day with my new class for the year. I honestly loved most, lol, of my students. It makes me sad not to be in their lives but the way the system has gotten since i first began in 2002 was simply too much. I had so much stress from the time I signed in that the last few years I suffered from extreme anxiety and depression. It really sucked because if I was just left to my skills and methods of teaching things would have been great. I always actively engaged my students, we had fun while learning a lot. Not only in academics but also in basic life skills and relationships that these kids did not get anywhere else. I was not perfect by any means but I always had the kids interest at heart. None of that mattered however as all the administration cared about was tests, tests, and more tests. They would literally sit in my classroom and tell me how to properly hold a book and read along, making sure i stuck to the “script” a hundred percent. I mean if I missed a single word they would tell me to go back and read the word lol. I have always been a very creative individual, I am a musician and artist at heart. All of my students always left at the end of the year so much smarter, happier, and mentally healthier then when they arrived in September. I had years upon years of awesome reviews but over the last few years teaching nothing I did seemed to be “right” with them. I can ramble on and on but you get the point. I am so much happier and a “free” man once again. I feel bad for all the awesome teachers out there as we are loosing them to the “robots” and “yes men” who do not question anything and blindly follow any rule like it was Nazi Germany. The kids suffer, the teachers suffer and guess what NOTHING changes. There precious test scores stay the same and the kids are the worst off. Boy I would hate to be a student in public school these days, let alone a teacher. Im glad I’m done…Thanks for the vent and rock on to all of you who had the courage to says…That’s enough

      • I am so glad that other people feel the same way about teaching. Teaching used to be great. But in the last couple of years things have really changed. We are given books that include everything and time lines to follow. You have 7 days to do this then you must go on whether the kids are gettin it or not. We have to have all of this covered before the almighty test. Kids are dropping out of college more and more or taking many remedial classes to get a degree because all they do is bubble in an answer. We have more people walking into our classrooms with advice. There are the Coaches, Coordinators, the top administrators telling the principals and instructional staff that they have to get through a certain number of walkthroughs weekly. I have seen more and more money wasted on hiring more administrators to develop this or to monitor that. Some months we will have three benchmarks that take 2 to 4 hours each for the students to do. Then we have the data meetings- more wasted time out of the classroom. One of the teacher remarked to me, remember when we used to do the fun units on pumpkins and all. If it is not on the test we do not teach it. Creative writing is gone because writing has to fit this mold. I feel refreshed this year because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will be eligible for my full pension in 2016. So, I am doing the extra push. In all of my years of teaching, I never heard the horror stories that are coming out now with what is going on now. People are leaving in droves. We have the people that just do the minimum and those, like me that get it done and will stay until it is finished. I always thought that I would teach beyond retirement- because I am still really young, but it is not worth it. I never thought that I would be a yes person but if you are not a yes person in education now a days- you will be gone. Deviate from the timelines or question someone that comes into the classroom with advice- your life will be hell. Take a look around at the principals and all of the coaches and even the people running the show- none of them have been in the classroom more than ten years- I AM NOT KIDDING! it makes me so sad to see what has happened. I really think that I will write a book. Yes, I could do it objectively. There is no way that I would recommend going into teaching or having your children go to public schools anymore. College is so expensive- I really do not understand why people are still going into education. The only way that the system will change is if people stop teaching and the experienced teachers are asked how to change and form the education system. I will be glad to get out and I will never volunteer or do anything associated with public schools. This is only because of what the system has done to us and what is being done. I will help out at fundraisers for kids. Not to be all that or anything but when the big batch of us retire in the next 2 years, goog luck. Yes, people will pick up the pieces- but not as many are willing to pick up the pieces aesthete used to be. I. Am putting in my time, doing my best for the kids, and trying to convince myself not to bail next January when I can receive my full pension. I get tired of being in the core group of teachers that are always expected to do this or that and to set the example, because we do not say no. We do it for the kids.thank you for listening.

      • Thank you for speaking up for the veteran teachers who stay behind. Teachers like you are the backbone of our schools. That said, it is also heartening for newer teachers to hear that the job wasn’t always so exhausting. Best of luck for your final push, and I hope you enjoy the full pension you’ve worked so hard to earn!

      • Whoaaaaa……I thought I had written this. My sentiments exactly. 23years without a parent or principal complaint and then the principal who had never taught stepped in. I was put on a plan of improvement for not mastering a new writing program where we had minimal training and no lesson plans. I became her whipping girl.

    • I was hated by my coworkers because I ran an award-winning school newspaper that was written for students by students. Teachers threw away our monthly newspaper and didn’t give them out to their classes. I asked my Principal and Asst. Principal why and they said, “You are the most hated teacher we have ever seen in our years in the education field.” I left at the end of the year and never looked back.

      • Thank you, for sharing your stories. I am relieved to know I am not alone! Yesterday March 13th was my last day of teaching, that was my official resignation date. In NYC you have to give 30 days notice. So on February 13th I handed in my resignation. I have taken a job in a Day Care Center…no testing…no pressure…no supervisors telling you how disappointed they are that your students don’t behave better as if I gave birth to them…no work being taken home…. just basic safe child care. I have never felt more relaxed and free in all my career, of course the money is less, but my nerves have returnred to normal and I am finally able to resume my personal training sessions my weekends are mine again. I truly understand each and every person on this site.

    • I was the facilitator for a 7/8th grade award winning monthly newspaper that was written for students by students. My AIMS scores ranked in the high 80’s in a ghetto school. I was hated by my coworkers. They would throw our monthly newspaper away and “forget” to give them out. Kids would ask me why they didn’t get a newspaper. I went to my Principals and asked them why the teachers were doing this. They said, “You are the most hated teacher we have ever seen in our educational years.” I left at the end of the year and never looked back.

      • I’m hearing you like you’re telling my story! I’m the facilitator for a high school club and I’ve had so much resistance this year. Every morning announcement that I submit gets “lost” and everything I submit gets denied. The students have given up. I have almost given up. On top of everything, the administration is verbally abusive towards me and other teachers on staff. I’m trying my darnedest to make sure I never have to set foot in the school ever again after this summer.

  2. Pingback: Life After Teaching, Part Two: Four Reasons Why I Miss Teaching | Those Who Teach

  3. I left my role as a classroom teacher just over 28 years ago.

    As I read Rose’s reflection, I recognized aspects of my own experience in her writing especially “getting myself back.” During my first year as a second/third grade combination classroom teacher in a small rural community in Northern California, I remember the conflict I felt as I worked to create the optimal learning environment for the students when I could feel that it just wasn’t the optimal learning environment for me.

    Over the years that have passed, I learned that I still love being engaged in the learning process. I’ve also learned that, generally speaking, classroom teaching is not compatible with my essential self.

    I now work at a community college as an instructional assistant where I get to work one-to-one with students. It’s a good match! But, the pay does not reflect my years of experience, education and skill. Hm . . .

    What would I like to add to the conversation?

    I’m wondering what “school” would look like if both students and teachers were well matched to their learning/working environment.

    • Dear Sandi,
      Thanks for reading, and for your thoughtful reflection on your own experience. I’m glad you’ve found a teaching and learning environment that works for who you are, although it’s indeed dismaying that your expertise is not reflected in your compensation. Perhaps you already do this, but tutoring might be a good fit for you, too. Many teachers I know make more hourly tutoring than they do teaching, although that’s not very hard to believe!

  4. I am a two year teacher that feels jaded already. I don’t know if that’s appropriate to feel after only two years in the classroom, but I do. Each year I am given the most behaviorally challenging and academically behind students. While I love those students and truly believe in their ability to succeed and grow, I am exhausted and frustrated with the amount of pulling and pushing I have to do on the hourly basis just to get them to try. My school is a failing school with many goals and extra assignments pushed on to the teachers in order to improve with very little explanation into the true value of these assignments. The teachers are trying their best but they are at their wits’ ends with the extra work load. I love my students although they resent me for asking them to learn, so most days I’d just like to take a long walk out!

    • Dear Anna,
      Thanks for sharing your story. You have shown incredible strength — I don’t think I would’ve made it to my second year had I faced the same challenges that you do. And those students are so lucky that you love them and want the best for them despite all the pressures you have to contend with on a daily basis. However, you can’t subsist on your love of students alone, even if your school and society expects you to do this. You have to do what’s best for your own well being — whether that means forcing yourself to take a walk/a real lunch during prep time (rather than walking out on a class!), finding a support network in/outside of school, finding a less challenging school, or taking a break from teaching. Good luck!

    • what a coincidence, ive tought for 2 yrs n im going through the same challenges. we have too many tests infact we do them everyday incl saturdays, too many remedial sessions imposed on us, being given academically behind students etc, i was very motivated when i was entering this profession but now…..i don know wat to say

      • Hi Francis,
        Thank you for reading and sharing. Having such a testing-focused schedule sounds incredibly draining for both you and the students. I hope you are able to find something better soon, either in a school/grade level that requires less testing (testing on Saturdays seems abnormal) or in a new career.

  5. I came across this blog because I googled “What to do after teaching”. I am in my third year and I don’t know if I can go back for my fourth. I am watching my youth and life pass me by as I trudge through the nonsense of the education system. I do care about my kids, very much, but I love my husband and daughter more. I am looked down upon for not martyring myself on the alter of education.

    I don’t know what the future holds for my professional journey, but I do know that I would rather clean houses, sale shoes, or do just about anything other than returning for a fourth year. It is so sad.

    Thank you for posting this. It really helps me to know that I am not the only person who feels this way. I am not a quitter, I am human.

    • Dear Erin,
      I’m so glad that reading this post was helpful to you.
      It took me a long time to “own” the feeling of not wanting to be a martyr for education, too — and we are far from alone! There is nothing wrong with putting family — and your own well-being — first. And though the unknown is indeed scary, it could help you create better balance in your life. Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best!

  6. I will be leaving after this year. I cannot wait! I hate teaching with every inch of my being. Everything this author talked about is how I feel. It is a shame. I wanted it to be something it will never be due to the overbearing demands of the government and the moral decay of students and parents alike.

    I am done. I cannot wait to be able to ease into my morning, have normal conversations and be able to focus on the task at hand without being interrupted in a million ways. I know it’s true on the other side because I worked in the private sector for 5 years before I foolishly thought teaching would be fulfilling.

    It has been anything but that. I had no idea SPED was the monster it is. I had no idea how inefficient and bogged down it is. I had no idea how self-serving, cruel and incompetent administrators can be. I had no idea about so many things that I have grown to loathe deeply about this unappreciated, disrespected profession.

    Anyone with the idea to be a teacher heed this warning: it is not even close to what you think it is. Save yourself time and agony and find another career. The summers off are not worth the aggravation. Trust me.

    • I’m sorry you had such a demoralizing experience. It will take time to recover, but yes, you too, will regain your peace.

      I’m hesitant to dissuade everyone from teaching, though — I can think of many teachers whose work with students keeps them going, and who are somehow able to compartmentalize all the b.s. that often comes with the job.

      Prospective teachers *do* need be told about all the emotional stressors of the profession so they can consider whether they are willing or able to handle them…

      Anyhow, thanks for sharing and best of luck for your final year.

      • I am an nqt who has not yet done by nqt year. I want to do it to get it under my belt but my PGCE and all the drama of the system put me off. And most of what I’ve done is lesson planning and marking.

        I’m crazily considering going back but trying primary. Although the truth is hobbies family practising my faith health and wellbeing are so important to me.

        I’ve taught adults outside a school setting minus the targets and compulsory written lesson plans and los loved it!

        Any ideas on how I can use my teaching and science skills (chemistry/biology teacher) – I’m also an Arabic teacher- in a new job outside a school. So far in looking for science workshops.

      • Hi TeacherBynature,

        Science workshops are a good start. In addition to museums, look for other organizations that promote science, such as research foundations and publishers of scientific texts. Hospitals and other healthcare employers also need people who can translate medical information for the public. I imagine that your Arabic teaching skills would be in high demand in certain government agencies as well. Hope this helps and best of luck!

    • I agree. I am Sp. Ed teacher in resource/FSC classroom on military base. It is terrible. Quitting last summer would have been best , but I stuck around and it only got worse. Ill schedule and attend 30-40 IEP meetings this year, my classroom has 6 intense students and 4 resource students planning for this bunch is outta control. Meeting data collection requirements and keeping touch with grieving parents. WOW. I look at my co workers older ladies and I see the pain and stress on their faces. They are beaten just hanging on outta passion and financial need. I dont have it in me anymore. January will be my last month and I am so relieved that I can reclaim my personal well being from the Sp. Ed monster. If there was any consistency and balance in my classroom great, but being a military school kids come and go, come and go like Seinfeld reruns. I’ll have 20 kids go in and out the door this year. I write IEP, meetings, data sheets just to see them move next week and a new one arrive with outta state docs and the trains keep ah rollin. I have little ideas what Ill be doing next, I look forward to less stress, work that stays at work, and some form of predictability. Yeah.

      • Hi Steven,

        I worked with special ed students and teachers every year, so I can imagine some of what you’re dealing with. The additional factor of kids constantly moving in and out of your classroom must be maddening as well.

        So congrats on making it to your last month of teaching! You’ll soon be able to add some peace and balance back to your life. Good luck with your next step!

    • I completely agree with you and respect all the teachers that have made up their minds to longer take the abuse and have moved on in their lives. All the best be with you!!!!

    • I saw this was an old post… Did you really leave? I’m curious as to how life is for you post-teaching. Do you have any regrets or anything you would have done differently?

      • I, too, left SPED after 11 years and I was terrified, not knowing what the future would bring. By sheer dumb luck, I stumbled into the field of gerontology – working with vulnerable older folks where once I worked with vulnerable kids. The parallels are endless and mind-boggling. I work in an independent living elder community, I teach nutrition and health, supervise light workout routines, and basically keep my “students” active, involved and mentally alert. I love it! My salary is on par with what I used to earn, but there are no tests, no mountains of paperwork, very little stress and lots and lots of emotional rewards. My charges are my dear friends and because we are an independent living operation, the government does not stick its nose into our business the way it does with assisted living facilities and with nursing homes. Ironically, this field seems to attract a ton of former teachers. I work with SIX! And we all say the exact same thing; “Why the heck didn’t we do this long ago?” I am as much a teacher today as I ever was in a public school system, only now I’m RESPECTED – and it makes all the difference in the world! God bless you in your future endeavors.

      • Hi Terry,
        Thank you for sharing your story and for your many supportive comments to other readers. It’s wonderful that you now get to teach without all the stresses of the classroom, and very telling that you work with so many former teachers who feel the same way you do. Congrats on finding a fulfilling new role!

        Thanks again for your advice — I know it will help inspire others.

  7. I am a 10th grade U.S. History teacher of 30 years and love it more now than when I started. I consider myself an entertainer with 150 audience members every day. The students know I love my job and that translates into them treating me with respect and extremely welI. I have been able to learn not to let the little things bother me nearly as much. The only headache I have is from the state/politicians trying to tell me how to do my job when they have no idea what they are speaking of or them being influenced by special interest groups with an agenda.

    • Dan, so glad to hear that your love of teaching is going strong after 30 years. Your students are lucky to have a teacher who continues to give his best in the classroom in spite of all the politics behind the scenes. Thank you for keeping U.S. history alive for three generations of students!

    • Hi Dan,
      Can you give any advice to teachers who struggle with classroom management and are not “entertainers”. I just got back into teaching after a 7 year hiatus and have been struggling but want very much to make it work.

      • I can chime in here. The more bored your kids are, the more trouble they will be as a whole. There are those kids who will be unruly regardless of what you do and that is just a part of the job. I have found that the more engaged they are and the more often things are changing up in the period, the better my classroom management will be. The hour goes by in a snap.

      • Thanks for jumping in, Matt!

        I would add that establishing classroom routines such as “Do Nows” at the beginning of a period can help kids calm down and focus their thinking on the day’s lesson.

        Also, any time you can relate the lesson to students’ lives or Big Questions of life will help engage them. For example, asking whether fate can be altered and whether fate exists helped me make ancient stories like Oedipus Rex and The Odyssey relevant to teenagers.

    • Cel, I used to day dream of a quiet desk job after a particularly stressful day of teaching. Thankfully I can say that my dream came true. I work with technical documents in a large corporation. My family and friends helped me think outside the box to “translate” my teaching skills to “corporately recognized skills”. To help set your mind to translating your skills, check out the book, “101 Career Alternatives for Teachers” by Margaret M. Gisler.

      • That’s a great idea. I recently went back to teaching because I could not get hired doing anything else. Believe me, I have tried for years to get any other job and the only thing I have been called back to do an interview for is retail. I want a professional job but for some reason I never even get a rejection response from 99% of the jobs I apply for. My last resort has been teaching.

      • Kristie, I’m sorry for your struggle finding a job outside of teaching. It can be difficult for employers to see how teaching skills not only translate, but can also be beneficial to the company. I took other jobs (not related to teaching which also ended up being more menial jobs) to demonstrate to potential employers that I was serious about leaving teaching. I didn’t want employers to think that I was applying for “any ol’ job” until a better teaching job came up. Fortunately, my hiring manager used to work in education as well and understood my reasons for pursuing another career.

  8. The last twenty one years have been filled with highs and lows. Unfortunately the last five have been so low that I find it difficult to remember the good times. I agree with “Quellthechaos.” An incompetent administration makes teaching unbearable. There is an overwhelming amount of criticism of teachers, particularly those of us in impoverished and failing districts, but no one has stopped and questioned the wisdom of allowing a teacher with only six years of teaching experience (in Pennsylvania) to become and administrator. How can someone with only six years of teaching experience be an educational leader? They are barely tenured! The easiest way to quickly make more money and get out of the classroom and away from students is to become an administrator. Those who can’t teach become administrators — who eat their lunches behind the closed doors of their quiet offices, go to the bathroom when they need, and take days off without any care as to who will replace them for the day.
    I feel like I still have a lot to offer, but not where I am. I hate who I am becoming and I am rife with internal conflict. Teaching is not a job, it is a vocation. How does one walk away from a vocation without any guilt? How does one maintain a positive sense of self while being verbally abused by students and not supported by parents or administration? I don’t know if I could return to working in a cubicle, but I do know that I hate wishing my life away counting down the days until vacations or until yet another administration takes over.

    • Kamf — unfortunately, I could relate to a lot of the frustrations you discuss here. I can’t say if leaving teaching is the right step for you, but it does sound like you need some perspective…maybe that could come from working at a different school, or finding a support network of teachers at your school or elsewhere.

      And I think a lot of former teachers deal with the guilt you mentioned, but find that regaining a positive sense of self is worth it. I’ll be writing about this very experience in upcoming posts.

      Thanks for reading and sharing!

    • Teaching feels like my unhealthy marriage: rife with co-dependency, one partner trying to meet never ending, ridiculous, and exhausting demands. When I divorced six years ago, I put almost 50k into getting my secondary ed degree at 50. But I am leaving the profession after six years. Working so many hours and so hard and getting so little respect, not to mention paltry pay in return is demoralizing. Instead, we are encouraged to pander to students with increasingly short attention spans, half of whom don’t care to be there, and whose parents expect magicians to transform unaccountability and apathy into A’s. More rigorous and sustained translates to more turn-off for many who are often expected to achieve little more than mediocrity, are frequently absent and behavior problems when they are in attendance. Five years, four principals, two superintendents, and three vice principals later have driven away many teachers. When the center cannot hold, things do tend to fall apart. The issues facing society have crossed all socioeconomic boundaries and have filtered down into the classroom, even in affluent communities, where special needs no child left behind continues to drive up costs; where litigation threats still bring administrators to their knees; where coaches and athletic directors allow failing students to continue to participate in sports; and where common core standardized testing hangs ominously overhead. Shamefully, how often the burden of proof lands squarely on public education’s shoulders, as if to turn pedagogy into a science with all its oftentimes skewed data. To keep educators jumping through hoops, which are changing so fast that no one knows precisely what kind of future to prepare for, translates to an increasingly frustrating, if not an insane, impossible, task. Delivering pizzas, even in a snowstorm, somehow sounds less stressful and more rewarding. Impending poverty aside, it will at least leave time for more meaningful life-long independent learning, rather than sitting in endless staffing meetings where issues/problems accumulate faster than they can possibly be solved and addressed with fruitless rhetoric: wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.

      • Hi Linda,

        I’m sorry that teaching did not turn out to be the fulfilling second career you hoped for despite all the sacrifices you have made.

        But it’s not too late to change your situation — in fact, your physical and emotional well-being depend on it. Whether you find a way to teach outside of the current system, or embark on another career change, you can pursue a new job that lets you lead a fuller, happier life. If you haven’t yet, check out my posts on informational interviews and transferable skills from teaching:

        I hope they’ll help you figure out your next move.

      • Ditto to ” Delivering pizzas, even in a snowstorm, somehow sounds less stressful and more rewarding.” I’d like to add “uphill” to that comment.

  9. I recently resigned my 3rd grade teaching position this week (after teaching K & 2nd for 6 years). My administrator used to be a paraprofessional for a couple of years before she got promoted to be our principal last year (in the middle of the year-October 2012). She took so much of my knowledge and experience and used it to her benefit. I honestly felt she was far from being an adequate principal. I also got torn by some parents that are just impossible to work with. Not to mention the constant interruptions of students’ misbehavior that left me no choice but to leave. I had been feeling ill for a couple of months with depression and anxiety. I had to take sleeping aids and anti-anxiety and anti-stress supplements just to get by. I was so ill I couldn’t even function on the weekends when I was with my family. I’m feeling a bit better at home keeping our home clean and preparing delicious meals for my family. I still get very sad about my decision and wonder if it was the right one to make for my family’s future. My husband and I have a kid in college and another one getting ready to go to college next fall. II want to believe that there’s something other than teaching out there for me. Any suggestions and input would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dina,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sorry you had such a terrible experience, but happy to hear that leaving teaching has helped improve your physical and emotional health. Teaching sure can sap the energy that you want to give to the people that you love. I know that your family is grateful to have you back.

      I think it’s possible to have a satisfying professional life after teaching. Rose recommended “101 Career Alternatives for Teachers” by Margaret M. Gisler as a good resource. Personally, I found “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Nelson Bolles helpful, especially the sections on where to look for a job, and the importance of conducting informational interviews. And I’ll be posting about my own experience, too.

      • Thank you! I have been feeling very guilty leaving but I know I’m better off being healthy for my family. I will definitely check into the books you’ve suggested. God bless you and thanks everyone here who have shared their story and made me feel that I’m not alone. 🙂

    • Dina, I can relate to how you are feeling in regards to feeling guilty. I left teaching five years ago after teaching for a year. Although a great deal of stress and frustration was lifted from my shoulders, I still can’t help but feel that I cheated myself in all the work I did in preparing to teach. I also feel that I let my parents down, whom fortunately assisted with my finances for college. I luckily have a full-time job as a grounds worker in my hometown school district but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I should be doing other things. Some of my co-workers think I’m crazy for having left but I guess they just don’t understand since they’ve never before been in front of the classroom. I wish I could move beyond this. I’ll definitely check out those two books about career alternatives for teaching.

      • Hi Roy,

        Thanks for reading and joining the conversation.

        Sometimes I wonder too about where I’d be if I’d studied something other than English and education. At the same time, though, I’ve realized that teaching made me develop skills that are desperately needed in other jobs, skills such as handling complex responsibilities and dealing with many different kinds of people.

        You *can* move beyond teaching and groundskeeping. Figure out what kinds of jobs interest you. Take an inventory of the skills you’ve developed from both jobs and start researching how you can translate them. I hope the books help, and I hope to offer some useful strategies, too. This might be a good starting point:

    • Yes! Yes! Yes! Transfer your love of teaching and your knack for developing others onto a different age group. Don’t think teaching KIDS; think teaching SENIORS! Gerontology is an exploding field. I love it! See my comment above. And then do your homework on gero. Good luck!

      • Terry, I hope it’s not been so long that you don’t see this. Did you have to get more schooling for your new field? What about health insurance? I’m the breadwinner/insurance carrier in my home and I fear life without our great insurance. However, I FEAR that I NEED my insurance too much because of how my health suffers due to teaching. This is year 15 in SPED. Before teaching I was an audiologist and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve mentioned missing my sweet little old folks. (I hated the sales aspect of audiology, in case you’re wondering why I left that in the first place). Gerontology sounds like it could be right up my alley! I hope you or someone else sees this and can provide more info.

      • First thing: Do your homework. Get a book (online) called EXPLORING CAREERS IN AGING by Linda Weiner. Read it carefully. Take notes. It will give you direction. It worked for me. Good luck!

  10. Pingback: Life After Teaching, Part Three: Yup, I Joined the Club. | Those Who Teach

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  12. I’m 2 years from retirement and it just can’t come soon enough. I, like so many others in the profession, have had my fill. Going to work every day is like a death sentence. The level of stress is so high, I sometimes feel like cutting my losses and save my sanity. Almost on a weekly basis, you can expect random walkthroughs by school administrators, district and or region personnel and other teachers/administrators from other schools. The ironic part is, they all say the same thing “this is not a got you!” Yet, they all cite “red flags” and comments. Everything is accountability and you as a teacher, are only as good as your next scores on the annual standardized testing for the school year. It seems like all year, all that the district/campuses push is the TEST. The unfortunate thing is, our students aren’t getting any smarter. School official are producing a cookie cutter, one-size fits all, sure to fails system. I am tired and fed up with being told how and what to teach. Teaching is no longer fun; it is a cut-throat business with BIG BROTHER watching. I agree with some of these professionals, we did it for the love of teaching and the kids. Now, all I do is, look forward to my last day but that is not to say, I still don’t give it 150% everyday. To survive, I come in every morning very stealthy, go straight to my room, try not to mingle, stay in my room, avoid scenes, do my job (very well!) and leave as close to 3:30 as possible. I hate my job, it really sucks but I won’t let these clowns decide for me when I should quick. I respect every educator and I feel for them. More and more, teachers are bad-mouthed, disrespected and verbally attacked through the media. Let me tell you, few could do what we do everyday. When I finally leave, I will hold my head high and feel satisfied with the job I did over the years and more importantly, that I truly cared for all my students and their futures.

    • Thank you for continuing to give your students 150% — it is so hard to do this when your teaching is constantly intruded upon and undermined. With this kind of strength and focus, you’ll push through your last two years and get to finally enjoy your hard-earned retirement. Don’t let the bastards get you down, as they say!

    • I am eligible to retire in January 2016. I will finish out the school year, however for 2015- 2016. You sound like me. It finally hit me that next year is finally coming around. I was still stressed and worried at the beginning of the school year. But, it was like a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I am doing less panicking now. I am more relaxed. I am still giving it my all. Next school year, I plan on not tutoring after school- yes we are paid and not being a grade level leader. My goal is to leave by 4:00 everyday. I have worked extremely hard for the last 28 years, giving it my all. It will soon be time to let the new teachers take over. I have never seen so many newbies in our school district and at our school as well. We have had two teachers leave, quit already and a day tutor quit after one day. I hope that people take notice. There is a large group of us that are fixing to turn over the reins. I guess as long as new bodies can be hired, nothing will change. Cheers to the newbies- I hope they are ready.

      • Unfortunately, schools of education nationwide are withering on the vine. College students are avoiding the teaching profession like the plague. In California alone, the number of education majors has dropped by 67% in a single decade! Inept politicians and district administrators could maintain their reign of terror over teachers only as long as a pipeline kept churning teachers out. Alas, the pipeline is gone. Darn few “newbies” are entering the classroom; those who are, are quitting after a couple of years of having their eyes opened to brutal realities. And this is happening at a time when “old hands” are retiring or resigning en masse. The chickens are finally coming home to roost, as they say – and I think that the next few years will prove very interesting.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your story! This year will be my last year of teaching. I am so looking forward to working in an office again. I have a horrible class this year with no help since the school has no money. They’ve put all the kids with learning disabilities, psychiatric disorders and behaviour problems together in a room and said good luck to me. I spend more time dealing with social services than planning lessons. Plus I’m a new teacher so I get paid peanuts even though I put in a good 12 hours of work every day. I’m exhausted and fed up. I’m truly done with teaching.

    • Wow — the first year of teaching is hard enough without all the stressors you mentioned. I hope there is someone at your school you can reach out to for emotional support — maybe your department chair, an experienced teacher, or a fellow new teacher. Knowing that you’ll be leaving can also make difficult moments easier to bear. Besides counting down till my last day, I kept reminding myself to keep trying to deliver good lessons, and to enjoy the positive moments.

      Thanks for reading Rose’s story, and best of luck to you!

  14. It has changed. What was the feeling of doing something creative, positive, and far reaching became very painful and frustrating. A low performing, high poverty high school became the target for the hateful political edu-wonks. The butt of media jokes, and the whipping boy of talk radio the high school where I teach became unbearable. Over 1oo teachers have come and gone since 2010. Inspections and evaluations became the tool to drive out teachers. State regulators determined what, when, and where you teach. Teachers succumbed to anxiety, heart attacks, and burn out. The greening of teachers was pushed by the superintendent to weed out teachers with 20 years or more. Teach for America – 60 days teaching certificate wonders – came calling and you can find them in the bathrooms crying. Some used the sick line to quit, others just left notes on the principals door. I’m leaving soon, Thank God.

    • Dear Joe,
      What a toxic environment. And it sounds like you’ve been at your school long enough to know it wasn’t always like this. Tapping into those creative, positive teaching moments you’ve experienced , and creating more of them, will help you sustain yourself and your students. Thank you for the strength you’ve shown.

  15. Wow. I left teaching (public and private) 4th grade for good this year and I am very blessed to be able to stay at home with my 2 and 4 year old daughters. I really relate to what you write comparing the dream to reality. I am not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to teaching, and I was determined to not be the statistic that leaves within the first five years. Teaching was all I ever wanted to do, but it was unsustainable for me. I was short changing my students and my family. My husband is still in, and his environment is very similar to what Joe describes above. He works 11 hours a day and commutes for 1 hr on about 5 hours of sleep every night. After this year, his 5th as a sped teacher in a low-income district, his federal student loans will be forgiven, so he will have made it to his goal. We have spent the past 5 years not sure whether he’d make it this far, and this year really feels like all our family can take. I’m here googling new careers and transferable skills at midnight for him. I will check out the book you mentioned above. Thanks!

    • Hi Cathy,

      Glad you are able to spend more time with your family now, and I’m sure your husband appreciates your efforts to help him find a more sustainable career. He must feel exhausted all the time!

      Even a small change like a shorter commute could make a significant impact on his quality of life — I know it has for mine.

      Thanks very much for reading Rose’s story and those of others in this thread. I’ve written a few posts about my own experience too, and am working on developing more resources for career changers.

      Wishing you both the best!

      • I left teaching June 2013. After only 3 years in the public school system I knew I could not continue. I now have a wonderful job working with the Council on Aging in my area. I run errands for the elderly, visit nursing homes, and go to meetings that have nothing to do with scores or behavior. I go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, and even take an occasional “long” lunch. When I get home, I cook dinner, go out with friends, and never think twice about what needs to get completed at the office the next day. When spring arrives I will be planting vegetables in my garden and working on some landscaping for my front yard! Best decision I could have made.

      • Hi Mary,

        Love your story, especially the image of you planting in your garden! Thanks for sharing it. More people need to know that Life After Teaching does exist, and that it can be wonderful.

        It’s great that you still get to help people, and get to be a real person now, too. Leaving work at work is also one of the best parts of my post-teaching job.

        To new beginnings!

  16. Pingback: How I Got My Post-Teaching Job: By the Numbers | Those Who Teach

  17. I am going to retire in four years, after 28 years of teaching. I have found it best to play the educational game- and then go do what you do best- teach. I have enjoyed my students and weathered every new initiative that has come down the pike. However, I do plan on trying to find a new full time career after retirement. I have taken several career assessment/aptitude tests. They all suggest I go into teaching- duh. But I really want to explore new territory, do something different. What are my transferable skills?

  18. I came across this blog after I typed “What to do after teaching” in to Google search. I am in my fourth year as an English teacher, but the past 6 months have been spent off ill.

    I recently had exploratory key hole surgery to be told there was nothing physically wrong with me. After all this time of feeling horrendous and unable to do simple tasks to be told there was nothing physically wrong was distressing; I am still in disbelief that all my physical symptoms (headaches, dizziness, feeling nauseated, not sleeping well, abdominal pains, cold sweats, fevers, anxiety etc) is all down to stress. I am still recovering and I am thankful my school have been supportive.

    I am not sure what I want to do now. I am thinking about going part time or even leaving the profession, yet I don’t know where I could go or what I could do. I have a degree and a PGCE in both English and Drama. I write in my spare time but I am not sure if I could make a decent living off of that. All I know is, I have never been so unhappy. However, if you were to look at all the other elements in my life you would see how exceptionally blessed I am. The one thing that is causing me this pain and unhappiness is my job. Perhaps I should quit. I am just so disheartened by the system, but I do love the kids…

    • Centi,

      Sorry to hear that teaching has taken such a toll on your health.

      Though it’s great that your school has let you take time off to recover, what will happen when you go back? Even though you love the kids, you shouldn’t sacrifice your well-being for them.

      If you’re not ready to leave teaching, can you make a lateral move that would make your job easier? For example, if you teach high school now, could you transfer to a middle school position in your district? Are there any extracurriculars that you could give up?

      I knew that I was ready for something completely different after seven years of teaching high school English that were also filled with stress and anxiety.

      Informational interviews were extremely helpful to me as I was researching jobs. You should plan some of your own!

      I hope my blog post on the subject will help you figure out how to start:

      • Thank you for your reply.

        It has been pretty horrendous. I am slowly making a recovery and looking at all the positives of this dark experience – surprisingly there have been a few!

        For the moment I am not allowed back until I have had an interview with their doctor (through an external agency). The meeting is just to see if I can return to school and at what pace.

        My plan is to work my way back to full time. However, in the long run I am probably thinking to just cut down the hours. On average I work 70 hours a week and 50% of that is done at home; you are right: why am I sacrificing my health?

        I was given the advice to do things that I enjoy whilst recovering. Currently, I am writing a TV screen-play. Whether it is good enough to get published is a different matter, but for the time being it keeps me occupied and stimulated.

        Your advice on informational interviews is great! I can definitely use contacts at my school to set up a few meetings. I may as well network with people I know!

      • Yes! Network with contacts at school and in real life. Don’t be afraid to let lots of people know that you’re exploring. A casual conversation at a party connected me to three new people who let me interview them, which, in turn, led to two job leads. And I never thought I was the networking type!

        That (and writing your screenplay!) will keep you focused on the positive as you recover, and keep you moving forward.

  19. I re-visit this post each month because I find it calming and inspirational as I search for a job outside the field of education.

    • I find myself doing the same thing Debi. I realize now I waited far to long to leave. I taught in private schools for 25 years, then worked hard for my license and dreamed of the positive impact I could have in the public school. Too bad it was a foolish dream. Three years of working, working, working, nights weekends, holidays, and summer vacation. No matter how hard I worked, it was NEVER good enough, the scores never were the best, and I couldn’t deal with the constant criticism. The love of teaching and making a difference in kids life was gone. I am now at peace with time on my hands and at a job where I am a valued part of the team. There is life after teaching and I’m sorry I waited so long!

      • It takes a lot of strength to change course after what must have been more than 30 years in education. Thank you for showing that it is never too late to do things differently.

        And man, am I glad the days of never-ending work and never feeling good enough are behind me. I’m still getting used to feeling respected and appreciated at my new job!

  20. I’ve been teaching for 3yrs going for my forth yr. I teach in South Africa in a rural school. There are 50 students cramped in a single class, no resources, discipline is impossible,parents are also impossible,collegues are mean,principal from hell. I hate teaching with a passion.I have two children, one in a private school the other is still a baby, mortgage ,medical insurance and a car.If i quit i loose all.i’m so depressed. What else can i do besides teaching? How i long for an office or library job. I just want peace of mind and soul.

    • Dear MakaOku,

      Your situation sounds extremely stressful, but you’ve made it this far.

      Use that same strength to actively pursue a new position for your family’s sake and your own.

      Find an hour a night, or an hour a week, to take an inventory of your transferable skills and plan informational interviews. Each step will help you understand the kinds of jobs that would be a good match for you, and get you closer to your next opportunity.

      I hope you’ll find these posts useful:

  21. So glad I found this! I have been a teacher at impoverished schools for almost 8 years now. I just transferred to what I thought would be the dream job…nope just more of the same nightmare. My family is always in last place, which I carry guilt about. I’ve taken a leave before to recover from a highly stressfully school but all of the stress came back instantly. I think about not going back every day, have already counted how many more days I have to endure to get to the end of the year so that I can quit. Then I feel like a quitter, not to mention my student loans, which are mortgage-sized. I definitely need something else for my future and for my family’s as well.

    • Fla,

      Thanks for reading the blog and adding your story to the conversation!

      If you’ve already given teaching another shot at a different school, and it’s still not working, then I agree — it might be time to let yourself try something completely different. I went through a similar situation myself, and even as I was applying to non-teaching jobs, I wondered if I should keep applying to schools, too. I’m really glad I didn’t. Though I still feel a general sense of guilt about leaving teaching, I feel much less guilty, and more content, on a daily basis.

      You *can* find another job that will help you pay your student loans and take care of your family. We all know that teaching just barely covers those things.

      Once you’ve taken time to explore your interests and build contacts in new fields, I think it’s very possible that your next job will pay just as much as, if not more than, teaching AND offer a better work-life balance.

  22. Thank you so much for this article and all the comments. I left teaching after twelve years in high poverty schools. I gave everything I had to my students, and while I know I helped so many of them, the stress became too much and was greatly affecting my health. It is wonderful to know I am not alone and that I can find a less stressful job to bring back balance to my life.

    • Hi Serena,

      No matter where Life After Teaching takes you, you can always be proud of making a positive impact on hundreds of students’ lives.

      Thanks for reading and joining the conversation. Here’s to finding better balance!

  23. My story is a little different, but with the same conclusion. I too had the desire to teach for as long as I can remember. I married young, and had kids young which kept me from pursuing this dream right out of high school. Finally at the ripe old age of 40, I went back to school. I started doing my observations, and student teaching and found that I had possibly made a huge mistake. The job was not much like I had envisioned. The amount of work, the pay, the time commitment, it all seemed overwhelming, and I wasn’t even a teacher yet! I have decided here at the end not to pursue my dream of being a teacher. I have racked up college debt that depresses me, but at least I have a decent job now. I will have a Bachelors Degree also which should help me if I decide to switch jobs in the future. I have many hobbies and things I enjoy doing after work, and after talking to many teachers, this lifestyle would certainly change if I took a teaching job. They say teachers don’t go into the job for the money, but you still need to be able to make a living for yourself and your family. The funny thing is, I have talked to countless teachers and the responses to enjoying their job is all over the place. Some teachers hate what they do, others love it. Some teachers say they spend 12 hours a day and weekends doing their job, others state that they put in 45 hours a week on average. I have never seen a job where people in the profession seem to have such a wide variety of answers as far as job satisfaction goes. For me, I always wanted to have a job where I felt like I could make a difference, that is what lured me to teaching. The realities of the job seem much different. There are many things I think I would love about teaching, but just as many things that turn me off. I’m 44 now. I can’t see me taking such a huge pay cut to start teaching. That wouldn’t be fair to my family. (It would take me 12 years to reach the pay i’m at now)! I have so many hobbies that I can’t see spending an unbelievable amount of time outside of the school day doing more work. I want to enjoy my life outside of work. I work hard at my job, but when I leave I get to concentrate on my family and my hobbies.
    Anyway, reading blogs like this, while discouraging, at least makes me feel like I’m not alone in my thinking! Thanks to everyone that has posted their story.

    • Hi Glen,

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your story!

      I felt a twinge of guilt when you said this post is discouraging you from pursuing teaching. But you’re right: it makes no sense to take a pay cut and compromise your ability to take care of your family and yourself, even for the emotional rewards of teaching. I hope one day that teachers will be justly compensated for all the personal sacrifices they make, and that more teachers themselves will say “no” to endless giving without due respect in return.

      That said, I still encourage you to act on your desire to make a difference. Whether that means tutoring, teaching part-time once you retire, or something completely different, you can still make a positive impact without being a regular classroom teacher.

    • Don’t do it. You can teach in other ways. For years before I finished my MA I taught as a volunteer in a literacy program. That was incredibly rewarding and led me to become a teacher, a career that, in all fairness, I have mostly loved for more than 30 years, but I basically teach 2 full time loads in order to make ends meet. (I teach college level.) I am not even sure any more how much “difference” teachers are allowed to make in a student’s life any more. I don’t see teaching as being a calling to inspire any more. Students may not even be capable of BEING inspired by anything in school at this point. I’m not sure. I think there is so much other competing stimulation in their world now. You might be making the biggest difference by being a great dad!

    • Glenn, after student teaching, etc., and deciding it was not for you, what job/type of job did you end up with, and still have now (that would require you 12 more years/steps in the education field to achieve)?

      I graduated 4 years ago with a Communications degree and have been working office/desk jobs ever since. I have become disheartened in every single one of them, though their responsibilities and tasks have varied. I admit, I have enjoyed my freedom to come and go as I please for lunch, run errands during my lunch “hour”, reading during my lunch, etc. have been nice- and are the things I think I will miss most- I have just given my notice, in favor of an instruction assistant position, for which I will be taking a 60% pay CUT. I realize this seems crazy, but I have been so stressed lately about this decision, and I really feel as if it’s time. It is only too easy to fall into a trap of lateral moves from one company to the next, and to land in a position or role where there is no opportunity for growth, more responsibility, or even movement (within the company)! So, even if you feel as if your paycheck would be hard to give up, it’s impossible to justify remaining stagnant throughout life. If you are never given the opportunity or chance to be a leader or manager, then you will never be one. And most are unwilling to give that role to someone with no management experience. Just one of the many grand Catch-22s of the corporate, public sector.

      I must admit, my excitement about moving on and trying my hand at something new- something I’d always had designs on, but just hadn’t studied in undergrad- has waned just a hair at reading all of the comments of disenfranchised teachers and ex-teachers here, but I hope that there is *still* hope for some of us to flourish in an educational profession. If NOT, I hope that I can be like Glenn, and realize soon- while still student teaching/as an instructional assistant- and get out before losing too much time. (Because that’s the biggest disappointment/worry/resentment/fear, here, isn’t it?)

      • Thanks for reading and commenting!

        I do feel badly that this post and others may discourage people from entering the teaching profession. But I also think it’s important for prospective teachers to get a full picture of the pressures of the job.

        As many here have said, teaching can be incredibly rewarding. And I still know lots of veteran teachers for whom teaching is so energizing and fulfilling that it keeps them going. Somehow, they don’t let all the b.s. get to them.

        You could become one of those teachers, too. But like you said, you’ve got to see for yourself. Use your instructional assistant position to observe and evaluate the physical and emotional work that full-time teachers do. How do they spend their breaks? When do they come in and leave? What are they bringing home with them? Do they seem to enjoy their jobs? Do you think you could enjoy the job and have the life you want outside the job?

        You may find that you’re still up for the challenge, because at the end of the day, you are much happier working with kids than you were working in a cubicle. But if you realize that teaching might not be the right fit, then it’s much better to bow out sooner rather than later.

  24. Hello, all. I am a second year teacher and am seriously thinking of leaving the profession already. Last year, I came in during the middle of the school year after the 5th grade students had already burned through 2 teachers. When I came into the classroom, the building’s math and literacy coaches were instructing until a certified full time teacher was in place. I started in December; the students were rough to get motivated and under control. The instructional coaches (I don’t know how it is SUPPOSED to be in most other schools, but these two women acted like they were administrators!!!!) constantly criticized my lesson plans, instructional delivery, and classroom management. I never felt encouraged or supported. I was never told what I was doing well. I was totally alone and left to fend for myself. I was stressed, had very little sleep, practically lived in my classroom until 7-8 PM most school nights, and was still told that I should/could do more. The principal did minimal effort to support me; the coaches did her “dirty work” of documenting all of my “shortcomings” as a new teacher. In May, my principal put me on “awareness” in which I was warned that my classroom management was not “ideal”. I was told that if I did not show improvement, I would be put on “professional assistance”, which is supposed to be “worse” and more intensive intervention. I was so angry because I came in the middle of the year as a new teacher and was constantly challenged by the instructional coaches in front of the students! I did not even have a mentor teacher! I later discovered that the other two teachers who started in the middle of the year were also put on awareness for their classroom management. What are the chances? It gets better. The other two teachers and I banded together to support each other; we shared our summative evaluations. They were copy and paste IDENTICALLY worded! Every teacher in the building said it was the new principal that no one felt was a leader by any means. Starting this year, I had a much better group of students! But the other teacher got the short end of the stick this year. She was the target of the coaches and the principal this year; she threw the towel in a couple weeks ago because it was affecting her heart! I cannot believe the insane amount of work and pressure under which teachers are put! This is not what I signed up to do!

    • I hope you do not let this experience make you feel bad about yourself. It is the administrator’s job and the job of the coaches to help new teachers transition into the classroom…especially mid-year! I have seen this too many times with the same result. Complain about what the teacher did wrong and never focus on what he or she did right. They are supposed to help you build your skill set, not berate you repeatedly. I am sorry this happened to you as well as to so many other teachers out there. With that said, I strongly encourage any teacher to not think “this will get better with time.” I have not seen improvements in the education system in 8 years, only more problems and stress. (Not just me, my peers as well). I have wasted too much time hoping for the change that is needed, and now I have realized I am the change that is needed in my own life, and there are other careers out there that will be rewarding and important.
      Good luck and do not believe what you hear from those bringing you down, the fact that you have already given so much says that you are dedicated, and want to do what is right by your students!

    • I’m impressed that you stuck it out for a second year after all the demoralizing experiences in your first; the identical summative evaluations alone show grossly incompetent and negligent administration. That you are having a better experience this year reaffirms your success and future potential. It’s not you, it’s them! Really.

      And it can get better! If you’re still interested in teaching, give another school a chance. But be sure to ask lots of questions during the interview process to try to get a feel for how the school is run and how teachers are treated. You might even ask a teacher who works there for her honest take on what it’s like to work there.

      If you’re ready to begin Life After Teaching, check out my posts on informational interviews and transferable skills from teaching. Good luck!

  25. I am a student teacher, and unfortunately I already agree with everything the author has to say. I love my kids a lot and teaching is something I am very good at and makes me truly happy. However just watching my mentor teacher having to deal with hellish parents, high standards, and all the pressures school put on her,makes me not want this job at all. I have realized I am someone who wants to compartmentalize my life and keep things separate. I don’t want to come home and have to think about my job all night. I also don’t want to have to act 100% perfect all the time, in all aspects of life both inside and outside of school, just in case I see a student.

    • Hi Alexi,

      It’s great that you were able to see the reality of teaching before making a commitment to it. Now that you understand what you don’t want from a job, it will help you evaluate new potential careers.

      And while it is sad that education has lost another good teacher, I know that you can still use your teaching skills to make a positive impact in other ways.

  26. Thank you everyone for what you have expressed. I feel like crying. I get no relief even from the weekends as I have another part-time job in order to make ends meet, and I spend additional time correcting papers, or shopping for food as I teach high school classes (nutrition/culinary) in which students cook. I can’t do this much longer. I feel very depressed about it all. I am taking an organic chemistry class so that I might hopefully complete an online dietetics program in the near future so that I can end the never-ending all consuming job of teaching. The class(chemistry) is challenging, but at least it gets my mind off of everything else I have to do.

    • Becky,
      It takes a lot of discipline and resolve to take a course as hard as organic chemistry on top of teaching *and* working a second job. Keep taking concrete steps towards your goal. Like you said, they’re a great way to channel your energy towards something productive, instead of dwelling on how much teaching takes out of you. Good luck. You’re already on your way to Life After Teaching!

  27. I’ve been teaching for 30+ years. I’ve reached the point where I don’t respect my students at all. It’s not that they don’t respect me; they do. I don’t respect them. I find them ignorant; my job used to be to ameliorate that situation and that was fine with me, but now, it seems, they like it that way. The philosophical polarization in our country (world?) makes it very easy for them to choose ignorance and the “life reduced to a multiple choice test” reality of NCLB has made school a meaningless exercise, a hoop to jump to a job with a better salary. For example, last spring a student sat in my class with ONE earphone in the whole time. When she got the idea (from a classmate) that it bothered me, she said, “Does this bother you?” I said it did. I said it communicated clearly to me that she was not interested at all in what I had to teach her. When she actually did work (believing she was doing me a favor) it was half-assed, juvenile and mostly off topic. When I attempted to help her, she told me her HS English teacher liked her writing. I stopped at that point. Teach HER? Why? A student this year, in an English class, asked me if all we were going to do this semester was read books and write about them. Well, she’s had the syllabus for two months AND the book list AND all the homework assignments in a printed packet AND on Blackboard. Then she said, “I don’t want to do that. I want to do what I want to do.” I thought, “OK, well, you know what? That’s the last straw,” and it was. I’m finished. In the past five years, I’ve endured near-physical assaults, open insults, complaints, acting out in the middle of class, argument after argument. As I drove home that night I thought that if a professor cannot respect the students in the classroom, that professor has no business being there. More and more I feel that I’m chasing after my students (with Blackboard, with social media, with emails) almost BEGGING them to learn, to get their work in on time, to give me something to grade — no WONDER they feel like they do me a favor when they turn in their homework. I never thought I would feel this way and a little part of my heart is broken because I do feel this way.

    • Hi Martha,

      I used to think that the students I had who were rude, clueless or thought I was being too hard on them would grow up, and be forced to shape up, once they got to college. It’s depressing to find out that that’s sometimes not the case, and I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with such demoralizing situations. I hope you have at least a few students who make your hard work worthwhile, at least for the time being.

      • I do — just had a bad day. Still, that was informative and I actually have filed my retirement papers. 35 years is a long time from any point of view and I might have just reached the end. Still, it’s a great career and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!

      • You should get some kind of badge of valor for your 35 years of service. I could only make it through seven.
        Anyhow, congratulations on your retirement!

  28. Ok. So after JUST returning to public classroom teaching – 12 years homeschooling my kids – shame on me for lacking the gratitude of those wonderful days – even when they were tough. Never this tough. OK – I was sexually assaulted in the classroom in the evening doing work in my room. PTSD – I was abused that way for 11 years as a child. Regardless, they handed us pre-made LFS lessons, said don’t edit for the kids, don’t add extra info, and the kids still fell short – and were made to know it. It was counter-intuitive to all that I know to be true about the brain, teaching, and learning. It was no longer about the innate nature of learners to… ummmm… learn. I was about data. It was about testing each week on computers and getting ripped apart by admin. It was about frequent if not daily push-ins for observations where you were critiqued on paper. It was never being good enough to do what I know how to do organically. It’s just my piece. SO – do I sit and complain about the system or do I try to fix it? AND where do I start. I applied at Success for All Foundation to try to impact teachers in the field and literacy. If ANYONE has ideas, please let me know. If I could find health care for my family of 5 and homeschool – believe me it would be manna from Heaven. I go on these job sites and sit without knowing what to even enter and search. It is a bit like being in the water going around and around the drain. Stuck but never emptying. “Restless” – a good book for me!

    • Hi Samantha,

      Thank you for sharing your story; I am so sorry for the traumatic experiences you’ve endured.

      Although you may not know where to begin your job search right now, you can take steps to find out what your Life After Teaching might look like, rather than applying to random jobs that may or may not be a good fit for you.

      I found it really useful to take an inventory of my skills and interests while conducting informational interviews with people who had jobs that interested me.

      Here are my posts on those topics. Hope they help you focus your job search:

    • I’m surprised they held the kids accountable to that standard. My school coerced us into giving the kids way more slack. And I had to acquiesce to the admins request due to 504’s and IEP kids. This was confounding for me, because I knew that I was being forced to favor some kids over others. I saw the inequity and knew it was wrong. But we we have to do in order to keep our jobs and remain in graces with our bosses is unjust. It doesn’t uphold the integrity of education and it puts us in a precarious moral predicament.

  29. I am in year 5. I have been wondering if I could deal with just living in my car on the beach. I almost just walked out last week. I have been sick, depressed, frustrated and upset to the point of not being able to function at home because I can not stand being a teacher! The pay suxs (in MS). I have huge, huge, school loans from getting 2 masters. And I could have done my job with a high school education. Finding this site was a God send. I feel like I want to have a nervous breakdown and suicide flashes through my mind from time to time. I am single &’alone. I moved 3 years ago to a bigger city thinking I could have a better chance at finding something else. Despite my education I was treated like I was an idiot. I once called a mgt temp company. They told me they needed “real mgrs”. What the hell do they think I do? I have changed schools and grades. It is all the same. I just want OUT!!!! I have made a firm decision to work my butt off, stop with pity party, and find something. I am just so, so, so glad to find out I am not alone.

    • Your blog is exactly what I have been looking for and I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to have found it! I just read Lisa’s and Rob’s post and I am in a similar situation in terms of number of years in the field (almost 20) and age (in my 40s). I have so many passions and such an excitement for life except when I am in the school environment around teenagers. I have become very depressed and it is so difficult to find people to talk with about this. For me, the number one stress is the students. I teach high school. I have taught in the more affluent schools and in more challenging schools. And they are all the same. The kids, the discipline, having to force people to learn. It’s exhausting. I have also taught community college and graduate courses for teachers. I’ve done some abilities/personality testing and am discovering that standing up in front of people (essentially running meetings all day) doesn’t suit me anymore. I’ve done a great amount of research on career possibilities and after reading your blog I was reminded about the value of info interviews. Thank you so much for that! I feel hopeful for the first time in a while just thinking about it!

      I am single and have so much anxiety about leaving when I have “only” 10 years left to get my pension but I can barely get through the day (in terms of feeling sad/hopeless..that I am wasting precious time with the wrong “clients” and not pursing my passion). I was wondering if you happen to know any teachers who left after a long time in the field who I could connect with…teachers who left the security of the pension behind. Everyone I speak to (no one who has taught) tells me it would be crazy to leave especially since I’m single and don’t have a husband’s career and benefits to buffer this transition. Thank you so much! Any advice you have would be so great!

      • T,

        I don’t think you should let the idea of “only ten more years” hold you back from changing careers. Ten years is a long time! If you feel burned out now, just think how exhausted you’ll be later. It’s probably not what’s best for you, or for the students. And hopefully you are already vested in your pension, so the years you’ve put in will still be worth something.

        It’s great that other commenters have helped you regain hope. I’m also glad that you are planning to use informational interviews to help you figure out your next step. Although I don’t know anyone personally who changed careers after many years of teaching, maybe previous commenter Mary could offer some advice, or at least inspiration. You can find her comments on January 4 and January 23.

    • Hi Lisa,

      You made it to year five — that’s more than many new teachers can say. Please give yourself some credit!

      I know it’s hard to realize your worth when your paycheck, student loans, and the job market give you so little to show for all your hard work. And with teaching, it’s so easy to feel bad about yourself all the time precisely because you care.

      But in order to create a Life After Teaching for yourself — one where you can feel good about yourself more often — you will need to articulate your skills, your strengths, your assets — and really believe in them.

      I hope this post about transferable skills from teaching helps you figure out all that you have to offer:

      And please, make time to take care of your mental health. Find out what your insurance policy is for therapy, and take advantage of this hard-earned job benefit!

  30. This is my 4th year teaching (1 yr public, 3 Catholic both title 1) and I can barely make it through the end of the school year. I walked into the assistant principal’s office a few weeks ago to tell her I don’t think I can make it through the last two months. The behavior is out of control, the students don’t listen to me. If I send them to the office they just get sent back worse than before. Admin is way too easy on our students! I am so exhausted from breaking up arguments and disciplining that holidays off haven’t been enough to recuperate. I’m humiliated with my breakdowns in front of my boyfriend and family members thinking Im going crazy but its really the job I’m trying to tell them! A coworker joked to me asking if I have picked out my tombstone. This is not what I expected when I have been working 5 years on an alternative teacher certification. 15K later and 35K on my B.G.S. Changing careers! Thank you for those who shared! God bless:)

    • Congrats on your decision to make a change! To get through these last few months, stay focused on planning your Life After Teaching, even though it’s so much easier to give in to school-induced exhaustion.

      And when summer finally comes, you’ll get the old “you” back — maybe slowly at first, but it *will* happen. Plus, you’ll have so much more time to work on the new “you”! To brighter days ahead. 🙂

  31. Reading this blog has been like a breath of fresh air. I’ve taught maths for the last eight years but have decided enough is enough. Poorly thought through government initiatives, lack of resources, poor student behaviour and lack of sympathy from management have led to this decision. I constantly think about what it would be like to work in a quiet, ordered, ‘normal’ job in an adult environment with no children in sight. I have now accepted that to do this will require a massive drop in pay – at least, initially. But I don’t care anymore – I want out. I laughed when I read the post from the guy with 2 years to go til retirement and compared this with the 37+ years I would be facing if I decided to stay. No chance!

    My probable destination is local government or the NHS (I live in the UK). I’ll probably squeeze the next couple of months out of it and then use the summer holidays to apply for jobs. I’m sad it’s come to this – but I feel I’ve done all I can.

    • Hi Steven,

      Thanks for reading and showing how teachers in the UK are struggling with the same issues as American teachers.

      Like you, I also daydreamed about a “normal” job, and hearing about Rose’s successful transition to office life helped motivate me to find my own.

      If I were you, I would start applying to jobs and arranging informational interviews now, rather than waiting till summer. You never know what opportunities might turn up!

      Here are a few posts about my experience that might help you get started:

    • Steven,
      I’m in the same situation. I’ve been teaching for 11 years and I’ve had enough. Students are disrespectful, lazy, inconsiderate, rude, and entitled. Administrators are a joke. I kick kids out; they send them back. I just for accepted in correctional departments training academy. I’m becoming a correctional officer, an adult babysitter. My pay has been cut in half, but I couldn’t care less.

      • Hi Steven,
        Being a correctional officer doesn’t sound easy, either, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you get better treatment in the job. I hope it works out for you!

  32. As a teacher in South Africa I feel exactly the same. Our new curriculum is so unfair to students who learn slowly. It truly feels like we are fighting a losing battle trying to inspire students to love learning when everyone, parents and kids included, is just so apathetic.

    • Hi Lameez,

      Another teacher from South Africa, Makaoku, shared her frustrations with the education system upthread. Maybe you can relate to what she wrote.

      Many teachers here in the U.S. and elsewhere (as I’m learning) also feel like they’re fighting a losing battle. You are certainly not alone!

      I hope you will find a way to regain your energy — whether it’s through changing schools or changing careers!

  33. Well, this is just so beautifully described- I have read your blogs backwards – I taught for 33 years. I think I knew for years I wanted something else but there was so much that I did well, so many lives that touched mine and mine theirs…and well, that felt good in that noble sort of way you describe. But then at age 53 I was accepted into a university for a totally different degree-one that brought passion into my mind and soul. I finished early (all on-line while teaching full time) and resigned my teaching position. Unlike you, I did not begin the plan for leaving so that I could slide into The Next Thing. That was beautifully wise of you. I left in the spring. I completed my degree in Organizational Leadership in December (turned 56), cared for a sick relative and then I rested for two months. I took a sabbath rest. I am coming out of rest…caring for my mother during respite from sickness and surgery, and I will move forward. I have ideas, but I think I am at that point of rediscovering self. Teaching can be brutal on the self, the soul in some ways. Being “on” 24/7 (think field trips that last 2-3 days or more and the need to be the teacher the entire time) takes a toll. I loved it. I did not love the abuse of “leader” and the ever shifting ideologies of practice. I am ready to be whole and find a work that feels like a call (teaching really was and I value that). Thank you. I anticipate something wonderful up ahead.

    • Hi Rita,

      Thanks for reading — and thanks for showing how you can teach for a long time, love it (mostly), and *still* leave it for something completely new.

      Congrats on finishing your degree and believing that finding your next calling is worth it. Would love to know what new opportunities you pursue!

  34. A different voice, but maybe not so different. I teach at a local community college and I am absolutely miserable. This is my 3rd year doing so and I don’t know if I can take another semester. Students don’t improve much after they graduate from high school. My students are resistant to learning, resistant to working, and generally believe they deserve an ‘A’ for no other reason than they exist. While I don’t deal with the bureaucratic b.s, I have to deal with people who believe the course should be catered to them and what they want to do, when they want to do it. I’m beyond frustrated, and am beginning to search for a new career field–one that will not be such a drain on my physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Thanks for your honest portrayal of teaching challenges at the college level. I think it helps dispel the notion that college professors are immune to the struggles of high school teachers. Martha Kennedy, another community college instructor, shared issues similar to yours upthread.

      I also found teaching physically, emotionally and psychologically draining — and realized that I needed a job that required much less daily human interaction. I now get to concentrate deeply on my work and talk to a handful of people a day. Having no work to bring home has also greatly improved my quality of life.

      Here are some posts about my experience:

      I hope they help you reflect on what your next career could be!

    • I have always said that the difference between the seniors I have in high school and the college freshmen entering in the fall is “two months”… We graduate so many students from US high schools who DO NOT have the study/math/literacy/writing skills to make it in a college-level setting. Because they have been given a “free ride” in high school, and since most community colleges will take anyone with a pulse, students will continue to behave just as they have! There are no consequences, just failure, which many students don’t seem to mind. I’m not sure what subject area/areas you are teaching right now, but is there any chance you could move into an Adult Ed setting? My favorite experience was working as an ELL instructor at a local community college as part of their ABE (Adult Basic Education) program – talk about students who were motivated to learn! My guys were fantastic! Good luck to you, whatever you do.

      • Thanks for your insight! I have also met other ELL instructors who say their students’ enthusiasm, work ethic and respect for teachers make the job more rewarding and less stressful than teaching other subjects.

  35. I have just left teaching after two years. Every bit of this article is exactly how i now feel. I am only a week into my new job and I already understand everything this article is getting at. I am slowly going to get my old self back. Teaching had made me physically ill (coming from someone who was before teaching never ill!) and put massive strain on my relationships with family and friends. My homelife was non existent. My life was teaching. It seemed like this was the norm with teachers and they just accepted it. I worked about 70 hours a week average. Even during the ‘holidays’ I worked. It was endless.

    • Congrats on finding a new job and starting to get your old self back! It’ll only get better as you regain the energy to pursue hobbies, maintain relationships and seek new experiences. To the new, old you!

  36. Thank you for posting this; it makes me feel less guilty about not loving the profession when so many others would like to find a permanent position. I was just hospitalized for a stress induced migraine that I attribute to my job as a teacher. I now feel more confident that teaching is not for me from the experience, but this blog has also helped me see that I should not feel badly about my choice to leave this profession. I can’t thank you enough.

    • It’s so hard *not* to feel guilty about wanting to quit teaching. Glad to know that Rose’s reflection has helped you feel more confident about wanting a job you really love — or at least one that lets you take care of your health and well-being! Hope you are feeling better now and best of luck to you.

  37. This has been my 6th year teaching at non profit day treatment center for emotionally disturbed youths….I sort of fell into the job right after college and thought, “hey it’s got to be better than bar tending right?” But here I am googling I’m a teacher and I want a new job. I realize after a majority of my twenties, one child, and 7 apartments that I am in an abusive relationship with my career. When I first started, the opportunity to help the “worst of the worst”, the “unteachables” was incredibly appealing to me, and the meager salary was balanced by the good I felt I was doing for my students. After the economy collapse, I felt fortunate that I even had a job and wasn’t in a place to quit. As gas prices, apartment prices, insurance rates, paper work, and state tests went up, my compensation has stayed the same, so while the computer maintenance man at my school who sits in a quiet office all day makes $120 an hour, I qualified for food stamps. While my friends started buying their own homes and didn’t have to save up for a dress from Old Navy, I moved in to my fiance’s mother’s house. I’m too smart and too experienced to be in the situation I’m in. I’m hoping I can figure out what I am really capable of, and others looking to move on can as well.

    • Hi Jillian,
      Thanks for sharing your story. Though you’ve done so much to help the students who need it most, I am really excited for you to find a new job where you can excel *and* make a living salary. Good luck! I know you can figure out a next step that will be right for you and your daughter.

  38. I also want to leave teaching.
    Most of these “I hate teaching” articles have similar features: too many standardized tests, bad students, bad pay. Somehow it’s always the fault of whatever political party the writer of the story is not.

    Well, I am burned out from a job that pays well, is in a school with no crime/graffiti/fights, and no standardized test pressure. There is a problem within the educational system that is separate from the tests and political pressures, and if affects private and public schools.

    I taught at three girls’ high schools: inner city, lower middle class and upper middle class. In all three, my first year, there was at least one class that turned on me because of some “unfair” decision I made with grades. This could mean that I gave a class leader an F when she didn’t make up a test she missed before the end of the marking period; this could mean that I accidentally put class participation as 15% in the computer instead of 10%; this could mean that I didn’t cancel a test when a test was shortened by 10 minutes (but I did shorten it). Either way, the “princess” of the class didn’t get a 90 for the marking period and led a rebellion.

    The first time, there was a big meeting with the guidance counselor, and it blew over eventually. The next few years were better, and I was promoted to department chair, got several raises, got a service award, and made lifelong friends. Of course, the school closed.

    The second time, in the lower-middle class school, the situation got worse and worse, with kids baiting me and being disrespectful if I tried to teach my subject instead of having “movie day” or something like that. Nobody backed me up–it was fine if the kids decorated a door instead of doing chemistry. Eventually my schedule was switched. Still, I hung on, the next semester was better, and I had no problems like that the next two years, although I saw kids try to get each and every single new teacher fired for being “too hard” or “unfair”, including a talented teacher that I recommended for the job. The school closed.

    Finally, I got a job in an a rich girls’ school. The behavior was better in many regards. Students obeyed the uniform rules, brought pens to class, studied and even made notecards, quieted down during a lecture,etc. They didn’t demand movie days. But the school had many, many rules, all meant to ensure that nobody ever got a bad grade. I was under pressure to be really, really hard and push them, but also make sure nobody got under an 80. So one day, a class was shortened. I couldn’t move the test, because then students might have more than two tests on a single day, and they might do badly on one of them. So I didn’t cancel the test, just canceled an essay question. One girl did the essay (which she didn’t have to) but didn’t do the multiple choice questions. She got a 66 or so. She also had the ear of an administrator and complained.

    Not only were the grades changed, but the administrator spent the next four months making a case against me. Because I didn’t do anything truly bad (unlike her son-in-law–another story), they came up with someone talking in the back of the room, not wearing goggles in a lab with no chemicals, and giving worksheets from someone other than the book publisher. My contract was not renewed. I have about 6 weeks left, and I’m hoping that’s it for teaching.

    There is a lack of respect not coming from the culture in general. Teachers are the villains; no bad grade is ever earned, no disciplinary action is ever warranted. It is the parents, kids and administrators against you. I no longer have the will to fight a three-enemy war.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your varied teaching experience adds a valuable perspective to the conversation.

      You are so right — standardized testing is just one aspect of the culture of disrespect towards teachers. I, too, have felt demoralized when administrators and parents ignored student accountability in favor of holding teachers responsible for all problems. This blog is my attempt to help teachers feel more empowered and less alone.

      Good luck with these last six weeks. I hope you can still find moments from each school day that you enjoy, and I wish you all the best in your next career.

  39. Pingback: My most popular post, one year later. | Those Who Teach

  40. I’ve spent the entire day doing absolutely nothing but googling “why I quit teaching after my first year”. Needless to say, if one is doing that, there’s a serious problem. I have almost the same exact situation as the poster above “Southern Jade”. This is my first year teaching, but I started out in the middle of the year (December/January) so I didn’t have the students in the beginning. Don’t know how much of a difference that makes, but I am tired of the endless demands.

    This professional is quite literally never-ending. Putting all of this time into planning only for students to disrupt the class, dealing with students that don’t value an education and have no motivation to achieve, calling parents which yields little to no results (students go back to normal after 1-2 days), paper work, annoying meetings (while they have a good purpose, I feel that we are on a meaningless “save the world” mission as we will never be able to overcome the environment they go home to when they leave the building), hours spent grading, etc. I could go on forever.

    My life has just been consumed by this job. I am often extremely tired and fall asleep planning or doing homework. There is no time to do anything, no social life, no time to cook, and I barely get enough sleep. I am the one held responsible and accountable for everything and no one else (students or parents) is accountable for anything. The demands and expectations are endless, and it’s even worse if you’re someone who sincerely cares and puts a lot of effort in everything that you do. Compared to what I have to go through and what I’m expected to do, the pay is a joke. I teach in NY.

    I don’t want to have to come home and spend the rest of the day worrying about tomorrow. This job is full of stress and although I have spoken about teaching again next year to my co-workers and principal, I’m thinking of quitting when the school year ends in June. I love my co-workers as they’ve been nothing but help to me, giving me good ideas encouraging me and just being there to talk to. However, the expectations don’t disappear and I’m still unsatisfied. I hate to disappoint, but I’m not afraid to do what’s right for me.

    Did I forget to mention that I’m currently working on my master’s and took three (that’s right, 3) graduate level courses in addition to all of this work? I am already burned out. I don’t want to take on any more responsibilities and become dependent upon this income like so many posters above me. Moved out of home a few months ago and don’t want to go back. Not sure what to do. Thinking of going back to subbing and perhaps tutoring on the side. Thanks for this blog. I was getting ready to start my own today.

    • The first year of teaching is hard enough on its own, so I’m really impressed that you took 3 (?!) classes on top of that. Congrats on surviving a crazy year!

      As you recharge and reassess this summer, here are a few points to consider:

      Becky, who left a comment for you below, is so right when she says that teaching never stops being all-consuming. Teachers who stay in the game, especially the ones who have to take care of family members, do learn how to manage the workload better, but the amount of work doesn’t lessen (at least in my experience). Realizing that teaching would always involve doing tons of unpaid work outside of work made it easier for me to leave.

      On the other hand, the stress of your first year was compounded by your course load. It’s possible that you would enjoy devoting the energy needed for teaching if that was the only work you had. Would it be possible to take a semester off to compare how that feels?

      Also: even if you have already agreed to return next year, it’s OK if you decide in July/August that that’s not really what you want to do. Schools deal with sudden vacancies all the time, especially in the summer.

      Finally, check out my posts on informational interviewing and transferable skills for teachers.
      I hope they will help you reflect.

      • I agree completely! You are entitled to change your mind if you wish!
        Also, I would consider that the longer you teach, the harder it is to leave. I taught for 10 years but have decided to explore other opportunities working with youth and I’m so happy I did! Trust me, you can still teach, inspire, mentor, tutor and work with youth outside the public school system. You will be surprised at how much weight will be lifted off your shoulders and how you will also be able to enjoy your life once again!
        Best of luck! 😉

      • Thanks for joining the conversation! Would you mind sharing what you do now? I know readers of this thread are looking for all the ideas they can get.

      • Thanks for the response. My first year stress was definitely compounded by my coursework (none of it was easy and I had a lot to learn). I think it’s the student body that causes so much stress. I don’t know if teaching is like this in the suburbs but I would imagine it’s far from the same experience as teaching in an urban school. I know that when my students learn, it makes me happy, so I’m not so sure if it’s teaching or if it’s more to do with where and whom I’m teaching.

        Thanks for the insight. As far as taking off a semester to compare, I would love to do that but I’m not in undergrad anymore. taking a semester off means that I graduate one year later. I’m looking to graduate as soon as possible (which is why I took three classes in the first place). I have two semesters left, this fall, and next spring, in which I only have 1 class in each, so my guess is that teaching will be much more manageable. My mindset is that if the second year still turns out to be an awful experience, then that’s my cue to leave, or go elsewhere.

  41. Since you seem motivated by the fact that you are taking 3 master’s classes, I suggest you pursue another avenue besides teaching. Education is all consuming, and that is never going to change if you are someone who is trying to be a good teacher. I am in SD and we are at the bottom of the barrel for pay. I have my master’s plus 45 additional graduate hours after the master’s and my salary is still only $40,000. The low pay for teachers will always be there too. There are increasing demands on teachers, and unmotivated students no matter what strategies we implement. The respect for teachers has diminished as well. I hope the best for you in your future plans.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Becky. Even with cost-of-living differences, I can’t believe $40,000 is the going rate for a teacher with your background. I hope you can find a school district that values its teachers more!

  42. I taught in a junior college (equivalent to a US high school) for 5 years before I decided to throw in the towel. At that time, I was burnt out having to deal with problematic students and juggling my masters. I can related to the various comments in this blog as the experiences shared here were very similar to mine despite the differences in the education systems.

    After quitting, I took time off to complete my masters, tried a couple of things including a short job stint as an editor and also did a year of pHD studies. The pHD did not work out and I eventually decided to go back to teaching as I was lured back by the steady income.

    I’ve just completed a one and half year contract and my contract was recently extended for another year. My past year experience was largely positive but this year I did not feel as motivated as I felt previously. Recently, I met with the parents of a student who took me to task for being demoralizing and not being sufficiently encouraging to their child. Feedback from a teaching survey that was recently administered also showed that a quite few students felt the same. After some soul searching, I wondered when I started not believing in my students and I felt that renewing my contract might be a mistake.

    While I am contemplating whether or not to resign, I am also conscious that there are limited job opportunities for ex-teachers in my country. I feel very encouraged by the experiences shared by the readers and feel less apprehensive about my future choices.

    • Hi Clementine,

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your story.

      If you decide to leave teaching again, remember that you’re not starting from scratch. You already have professional experience as an editor — emphasize this point in your resume and cover letters. You should also translate the skills you’ve developed as a teacher to the jobs you want.

      Here are some posts you might find useful:

      Good luck!

  43. You know what really gets me about the teaching? The grading. The paperwork. And the lack of support from parents and school administration. I have been working at a school this year with such a small staff and small budget – there just aren’t enough people to follow up with these kids and try and help them keep their heads above water! On top of that, we are discouraged from giving students the grade they deserve without being able to back it up with a paper trail a mile long, while the parents of the low-performing students show NO interest in their students’ progress. I don’t have time to be chasing parents down for their reaction to the fact that their student is failing because they’re not doing the work! It’s no wonder the student’s work ethic is so low… How will these kids ever learn that to do well in school/work/life, you need to do the work?

    I have been a teacher off and on for 12 years, and I think that this time, I’m really done. I’m leaving teaching to raise my first baby, due in two weeks. I don’t think you could offer me any amount of money to be a classroom teacher while raising a small child – it’s just not worth it.

    I have JUST submitted my Spring semester grades and one Fail report (backed up with the proper documentation). Many other students earned a fail, but because I didn’t want to deal with the backlash, I bumped them up to a D. What else am I to do? As so many people have said in these posts, it’s not the teaching itself that’s a drag. I really do love young people and love being around them and inspiring them and being inspired by them. It’s all the bureaucratic, political crap that goes along with it. And the paperwork. Forget it. If I could just give my students a grade without having to justify and back it up with scores of reports and calculations, it would be so much easier. My husband is a college professor and doesn’t have to deal with the parents and the grading and all that. He just gets to get up and teach. I envy him for that.

    Anyway, I’m glad to have found a place to vent this frustration. And to say that I think, once and for all, I’m done with ‘teaching.’ I will always be a TEACHER – I can’t help it. But I need to find a setting that takes the pressure off both me AND the students, and just lets us learn together in a way that is mutually joyful and experiential. I hope I’ll get that chance as a mom, which is my new career of choice. 🙂

    Good luck, all.

    • First of all, congrats on your new career as a mom! 🙂

      Wonderful that you will be able to devote yourself fully to raising your child, and will instill in him/her a love of learning.

      I, too, felt so exhausted by all the paperwork, grading and politics that I couldn’t imagine how you could teach, *and* raise a family!

      I feel much less stressed now that those days are behind me, and I know you will, too.

  44. Wow! I am so grateful to have found this site! It helps so much to know that I am not alone and realize that it’s ok to say goodbye to a career I worked so hard for.
    I have been teaching full time for eight years, having entered the teaching field in my mid-30’s. I have taught in the traditional public classroom, private schools and in site based and non-site based charter schools. I have been miserable for years, but kept hanging in there. I now realize that I am done wasting anymore of my life on an overwhelmingly demanding, poorly compensated, frustrating and all consuming career that is quite frankly sucking the life out of me and cheating my family out of a happy wife and mother.

    • It can be hard to admit that we no longer want to teach, especially when we’ve worked so hard and sacrificed so much for it.

      But your happiness and your family’s happiness are worth it. As Rose and other commenters have said, you will be glad to get your life back.

      Best of luck, and thanks for sharing your story!

  45. I am so not alone after reading your posts. Passion is all I have for teaching. I enjoy working young people every day. My students wanted to be like me. Yet, I wasn’t appreciated. I, too, have some seriously difficult children. Some did not have social skills, just pinched and hit their peers. The principal & my veteran co-worker blamed me for my classroom management. One student pooped in the urinal, I was blamed. One student peed outside of the restroom (he couldn’t hold it), the principal upset with me and kept questioning me, “what’s going on with so&so?”

    One student tried to tripped a cafeteria worker at lunch, my veteran coworker thought it was my classroom management. I helped a student 1st grader who couldn’t locate a page number, the principal blamed me for not everyone turning at the same page at the same time. I was really confused. Was it really me or are they giving me hard time?

    My co-worker kept saying that I was speaking in Chinese how the students could engage with the teaching. She had never been to my classroom. I don’t speak Chinese to my students. I respected her and looked up to her because she was the “best teacher” and “President Award Teacher”. I also endured her because it’s not appropriate to quarrel at workplace. My students scored high and progressed very well every trimester even though many students came from violent and dysfunctional families. They even scored higher than her class’. She was upset and questioned me.

    Another co-worker said to me why I was so serious in everything. “Just keep the kids safe is enough. You can’t control their IQ. ”

    The administrators just want everyone to have no comments, we kept the parents and students happy, no complaint, then you are a good teacher. One parent/ grandma threatened to choke me out, after they moved to another class (they wanted to move every time they received a complained from teachers) but administrator didn’t do anything.

    When I was let go, that lady suggested me to work as a tutor(she also agreed that ‘s a minimum wage), or some kind of part tome jobs, since I had so many difficulties in the beginning of the school year. She also told me her parent said her kid was so lucky to be in her class.

    Gee, we are not a customer service or selling a product. We are the educator!

    Teachers, tell me what’s wrong? What did I do wrong?

    • Another incidence, an IEP child zipped down and laid his penis (with underwear on) on another child while that child was picking up trash. I was also blamed. I was shocked. I asked other teachers, No one knows how to prevent that from happening.

      • Susan,

        What an exhausting year you’ve had. I agree with Poodlepal below — this school sounds toxic for teachers, and you are better off not being there.

        I hope you get some time to recuperate this summer, and are able to find another school that is more supportive and stable. Your passion for teaching and pride in your students’ accomplishments will help you succeed.

  46. Susan, be grateful you’re out of there.These kids are deeply disturbed and more than you (or possibly anybody) could handle with the level of support you had (or didn’t have).

    Classroom management is a serious problem and some people aren’t good at it, but it is a convenient excuse for administrators to get rid of their scapegoats. It doesn’t matter what the kids do. I got fired from a middle class school where there were no crazy, violent or aberrant behaviors. Didn’t matter. Talking or taking off goggles were enough. (Tell me, how can a teacher see 20 kids at a time working in groups, all looking in different directions, and tell if someone has taken goggles off? And anyway, they didn’t really even need them, nothing was dangerous!) I was also blamed if paper towels fell out of a tiny wastepaper basket, if a kid borrowed a book and didn’t return it, if kids didn’t push in a chair, if they left hole punches on a desk. . .when they want to get rid of you, they pretend the students are avatars, like the Sims, who do nothing unless you give them the command. If they like you, you’re a hard-working employee who of course has a little trouble sometimes with those bad, bad kids, but is doing the best you can!

    • Thank you for sharing this. I think newer teachers especially need to know about the petty tactics and politics that can direct hiring and firing decisions. Without this awareness, it’s all too easy to internalize blame.

  47. This article is so validating. I, too, am struggling with the dilemma of renewing my contract or acknowledging that, at the very least, this particular school does not provide me with the structure or support that I need in order to be happy and feel truly successful. I spent 15 years making the big bucks in the private sector but I naively turned to teaching 3 years ago as a way to serve others and feed my love for kids and learning. Instead of feeling fulfilled, I am exhausted,underpaid, under supported and suffering health consequences as a result of increasing anxiety and unhappiness. I live in a rural area with limited opportunities and am wondering if returning to the private sector is the answer for me. I feel awful about “giving up” but I am slowly accepting the fact that by giving up I am opening a new door toward an opportunity that may better suit me. Authenticity requires great courage, yes?
    Thank you for this insight. I needed it this evening.

    • I love what you said about “authenticity” – it does require courage, and above all, “knowing yourself” and knowing what you can and cannot accept in your life. I, too, went into teaching because of a wish to help kids who didn’t have the skills to “make it”…little did I know (and it took twelve years in the classroom to learn it), I can help kids gain real-world skills by teaching them “how” to learn – not just “what” to learn in order to pass a test. Life is a REALLY BIG test, and kids just need to learn how to figure things out for themselves. How to be authentic! How to have fun! How to be curious learners! You are not giving up, you are truly opening the door to new experiences…Good luck to you!

    • Thank you for reading and for sharing your story, Carol.

      I really appreciate your statement that authenticity requires great courage. That helps *me* feel validated, and I know it will help other teachers who want to leave be more accepting of themselves and what they truly want.

      Wishing you health and happiness in your next step!

      • Thank you. Now if I only knew what it is that I “truly want”…sigh…a new journey begins!

  48. Carol,
    You are not alone. I, too, suffered health consequences. I couldn’t sleep well during the school year. I even had constipation until the school year was over due to the increasing anxiety and exhaustion. I love working with children like you. I, too, had the similar passion to help kids make it. I thought the administrators should stand by us. Instead, they made teaching job a nightmare…

    • Thanks, Susan. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this health blip was discovered the same day I was handed my contract for the fall. Time to pay attention and move forward because a little fine tuning will get me back on track.
      Administrators are only a part of the problem, in my view. I consider the issues surrounding the profession complex and difficult to solve until or unless our society begins to respect the profession AND we unload the crummy teachers who signed up for summer break and pensions, not for teaching. We also need more parents to parent their kids so that we can be teachers and not mommies and daddies too. I can’t tell you how many times I have brought in food for my students who go without, clothes, gloves or sneakers for kids who have nothing to wear, vacation breaks spent with a student who has nowhere to go and no one who cares. Complex, indeed. Good luck to you.

      • I totally agreed with you about the complexity of the society, Carol. You are a compassionate teacher.
        We, the kids where I came from, used to greet and bow to our teachers any time or place we met them. If our teachers complained about us to our parents, our parents would give us a lesson (sometimes spanking) one more time at home. Our parents felt that teaching their kids to be respectful was their jobs, not the teacher’s. Therefore, we were very much behaving in school with 50-70 kids in a primary classroom, from 1st-6th grades. There was no such thing as ADHD in my childhood school that I know of.

        I brought stuff for my students from time to time, too. I also offered free tutoring for them in summer. I believe the society is much more complicated than it used to. And so, why should teachers be blamed?

      • A new journey begins!
        I have resigned from my job and have accepted a benefited Title 1 position within a larger district. I will enjoy a much reduced workload and I believe I will be able to finally feel as though I can make a difference! So, I remain in this profession with another role that probably better suits me and I feel incredibly relieved and instantly happier. I realize that this place will have its share of difficulties but at least, for today, I feel valued as a teacher.
        Best of luck to all of you who are still struggling within this profession!

      • That’s wonderful news, Carol! It sounds like you will feel much happier and healthier in the new job.

        Best wishes for a great school year, and thanks for sharing this with us. I know your story will help motivate others to make a change. 🙂

  49. I have just read this article ,, I felt so guilty being ill all the time after 12 years of teaching. The stress to be the outstanding teacher, the constant struggle to justify my marking and lessons. Learning and relearning new curriclea year in year out to meet new and ever changing government standards. I am leaving the profession have aspired and dedicated my sons childhood to my career. I turned around one day and he was 18. It suddenly hit me that I had spent more time with children of complete strangers more than I had with my son and I never seemed to meet their ever demanding standards. Although my salary has dropped dramatically I must echo the points made above. My health and wellbeing is precious to me. I spend more time with my son without thinking about lesson plans and collecting resources or working around family time to mark books again for the 15th time in a month. I really loved teaching and the kids (even the challenging ones) I know and truly feel that I did make a difference to some student who will always be precious memories to me. The system has become so politically led by inappropriate targets and levels that it has forgotten “Every child matters”, this means every child is different and every child needs a different level of care and nurturing to build confidence and self esteem. Experience, family values and a moral society seem to be put aside for targets and levels to be achieved instead. Surely, if so many feel this way why of why aren’t they listening

    • Hi Susan,

      When I was teaching, I had a hard enough time taking care of myself and balancing the responsibilities of the job, so I was always in awe of the many women around me who also managed to raise children and run households.

      I am glad your new job allows you to devote more energy to caring for your family and yourself. And yes, you can always feel proud of the impact you made as a teacher. Thank you for sharing your story!

  50. I found this website today. I can retire in 1 and a half years. I still love teaching, but it has really changed. Since the NCLB act, we now teach basically to the test. For the 2014-2015 school year, Texas is doing away with the modified test for the special education students. So what does this mean? A special education student will take the regular education state test with accommodations-even if that individual is on the first grade academic level. I am really disappointed with the testing. The curriculum is run by the test. If the test only covers 2 questions on a math concept- the concept is only taught for 1 day or maybe 2 days. It just seems that the powers that be make up all of the rules. Plus society does not help. When people hear that you are a teacher, they think and will sometimes state, “You could not get a job doing something else?” I never wanted to be an administrator. I am happy in the classroom. I will be retiring as soon as I can, because I want a life. These last 5 years have been rough. I cannot believe the amount of money put into training new teachers. Teachers are leaving in droves. The pay has not gone up and more is being expected from the veteran teachers. I always though that I would teach past my retirement age. It is really discouraging to know that if I teach past the rule of 80, age plus teaching experience/ years, my retirement pay will only go up 10 to 15 dollars a month. I guess that as long as schools can get a body in the door to fill the teaching vacancies real issues such as pay, time. Etc.. will not be addressed. I hope that our future leaders address this. The situation is getting worse in this country. When return after the summer, I will have three new people to work with- one teacher retired, one quit and is not coming back, one is transferring to another grade, and the 2 remaining teachers on my team: one is pregnant and the other one hates teaching. So, kudos to those of us who are returning and giving it their all.

    • Since I left teaching a year ago, the madness of standardized testing has only gotten worse. My old colleagues keep me updated on each new hoop they have to jump through, none of which contribute to real learning or assessment for students or teachers.

      Your situation in Texas seems particularly bad, but it sounds like you are focusing on the kids — and really teaching them! — as best as you can.

      Good luck with your last year and a half, and best wishes for your retirement!

  51. Thanks for posting. I too found this by Google searching “I hate teaching”. I am 25 years old, in my second and final year of the job with 19 weeks to go. I am spending the first week of my holidays with a chest infection, having spent the last 8 weeks gaining weight, depression and IBS. I can’t wait to leave the profession and have already decided how I’m going to retrain before it’s too late. I can’t believe the toxicity of this job, the pressure, the bureaucracy and the expectations. For what?! When people said it was stressful, I always assumed they meant behavior management. I wish somebody had told me earlier…

    • calbyt,
      So sorry to hear about your health problems and hope you are feeling better now. I also hope you have some good moments from teaching to carry with you and that the experience has helped you better understand who you are and what you want. You’re still young and many possibilities await. Good luck!

  52. I am a teacher of 20 odd years experience (Australia) Originally I taught for 15 years and decided to have a break and do other stuff. This I did for another 15 years. While I never “hated” teaching, over time I was aware of how it sapped my energy, time and sense of self. At the age of 51 I returned to teaching and while sometimes I thought I was going to be overwhelmed again, now into my 4th year back I have reached a place of perspective and balance some times, some days. I still bring a stack of work home each night, but I generally don’t do it. I’m even mastering not spending all night/weekend beating myself up for not doing it. My big goal is not bring it home at all. It will get done (I want to work smarter). Also, I’m not your entertainer sort of teacher (oh, how I have wanted to be one of those) and sometimes I am cranky and make mistakes. But I am human and its good for the kids to see that. I think I let them see me more as a person than I used to. Being human, I am pretty sure that I’ll probably need some more time out in another few years. Luckily in Australia we get long service leave (after 7 years), leave without pay is also an option and maybe retirement.
    And I guess that’s the contribution I want to make. Teaching is HARD – you have so many personalities (hundreds) – kids, colleagues, parents and admin to deal with. You’ve all been doing a great job with that, but sometimes it’s overwhelming and you’ve got to have a change. And when you do there are so many fabulous qualities and skills you can bring to different career paths. When I wasn’t teaching I worked in the natural resource management and the tourism fields. I found my people skills, ability to keep a lot of balls in the air; and capacity to hang in and get things done was really valued. Never underestimate the incredible opportunities for self reflection and growth that standing in front of a gaggle of kids & adolescents has given you. Sometimes it takes just a slight adjustment to re-frame those qualities so they can be seen by other employers (educate them). When you look in the background of so many public figures it’s always amazing to see how many teachers are amongst them – comedians, politicians, actors, broadcasters, musicians, artists, writers, business figures to name a few. And never discount the possibility that maybe one day you might even want to take that whiteboard marker out for another whirl!!

    • Hi Myrtle,
      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I admire your work-life balance skills and the way you’ve allowed yourself to be more, well — yourself! — in front of your students.

      And a big thank you for explaining how your teaching skills helped you succeed in other jobs. Teachers need to hear how valuable their experiences are in the wider world, and that life after teaching can take many shapes. I also appreciate your example of finding teaching again after time off from it. Here’s to embracing the unexpected!

  53. Pingback: Life After Teaching, Part Five: Why I Don’t Need Summers Off Anymore | Those Who Teach

  54. As the start of school draws near I have been questioning some of my life choices regarding my career. I am a Texas band director in a small rural town teaching grades 6 through 12. I work on a twelve month contract with the ability to take off two weeks during the summer. My assistant and I teach 390 students each day. We also hold rehearsals, concerts, and contests outside of the school day. Lastly, I am responsible for my budget and administrative paperwork. Each year I make requests for an additional instructor or secretary to no avail. There are many things I love about my position, but there are mounting frustrations as well.

    I love administrators that are supportive and fair to all of their programs and teachers. I love administrators that back their teachers. I am frustrated by administrators that micro-manage creating a stressful environment for the teacher. I am frustrated by administrators that practice an inequality between programs and teachers or those that are so fearful of parents that the teacher never receives much needed support.

    I love teachers who are not only supportive of the non-core classes, but also encourage students who may excel in those areas. I love teachers who want to work as a team to benefit the needs of the student. I am frustrated by teachers who belittle other programs or make fun of band students in class in front the rest of the students.

    I love parents that are supportive of their children and the programs for which they are involved. I am frustrated by parents that are never a part of what their child is doing. I am frustrated by parents who have chosen to have a friendship with their child rather than the parenting role that teaches respect and responsibility for behavior.

    I love respectful, enthusiastic, and hard-working students. I am frustrated by apathetic students as well as those that do not feel that rules apply to them. I am frustrated by the instant knowledge, instant gratification students who are unwilling to work for a distant goal.

    I love a society that supports education and the role teachers play. I love a society that desires a curriculum that offers a solid academic core along with extracurricular/ co-curricular programs that enhance creativity and teamwork. I am frustrated by a society that continually criticizes the abilities of the educator. I am frustrated when I read comments from uninformed people who discuss the supposed short teaching schedule as well as the nonexistent three month summer vacation.

    I love when I am able to manage my time in such a way that allows for worship, family, perhaps even a hobby in addition to my job. I am frustrated when my job encompasses the entirety of my life leaving room for nothing else.

    I love how I feel when I see growth, creativity, and teamwork in a group. I am frustrated when I feel that no matter how much I prepare or how many hours I work I will still fall short. I will never reach all of them.

    There was a time when the things I loved about teaching heavily outweighed my frustrations. However, as the years have gone by the scale has been tipped. I believe there are people blessed with the gift of teaching which is about much more than subject matter. Nonetheless, I know that a time may come when the stress will force me to walk away from that gift.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Samantha. I can relate to many of the joys and frustrations you describe, especially the feeling of falling short, no matter how much work you’ve done.

      What makes your situation more challenging is that you can’t take a full summer off to recover like other teachers can. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you can find a way to recharge more often. Your physical and mental health are worth it!

  55. Pingback: Money Talks, Teachers Walk: Low Pay Is Yet Another Reason Why Teachers Quit | Those Who Teach

  56. I am so glad that I found this blog and that I’m not alone! I am a first year out teacher and have been relief teaching, yet have been grappling with the realisation that I don’t think I could fathom making a career out of it as the personal cost is just too high.

    I rarely have time to take a break or eat my lunch due to piles of marking, and as a result I crave sugar hits on my way home and have no energy to exercise.
    I also would rather lounge around on weekends, resting up, rather than see my friends.
    The whole not being able to use the bathroom whenever you want is also a nightmare because I can’t drink as much water as a i need and then I end up dehydrated with a headache at the end of the day.

    On top of all that, it can also be a struggle to get through work as much of my time is spent on behaviour management. I feel that he structure of school really doesn’t cater to children’s attention spans, yet government policies insist on an overly crowded curriculum.

    I also get exactly what you mean about having to portray a perfectly moral teaching persona- it’s exhausting as you are made to feel that being yourself isn’t good enough and you have to leave your human flaws and personality at the door.

    Anyways, for now Im comforting myself with the thoughts of going back to college to become a nutritionist and making a positive difference to people’s lives in another way.

    Thankyou so much for this post!

    • I get what you mean exactly! You summed that up so well. I’m also leaving at the end of the year…to study naturopathy next year.

      I feel like the entire environment is poison. In the meantime, I have paid and enrolled for a half marathon in a few months, which gives me the perfect excuse to do the bare minimum and leave before four everyday as I am “managing my stress levels.” You should give it a go 🙂

      • Yes, the whole environment is poison! It feels like no matter how hard you work, you haven’t done enough. I think that the curriculum needs stripping back and that every classroom needs a teachers-aid so that teachers can still do normal human things like take toilet breaks, eat food and breathe air, ha!
        I don’t like being cynical because there are some great aspects of the job, but the sacrifices are exhausting! It’s good to know i’m not alone though because my family are not impressed that I want a career change first year out of college and keep trying to convince me why it’s the ‘perfect’ job for me.

        Naturopathy would be amazing, and in a way you will still be using your teaching, just in a different format (and teaching people who want to learn). A half marathon sounds like to perfect way to manage those stress hormones too!

      • Jess and Calbyt,

        I am really excited for your next steps. It’s wonderful that you are both pursuing careers that will enable you to continue helping people, and focus more on your own well-being in the process.

        Calbyt, good luck with the half marathon, and I wish you and Jess the best in your new careers. Unlimited bathroom breaks are just around the bend! 🙂

  57. I’m 25, about to turn 26 next month. I’ve been teaching for about three years now, about to go into my fourth year next month. I’ve been having thoughts about leaving the profession, on and off, since I started and this entire summer I have been spending my waking thoughts thinking about what else I can do. I’ve been up at 4am researching other careers I could go into. My biggest worry is how I will support myself if/while I study to do something else. I live on my own in London, renting, and don’t know how I would be able to afford my rent/bills etc. And if I’m working, would I have time to study? Also I had fears that I might be too old to change careers/jobs now but having read a lot about people quitting teaching, I don’t think I am now.

    All I know is that I have agreed with everything that I have read so far. There are many great things about teaching (namely the children) but too many things that destroy it as well. It’s not for no reason that 40% of teachers leave teaching after 5 years. But most people have no idea or understanding of what this job entails. Even now I have a friend who can’t understand why my “silly” union keeps going on strike. This coming from a friend who told me that she spent a few hours at work the other day going through her e-mails. Can you imagine being able to do that in school? HA!

    • Jax,

      Glad you have realized it’s not too late to make a change!

      Have you considered ways to work on your next move while keeping your teaching job? For example, would it be possible to take night classes or summer classes? Maybe you could start with one course to see how it feels. Or you could try getting work experience/building a portfolio on nights, weekends and summers. At the very least, you can conduct informational interviews that could bring you closer to a new job opportunity.

      And yes, it’s frustrating when those who haven’t taught don’t understand how demanding the job is. But you will have to communicate your accomplishments persuasively to prospective employers. Here are some tips to get you started. Best of luck to you!

    • Find a way to get out now. Teaching is not going in a positive way. I am afraid that it is only going to get worse. I started at a time when our one yearly, state test did not dictate how good a school was or was not. Kids that do not pass the test attend summer school and do continuous test prep problems. The problem is people not in education, or those who have not been in a classroom in the last ten years, are making all of the decisions. The companies that make the tests sell, all of the textbooks and support materials and are run by the people who make the decisions- these people all have stock in the companies. It is a no win, win situation. Put on a brave face, smile, and do the best that you can with the kids that you teach. It is not the kids fault that they are caught up in this mess. It really is not. Good luck and train to do something. Else even if it takes a couple of years.

  58. I am so glad I found this post! I am in my fourth semester (block scheduling) after coming back to teaching after an 8 year hiatus. And I’m remembering exactly why I left 8 years ago. I came back because, unlike before, I have kids, and I thought summers and all that off with them would be great. Not at the cost, though. The part you wrote about “getting myself back.” I know exactly what you mean, I just started feeling like myself again halfway through the summer only to be right back here, right back where every thought or stress I have is not only constant, but all about work. Hobbies? Who has time for those? I’m also crabbier in the evenings and tend to take things out on my kids that I shouldn’t. I’ve already enrolled in classes for a Vet Tech degree and am hoping to find an assistant job until I get the full degree. Thank you so much! I’ve been hesitant to leave because summers off and all that, but when I look back on my office job life, I feel relaxed just remembering it! I think about school and immediately my neck tenses up. It’s not to say teaching is completely awful, there are people out there who it is perfect for. I’m just not one of them.

    • Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for adding your story to the mix. It’s interesting that you’ve found that summers off aren’t worth it, even with kids. I know that perk makes a lot of people who are thinking about becoming parents think twice about leaving teaching, but now your example can help them reevaluate. I think it’s also validating to hear that teaching is the perfect job for some people, but it wasn’t for you.

      And wonderful that your second Life After Teaching is already in motion. Best of luck to you — you’ll get yourself back before you know it!

  59. I have been teaching for 30 years and I hope this will be my last. I never really felt like a teacher; it never was a good fit for me. I was lucky enough to teach at one of the top schools in my state, but sometimes I still find it unbearable. Why do I feel this way? 1) too much extra work that has nothing to do with teaching my subject (chemistry/biology), this would include learning teams, growth plans, district diagnostics, reflections, English portfolio papers, etc. 2) administrators that never would good in the classroom telling teachers how to teach, and only caring about test scores 3) rude parents who raised equally rude kids and think if their child didn’t get and “A” that it’s my fault, as if I can study for their child. Basically common sense has left this country and I’m afraid the movie “Idiocracy” is happening. When I retire I hope I start to live a quiet and peaceful life. Sometimes I wonder how life would be different if I had gotten out of teaching when I was young and had no responsibilities. Good Luck

    • I feel for everything that you are/ have been through. I can retire in January 2016. I always thought that I would teach after qualifying for my pension. No way. I have seen so much go wrong. Now it is all about the almighty test scores and getting those bubble kids to pass. I love teaching and still do but it is really disheartening to see what is happening. The students did well before the No Child Behind. Kids scored well on tests and we could teach things not on the test. Change of everything since 2001 or whenever the No Child Left Behind came about. It is so sad. If only the money could be put back into more teachers instead of Reading Coaches, Math Coaches, Special Education Coaches, instructional Administrators, Testing Coordinators, no support or programs for new/beginning teachers.
      I have a renewed attitude because I see the end and I feel refreshed. It is sad to say to myself as I leave- I will not have to deal with that in the future.

    • Hi Donna,
      I also taught at top schools and felt the pressures you describe. It takes great fortitude to last as long as you have, so you should be proud of everything you’ve accomplished despite all the nonsense.

      Best wishes for your final year, and for your hard-earned retirement!

      • I feel the job traps us in many ways too. Absolutely everything that happens is our fault and I Feel the pressure overwhelming. Ownership just is not on the students anymore. I am having such terrible anxiety over work right now and I do not know how to cope. It’s actually worse when I am not at school, which is weird. I feel horribly guilty when I am not working, because I feel that is what it apparently takes to be a good teacher like everyone says. I don’t know if I can stay in this job because I just can not find a way to balance my life and being myself with work, and find the constant guilt during the little bit of time that I am not working overwhelming. Am I the only person who has these irrational feelings?

      • Sarah,
        This comment thread shows you’re certainly not alone! Personally, I also found it incredibly difficult to “turn off” the guilt when I wasn’t at school. I’m working on a new post about work-life balance for teachers that I hope you and others find helpful — stay tuned!

  60. Hey all! I’m a classroom teacher turned entrepreneur. If you are struggling in the classroom, please take a second to see if Educator Rescue can help you. is an emerging start-up with one mission: to give support and advice to teachers transitioning out of the education field.

    Check it out if you want to switch out of teaching but have no idea how or don’t know how to get the life you want after teaching.

  61. Good afternoon,
    I stumbled upon your blog, similar to how everyone above, has. At least once/year I look up alternative jobs to teaching. I’ve also tried an informational interview once, but was disheartened that the person was too busy to make an appointment with me. I’ve been teaching high school in Canada for 8 years. Thank you for your blog and for all the information you’ve provided. I plan on reading it all and taking it in, hopefully it will provide me with courage and hope to move forward.


    • Aileen,
      Thanks for your comment and your follow! You should definitely give informational interviews another shot. It can feel awkward to ask, but I think most people will respond and be willing to share their expertise — especially if they are connected to you through a friend, family member, or other network. However, I have also reached out to several people I had no connection to who were willing to speak with me. Keep trying! 🙂

    • As one who’s been in the system for over 20 years, I say get out before you get sucked in. There is life outside of teaching – even in education. I spent 9 years as a trainer and curriculum writer. When I finally encountered a boss who was unethical (at the school level), I left. I loved the job as a staff developers but hated the man! Now I’m back in the classroom, and while I am still used to the pace and workload, I’m discouraged by the lack of authority admin has over behavior. I am the behavioral “specialist” in one of my classes, as admin is hands off. On the flip side, my honors classes, while better behaved, are not really honors. Years ago, the students were engaged and resourceful. Now they’re entitled and enabled. bad combination

      I am putting in one year and then moving forward, as I have three job leads. I need a job where I don’t ignore my own children, which has been the case since I returned to the classroom. I told my daughter (and will tell my son when he understands) that if she heads into education we would NOT be paying for her education.

      so sad, as this is really THE MOST important job in the world
      But I paid my dues and gave back to humanity. Now it’s time to give to me!

      • Helene,
        Thanks for sharing your story. With 20+ years of service under your belt, you’ve certainly paid your dues (and then some) toward the public good. It’s exciting that you’re moving forward now to do what’s best for you and your family. Best of luck to you!

  62. I agree. Get out while you can. It is getting worse and worse. The admin. Continues to hire all of these specialists, coaches, etc… The classroom teacher is dumped on more and more. Now, we have instructional coordinators in the elementary school- get real. The only way that things will improve is if people quit teaching. We have more and more new teachers being hired yearly and the veterans retiring in droves. The newbies are bailing after 2 and 3 years. No child left behind-right. Do your best and get out when you can. Sad, but true.

    • I wonder if a mass exodus of teachers is the only thing that would improve, rather than erode, teachers’ working conditions. On the other hand, as long as there are bright-eyed young graduates willing to take teaching jobs, the general public may not feel the “churn” as much. It’s really the students that will suffer the consequences firsthand…

  63. I’m so grateful that I came across your blog. This is only my fourth year teaching and I’m already looking for a way out. Reading this blog is like a great, big sigh of relief. You articulated very beautifully why so many teachers leave the profession. Thank you so much for doing this. You have no idea how much this has helped.

  64. I’m leaving teaching at the end of the year 2014. I’m quitting before I get fired. It was a “settlement” my district’s union made with the district itself, so that the district wouldn’t fire me. I’ve been a good teacher for eleven years. That’s not just me tooting my own horn or justifying myself–my colleagues who witnessed me in the classroom on visits, RSP teachers, teachers’ aides, and of course, the students themselves–had nothing but wonderful things to say about me. If coworkers wanted a lesson plan on a particular English unit, almost invariably they’d ask me for mine. I was and continue to be very popular with my students, who generally refer to me as their “best” teacher and their “favorite” teacher, too. In fact, students actually VOTED me best 8th grade English teacher, the last three years! Not “best” as in easiest, or was “cool” and let them get away with murder. Best as in, was a wonderful teacher who really helped them learn and improve.

    Why am I being fired? It’s one of those things where, you know you’re a good teacher, and you’re doing the right things, and the kids adore you, but you find yourself in trouble and it ISN’T your fault. I just feel my current administration has it in for me, for one reason or another. Perhaps I don’t follow their script exactly, or name-drop whatever trendy program they’ve adopted enough, though if they follow the usual pattern, they’ll abandon X program and replace it with Y program as the next cure-all. My students’ test scores were on the whole competitive and in many cases superior to those of colleagues’ students. I won’t get into that too much, as student test scores don’t always reflect teacher quality. I just feel I was targeted for elimination. I’ve learned that it happens a lot in my particular district. So, an administrator and some bigwig stranger from Downtown would visit my class sporadically (perhaps two or three times during the course of a year) over the last three years, usually for about 3/4 the length of the class period. Then, a few weeks later (so you know they’re spending time stockpiling ammunition against you in a big report) they present me with reams of paper telling me about how much of a failure I am.

    My coworkers expressed genuine shock that I was receiving negative reviews the last few years. “But you’re the best teacher we’ve got!” was a typical, non-patronizing response. The students are slowly getting wind through rumor (none by me; I’ve been pokerfaced about the whole thing) that I’m getting the big boot, and they’re looking confused, too. Confused, and scared, and disappointed, because they sense that my replacement might not be as good.

    So, that was me. It’s sad because I could deal with the bureaucracy so long as I could teach, and I loved the teaching part. I love when students come back, aged twenty-five or so, and tell me, “Mr. ____, you were just a kid yourself when you were my teacher. We both grew up, and I want to thank you for doing a good job.” It’s amazing.

    I’m just scared. I mean yeah, after eleven years in the game (and that’s what it is, just playing games with administrators on one end so that you can do your job without their interference), I’ve got around 35k in retirement savings after taxes are pulled out. So, that will see me through some months. I plan to work retail or in a restaurant or do anything, earn another $500 or more a month to make that 35k stretch longer in rent and such. But it sucks to lose the pension and the health benefits. I’m 35 going on 36 so I’m not terribly old, and I am in beastly good athletic shape, so health is not a problem yet, and I’m not married and I don’t have kids.

    Oh! Another thing. It’s like I felt that when I was a teacher (I still am, but might as well start referring to it in the past tense), I was always putting off all the things I had to do until after I put in my thirty years and retired. What for? I do want time to get married, have kids, wake up and not be anxious because some adult might walk into your room telling you everything you’re doing wrong, when thirty beautiful, young faces are telling you with their eyes and their writing, what you are doing RIGHT.

    I don’t know what I’ll do with the rest of my life. For a few dark moments, I seriously wondered if suicide were an option. You know, the fear of being homeless, of being a failure, or losing your livelihood. But instead I think I’ll write my book. At least getting canned will give me some time to do that.

    A lot of my best youth was used up grading papers. Maybe now, when I’m still sort of young, I can do fun things like date, travel, have roommates, enjoy life instead of constantly worrying about my 128 kids.

    And even though I will do all those fun things, I will always remember the few thousand children I helped teach over the years, and wonder.

    • Please,please,please see if you can leave your retirement in the system and pull it out when you reach the age that you can. Do not give up- male teachers are needed all over. Go to another district with a new attitude. If you resign verses being fired or no renewed, it will not mess up your record. If I was you, I would just put in my time and do nothing extra at all! Whe you are treated like this, you have to take care of you. Hope that this helps. I almost quit teaching 16 years ago- I changed districts Nd started new.i was ready to chuck it all. Now I am eligible for retirement in 2015. I am appreciated and I am so glad that I changed 16 years ago. This was after I was told that I basically was an awful teacher. Funny that I won a major award for teaching from the Masons in my current job.please do not give up. I know that it is hard, but someday you will look back at this and say that those people who are forcing you to resign are the ones who are wrong.just watch, these administrators and people from downtown will be gone in about 4 years.

    • Yan,

      Thank you for sharing your story. Your passion for teaching is clear, as is the wrongfulness of the administration’s treatment of you. It’s totally absurd that the “best 8th grade English teacher” for three years could get fired, and yet I’m not surprised.

      Even though this experience made you feel hopeless, it sounds like you are in a much better mental state now. You *are* still young and you *should* enjoy life. And you still have so much to offer.

      Shoe50 makes valid points — you could be much happier in another school, and it may be worth it to try to stay in the pension system, especially if you were already vested.

      But there’s also hope if you want to give not teaching a try. When you’re not writing your book, take time to research non-teaching jobs where you could apply the experience you’ve developed over the last 11 years. And be sure to emphasize your strong communication and leadership skills — and your teaching awards — in your job search!

  65. I’ve been teaching for 8 years, and the only time I’m happy is when I’m thinking about when I find another job. I remember having a complete physical 8 years ago and the doctor told me I was in the best health ever and to “go eat a Big Mac” because my cholesterol and blood pressure were so low! Sadly, due working in very bad schools for the past 8 years, and the stress of continually being a state of anxiety from disrespectful students, verbal abuse, and fights in the hallway, I have high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. I also have lost about 10 pounds, which isn’t a lot, but I didn’t really have any to lose in the first place. My dentist asked me if I had an eating disorder. In fact, I eat a lot, but at work, I’m running around going to the office, picking up the kids from lunch, walking the kids to the library. This isn’t an elementary school, but the kids are treated like they’re in 3rd grade, and the teachers pay the price by babysitting them instead of administration allowing them more independence.

    I used to work in an office and I didn’t know any better, and I thought teaching would be fun and rewarding — thinking of the teachers I had and how much fun we had playing games, putting on plays, and watching classic movies at the end of the school year. I had no idea about NCLB and standardized tests. Nowadays, forget about putting on plays or watching a movie at the end of the school year. The curriculum has to be followed and students must be prepared for the standardized tests. If you want to watch a movie that you must get all 130 of your students’ parents to sign a form.

    During my “planning” time, teachers meet and talk about nothing basically, so instead of grading papers and actually getting work done, we are FORCED to meet because the administration makes us fill out a form saying that we met and what we talked about. At staff meetings, we do silly games and are talked to like we’re actually the age of the students we teach.

    I know that soon I will find another job. I definitely want to get paid as much (or better) than my current teaching job, and I expect to have my own office or cubicle and to be left alone. I would’ve stayed at the job I had before teaching, but there was no room for advancement for me, so I left. I also know that “wherever you go, there you are.” I’ve had enough jobs to know that there’s going to be annoying people and awkward situations wherever one works, but it can’t be as bad as teaching.

    • Madelyn,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your story. I’m sorry that your health has suffered and that you’ve been so unhappy. But it sounds like you have the confidence to move forward, as well as the experience to know that it can get better.

      You say you like doing fun things in the classroom, but that there’s no room to do them. But finding even 5 minutes for a game, a joke, or a free write at the beginning or end of class could help make things better for you and for the students. I know that making a conscious effort to enjoy teaching during my last months helped me get through it and provided me with some closure.

  66. I still haven’t left, though I think about it nearly every day. I love my students. Always have, always will! But what I’ve realized over the last few years is that I’m not really a teacher in the traditional sense. Never have been, never will be. What I am is part comedian, part motivational speaker, part spiritual guide/mentor.

    As a contemplative, I’m enraptured with the art of teaching; increasingly, I’m expected to be a scientist/technician. Everything has become measurements, standards, data collection, scholarly belly-button gazing ad nauseam.

    I’ve always taught students. I’ve never thought of myself as an evaluator or designer or technological guru, though I am some of all of these things. By today’s measure of “what is a good teacher?”, I SUCK. Yet my students love me; the parents love me. My colleagues tolerate me, and my admins keep me around because the kids and parents love me, and I excel at classroom management.

    I’m a loner…in the wolfpack, I’m not. I’m the lone one, howling at the moon, and by my authentic, romantic, wild howling, I encourage others, one at a time, to step away from the pack and learn to howl on their own. Yesterday, that was just counter-culture. Today it is anathema. The collaborative model has supplanted individualism and authentic voice, and social media have diluted Whitman’s “barbaric yawp.”

    Leaving teachers: I feel your pain. I hear your call. I want your independence. And I’m not far behind. Just waiting for the right kind of handshake…God knows it’s not gonna be a high five!

    • Thanks for this affirmation of your individual teaching style. I think it’s especially easy for new teachers to lose this sense of self amidst the many dubious definitions of “good teaching” imposed on them.

      Hope you find “the right kind of handshake” when the time comes!

  67. I am starting my 16th year as a secondary teacher. Taught mostly in urban/suburban schools, with varying degrees of non-support from admins, “specialists, etc. Switched districts nearly 8 years ago to a “better” one, and realized quickly that more proactive parents and a more homogenized student demographic did not make for a better teaching experience. Then the Recession came. Along with it were short stints at various schools in :gang central” with horrible kids and no sense of security, combined with stunts of long-term unemployment. Fast-forward through more “specialized” schools, assisting in Special Education, and some more “normal” schools. Each one carried its own nightmares – overcrowded classes, surly admins near retirement who threw the new teachers under the bus, a slew of reforms and initiatives that were temporary but required to me implemented, etc. The real hardship, though, was having to put up with constant student bullying (“traditional” in-class and cyber) over the years. Again, no real support from the people who needed to take action. As I am single, I was too afraid to report the bullying. Not only would I have been disciplined for lack of classroom management (as other teachers had been in the past), I would have lost my jobs when I worked as a long-term sub. I never went looking to be the educational savior of the streets; my basic reason to take some of those jobs was because economic survival. I have been at several different schools, and districts, unable to gain basic tenure. When I left my old district awhile before the Recession, I did not realize how deep the financial blow would be on teachers.

    Nearly every previous poster has had workplace issues similar to mine, whether at the high school or college level. I know that as much as I do care that my students gain critical skills and grow in their learning, I have grown weary of taking sets of 175 assignments to grade, perfectly enter into the electronic gradebook in 24 hours, and answer every email instantly. I’ve also grown disheartened from having to keep teaching unruly defiant students who should have, legally, been expelled or sent to juvenile facilities instead of being let back into class. As much as I like certain aspects of teaching, I am going to look for a different degree where I can use my background in editing/writing, education, and passion for service, in ways that are more enjoyable and somewhat less chaotic. I don’t know what that looks like, and I am afraid to mess up. But I know that it is wise to change careers. The biggest saving grace these years has been working alongside teachers ; it has been through their support that has gotten me (and others) through rough times.

    Thanks for creating this site, and sharing your journey out of teaching. Please continue to share more, so that we can not only learn from your success, but to also encourage others who post here. This has been one of the most sensible teacher cyberplaces I’ve seen.

    • Cowgirlbythebeach,

      Thanks for reading and joining the conversation. I know your story will help others feel less alone in their teaching struggles and encourage them to find a new path for themselves.

      And thanks so much for your kind words. I do want to share more strategies for life after teaching, and your support helps motivate me to keep at it.

      I’m sorry for the many setbacks you’ve experienced, and I know how tough the student bullying can be to deal with. At the same time, it sounds like you are ready and able to move on and make a positive impact outside education.

  68. I am currently in my fifth year teaching English in a title 1 school in Eastern Kentucky, and I cannot tell you how much this blog has resonated with me. The past five years have been rocky. There are times when I truly enjoy teaching and feel that I might be making a difference. However, most days, I can barely peal myself out of bed in order to get to school. The administrations ineptness, the horrible school culture, and student apathy is driving me into an early grave. My health is at an all time low; I can’t eat or sleep most days. I went into the profession, as many do, with optimism and passion for my content. I feel immense guilt that the passion has left. On most days, my job consists of pleading and prodding students to do mediocre work with little to no effort. I can’t go on.

    The problem is that I have 2 children, a mortgage, and loans to worry about. I thought about switching schools, but I don’t think that would ameliorate the issues. I might be wrong. I live in a very economically depraved area with very little opportunity (which is in part why students are so apathetic). I want to move, but the uncertainty of the future is as overwhelming as the reality of the present. I just don’t know what steps to take. I considered moving into curriculum or working in other areas of education, but I don’t know what is out there. I need help!

    Thanks for the blog!

    • Evan, for whatever time you have remaining, I have sound advice, stemming from the year I “quit.” I left private teaching after five years of heaven and hell, too much alcohol, and the death of my father. I got my Masters in education that year off, and then got a job going straight from private and privileged into gangland poor and public. I also went into rehab which, thank God, took the first time-been clean and sober close to 24 years (next month). I made a vow my final year at that school: make a measurable difference in ONE. Just one. If I don’t, I’ll quit. That was 22 years ago. I’ve made a difference in one, every year. And I’ve got the gifts or cards or letters or emails to prove it. Your conscience is more important than everyone else’s expectations. Live up to your conscience, and make sure it’s not just your ego. Peace, my friend.

    • Hi Evan,

      Thanks for sharing your story with us, and thanks for your kind words.

      I’m sorry that teaching has become such a burden on you, and I can only imagine how providing for your family must add to your stress.

      But something does need to change for your health’s sake and your family’s sake.

      If it’s too much to deal with during the week, take weekends, holiday breaks and this summer to research your next step. It might involve moving out of your economically depraved area to somewhere where you’ll be paid more and have a better school culture. There *are* better schools out there, and while the problems you have with teaching may not disappear, they may become more manageable.

      You should also explore how you can translate your five years of teaching experience into a new career. Please check out my posts on career change tips to help you get started:

  69. I am currently on stress leave… it is my ninth year teaching high school English and theatre, and I am officially burnt out. I started developing anxiety and depression after a particularly bad repeater 10 class filled with 28 physically intimidating boys who did not want to be there. That was six years ago, and the anxiety medication I began taking has been tripled just so I can get out of bed in the morning. I have been out for two weeks so far, and am definitely feeling a lot better, but panic whenever I see students in public. The kids aren’t really the problem– it is all the usual stuff: class composition (we have full inclusion), professional responsibilities such as contacting home, professional growth plans, staff surveys, extra help, meetings… it never ends. Since I am feeling better, and starting to lose the guilt I have about being in public enjoying myself when I would normally be in a classroom, a friend dropped off some papers to mark today. I am in a panic; all of the anxiety and inability to think straight came back. I don’t think I can do this anymore, so I have to figure out what else to do. I want to write and illustrate, but have not idea how to get into the business.

  70. Forgot to mention- have lost at least one student in our school every year; last winter we lost two- one whom I was quite close to, one whom I taught. Tired of seeing kids die.

  71. Guess I can’t stop… my partner is asleep right now and I am wide awake… my students know me very well; I speak very honestly with them. They know I struggle with anxiety and understand when I say I need space; they all clear away, or ask how I am doing. The last straw before I went on leave was when one of the boys who rarely speaks came over, sat with me, and told me that if I ever needed to talk, he was there for me. It’s bad when the kids notice you are not well.

    • Hi Leona,

      I’m sorry for all the stressful experiences you’ve had. But it sounds your connection to students can be a source of strength and renewal for you.

      Although we never want to appear “weak” in front of students, your willingness to be vulnerable with them makes you human to them, and it’s wonderful that they are supportive of you.

      Your interests in writing and illustration can also help you restore your well-being and move on from teaching. Do these things whenever you can. You can de-stress from teaching *and* start creating a portfolio to show to potential employers.

  72. Hi everyone,

    I feel a sense of relief to have found this site. I am having an extremely challenging year. It is my 5th year of teaching, and the entire time I have struggled with whether this is what I should be or can be doing. I specialized, so I am not really a classroom teacher, however that is 75% of my job this year. I am in a really challenging work environment, teaching a load that I am ill-prepared for, as well as managing my specialty area, feeling like a failure because I physically and mentally can not put in the effort and time that I want into that program. Every day just feels like survival, I work 11-14 hrs a day just to barely get by. It has never felt this way before, but this year I really have sacrificed my entire life just to barely get by. I sometimes burst into tears when I get into school at 7:00 AM, constantly feel like a failure because I can not meet the needs of my 200 plus students, and find myself making ridiculous mistakes because I am so mentally exhausted. I am constantly finding myself looking at my family and friends (more like the people I once knew……) and wondering why they get to live their lives, and I can not live mine. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way when the kids walk in the next morning, and the 11-14 hour day with no break, no meal, and a stabbing migraine starts all over again. I push myself as hard as I can, and it is still not enough to do the job right. I know I am not doing enough for them, and that I should be doing more. The time I spent is mostly just on planning and marking, not even all of the extras I was hoping to do when I accepted this position. I have a huge sense of failure in my work and personal life this year. I find myself crying all the time, and when I come home I can not even have a conversation with my spouse because I am way too tired. I have been having heart palpatations, nausea, heavy chest pain, and I don’t even know why I am doing this anymore. I know if I quit right now, then my chances of getting hired in what I am qualified for and passionate about are gone, so should I stick it out? Right now I am feeling sick to my stomach every Sunday, feeling like another week of 14 hour days just to feel like a failure who cant do everything for everyone. I don’t even know how I will make it through report cards, work 20 hours a day I guess? I honestly worry I am going to have a nervous breakdown and end up in the hospital. I Feel it is almost unfair in a way, because I know that I am a good teacher within my specialized area, and I don’t want to loose that chance. I worked incredibly hard in my degree and I know that I could have a fantastic career, but my workload this year is absolutely unbearable and I feel there is no way to make it through 8 more months. I feel so trapped, and I can’t talk to anybody about it. It feels a bit freeing to post this on here. Maybe I am just scared that I won’t be able to make enough money or do something else meaningful and rewarding….please help, I feel so lost.

    • Please go to the doctor and get some anxiety medicine. Then do what you can and the let it go. Sometimes. You just have to call it a day and leave everything at work.

      • I am in canada, and I did not know that. I honestly don’t need anxiety mess, I’ve always been a person who has done so much, with enthusiasm, but having such a heavy duty load with new subjects, not having time for my program that I really want to be focusing on, in an extremely diverse school is taking a crazy toll on my health and life. I feel it’s damaging my confidence. It makes me sad that I can’t ever call my patents back, be a wife, see my friend who lives five minutes away, or manage cooking and doing my laundry. When did the job get so insane? The thing is I know I’m a good teacher, but I feel I have little support managing the challenges in my job and school. I don’t want to give up teaching what I’m passionate about, because I find that extremely rewarding, but the majority of my workload this year is not something I’m confident in. Yesterday I was so exhausted and loosing my voice, I had to just flat out tell them I can barely talk today. It makes you feel incompetent when you are burning out and can’t put what you want into the job, but you still work all night and weekend, to get half the expectations done. Sometimes I wonder if the world has the slightest clue what we go through. My hubby makes double with no education requirements, to do easier work, far less hours, making a difference. I just wonder why I’m doing this to myself. I want the time to figure out what else I can do, but I’m terrified… I was having so e very serious thoughts last month about literally getting on a plane to live and work in another place far away and leaving my whole life here behind, I can’t cope

    • Dear Leona (and Sarah, too),

      I am so sorry about the challenges at your schools, as well as daily physical and mental exhaustion. I’m sure many of us who read this blog understand completely, and have experienced those same things. Student bullies, extraordinarily high expectations from staff and parents, mounds of need-to-grade assignments and papers that should’ve been graded the minute you collect them, etc.

      I wonder if there are other former teachers who’ve posted here, aside from the great teacher profiles, who might be willing to share their steps to finding a new or different career? Especially those who are using their education/teaching background in their current job?

    • Sounds so familiar. In our first few years my friends and I would pull allnighters just to be prepared, and one of them had a heart attack (which began at school) at 25. Get help. Take a stress leave if possible. Do you have salary continuation? You can also get a note from your doctor asking that the work load be changed (it’s “duty to accommodate” in out contract… if you are in Canada).

  73. I also want to point out that I have a big smile on my face every day. These feelings are not made known at work, but it is getting hard to work twelve hrs a day with no break, time to talk with other adults, or relate to other human beings my age. I worry one day, soon, I’m going to just wake up and gave a full on meltdown and need to quit on the spot.

    • I did have a meltdown, at school, 6 years ago. I sat in a common office and bawled; I couldn’t leave the room. They sent me home for a week and took care of all of my classes. I had to have an administrator sit in class with me for two weeks every day just to walk into the room, and I had to use a separate entrance to the school so no one would say hello to me, because my anxiety would go through the roof. Here I am, six years later, and medicated like crazy just to keep from lying in bed crying. One of my classes right now has 28 kids, 4 on modified programs (I have to modify the work and create their goals), 15 accommodated, and a number of others with heavy personal lives. I have an EA and a resource teacher three days a week (I’m lucky) and I still had to leave the room and have someone else stay with them at least twice a week because I couldn’t handle being with them– and the kids themselves are actually really nice. It’s just too much. What part of Canada are you in, Sarah?

      • No, no, no my dear friend. Your special education teacher is supposed to modify the work and set the goals for the special education students. That is there job. Even, if the special education teacher is not assigned to you, or to work with you. I would NEVER leave my teachers hanging like this. You go into your administrators office ans ASK for help- right now. This is not fair to you or to the kids. I have 29 years of experience teaching in public schools, 28 of the in special education. If your special education teacher cannot personally assist you, ask he/she for. List of accommodations/ modification tips. No wonder you are burnt. I am glad that the school is working with you.

      • I relate to what Leona is saying one hundred percent. I have all of that too and there is zero help. I really want to share but feel a bit scared to say where I am. I would gladly email you though! I feel very stretched thin, I cried last night because kids were asking me to help them at lunch, I offer help in the morning and after school but they can’t make it then. After two months of no lunch I was feeling very very Sick so for the sake of staying in my position I am now saying no to giving up lunch. It’s not even a irty minute lunch so there is no way to eat and do extra help. I felt like such a rotten person for telling myself that my putting food in my body was more important, I came home and cried. I’m just miserable.

  74. Unfortunately, this is the new model that has come in this year. Teachers do the modifications. Resource teachers co-teach now. Resource can help you set up goals and give you suggestions, but ultimately the modifications are your job. Thank you for your kind words– I look forward to someday working in a job where the only person’s work I have to worry about is my own!!

    • I definitely will. Posting and reading on here make me feel hopeful, and I realize I’m not a failure for wanting to have a normal life. I also know that if we don’t take care of ourselves, nobody else will ever care about us. Sad but true.

  75. When I think back to why I went into teaching, I’m barely, barely living those reasons out. Too much work, and it piles on until the very end of June, and every year it gets harder.

  76. As only a second year teacher, I feel all of these “Life After Teaching” moments sound wonderful. I have three 90-minute classes, two of which are freshman. Of those three classes, I have about 80 students, and 35 of them are failing due to not doing ANY homework. The school I work in has students from the lowest-socioeconomic families in our state. It is hard to keep the students motivated, quiet, off their phones, not selling drugs, and learning. They don’t care.
    How did you gather up the courage to leave? I have my degree in Secondary Education-English, but feel employers would look at that and laugh. Where did you start on this journey back to yourself?

    • Samantha, good luck in your job search. I’m in a holding pattern myself. Take a nap, and have a good dream, then go do that thing!

    • Hang in there and start looking for another job. For the first time in my 29 years of teaching,I have seen 2 teachers walk off the job. This was in elementary school. I have seen a lot of changes. Maybe you could switch schools or districts. I switched many years ago and I had a new lease on teaching. Make sure that you try another teaching job before you leave. Once you leave the classroom, it is hard to go back. I have heard this. The public does know how hard teaching has become – look in the news at what is going on. I really do not believe that future employers would laugh at your degree. Hope that this helps.

    • Hi Samantha,
      As a secondary English teacher, I too, was afraid that my resume would never make it to the top of the pile for any non-teaching job. But I did get interviews from established organizations with good reputations — along with plenty of rejection emails. So yes, a lot of places probably wrote me off because of my lack of experience, but others were willing to give me a chance. I think the key is to make a strong argument for why you have what it takes because of (not in spite of) your teaching experience. Here’s a post on transferable skills to help you get started, as well as some more details on my job search.

      • So tempted to leave after reading all your posts. I am so scared if I were to leave now. I often felt discriminated as a minority.

      • Had an extremely difficult week, which included an all-nighter (pretty much) and working until 12AM a few times and being spoken too very rudely from a few kids. Times like this I have lost all reason for why I went into this job. I have not had any family time or exercise or proper nutrition all week, and for what? nobody appreciates us, nobody says thank you, kids have absolutely no respect for us (some, not all of course) and working 15 hour days is not fun. I honestly am so close to giving my resignation. I have my whole life ahead of me and I do NOT want to spend it like this. I feel that I am missing out on LIFE and the world around me every single day to work in a toxic environment.

      • This year with all of the changes that have taken place, I feel the same way. Until enough teachers simply start refusing to put in all of the hours, demand respect, etc… Things will not change. I see new people coming into education and they are taking all of this on. Unfortunately until teachers begin saying, Hey, wait a minute” things will not change. I do not know what to do. I can officially retire in a year. I will probably finish next school year out. But, teaching has changed so much. I really believe that as long as people keep showing up to teach nothing will change. I have cried over this. After 28 years of teaching, I have seen very little positives since The No Child Left Behind Act. The people shaping education are so removed from the classroom that it is ridicious. I wish that we could all band together. I have even given up on the teachers’ organizations helping. The veteran teachers are just being tolerated while the newbies are being shaped into this and that. I just show up to work with the kiddos and do the best that I can. Some days I can just shut out the extra garbage that I call, THE FLUFF. Other days, I can not shut it out. Maybe we can all band together. Everyone, me included is afraid of speaking up/ out otherwise the admin. will make your life hell if you speak up. This forum is good because teachers from all over are experiencing the same thing. Try and hang in there- Novemer and December breaks are coming. Plus, I am sure that you have some sick and personal days that you can take.

      • The thing is, I agree 100% with you. Nothing is going to change, nothing. I can not even count the amount of assignments I marked till midnight this week that were due way back in September that were NOT even homework, I always give class time. So ridiculous….what is this? I hear you say that, and I know I need to get out. I don’t want to hang in there anymore, you know? I have tried for years,,,,, but I just want to have a nice and happy life for myself. Be a normal person again, be myself. I feel I have been robbed of my life, and nobody cares. Yesterday a student called teachers “lazy” after I had worked until 3 am and could hardly drive myself back to the school……………..I’m just done. What are we getting out of this? personal satisfaction? to be called lazy by students after working a 18 hour day into the wee hours of the night. My hands were shaking all day because of the lack of sleep and the coffee and my stomach was hurting so bad. Like for what!!!!!! Sorry I am just not sure what I am even doing anymore. Maybe I should go back to elementary I was happier there…….

  77. I have a masters in education and had aspired to be a principle. Now I want out all together. What other jobs options are there? I don’t want to go back to school.

  78. The passion I had for teaching is gone. I admire all the hardworking, dedicated teachers who plan and teach with enthusiasm. You all are truly my heroes and I sincerely thank you. I told myself when I started 10 years ago that if I ever lost my passion for this profession I would quit, and that’s exactly what I am going to do.

    • Hi Gabrielle,
      I admire all the hardworking, dedicated teachers, too, and my admiration for them has only grown since leaving teaching.

      I’m sorry that your passion for teaching has been drained, but I know you can still make a positive impact — and apply what you’ve learned over the last 10 years — in a new career. Good luck with your next step!

  79. I, like a few other teachers on this post am a first year teacher, but I had a different path because it took me two years to get a full time job and I subbed for two years while also working at a grocery store as a cashier. I remember that in college I really only chose teaching because I wanted to help kids and felt it was the caring thing to do, but I don’t know if I really had the desire to teach. I wanted to go into Journalism but felt i couldn’t write good enough and wasn’t good enough for some reason to do broadcasting though I would still love to do it (i’m only 25 so I’m not old by any means). Anyway I kept going through college thinking that eventually I’d love it rather than just go through it.

    Well student teaching started and while I did appreciate some things, I was so stressed about it. Management was and still is a struggle. I student taught in a low income high minority district and even with good kids I couldn’t seem to be engaging or do well in management and it seemed like so many times I’d just go home dead tired or crying because I just couldn’t handle things. I felt like I was just a crappy student teacher who’d end up failing. Anyway I passed but I still felt like a failure because I couldn’t get a job.

    Anyway in the two years of waiting I not only subbed and worked at a grocery store but also took a summer to work for a program for my church where I taught Vacation Bible School to different parishes across the state. Afterwards I felt more called to special education and applied for a masters program and also volunteered in a severe needs room and loved it. I loved how even though it was tough, I still felt like I was making a difference and the kids weren’t disrespectful (which has been a problem since I started my full time job) but because I wanted a full time job I dropped the masters program and took a job in a tiny Catholic high school out in the middle of nowhere in my state (I’ll just say i’m out on the Great Plains)

    Anyway I was so excited because I not only was starting to teach but I was excited to be on my own rather than being some loser living at home with his mom and siblings. Anyway I guess it’s turned out to be so tough. Don’t get me wrong, I knew teaching wouldn’t be easy but I didn’t think it would be soul crushing and depressing to the point that I felt so weak and depressed. I hate that the kids don’t respect me in HS, and that they don’t think I’m that good of a teacher or that they aren’t “learning anything” and it makes me wonder if I just suck at teaching. In all honesty I want out by May but I don’t know what I can do and i don’t want to get more debt and be owing money until I am retired. I worry all I’m qualified for besides teaching is being some burger flipper or other unskilled type jobs. I honestly don’t feel I have anything to offer anyone and sadly in this day and age that probably means unemployment since in the past there were decent blue collar jobs that could support a family.

    I guess when it comes down to it, I just hate feeling like i’m some weak marshmallow man who can’t get kids to listen or do what I want. I also feel creatively sapped and find myself not really caring. I want the passion back in my life but I don’t know if i ever had it. In high school I lost my dad at 15 and while I remember being into sports and being good at history and geography, I never really had a passion for anything. I loved a lot of things like being in plays and would have loved to go into broadcasting for sports, but I figured those were childish dreams so I went to become a history teacher because i was good at history. Now i feel like i’m stuck and while I wouldn’t mind staying in my school if things got better, I feel like they won’t because I just don’t feel like being a teacher is my cup of tea. But I also don’t want to leave just to go back to bagging groceries for minimum wage.

    • First off, finish out the school year. Then, give it at least another year. If you find that you do not like teaching, keep teaching and go to school to train to do something else. If you can hang on until Thanksgiving Break, it will make all of the difference. Christmas is just around the corner. Find another teacher to confide in or seek out a counselor, perhaps the counselor at your school to talk to. Hope this helps. We all go through this- trust me I have taught in public schools for 27 years with one year in a private school. I am still teaching.

  80. I don’t know if I’m part of the same club because most of you are talking about teaching in public schools, but I taught college English as an Adjunct professor for 5 years at a community college and 1 year at a 4 year school. And now for financial reasons I’m considering going back and I really don’t want to I have a full time job and that’s demanding but at least when I come home I don’t have to take my work home. Once a month I just do the minutes from our staff meetings and maybe create some forms but that’s it. It’s once a month, not every day. I haven’t taught part-time in 3 years and I like my freedom. I like teaching the students, I like helping people, but I don’t love it. I guess the pros was I got extra money, I was working in my field, (have MA in English), education discounts on books, and computer software, no supervisor standing over your head, but like public school it was a lot bureaucracy at the college level. At the community college the adjuncts weren’t priority. If an adjunct wanted to teach a course online, they had to take a course and pay for it, so if the opportunity came, you could teach an online class. Well I never had that opportunity at the community college, but I did at the 4 year college. So, I didn’t waste my money, but at the community college where I taught there the longest, I thought I would be able to teach a class online but the full time faculty get first pick, and the adjuncts get what’s left. And then I found out that the new adjuncts don’t have to pay to tack the course that teaches you how to teach online. Then another thing is that they pay you once a month and not bi-weekly. And it takes a while for that first pay to come and then you have to sign your contract and if it’s not in on time, or they don’t notify that the contract is in so you can come and sign for it, you have to wait until the following month to get paid. And you only get paid 3 or 4 times for the semester. Then you don’t have your own area, you’re using another faculty’s office when they’re not there. Some schools may be different. And i guess the major pain is grading papers. I really don’t miss grading papers and creating a syllabus, and dealing with students who dispute their grade and want you to change their grade. I don’t like teaching during the fall because that leads to Christmas. One year the weather was bad and school had to close so they had to extend when the grades were due and I ended up grading papers on Christmas day to meet the deadline, it was very stressful and I didn’t like how teaching was intruding on my time. I had a sick relative that year too, I used to teach evening classes as well and that took a tole on me because I had to go to work on my regular job the next day. Sometimes I come home at 9:00 pm and I’m tired. So after dealing with that for 5 years I stopped. And I like being free, I like that when people are off on veterans day, that I’m off and I’m not grading papers. I like coming home after work and not worry about how many papers I have to grade. There’s a part of me that miss helping students, the money, being a part of the future of our college students, and I guess that’s the part that wants to go back because now I’m experiencing some financial difficulty and my paycheck from my regular job which I still have is not enough. I really don’t want to go back to teaching but I don’t know what other way I can make extra money. My regular job does allow overtime, but I can only do that so much. I’m getting older and (In my 40’s) I just want something that doesn’t require me to bring work home or is not as demanding as teaching. I don’t know. What do you all think.

    • In canada the demands are heavily increasing year by year. Each week I try to plan a way to have so balance and make time for my spouse or a friend and can honestly say there is no way to do it., ever. If it’s not one thing, it’s the next. It’s just so unique from other jobs that way. I’m looking at a career change ASAP just do t know yet

    • Jhia,
      You’re in good company, as other college adjuncts have shared similar stories on this blog. They too, are frustrated with the second-class treatment they get for the hard work they do. I highlight some of their stories here.

      As far as making extra money, you could try tutoring, which often pays more per hour than teaching does, and offers more flexibility while still allowing you to help students. The hard part, of course, is getting clients. One way to start is to get in touch with local high schools. Sometimes they keep lists of tutors to refer to students. You can also let people in your network know you’re interested in tutoring so they can pass your name along if they hear of an opportunity.

  81. I feel so much better knowing that I’m
    not alone. It says so much about education when teachers are leaving because we can no longer tolerate it. School isn’t at all like I remember it. I’ve made up my mind about leaving teaching this year. This blog has helped me understand that it’s not me; education has just become so broken. I gave it my all and even more. I feel so broken and soulless. A job, especially this one, should never make you feel this way. I owe it to myself to leave. Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

    • I have never worked so hard to fall so incredibly behind as this year. I will work until my heads and stomach hurts so bad from not having food, fourteen hrs a day then go home and be nowhere near done my work. Weekends I’m so drained I try to do something with a friend or for myself, and feel horribly guilty that I’m not planning more. It’s become a sick toxic feeling. I don’t know hoe to see any positive anymore, all I do is beat myself up for not working more and perfect off the kids. I don t have the time to plan the way I’m used to either which leads to more guilt. I don’t know how first year teachers are coping, but I know there’s no way I can stay in a job that demands my soul from me every day. It sucks, because I do think I have a lot of potential, but every year keeping up becomes more impossible.

      • It seems to be getting worse. I never remember teaching being like this. I am coming up on my year away from retirement. It is not the kids. More and more is being demanded of us. We have teachers leaving in the middle of the year. I never remember so many brand new teachers at once in our school. I really wish that people would take heed with what is happening. I really feel powerless. The new people are learning and the vets are being leaned on. I do not blame the adm. For doing this. But a lot of veteran teachers will be retiring in the next one to three years. I do not think that anyone has thought of this. I always say that as long as they get new bodies in, nothing has to change. Even the pension systems for teachers are being changed drastically. Thank God that I am not a new teacher. The benefits suck and now you have to be 62 to get your pension. What a rip off. Our system is banking on teachers working 10 years and then letting their retirement sit until 62. America better get with it and the state where I work. I am also tired of all the staff development that is expected online. It only takes an hour here and then an hour there. I feel your pain. Make sure that you have a plan in place before you leave teaching.

      • Sarah, the health issues you experience is the reason I googled and came across this blogged. My formal evaluation is this week, and I’m still gathering my artifacts together. I worked all summer researching this new evaluation because our district did not properly train us. I’ve had those “all nighters” that you mentioned. I’ve experienced the same health symptoms. We have more than one administer in our building. They have divided us between them. All three conduct the evaluation differently. Today was the lowest point for me. I yelled at my child while working because he kept trying to talk to me. He walked away. I realized how horrible I was and called him to me. He ignored me which is very rare for him. Five minutes later he came to me with a paper were he drew a frown face. I looked at him and tear was running down his eye. I asked him if that was how he felt and he shook his head yes. Immediately I pushed all my work away pulled him in my arms and broke down as I spoke out I’m done. I will NEVER put work before ever again. I thought if all the work I’ve put in this year to isn’t good enough then they can fire me. I thought my health issues were the only strain resulting from my district forcing unheard of work load that always resulted in some type of negative comment about what we were doing wrong instead of right. No, the worst impact is what it was did to my family. I don’t know if I’m to blame or the district is to blame, but there is no way they cannot know that what they require from us cannot be completed in a 9 hour work day. Heck, I stayed at my class until 9:30pm one night while my husband watched the kids and I’m still working on evaluation artifacts. I laugh that the state says this evaluation is push out the bad teachers because I know it’s the opposite, and this while process has hindered my teaching ability since I spend less time focusing on what really matters as a teacher. I don’t want to quit teaching, but I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m so glad I found this blog because I know it’s just me. I had a breakdown in a secluded part of the library this year when I was called into the new principal’s office and told I wasn’t doing enough as a club sponsor. I told him that I stated up until 1:00am completing lesson plans. He actually told me that if that was the case I was spending my time wisely. I have never spoke harsh to an administrator until then; I told him that was after spending 5-6 hours Saturday and anthor 5-6 hours Sunday not including spending 3-4 hours every week day evening and he might want to think before saying that to another teacher in the future. LUCKLY he’s not my evaluator. By the way, before I walked out of his office I said I only took that club over because no one else wanted it, and I wanted him to know that I would send my notice to resign from it for the next year. I also invited him to walk into my room any time to where my planning time was spent. He let me know he would. It’s now Febuary and I have yet to see him make his appearance. I’ve had one informal from my evaluator and my formal is this week.
        Sorry for the rant. My family is sick of hearing me talk about it and I wouldn’t dare speak of this to my coworkers because I might end up accused of spreading negativity and that’s unprofessional. I’m so glad my doctor is aware of what’s causing my health issues. I’ve also documented it all. I’m a NEA member and I’ve contacted my union rep. If anything happens to me health wise due to stress I wanted it all documented so my family knows to tell a lawyer which people to point their figure at. I don’t know about other states, but there are laws here about workforce bullying. Since that conversation took place this administer as addressed other non instructional issues he’s concerned about. Strange he cannot find the time to step in my room to witness the instructional engagement my students experience each day. I’m in my early 30s and he’s a head building adminstrator younger than myself. I have to laugh in disbelief at the situation this year. Oh, don’t get me started on what all the wonderful new changes are doing to our students. I’m half tempted to quit and homeschool my kids. We now have an education system that will only turkey educated the gifted and majority of our students will be LEFT BEHIND as they are part of the COMMON CORE. I just wonder how long it will take before the government realizes they have created a system that left behind a generation of students because of the standards they require to be taught by a profession of educators rotating because of the high turn over rate caused by the requirements the government demand upon them.
        Friends, the future is scary to think about.

      • SpedTeacher,

        The moment you described with your son is one many of us can relate to — especially the guilt of feeling that you are neglecting your family and aren’t able to give your best self to them.

        I’m glad that, despite everything, you have a union rep who can support you and that there are actually laws to protect you from bullying at work. I don’t remember anything like that when I was teaching — only workshops and reminders to protect students from bullying.

        Good luck with your formal evaluation this week (if it already happened, I hope it went well), and I hope you are able to finish out the school year on a more peaceful note!

      • Sped Teacher,

        I am sorry to hear about what you are going through, it sounds absolutely terrible. I find that every time there is a break, or if I am away for a few days, I find it extremely difficult to go back. It’s like, I get a taste of what it would feel like to be free of this constant grief I feel, and I don’t know why I am holding onto this anymore. I feel nauseous all the time, mentally fried, like I am not even capable of having a nice conversation about SOMETHING else with someone. I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore and it is killing me. I just can’t work like this anymore. It is scary because I do not know what else to do, and although I did very well in university, my high school marks are not high and admission requirements into programs where I live are very high. I know at the end of the day (and beginning) that I need to not worry about that fact right now, I really can’t put myself through this anymore. I feel that no matter what I do it is never good enough (because honestly, it is not, the needs are too high in our schools and there is not enough help and support) and I have this overwhelming guilt for trying to live my own life. I really, really, want to experience what a normal adult life is like. Just the small simple things in life. I also do not feel like this job is rewarding, and feel very unappreciated. The paperwork like you said, other responsibilities we have that TAKE AWAY from good quality teaching and lesson planning are killing me and making me very miserable in this job. Whenever I think about leaving, like really leaving and having a rewarding profession, I feel like this whole new person. For a minute my stomach does not feel sick, my head feels clear, i feel like I could have my life back…..

    • Ms. V,
      The comments on this blog have also helped validate my struggles with teaching. And you’re so right that no job should make you feel as demoralized as you and many others feel. Thanks for sharing and best of luck with your next step!

  82. @thosewhoteach Just a thought on what to do after teaching. We find that teachers have a great deal of highly transferable skills for recruitment. You touched on many of these yourself in your previous blog post

    Teachers have great communication skills, are excellent planners and have the ability to recognise people’s strengths – these are all really important when trying to source talent. We recently interviewed one of our consultants (who was a teacher for 8 years), about her experience making the move from teaching. It seems that many ex-teachers enjoy the more relaxed nature of a desk job and the improvement in work-life balance when they leave the profession.

    Worth a read if you’re considering new career avenues:

    • It’s great that your company recognizes the skills teachers have and actively recruits them! I wish more companies understood what valuable employees teachers can be.

      Thanks for sharing Mel’s story and showing how teachers can apply their experience to a new career.

      • No worries! I’m glad you enjoyed Mel’s story. It definitely proves that there is life after teaching. Hopefully it’s food for thought for some of your readers who might be looking for a change and find that they are at a loss as to what to do after teaching.

  83. This blog has been a huge blessing to me! I don’t feel alone anymore! I have been a schoolteacher for 11 years and I plan on not returning for the 2015-2016 school year. It was a very difficult decision to make because as we’ve heard in previous posts, I was feeling guilty and ashamed as if I let others down because I just couldn’t “stick with it” anymore. I have been fortunate to have worked with wonderful colleagues, administrators, students, & parents. However, the workload has taken a toll on my health. My class this year is similar to other years where I have a few challenging students, but for some reason, those few challenging students are draining the energy out of me on a daily basis. I believe this is the result of years of accumulated stress and burnt-out. I have been dreading work every morning, I literally would toss and turn in bed an hour before I need to wake up because I am thinking about the stress and anxiety for the day. I am also counting the days and hours until the last day of school. I have never done that before! I know my body is telling me to leave soon.

    Thank you for the book suggestions. I am researching other career options and plan on purchasing those books. Thank you for this forum which allows us to share our teacher struggles. Praying for those of us who are trying to get through this school year and praying for those who are looking for non-teaching jobs. Good luck everyone!

    • Hi Lisa,
      I’m glad you’re feeling better about Life After Teaching and that you’re starting to take steps to get there. The positive relationships you have with colleagues, students and others at your school will help carry you through the end of the year as will researching your next career move.

      Thank you for reading the blog and joining the conversation. I know your story and your words of encouragement will help others who are looking for Life After Teaching as well!

  84. Hi, can I know which job did Rose transit to after teaching? I am also a high school biology teacher in Australia and I have decided that I have enough of the problems at school and all the stresses and anxieties of teaching which Lisa mentioned. I am going to be unemployed soon and I must say that I reisgned with a huge courage. Thanks Ken.

    • Hi K C,
      Here’s Rose’s explanation of her job, and how she transitioned out of teaching, from upthread:

      “I work with technical documents in a large corporation. My family and friends helped me think outside the box to ‘translate’ my teaching skills to ‘corporately recognized skills.’”

      Hope her example gives you some ideas. You should also check out my post on transferable skills from teaching for specific ways to reframe your experience in education.

      Hope this helps and best of luck with your next move!

  85. I quit teaching high school art after five years and entered physical therapy school. I will not be a doctor of physical therapy in 2016. It was hard work to switch with 10 pre-req classes and 200 hours of volunteer work but worth it!

    • Hi Rose,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I know your example will help others imagine what post-teaching career options are possible and motivate them to pursue new paths despite the challenges.

      All your hard work — and your commitment to finding a fulfilling second career — will pay off before long. Congrats on making the leap!

  86. I am so happy to have read this post. I just received my teaching credential in California back in July 2013. I have been teaching for less than 2 years and I feel very stressed, overwhelmed, sick at times, etc. I find myself not having time to eat properly or go to the bathroom at work. The amount of emails I receive from parents is ridiculous and I have a class of 27 2nd grade students. I thought this profession was going to be more invigorating and I would enjoy teaching children. I find myself being preoccupied with many other things than actually teaching. I am thinking of making a change the next school year. I already have found myself burnt out and I just got started. Thank you all for sharing.

    • Teachabroad,
      It does sound like you need a change. It might be helpful to reflect on all the things that are sapping your energy at work — besides the limited bathroom time and parental pressure you mention, think about whether the grade level you teach, your administration, or your colleagues are also factors. It’s possible that a new school — or just a different assignment within your school — could be the change that renews your energy for teaching.

      However, if you decide that you need a bigger change, please read my career change advice posts for ideas and encouragement.

      Thank you for adding your story to the conversation. I hope you are getting some rest during this holiday break, and best of luck with your next step!

  87. Thank you so, so much for writing these blog posts! They are helping me more than I can express in words. I finally decided to leave high school teaching 18 years after being hired for my first teaching position. For many years, I though that if I just kept trying and worked hard enough, it would get easier. My reasons for leaving were the same as those that you, as well as many who have responded here, talk about, so I won’t go too much in to detail. I loved my students and I still place an immense amount of value on learning, but the “culture” and the system of our public schools finally got the best of me. When I left, I was considered a “successful” teacher to the point that a year later a former colleague who had moved to a different district sought me out and convinced me to apply for a position at her school. To make a long story short, I almost had a nervous breakdown and ended up leaving that school as well. I now find myself in a position where I’m not sure what to do career-wise, although I do have some ideas, taking my aptitudes and interests into account. I am currently substitute teaching, but it feels totally wrong because I see the same issues that caused me to leave my full-time, tenured position. I’m scared because I haven’t resolved the issue of what career path to follow, and I’m not that young anymore, although I know I’m a capable person. The one thing I do know is that I simply can’t stay any longer in a profession that was destroying my physical and mental health.

    • Thank you so much for reading and sharing, Ana. I know your story will help support other teachers, including younger teachers who are struggling. I, for one, feel better knowing that even a successful, veteran teacher like you also dealt with many of the same issues I did.

      For your next move, your belief in the value of everything you’ve accomplished over the past 18 years will be crucial. It will help you explore new careers, and help persuade employers that you’re exactly who they need for the job. This includes making the case that your age and experience are assets, not liabilities. For inspiration, please read my interview with Marie, a veteran teacher who found a new career after 31 years in teaching. Hope it helps and best of luck to you!

  88. Good Morning thosewhoteach and everyone,
    I have been reading pages of these comments each day as well as everything you have posted here. I have ordered some of the books mentioned and doing a lot of research. I’m a young, 26-year-old teacher who is teaching in my fifth year. I spent 4 years at one school which had great administration and support, but misguided students. I am now at a similar style high school in another state with better behaved, but academically unmotivated students. The story remains the same.
    I am not a teacher who just couldn’t find another job. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. In college, I stepped into many majors but inevitably found myself back at education, because of the extreme passion that I have for it. I feel like I breathe for these kids, but can’t truly get them to even give me two seconds of interest. I’ve done my best to make my classroom a joyous place to be, where students can feel cared about, safe, and encouraged. Still, to no avail, they couldn’t care any less until parents don’t want to buy them $150 shoes because of their F’s. I most recently administered a test in which I posted on their website, explained how to solve EVERY problem, solved each one, and gave them each answers. 90% FAILED. I allowed for a retake in which I just rearranged the problems, and changed a few numbers, and only 8 have come to take it, of which 4 look like they didn’t do much better. They love me apparently (which means NOTHING to me if they won’t TRY anything).
    I teach usually about 150 students per year, but just found out that the one class that had the state exam, of only 25 students, “granted” me a low rating. So now, I’m only as good as the scores of 25 students who wouldn’t even practice once when they got home. I’m so infuriated that I can’t even be myself anymore. I drag into work dreading the day. I began this year on a new note, making new rules, new procedures, putting inspirational quotes on every desk, doing quotes of the week, posting monthly scholarship bulletins, and the list goes on. I cannot BELIEVE that after only 4-5 months, I am this disappointed and upset with this career. The part that makes me MOST upset is that I keep trying to find a way to fix the fact that only 15% of my students are passing. The entire time, the only issue is the teacher. I have this many failing, it’s on me. My reputation is crapped on weekly. If I mention this to anyone, the first question is, “Do you think it’s the teacher?” I need out of here, I don’t even know how I will get through six more months. And last, there is ALWAYS so much to do and they all waste time, preventing me from doing what I think I do best: teaching. I hope I can find something else that I love and receive the gratification and freedom that others have mentioned.This career has submerged me into a life of no meaning, questioning every step that I’ve taken, and diminishing my personal life.
    Thank you for this, and thank you for listening. I think that it’s great that you’ve responded to every post.

    • Hi Lee,
      Thank you for sharing your story with us, and thanks for your kind words.

      You’ve poured an enormous amount of energy into teaching, and yes, it’s frustrating and demoralizing not to see the return on that investment that you and those evaluating you want to see. At the same time, the fact that you provide your students with a safe and loving environment *is* immensely valuable — and meaningful — even though that can’t and won’t be measured or rewarded externally.

      Allow yourself to enjoy, and feed off of, the strong relationships you have with your students — and try to tune out the rest. It will help make the rest of the school year bearable, give you energy to pursue your next career and, I hope, help you realize that your five years in education were not in vain. It’ll take time to recover from teaching, even after you leave, but feeling proud of your positive impact on hundreds of students will help.

  89. I am scared to death to leave teaching. I love my job. I just can’t afford it anymore. 10 years+net $28,000= broke. I am very talented at my job. Organized, data guru, leadership, committees, prompt, great attitude, team player, fantastic management. I just don’t know what to do now?

      • It makes me very sad to read about pay that low. Where I am, a third year salary is 71k a year and even after deductions that feels terribly low for the amount of work we do. I shouldn’t complain I guess. I have been trying to reflect over the holidays about what to do. I have so much anxiety in my job right now. The main thing I feel is no matter how much I do, it is never, ever enough. I can’t get over feeling that way and comparing myself to others and I beat myself up a lot when things aren’t going perfectly. If a student struggles, I blame myself 100 percent. I am thinking about resigning. But I also think, maybe I just need to go back to the same type of job I had last year where I felt really strong, confident, and could balance my life. This year I’m working horrific hours to barely get by, right now I have no idea how to get through till June. It seems impossible. I’ve been a wreck the whole break trying to decide what is best to do. The anxiety I’m feeling is unbearable thou. Help!

      • Hi Sarah,
        Hope you were able to reflect and get some rest over the holidays. And I hope you can try to show some compassion for yourself. You are doing the best you can, even if it feels like it’s never enough. You are not your job — that is, if you make a mistake at school or a lesson doesn’t go as you planned, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. I know it’s easier said than done and I definitely struggled with this, too. Now that I’m no longer teaching, it is much easier for me to feel confident and in control at work.

  90. I am so glad I found this article. I am in my third year teaching and am overwhelmed with test scores and the pressure to be a perfect teacher. My principal is a bully but everyone is too scared to say it. One minute you are on his good list and the next is yelling at you. I love my job and the kids but I want my life back. I recently had lower scores than normal and was very embarrassed. I know I am still learning but i was humiliated in front of the whole staff about the scores. Is this normal? Am I alone with having low test scores sometimes? I feel like a miserable failure but love the kids so much! My husband makes enough money that I don’t have to work so I might not accept another contract for the next year. I am really struggling with this but feel so trapped and alone. So thankful you wrote this blog and reminded me that life can be better.

    • Dear New Teacher, please, please, please, go to another school. I am near the 30 years mark of teaching in public schools. If the principal is like this, you will NEVER win. Principals have all of the power. Please do not give up on teaching. You need to find another district to work for. I almost gave up about 16 years ago, but I got a job with another district- this is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love my school and will retire from it.

      • Thanks for the advice. I am going to try and hold on for the kids. I am glad you have had a successful career and I really hope I can do the same. Hopefully sooner than later my emotions won’t be all over the place so I can figure out if this is the right thing for me. I sure appreciate your thoughts!

    • You are certainly not alone, new teacher! In fact, you’ve got the whole anti-standardized testing movement behind you. I’m sorry that your scores made you feel “less than” as a teacher…please remember that there are much, much better ways for you to assess your teaching and think about how to improve. For inspiration, find out what other teachers in your subject area/grade level at school and online are doing in their classrooms.

      That you have the freedom to leave teaching behind should also help you put your career in perspective. You don’t need a bully principal, and you don’t need a school that humiliates its teachers for low test scores!

      • So true…it does seem like many teachers feel the way I do. What a supportive blog this is with no judgement! 🙂 luckily I do have great teachers to work with which is what has kept me from leaving. Since my husband can support us both I am just going to do the best I can and be me. I am getting married this summer so there are so many more positives than negatives! I hope one day I can find a balance in my life like you did.

    • Shoot, I’ve had high scores. I’ve had low scores. I’ve been picked out in faculty meetings to be humiliated in front of everyone because my overall scores weren’t in the little green circle on the Venn diagram. Nope, mine were in the RED circle. I’ve been singled out because my scores for African American males and special education students were in the Green circle and everyone else was in the RED circle.

      Since then I’ve been the department head, Teacher Mentor, on the recruitment committee, textbook committee, bonus committee, blah, blah, blah. Don’t let the score game make you crazy. People want you to believe it’s “all your fault” when students score low. Guess what? STUDENTS score low sometimes. That happens. Depends on what they knew when they started.

      Love yourself. Care about the kids. Always try to keep growing and learning for their sake and yours. Grow alligator skin and teach your best. Find a mentor and actually listen to good advice. DON’T let your kids think they are just a score. DON’T believe you are just your scores! You are beautiful, charming, brilliant, dedicated-a person. Scores are just a number.

  91. To anyone who can help. I am a first year teacher and feel overwhelmed and down right depressed with my job as a first grade teacher. I love kids. I want to make a difference. I thought I was a great teacher but just within this year I have been clouded with insecurity, doubt, and the feeling of “I have no idea what I am doing”. I find myself crying constantly and to just get up and get through the work day is a nightmare. I feel overworked, emotionally and even spiritually exhausted. I don’t know what to do because I thought this was my passion. I feel guilty because I, and my parents, have spent time and are in debt for me to be in this profession. Any advice, encouragement, or opinions (even of they’re not pleasant) as to my situation are greatly appreciated. I feel hopeless, lost, and scared. It is only my first year for crying out loud! How pathetic.

    • Ms. R, I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone. Unfortunately, the education system is so broken here in the U.S. I can say that it’ll get better as you gain experience as a teacher. However, you will still face the same issues as you’re dealing with now. You’ll always have that pressure to prove yourself as a teacher. This is only my 4th year teaching and I’ve already decided to do myself a favor and leave teaching. If you feel the same, leave. Take care of yourself. No one else will.

    • The first year of teaching is, for most, a constant exercise in having no idea what you’re doing but trying your best to do it anyway. And, if you take a look through the comments on this thread, you’ll find many others who can relate to your struggles and have been teaching for several years or more.

      I remember thinking during my fourth year or so, “I thought this was supposed to get easier!” While some parts of the job did become more manageable, gaining experience also gave me a deeper understanding of just how tough it is to be a good teacher.

      That said, if you truly feel that teaching is not for you, it’s better to make a change now. I’m sure your parents want you to be happy. And there are plenty of jobs that pay as much or more than teaching that can help you repay your debt…

  92. I am at my Witt’s end now as a third grade teacher in an inner city school. This is the wildest school I have ever worked for but I love to teach my scores r good but my passion is gone but I love my children ……. Sometimes u have to know when to move on…

    • Kanesha, your love for your kids and love for teaching will help carry you through the school year. Whenever you can, take time to plan your next move — whether it’s to a different school or a new career. This will also energize you and make each school day a bit more manageable.

  93. I know this an older post, I actually googled the phrase, “teaching is ruining my life.” And this post was on the first search page. Everything she mentioned hit the nail right on the head as far as the struggles I face.
    This is my 7th year as a high school secondary special education teacher, and this is the worst year I have ever had. I never use to call teaching my “job” but rather my “calling.” However, the dramatic changes forced upon our district topped off with unhelpful administration over my building, led to my two full blown panic disorders this year. My name was pulled for the first group of teachers partaking in the new state teacher evaluation. I can honestly admit that this new evaluation is destroying good teachers. I’ve spent more time concentrating on what I needed for the evaluation than I have my students. There has been numerous nights where I worked at home until past midnight. I’ve negated my family because I’ve been forced to put my job before them way after the 3:10 bell rings. I’m exhausted mentally and physically and suffer from the worse headachs I’ve ever experienced in my life almost on s daily basis. I actually caught what I thought was a stomach bug three times this year, but believe the illness was due to stress. The only small piece of rope holding me on are my students. I truly care about each one and they know it. Some I’ve had as students for 2-3 years, and even they notice I’m not the same upbeat teacher I always was before. My evaluation is up soon, so I’m hoping once it’s over I will begin to feel better. If not than I’m not sure what I will do. On a different note, the issues I witness happening in my district has me concerned about the future of our students. Priorities are being pushed behind more attractive areas. I can tell you stories that would give you nightmares regarding how the education of the students at my schools are taking a huge backside.

    • Hi, Sarah,

      I do feel your pain to a degree. I am in a district where expectations are sky-high, enrollment is dropping due to increased competition at even higher-performing school districts, and entitled parents rule the roost. (They always have the ear of the principal and the school board, and are always quick to offer criticism to the newer teacher in the district, in the guise of “helpful questions” or advice.) Trying to stay as perfect as possible, in order to at least not get another reprimand because I cannot grade 165 assignments fast enough or get all my awful kids under control, continues to wreck me in all areas of life.

      While I have not experienced the trauma of being under those kinds of evaluations you mentioned, I do know what it is like to be at “the frayed ends of sanity” as both a general ed and SpEd teacher. Your fears are totally real. I dread the day that I get slapped with a lawsuit because I did not perfectly, completely implement all 37 1/2 accommodations of my student’s 504 plan in my classroom of 39 pre-adolescents.

      There are few occupations that carry the “weight” of having an identity as a “teacher”. for some who leave the profession, that identity is quite easy to get rid of. For others, mainly because they are caring and compassionate people who have a gift of serving others, breaking away from the career (and identity) can be incredibly hard to do, no matter how pressure-filled the environment is.

      If any post-ers to this site have begun the process of finding a new career, or exploring different (less stressful) avenues in education, I hope that you are willing to share your ideas and successes – and perhaps these can be published somewhere on the blog?

      Thanks for sharing. It might feel like it, but you are not alone.

  94. My heart goes out to all of the troubled hearts and exhausted, demoralized teachers-old and young, new and veteran. I could echo most of the observations and worries and health issues and overwork-day after day, week after week, overwork. I was at a school a few years ago where student behavior was so bad that every morning I would awake with a curse on my lips and I would have to discipline myself before opening my eyes and rising from bed-“Don’t curse, pray: It will be better for everyone.”
    It is so unfortunate that while about one third of students, in my observation, still want to learn and persevere in trying to do so, that the disruptive and disrespectful individuals are legion and unrepentant.
    Take heart-either try to wrestle some work life balance-especially if you have children who need a parent who is at peace and able to give them the benefit of your intelligence and wisdom from a non exhausted self-or run for your life. Working behind a counter looks more and more attractive to me. I’m also thinking; hospital billing office-health care continues to grow exponentially. Being a professional at this personal cost is perhaps overrated.
    And I feel so sorry for the young woman whose parents owe a lot of money for her education and she wants to quit after one year. But as a parent of now grown children I would venture that they don’t want her to be misearable and that she should do something else and begin paying them back. And maybe that does not involve money. There may be other ways to ” make up for” the wrong run down the wrong rabbit hole.
    I’m reading this at midnight , after looking after a baby all day and therefore grading nothing, planning nothing, but worrying off and on about it -and telling myself to go to bed earlier so that I will have more energy tomorrow…oh well. But it has been fascinating. We all say the same things. And there is too much self blame coming from the younger people. I can sense how hard you are all trying and the fundamental tensions in the system are not your fault.
    Also I have to say that I have had some wonderful laughs at the computer assisted malapropisms, to wit: economically depraved, point your figure at it, and education is taking a huge backside ! Best laughs I’ve had recently. Shalom.

    • Hi Cora, thank you for your empathy and support — I know your words will help teachers, especially the younger ones, feel validated and less alone.

      And best of luck with your next step. Whether you pursue healthcare or another field, I hope you find something that lets you take better care of yourself and your loved ones.

  95. Can I tell you how refreshing it is to simply have someone understand?

    I have shared my frustrations about teaching with my non-teacher friends, and they truly don’t get it at all. I’m so tired of hearing the “stop-complaining-you-have-summers-off” retort.

    I have been teaching for 6 years, and I don’t know if I should quit teaching or what else I could even do. Regardless, I appreciate the wisdom and perspective of you who “understand.”

    My biggest issue with teaching is that I feel like it never ends. I’m a single mom, and I hate constantly feeling like I have to choose between being a good teacher and a good mom.

    I leave at 6:30 AM and come home at 5:00 PM, spend 3 measly hours with my daughter, and then she is off to bed, and I am off to work on lesson plans, grading papers and contacting parents.

    My mom always told me that being a teacher is a great job for being a mom due to snow days and summer and breaks, but I honestly don’t know if I can keep going like this.

    I have come home in tears with stacks of papers to be graded and said, “I would rather work at Chipotle or be a secretary than to continue doing this!”

    I dream of the day when I can come home and just BE HOME, but I’m nervous I won’t find a job that pays as much, and I need to provide for my daughter.

    What should I do? Please advise.

    • Hi Joy. I relate very much to how you are feeling. I do not have children, so I think you are amazing for “hanging in there” so to speak with teaching. I find it incredibly exhausting and feel it takes my life from me, during the week, during the weekend. etc. This year has been particularly out of control with workload and I have tried all kinds of things to feel like I have a life (work super late weeknights, then do nothing all weekend, but found it wasn’t enough recovery time, come home earlier weekdays but usually miss important stuff at school and then work all weekend which feels brutal also……). I have been having a lot of moments on Saturdays when I wake up. I imagine my life NOT being a teacher, and how amazing just the smallest thing like going to a coffee shop with a friend and talking all afternoon, and not feeling I need to rush out of there to plan for my work week. The simplest joys in life I feel have been taken from me from this job, but then I have really been asking myself, why am I doing this then? Life is so short. I was overthinking this so much earlier when I first found this site, now I keep saying to myself “why not just do something else?” and it is starting to seem REALLY simple. Why are we putting ourselves through this? I feel we are going after what we THOUGHT the job would be, or maybe what it used to be (and is rapidly changing) hoping things will get better but I honestly have to say I know they never will in my working years where I live……I could have a better life, more time with my husband, friends, cook and be healthy, not always feel sleep deprived and living on coffee and a raw empty stomach, constantly being interrupted and feeling never ending chaos. I talk to my friends who are not teachers and they make good money doing EASY work and their lives are simple. I just don’t even know why I am doing this anymore, and have decided to make a huge change in my life. I am all in the process of planning it out. I guess, it just clicked one day, ” I don’t HAVE to do this” and it was SO simple, and when that message comes to me, I feel very liberated and for a moment i almost feel what it would be like to live without constant stress, grief and anxiety. I’m going after that, and it is scary but it is a chance I am willing to take and I know I will be changing my life for the better. I have to matter to me, because unfortunately nobody seems to care how badly we are all burning out. If we don’t take care of ourselves, nobody else will 😦 I held on to the feelings of not being sure of what to do for years, and one day it just became very very simple. I can have a life, I DON’T have to do this!

      • Yes! That is exactly how I feel! When will you quit and how? What other jobs/careers are you interested in (that would make more than teaching)?

    • Hi JoyNGrace,

      I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be a single mom *and* a teacher. The fact that you’re still going in your sixth year shows enormous strength and tenacity. These qualities will help you find a new job that allows you to spend more time with your daughter and get some much-needed rest.

      As far as pay goes, consider that the hourly rate for teaching is pretty low once you factor in all the extra hours you put in. That might make you rethink jobs with lower salaries that require only 35-40 hours a week.

      For more on what life after teaching could look like and how you might get there, please read my posts on career change advice:

      I hope you find them helpful!

  96. Well, I will probably need a job for next year, however I will not do full time and will be very picky about what I want. I am going to pursue a job in the medical field. Another stressful field but I think I will find it much more rewarding and easier to let go of mentally when I am at home trying to do my own things. I will have to go back to school for 1-2 years and I am fully willing and prepared to do that.

  97. wow, interestingly i had the complete opposite experience. i left a desk job to become a teacher and it is hands down the best decision i EVER made in my life. working at a desk job was so boring, despite the heavy responsibilities…. i wanted to poke my own eyes out every day out of boredom. i checked the clock dozens of times. i sat on social media while working. on top of the boredom, it felt so incredibly meaningless.
    now, i’m a teacher and i feel good every day. i feel like i’m impacting others. and i am never, ever bored. i never even look at the clock. the days fly by. and i am so happy!!
    i would never consider returning to a desk job in my life.

    • Carm,
      I’m glad your transition to teaching has been worthwhile! And I agree that teaching can give you a deep sense of purpose that’s missing from many other jobs. However, I think many teachers are finding that increasing stress and pressure are weakening the impact they feel they can make. For me, the trade-off has been worth it. Although my current job is not as meaningful as teaching was, I see this as an opportunity to find meaning in other parts of my life and strengthen my personal relationships.

      Anyway, thank you for providing a different perspective. I know your story will help teachers weigh the pros and cons of leaving teaching.

  98. Great website. I have decided to leave teaching at the end of the year, after 5 years. Teaching is/was a career change and I don’t regret my decision at all. I have learned so much about myself and have acquired skills that I will carry for the rest of my life. In saying that, I am so tired. I miss switching off after work. I miss the time that is my own after work and on weekends. I miss not feeling anxious and hounded by a million things that are out of my control.

    On the other hand, I won’t miss an inefficient education department, run by idiots who have probably never stood in front of a classroom. I won’t miss the expectations placed on schools and teachers to fix the problems created by a fractured society. I won’t miss parents who expect the world from you, yet don’t even respect your profession, authority and expertise. I won’t miss the ridiculous focus placed on standardised testing, plotting kids on continuums and data collection, despite our world crying out for a generation of loving and compassionate people.

    As I said, I am tired and spent. Anyone who is able to spend their entire career teaching, whilst remaining inspiring, effective and free of bitterness, is truly amazing in my book. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

    So after making this decision to leave teaching, I can already feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. I can’t wait to have my life back.

    • Wow I can relate 100%!!!!!!!! 100%!!!!!!! Once you do make the decision to leave, it does feel the weight of the world has been lifted. I am going to have to work really hard toward my career change, but after so much school, and overall gongshow in life, I am so ready to buckle down again and work toward something new. I think that is all a sign we are doing the right thing. When you start to feel human again, when you look at how other people live who just have “jobs” to pay their bills, an their life comes first, I am so excited to be that person!! I can’t think of a happier life!!! I hope everyone on this site can find happiness and go back to feeling “normal” like themselves again.

      • I found this website last year. I left at the start of this year, after 2 years and have been studying natural medicine for the past few months.

        It’s great. Money is the biggest difficulty, but simply being poor is so much less stressful. I’m l sooo healthy now.

        When I hang out with teachers now, I find them so boring. All they talk about is school, because it’s all they think about and all they ever do. Nobody else can relate, nobody else cares. It’s liberating to have a normal social life again.

      • About the comment about teachers can be boring to hang out with, I am totally becoming that person. All I do is work, its constantly stressing me out on my mind, and I find myself on the phone with family and its ALL i talk about, how awful. I don’t want to be like this! I want work to be a means to an end, work to LIVE and NOT live to work!!!! I don’t even know if I should get a contract next year, I am going back to school in 2016. Subbing for a year sounds amazing to me. Even today, I got zero lunch break, and just found myself scatterbrained all afternoon and hearing my name over and over I got a headache and just could not even think straight. Its like this all the time, no time to eat, go to the bathroom, chaos and noise and new things getting piled on. I find I am on edge 100% of the time, including weekends and when I am sleeping. Then I think, I must be a bad teacher, to feel this way. Can any of you relate? To the guilt of feeling miserable, the guilt of wanting to actually have fun and not be working, the guilt of wanting a quiet day,?

      • Just leave! Honestly it’s just not worth it if that’s how you feel. Sounds like you need a year out. Take one and go from there. Substitute as a means to an end and reignite some passions in life. Study, get some new hobbies… Do something to keep yourself busy and your mind simulated. In reality, you’ll probably never go back full time. Hats off to people who last longer than I did!

        At least your mates will thank you for it when you go out to dinner and they don’t have to hear about school!

      • Yeah. I just,,,, remember when I had that excitement and pure energy and love for what I did but things have gotten so hard, I don’t know if I can ever get that back. It makes me sad, I always want to have passion and “zest” for my job. I never want to become careless from being burnt out. I also miss ME,,, I don’t feel like me anymore. I am always on edge. I don’t like chaos!

      • That makes me sad! I’m a firm believer that you should never plod along in the same old job when you’re not very happy, just because it’s the path that you chose once. It is definitely a job that you have to have a passion for, and when you don’t, everything just plainly sucks. When it affected my interactions with my students, I knew I was in trouble. Especially when you are new to it, other teachers can be like a propaganda machine! They tell you it gets better, it’s not always like this. But what actually happens is you become complacent with mediocrity and adapt the attitude that breaking the cycle is too hard, makes you a failure and ultimately is not worth it because “every job is like that” (don’t talk to a non teacher about it). Excuse my run-on-sentence.

      • Some of the staff I work with have a little joke about our passion getting sucked into paperwork etc. I am lucky that I have been able to stay enthusiastic and patient (For the most part) at work despite my many frustrations. It has NOT been easy, but I got myself into the thinking that getting through it with some grace will help me in whatever career direction I take in the future. I do not know where everyone on here lives but have you all thought about substitute teaching? Where I live the hourly wage is awesome and it is actually a real good job. 7 hour workdays, you still get to teach without all the other stress, and i have always found the kids to be great…… I will probably always do that at least because I do not want to give it up completely, I really do enjoy many aspects of it. I just want more fulfilment in my personal life, and even out of work as well. I am applying to college this fall, really excited about it. It was a hard decision to make, but I don’t know why? Why is it so hard to leave even though you are horribly worn out?

    • Hi Charly,
      Thanks for reading and sharing. I’m glad you like the blog!

      I appreciate your perspective as someone who can vouch for the valuable transferable skills you’ve acquired — but also remembers how much less stressful *not* teaching can be. And I share your admiration and respect for those who are able to make teaching a happy, fulfilling career.

      Wishing you the best during these last months of teaching and beyond. Despite all your frustrations, I hope you can find something rewarding about each remaining day of teaching, and that you can put all you’ve learned from teaching to good use in your next career!

  99. Thank you for writing this, and all of your other blogs. I thought I may be the only one feeling this way! I am in the process of leaving my special education teaching job. Teaching is my second career (I was in marketing/sales prior to teaching) and after 4 years in the school system, I give up. I want my office job back, and my life back. I have been making myself guilty for leaving…I just got a new job, will give my 2 weeks notice and leave before the year ends. However, I know I have to take this opportunity, even though it’s awful to leave, especially with only 2 months left, I feel it is the best decision for ME. Am I a bad person? I am in so much debt teaching, and this job is more money, and more freedom. I vow to continue my work with children through volunteer efforts, but I just can’t teach as my job anymore. I’m burnt out, I work ALL the time, and our vacations are really just catch up time to write IEP reports, plan lessons, differentiated materials, and the list goes on. I know what I have to do, and I’m wondering if anyone has had to leave their teaching job before the school year ends…

    • I totally understand your position. I can retire next year, and I am so glad. Things have changed too much. Special education is a mess. If I had more then one year to go, I would be going back to night school. I. Do not have a life either. It has been really hard these last 5 years. I have seen two teachers quit this year for other jobs.i do not know what is happening in the educational world. I hate to say this, but unless you can retire in 10 years or more, is not worth it. Things have really gone south with the No Child Left Behind- ask any veteran will feel guilty and question yourself, but you have to take care of YOU. It is too bad that it took me 29 years of teaching to find this out. You may go back into teaching in the future, who knows. After this all mighty testing and nobody left behind fails to the point of no return, teaching may go back to what it was. You are doing the right thing. Yes, you will cry, but life is short.believe me,I havr cried a great deal this year and last year.

    • missflorab, I think you are doing the right thing. Please do not feel guilty for resigning in the middle of the year. ANY other job in the world, people can resign whenever they need to. Teachers are no different in the fact that sometimes circumstances mean people can not finish the year with their class and it is okay. The kids will be fine. I learned the hard way this year that if we do not care about and take care of ourselves, nobody will do that for us, and nobody is really thanking us for being there till 9pm or later some nights, while our families are at home without us, day after day. Life is short, and there are so many ways to make a difference and do something rewarding. I think once you are gone the guilt will go away and you will feel SO free. The expectations are really getting crazy and I too am tired of constantly beating myself up. It is not a positive thing and does not make me feel good. I am finishing my year for financial reasons only, and going back to school. I am taking the advice of all the veteran teachers right now. Good luck to you, and just try to have fun these last few days. Think of how much fun you are going to have, having a life again.

    • Hi missflorab,

      I’m seconding Sarah’s advice. Schools have to deal with resignations fairly often for all sorts of reasons. They’ll know how to handle the situation, including how to make sure your students are taken care of. So focus on all the things YOU need to do get closure from this job and transition smoothly to the next one. Enjoy your last classes with your students; say your thank yous and goodbyes; submit all the forms you need to submit; and be sure to take at least some of the business/personal/sick days you’ve accrued.

      Congrats on taking this bold step and best of luck with the new job!

      • Work with your school district and see if you can use your sick days or get paid for them. Maybe if you cannot use them you can donate the days to a suck bank for employees that have an emergency come up. You earned the days- they are not just a given.

      • Great points. So many teachers feel guilty about taking their hard-earned days, even when they’re sick or will lose them for good. Just one of the many ways that teachers constantly sacrifice…

    • Thank you EVERYONE for your support and kind words. I got the office job I wanted, and was able to give my 2 weeks notice to my school. It’s bittersweet, but I know I will be better off too! Now I just need to find some great volunteer organizations to devote some of my extra time to the kids! xo MissfloraB

  100. Hello everyone,

    I have been teaching for three years now. After my first year, my contract was NOT renewed; and I have currently been teaching at a different school for two years now. Well, I had a meeting with the principal last week and he is not renewing my contract.

    With that being said, should I try and find a new teaching job? I mean, if I have been let go from my two first teaching jobs (for reasons on my teaching abilities, mind you), isn’t that a sign that I should maybe try a different career path?

    I have been pondering this all year long – just haven’t been really happy and haven’t been very confident in myself.

    At both schools I have taught pk-8 Spanish. Maybe all the different levels are too much for me.

    I just don’t know if I want to teach again. I can honestly say that I don’t love it, but I don’t necessarily hate it.

    I am feeling really lost career-wise right now. Maybe I need to try something else to see how much I do enjoy teaching.

    I would love all of your advice/words of wisdom.


    • I teach Spanish now too. What were the reasons for non-renewal of your contract?

      Perhaps try a different level of Spanish? I will say that after teaching in middle school and high school, I absolutely LOVE teaching Spanish in a middle school!

      And… I’m still looking to get out of teaching because no matter what I do or where I go, the endless hours of grading and lesson planning and paperwork and unannounced observations parent phone calls and emails might just kill me.

    • I agree with ajharders that trying a different level of Spanish could make a difference. In your case, perhaps high school would be a better fit, or even just a narrower age range, such as K-5.

      It sounds like you meant to say you were let go for reasons unrelated to your teaching abilities, so you shouldn’t feel down about whether you can do the job, but rather focus on figuring out whether you like it enough to keep going.

      I also agree with Shoe50 that your Spanish skills would be useful in many jobs outside education. Make a list of what you do and don’t want in a job, and let that help you think about how you could best apply your skills. For instance, if you don’t like the constant social interaction of teaching, but do enjoy reading and writing in Spanish, you could research — and start applying for — English-Spanish translation work. Hope this helps and good luck!

    • ¿Dónde vive? ¿Sería útil a hacer extranjero para mejorar su español? Podría enseñar inglés en un país hispanohablante.

  101. Man, with Spanish you can do a lot. Maybe you can get a job being an interpreter. Spanish is popping up all over! you have something very useful to fall back on.

  102. Last Friday I was informed by my principal that she will not be renewing my contract for a following year. She thinks I don’t have my students safety at the forefront of my mind because of certain times she has “found” my students along on the playground (one specific time was because I had to run in to get another student help for a bloody nose and my IA was no where to be seen). She thinks I’ve asked for too much help this year (I am a first year teacher new to the Wonders literacy program and Investigations Math, I also completed my student teaching in 1st grade and now am teaching full-day Kindergarten)—I asked to observe of Curriculum Coach for two days in the fall and she has said that was asking for too much help. Anyway, there is no job for me after my first year of teaching isn’t even complete. I feel like a failure but I also feel relieved. I’m thinking this is a realization that teaching isn’t for me. No matter how hard I try, the work I do behind my closed classroom doors is never enough. Truth is, I was that person for the majority of the year, crying on my way to work because I was terrified, overwhelmed, and just constantly afraid I was going to lose my job and I ended up losing it regardless of how hard I tried to stay above water.
    Now, I am at a terrible position where I need to figure out my next step while also taking this opportunity to figure out if teaching is really for me.

    • Please try another school or district. You worked really hard, and you need to find a place that will appreciate you. If you resign, it does not look as bad as a non- renewal of contract. I was at bad schools twice in my teaching career. My present placement, I have been at for 16 years. You have to experience bumps and shitty places/ people along the road. Please hang in there. Contact your school that you graduated from for help in another placement.

    • Hi, Brianna,

      What a shame that your principal seems like so many other administrators who no longer take the time to ensure appropriate training, support and development of young/new teachers – regardless of whether it’s a first year teacher or an experienced educator who’s in a brand-new district. You have been putting forth an outstanding effort despite of your administration’s “help” – and you should feel confident about your many accomplishments in such a short time!

      I echo Shoe50’s suggestion about contacting your university’s credential department about placement. However, each university is different; most of my teacher friends and colleagues had to pound the pavement and look for openings on their own, and the professors seemed to know very little about the inner workings of the districts where their candidates end up.

      As I am looking to leave my current district for something else, I am doing something that is bold for me: I will be going to my first “Meetup” group this month for educators in my larger metropolitan area. The group gets together at least monthly to discuss teaching issues (duh!), and occasionally there is a guest speaker. I’m not sure how Meetup will go, but I am eager to meet other teachers and get ideas for a position within education. To find if such groups exist in your area, type “Meetup” in your favorite search engine box.

      Only 40 more days, give or take a few. You WILL finish the year, and you will finish well!!

      • Hi cowgirlbythebeach,
        Going to a meetup for teachers is a great idea. I also felt reluctant to network at first, but quickly realized how useful it was for researching new careers, finding out about job openings and practicing interview skills. Hope you find the meetup similarly useful!

  103. I was wondering what sort of job you do now? I am not sure where to apply and what attributes of teaching art transferable to other fields.

    • Hi Liz,

      I’m now a writer for a nonprofit, while Rose, the author of this post, works with technical documents. Here’s how she explains her job upthread:

      “I work with technical documents in a large corporation. My family and friends helped me think outside the box to ‘translate’ my teaching skills to ‘corporately recognized skills.’”

      For more ideas, check out my post on transferable skills from teaching, as well as my other posts on changing careers. I hope they will help you understand what you have to offer and take steps toward your next career!

  104. I recently gave up my teaching career of 3 years to and boy has my stress levels dropped. I am also working in an office job now and don’t fear going to work everyday, have a great boss and can go to the toilet anytime of day! Sure there’s no more huge sets of holidays but they weren’t even holidays to me, they were pre-planning and assessing (if you want to be a good teacher) and stressing about a whole new teaching year. The thing that really did it for me though was the fact I was 3 years into teaching, still on a contract (no holiday pay) and where term 1 started I was waiting for supply/relief teaching and received no days- I was unemployed from December to March, doesn’t matter how much money I was making when working I was broke. No, I couldn’t take it any longer. I take my hat off to teachers, the amount of crap they put up with, but I also take my hat off to those like us who realised it wasn for us and made a change. Now my office job is full time and I still get annual leave of 4 weeks, but I get paid every fortnight. Am I sorry I left teaching? No way!

    • Thanks for posting! I am currently upgrading so that I can apply to some programs for a future job in the medical field. I had a bit of a personal meltdown a week ago, because the whole thing felt crazy, but I know I just can not deal with the major frustrations teaching brings. The cons are outweighing the pros and it is only getting worse. I know I will never regret leaving, and I am SOOOO looking forward to getting my life back.

      • I used to deal with work-related meltdowns or near-meltdowns regularly, but now my workdays are wonderfully even keeled.

        It’s great that you are taking concrete steps to change careers. Taking regular action toward leaving teaching should also help you put the stresses of teaching in perspective — as in, this too, shall pass! Thanks for sharing and best of luck to you.

      • I can totally see what some of you mean about the guilt of not working on weekends. Its ridiculous isn’t it? I know I will struggle with that too, but I think of how healthy I am going to be. The cons far outweigh the pros for me and every negative thing that happens now at this point really just reinforces to me that I am doing the right thing. I feel I am getting my life back and I am so happy. I won’t miss summer off, I will enjoy booking cheap vacations during off-season whenever I want….. and never having to cancel a coffee date or a doctor’s appointment for last minute “you need to be here till 9 pm tonight” days……I also feel a major shift has happened in our society where adults are not teaching their kids how to be responsible. It all falls on us and is so incredibly draining. I did everything for everyone all year and really burned myself out, and I am learning how to say no or put the responsibility o the kids and it is just very difficult. I can’t wait to just go to work, do my job, that only relies on me doing a great job, and know that I really did something good, and go home and have a life and not even think about the place on my days off. Do any of you ever have dreams about school, or deadlines or wake up sat. morning with a pounding heart thinking I AM LATE FOR THE BELL? I am SO ready for the constant state of jitters I am to be over with, and I think my husband will be a lot happier when I am back to normal again too……

      • Reading through everyone’s comments is like therapy for me… I am not alone – and I am not crazy!

        I am currently the head of the department working at one of the best schools in the entire state under an amazing administration, however I just don’t know if I can keep doing this.

        While my admin has been amazing, I feel like we have a “conflict of philosophies”. They put a LOT (all) of emphasis on the teacher and very little (none) emphasis on the student’s job. In our county we have a re-assess policy which basically means that students can re-do a quiz for a higher score if they don’t do well the first time. This means that I NEVER get lunch and then it is “the teacher’s fault” if a kid gets a D or E. At what point to we hold students accountable for doing their job instead of always blaming and insinuating the teacher is not doing his/hers?

        Also, i am totally stuck with the new buzzword “equity.” I have been told that homework, projects, group assignments, partner work, classwork, reports on the computer, homework on the computer is all “not equitable.” While I know that there are kids who may not have easy access to a computer, I hate feeling like I need to coddle them to make their school life easier when their REAL life is going to be far from easier!

        I am becoming more and more frustrated with the expectations placed on teachers, and I feel as though I am being forced to be a part of the problem instead of part of a solution.

        I dream of the day when I can leave work… and really leave work. I am a single mom, and I don’t know if I can “afford” to give up snow days and all that, but then again I feel like j am giving up every single day of my daughter’s life so I can grade and plan and create power points and games and call parents and email students and write reports and submit lesson plans and conduct observations and copying papers and blah blah blah.

        People (non-teachers) keep telling me it will get better. I’m 6 years in and don’t know if I can hold on one more year… Any advice?

      • You will be relieved to know that the bad dreams and living on edge simply melt away. As does the guilt and constant there is something i need to be doing feeling. The dreams only come back when I am experiencing angst over something else.

        One thing I’ll never understand is the way other teachers try to guilt you for not working weekends and staying late after school. I left at 3.20 once and this crazy (legitimately) workaholic teacher made a snide “nice for some” comment. I sacrificed being the “Best teacher possible” by visibly doing the most hours for doing the bare minimum of prep to keep myself sane in my first year. I’m not ashamed to admit that and it was totally worth it; the school offered me a contact renewal but I declined. You have to get out what you put in.

        Anyway, when my partners apprenticeship finishes, his entry salary will be the top of the pay scale for a teacher, 8.30-4 Monday to Friday with double pay for any additional hours.

        Because that’s what people in normal jobs experience. Those who are more than willing to remind you about all your holidays as though you’re the one with a free ride. Sell your soul to the education system for a summer off every year.

  105. I am glad that I will soon be retiring. Education has really gone down hill the last 5 years. So much is now dumped on teachers. Work that used be done by coordinators,etc… Is now falling on the common teacher. People are leaving in droves. The only reason That I am going back and not waiting till Christmas is because we finally got a measly raise. After 15 years plus of having a master, we are finally receiving and extra 1100 dollars for our masters. This is supposed to get people to pursue their masters, please. We also got an additional raise of just under 1500. I commend people of taking charge and changing their lives now. I am so tempted to leave at Christmas. Ii never thought that I would feel like this. I have truly enjoyed teaching until 5 years ago. So much has been dumped on us. Hum, they now have us do things that administrators did and then more administrators are hired. These people check an d make sure that eveything Is perfect paper wise. These people have the time to check paperwork that they can fix but no, an email is sent, and sometimes you get a visit as well. When the administrators could fix it. You get something to look over and have your team look over and boom it is to be completed in 3 days and then hand delivered to admin. This on top of no extra pay or extra time built into the day- while teaching a full load. Well, I guess if we are just teaching to a test, the admin. Thinks that we are monkeys. Of course, the administrators heaven forbid if they take a group. If you are motivated to teach- please do not get into a school system that functions like this. Be prepared to move around within the district or out of the district. Anyone that tells you how good the old days were- believe them. The No Child Left Behind sent it all to hell. I think that the tide is changing but you must be prepared for a long wait. If you are really motivated, you will make it. This website helps because you can see others struggle. Also, find a great mentor at work that you can shared frustrations with.

  106. Thank you to everyone on this site for sharing your thoughts and experiences! It has served as added fuel to my own doubts about continuing to pursue a career as an English Teacher.

    My situation is somewhat unique from the more experienced teachers who have shared their stories, but no less discouraging. I am currently working as a per diem substitute teacher in PA after my contract as a first-year seventh grade English teacher in VA was not renewed. I was never given a very straightforward answer for why I was not being rehired other than a reminder that they did not have to disclose that information as I only had a probationary contract and a small suggestion to continue improving on my classroom management skills. I’m not ashamed to admit the rejection crushed me. In the last year, I have examined and re-examined every single lesson, decision, and move I made in front of my students for unforgivable offenses without success. My only comfort was the genuine shock on my coworkers’ faces when I told them I would not be working with them the following year. That, and the reassurances that I had only made “classic first year teachers mistakes” and “clearly know your subject, and care about your kids.”

    It’s been almost a year since I lost my full time teaching job in VA and have returned to subbing in PA. I have some potential prospects, both in and out of state, but my reoccurring roadblock to full time teaching, ever since I graduated from college four and a half years ago, is my “lack of experience” when competing against those with Masters and five or more years of experience. I feel stuck, unable to move forward as a teacher and financially unable to return to school for a do-over. That is why I really appreciate the advice and resources provided in these posts. It has given me much to think about and consider as well as a possible path to discovering alternatives to teaching. Thank you!

    • Hi Anarrima429,

      Thank you for supporting the blog and sharing your story here. I’m sorry that your first year of teaching ended in a discouraging way — and that you’ve not had the opportunity to find your stride as a teacher through a full-time position. From what you describe, factors other than your teaching performance were most likely at work, probably having to do with politics at your VA school. It is typical, for example, to hear of principals pushing for the child of a friend/board member/fellow principal to get hired over someone else who is just as/more qualified. So please allow yourself to keep the positive/constructive feedback from your old co-workers, and let go of the rest.

      I encourage you to keep applying. Some schools do want to hire newer teachers because they are enthusiastic and often more adaptable than experienced teachers — and because they cost less. At the same time, be open to non-teaching opportunities that might come your way.

      Thanks again for reading and best of luck to you!

      • Hi thosewhoteach!

        Thank you for your words of encouragement! You have excellent timing, as I was taking a break from filling out applications when I got your note. After awhile, all those applications start to blend together in a haze of, “Prove you’re qualified by answers scenario A, B, C!” and “Now jump through this hoop to demonstrate your desire to teach/work full time!” Endlessly repeating this process is mentally exhausting, and it is discouraging to feel like all I’m doing is proving I’m insane. Especially since I recently learned a family friend’s daughter, who graduated with a degree in Art, is now making 50k working as a manager at a Red Robin. Good for her, but still.

  107. Please know that I can relate 100% to everything that you said in your comment. After almost 20 years as a teacher, I finally decided to leave, because I had reached the point that it was either leave of ruin my physical and mental health. You are not alone!

  108. I feel the need to share other feelings I am having, as I am sure many of you could relate/give advice. I have been having feelings of guilt about career-changing. I have been remembering the happy times a lot, and i find myself feeling sad when my students are doing something really cool and creative, or kind, or overall just having fun. I feel like I am letting down the world in some sort of way. It is hard to describe, and I just don’t know what to do to let go of that. I have had to cut way back on hours because of high stress, but i knew it was that or have to leave, so that makes me feel okay with that. Why do I feel that I am doing something that is letting people down? I feel students and parents would be sad if they knew, but I need to think of myself and my own life! I KNOW I need a change 😦 This isn’t easy

    • Hi Sarah,

      Actually it wasn’t do sad for me because I knew the kids would be OK. Lots of teachers have come and gone in my own schooling and I never felt let down. Some students expressed sadness because they had enjoyed my classes so I just honestly told them why I was leaving and what I would go on to do. They were very understanding and encouraging. Some of them have kept in touch, which is nice. At the end of the day, people are very adaptable and they adjust fairly quickly to change. While your colleagues and students may feel the void initially, it is quickly filled by somebody with new and different quirks to offer. If you stood out then they’ll always have happy memories of you and that’s a great gift to bestow upon anyone.

      • Thanks everyone for your kind words. It is really helpful. I am going to be a substitute teacher next year and just do some stuff for me. Hopefully I can take some classes early before my programs starts, and plan to take a few little trips on off-season to do different things I have been wanting to do. The drop in pay will be 100% worth it to gain my life back, and not have the pressure of having to be SO prepared and SO perfect all the time. I know there is pressure in other jobs but I really feel we experience a different pressure. Even right now, If I do say so myself, I have really efficient pacing with my lessons/classes and I still feel I did not spend enough time on something that is coming up and I thought about it all OCD, but looking back I would have had to completely not do some other important stuff to make more time than I did for it. It really is incredible, the amount we are expected to cover and do in the school year. I can’t wait to have a leisurely coffee in the mornings and just feel normal about work, and actually go on vacations without panicking about coming back! At this point I am just trying to have fun at work….I did not know if I would make it this year, but honestly thanks to this site, I have, and have been able to make some huge decisions in my life that have made me very happy and hopeful. Thanks everyone 🙂

  109. Thank you for sharing your story! I have been feeling as if teaching isn’t for me for a long time. There’s not enough support in it, and I am not an expert at everything. It’s exhausting and depressing failing to meet the parents’ and administration’s expectations. I’m looking for a bit more positivity in my next adventure, just trying to figure out where and what that may be!

    • Hi Dani,
      Thanks for joining the conversation! It’s great that you have your sights set on your “next adventure” — that enthusiastic, open attitude will help you find the positive working environment you seek. If you haven’t yet, please check out my career change tips — I hope they will point you in the right direction.

  110. I am currently teaching. Most of the frustration stems from administration. Ones that dont do their job with student /parent relations. [Ed.: name redacted] has been an assistant principal in my building for many years and continues to do very little for students and seldom anything for the staff

  111. Dear Maria413, I worked under a principal that was terrible. One year we had 13 staff members come back and this is at a middle school. He would write people up without the facts. I finally brought in counsel and nailed him for a write up on me- hello, I was not even at work that day. It got worse from there. I loved the kids and stayed for another 4 years- watching people come and go. I decided to leave teaching- but applied at an elementary school in another district. I have been at my current school for 16 years where I am appreciated. My peers voted me as runner up for teacher of the year 3 years ago- I was then given a teaching medal from the Masons. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE go to another district. Hang in there if you really want to teach. Right now my cohorts are grumbling at me, but it is because I told them that I was retiring for after the 2015- 2016 school year. I was ready to stock boxes at Walmart and be a supervisor. Do not give up! If you want to teach – fill out the applications and go somewhere else to teach. You will look back on this some day and laugh- I promise you. Oh, they finally got rid of the principal at myy old school. Why? He got the assistant principal pregnant. Yes, the assistant principal that worked at he same school. Administrators always win.

    • Everyone, I need some feedback from people who are or have been in the same situation. I have two weeks of work left, then will be a substitute teacher again and a student. I am feeling really sad at the lack of respect and disappointing behaviour that occurs constantly. I worry that I feel have these same feelings in a new job? Feeling horribly disrespected, unsupported, burned out? I know I am making the right choice 100%. I am just worrying now, what if there is a problem with me? I look at other teachers who are able to keep their cool amidst a hurricane in the classroom and do not let things get to them or stress them out. I have always been able to take on so much and do so much so I do feel I am a person who can handle stress and some pressure and i have very high expectations for myself but, what if it really is me? I just expect so much more than what I see from kids and parents and society these days and can no longer feel the responsibility of trying to be that one person to change it. I can’t do that anymore. Is it easer in other jobs? PLEASE tell me it is. I have heard people say they quit teaching and have cleaning jobs now where they are respected more. I do believe that but I still worry.

      • Hang in there. When you sub you may find a perfect fit. It is great that you are going back to school and subbing at the same time. If it is mean to be , it will happen- the least when you expect it.

      • My concern is that I will feel this way in my new career when I graduate with my diploma after finishing more post secondary education. I guess I just want to know that the job is the problem, not me lol. It is tough. I know people in jobs that most would consider to be more difficult, who were teachers previously and they say teaching was way harder so that does give me some hope.

      • Lord, Sarah! You sound like ME !!! I came to teaching late, having worked as an accountant in the business world. I drove myself hard, expected much from myself and from those I worked with, and was paid well. But I wanted to “make a difference” and so I went back to school and became a teacher. I lasted 11 years before I left the teaching profession – under doctor’s orders – with a grand case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the course of those 11 years, despite stellar evaluations, I was continually harassed by administrators (who were themselves being harassed by THEIR administrators), screamed at by out-of-control parents, vilified by the media as a member of a “dysfunctional profession”, buried under mountains of paperwork, and openly disrespected or ignored, bitten, kicked and assaulted by students. Shot in the face with a paintball gun, burned in a Chemistry lab with sulfuric acid, stabbed four times with a shank and had my nose broken with a baseball bat. I know this sounds extreme but other teachers had it much worse than I did – sexual assaults, classroom “beat downs” by pupils and parents, cars destroyed in the parking lot. Even teacher friends in better districts were fleeing the profession in droves, well aware of the fact that they were being abused for conditions that were not under their control. And I must say this: those teachers who are hanging on for a pension will face a horrific surprise when, in retirement and even while serving in the classroom, they find their pensions and benefits whittled away year after year. (As an accountant, I know what I’m talking about.) The longer a younger person stays in teaching, the harder it is to find a decent job once he/she does decide to move on. The accumulated stresses of teaching become unbearable once you hit your late 20’s/early 30’s. Your spouse suffers, your kids suffer, and YOU suffer. In my case, it was high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and migraine headaches. It took me 6 months before the PTSD was under control- and two years before teaching was finally out of my system. Today I work in gerontological health care with colleagues and administrators and clients who are caring, supportive and professional. My years in the classroom have receded into nightmare territory and I praise the Lord that I made it out alive. I’ll pray that you do, too.

      • Terry, I am SO sorry you went through that. That is such a horrible nightmare and nobody should ever have to live with that. I have not experienced anything like that, but the job has taken it’s toll on my health in many ways too. I find myself feeling nauseous all the time and I get chest pain and feel my heart race. I am hoping when I walk out the door for the last time that it all just fades away immediately. I am really hoping it will, I just want to know what it feels like to be a normal human being again. It is scary to enter the world of unknown but I know 100% that whatever comes my way, I will be happier and healthier. Every sunday all year I have been physically ill, worrying about the week and the mounds of time consuming responsibilities that would be put on me and wonder if I would even make it home to eat and see my husband once throughout the week. I don’t really have that feeling today, being that it is almost done now. I am a pretty sensitive person, and people say to not take problems personally when you are a teacher but how can you not? When you are sacrificing so many things in your own life for the kids and the school and you get treated like garbage. It is very emotionally wearing on a person. Someone please tell me other jobs are less! I want to make a difference too, and I do think of myself as a people person, but I have a threshold and now have a better understanding of what it is for me.

      • I am okay. I am nervous about my applications coming up as I really want everything career-wise to work out for myself. I definitely made the right decision. 100% Every time I see these back-to-school commercials, I know I definitely made the right choice. I am subbing in the meantime. When I left my position on the last day of school nobody even said goodbye to me (staff). It actually felt really sad, after a really difficult year. I have kind of mixed feelings because I had such extreme anxiety in my job and I worry, what if I feel that way again? Has anybody else on here ever felt like that?

  112. I also want to add, that one evening this week I came home and cried all night. I am so depleted in every way a human being can be. I am a person who can handle SO much, but I am totally depleted and I never want to feel this way again. I cried because I feel I have lost time in my life feeling frustrated, and exhausted.

  113. Pingback: Why I’m Returning to the Classroom After Leaving for One Year: A Reader Reflects | Those Who Teach

  114. I couldn’t agree more with this post and so many of the comments. I started my teaching career in 1999 with glitter in my eyes and my heart full of love for the job – I adored teaching! By the middle of my 5th year I had quit – burned out beyond belief. I cried everyday on my drive to school and on my drive home.

    This is some of what I dealt with during my short time as a teacher:
    *students who told the principal to F off on a regular basis while she did nothing
    *continual fights on the play ground
    *ZERO help as a new teacher so I had to try and figure it all out on my own
    *other teachers yelling at their students in the hallways
    *no playground equipment for the kids because the principal felt they were bad
    *no parent support or volunteers
    *the bilingual aide being given to the bilingual teacher
    *34 kids in my classroom all socioeconomically disadvantaged and all English language learners and it was my responsibility to figure out how to get them to pass those stupid *standardized tests
    *mountains upon mountains of paperwork
    *being guilted into participating in school site council and PTA or else my job performance review would not look so good
    *asking for help and being told I was a good teacher, I could figure it out
    *students in gangs
    *students with severe behavior problems and zero support from the administration
    *students straight from Mexico and it was again my responsibility to make sure they quickly learned not only English but could also pass those stupid tests
    *fighting amongst the teachers
    *being told I had to mentor two brand new teachers my 3rd year – wtf?
    *being trapped in a classroom all day and not being able to go to the bathroom until recess but usually I had recess duty so I had to hold my pee
    *scarfing down my lunch as fast as I could because there was shit to prepare for the rest of the day
    *sleepless nights because there was so much to do and I didn’t have enough time to get it done
    *my performance as a teacher based upon my students test scores even though the majority of them were still learning English!
    *constant anxiety that I wasn’t reaching my students
    *spending my vacation time correcting papers and planning lessons

    Needless to say, I was completely exhausted. My adrenals had burned out and my health had declined considerably. It took me over a year to get my health back to a state where I could function. 12 years later I just interviewed for a middle school position and after my interview sheer panic took over my body as all the memories of what happened so long ago came back full force.

    I’m terrified to go back into a job that literally sucks the life out of you. Though I miss my students terribly – I will always love the idea of teaching and only wish the current educational system could change enough to let us teachers do our jobs in a healthy environment.

    • Hi Kristi, thank you for reading and sharing. It is very brave of you to give teaching another chance despite the severe toll it took on your health. The difference now is that you are going in with clear eyes. That means you can create a plan to take care of yourself — by taking Saturdays off, scheduling weekly phone calls with friends and family, and deciding what situations are unacceptable to you, for instance. Best of luck to you and thanks again for commenting.

  115. Pingback: Life After Teaching, Part Six: Five Things I Learned in Year Two | Those Who Teach

  116. Pingback: Life After Teaching, Part Seven: Five (More) Things I Learned in Year Two | Those Who Teach

  117. Introvert Alert!! I taught for 16 years at the elementary level, then took time off to be home with my kids. During that time, I volunteered, subbed, worked as a para for severe special needs kids, and am now working as a part-time literacy interventionist (but as a para). I love conducting small-group reading intervention, but I hate being under the microscope and constantly having to prove myself. It’s a never-ending cycle of assess, teach to the skill gap, assess, teach to the skill gap, etc. Due to budget constraints, I am doing all of the same responsibilities as the literacy specialist, but for about 1/7th of the pay I earned as a full-time teacher (with a master’s degree). I keep trying to figure out what to do. I want out in so many ways, and I long for something where I don’t have to be on stage and can just be my quiet self. I get home and just want alone time because I’m exhausted by all of the stimulation and pressure involved with teaching. Teaching used to be a creative field, and I loved it for many years, even though I have always needed to be alone to re-energize. Now it is just draining to me. No idea what other job or profession would be good for me, and I’m afraid age discrimination may be very real indeed. I’m one of those “veteran” teachers who just hit the big 5-0. Ugh…

    • Ha! I started a new career at 58! Gerontology! Working with vulnerable old folks in assisted living, activating their memories and cognitive abilities, helping to keep them physically fit, working to keep them actively engaged and thinking – it’s SO MUCH like teaching, it’s scary. And that’s because it IS teaching! A WONDERFUL field with a ton of opportunities! I went through Sunrise Eldercare Community Services but I’m sure there are several programs out there. Best decision I ever made. Good luck and God bless!

      • Gerry–Thanks so much for your comment! I have considered looking into exactly what you are doing, but wasn’t sure if I needed specific training prior to that. Where and how did you get started? Did you take some coursework first? I have zero nursing skills (nor do I want to go in that direction), but helping to enrich the lives of older folks would be really interesting. I could see myself doing that, for sure. Thank you again, and may God bless you as well!

      • Go on internet and google “Sunrise Senior Living Career Site.” At present, there are something like 1900 job openings across the US – from personal care giver to concierge to activities coordinator to Life Enrichment Manager to – well, you name it! See if any of the jobs fit your goals (you’d be astounded at the number of former teachers entering this field!) and then contact the appropriate (listed) recruiter from your state. It’s actually pretty simple. With our nation’s aging population, there’s plenty of opportunity for career advancement, too. I could kick myself in the butt for waiting till I was nearly 60 to do this.

    • Chiming in to say 50 is not too late! Check out my interview with Marie, a veteran teacher who started a new career in her 60s. She also helps older folks, many of them retired teachers, by advocating for their rights.

      Also wanted to say that I left teaching in large part because of my introvert tendencies. My most recent posts (1, 2) look at the pros and cons of my introvert-friendly life two years out of the classroom.

      Hope these help and best of luck to you!

  118. Thank you so very much. My husband calls me “the queen of research”, so a-googling I shall go! The only thing I’m still unsure of is if they would be interested in hiring a teacher with no former experience in this field. I came across several online and campus degrees and/or certification for elder care. I’m just not sure what all is required, if anything, to get started.

    • In some cases, only a high school diploma! But first find the jobs that most interest you – and then check out their specific requirements.

  119. Thank you all once again! Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve been back at school, in meetings, and getting ready for another year. I will be actively searching for something else during all my free time. Haha 🙂

  120. Just a word of warning to y’all. A recent nasty development that I see recurring on teacher hiring websites more and more : school districts are now hiring 0.2 teachers or 0.4 teachers. One local district that I contacted out of curiosity informed me that they had an opening for a Chemistry teacher Monday-through-Friday from 10:AM to 11:45 AM. No benefits, of course, but full teacher responsibilities – teaching, testing, parent meetings, etc. FOR AN HOUR-AND-FORTY-FIVE-MINUTES A DAY!!! Another local district is laying teachers off and hiring them back as part-timers or “extended per diem” subs. Again, no bennies – and for less than $80 a day, you get all the responsibilities of a full-time instructor. The district’s Human Resources officer assured me that this was the wave of the future. “Everybody’s doing it – or planning to do it.” she told me. “Teachers are going to be independent contractors in the near future. You can’t stop it.”

    Maybe not. But you can get the heck out before the crash comes.

    • It makes me sad that this is happening. Texas needs teachers and is actively hiring teachers full time with benefits.

  121. I am in my 12th year of teaching. The last 3 or 4 have been awful! I decided a change would be necessary so I took a job in a new district. BAD IDEA! The district is great, the classroom is not! I am a sped teacher now in an autism classroom. I have no idea what I am doing. I hurt myself on the first day and have been home all week. I had surgery on my leg 4 weeks ago and am not healed yet and fell. I do NOT want to go back. But I have bills to pay. I feel trapped, depressed and alone. Any time I talk to anyone about it all I get is that I will be ok, give it time. I dont want to!

    • Wow, Kim! You are NOT alone. Virtually EVERY job in Special Ed these days is with autistic kids or “Emotional Support” kids who are violent, out-of-control and virtually unteachable. School districts, when posting job vacancies, will not admit to these vacancies’ actually involving autistic or behaviorally disordered kids because they know that NO ONE will apply for them. So they use clever terms like “dual diagnosis” or “mixed etiology” or a dozen others – ALL of which means that you’re getting all the pupils from hell dumped on you. There is a multi-state teacher hiring website called REAP. As of today – less than 3 weeks before local schools start up! – there are over 150 LOCAL JOB OPENINGS FOR SPED TEACHERS!!! But, of course, the work is horrible, the paperwork is outrageous, the requirements for credentialing keep growing by leaps and bounds, the administration treats you like garbage, parents/politicians/the media/the public criticize and mock you openly – and to top it all off – the mortality rate of Special Ed teachers (thanks to the ungodly stress) is FOUR TIMES HIGHER than any other teaching discipline.!!! What sort of masochist would agree to such a job? Not many, apparently, because teacher colleges are plummeting in enrollment, experienced teachers are fleeing in massive numbers, and even charter schools – once the refuge of Teach for America dunderheads – are going belly up. You, Kim, are caught in a nationwide maelstrom, along with hundreds of thousands of others just like you. But the end, I think, is not too far off, because it can’t get much worse than it already is. So – Everything you are feeling is valid and understandable. And you are in my prayers.

    • I just want to say, that I resigned at the end of last year and I feel better than I have in a long time. I wake up in the morning and I do not feel sick to my stomach with nausea, headaches, anxiety. I have my life back. THERE IS LIFE OUT THERE! I can’t imagine going back to the absolutely insane lifestyle and schedule I had been living. I am really busy pursuing other things but it’s strange because even though I am busy I still have so much more free time and I do not feel under pressure every single moment of the day. It makes me feel sad to read the posts on here because I can relate to the stress so much, and 6-12 months ago I felt like I was living in a black tunnel with no hope or light at the end and felt like it would never get better. I felt VERY trapped as many people on here have mentioned. I just want to say there is life on the other side and I honestly thought I would never feel at ease in my life from the constant work and stress, and now I feel like I am just, one of “Everybody else” and it is really, really nice. I actually feel I will be able to achieve my potential more and be MORE helpful than I ever was as a teacher. I just want to wish everyone good luck with whatever choices they are making. I have SO much admiration and respect for people who are willing to continue on for the benefit of their students.

    • Do not go back to the classroom until you are better. If you were hurt on the job, the school must pay workers comp. even if you were hurt in the classroom. Texas is going to require all self contained classrooms to be videotaped in the 2016- 2017 school year. This can be really good for documentation or bad. This is what teaching has become. Your job is not worth your health. I have seen too many teachers that push themselves and end up getting permanently hurt or injured. Plus, you can not help the kiddos if you are hurt. Good luck and recover soon.

  122. I am only one week into the new school year, and I am exhausted. What makes this even more frightening is that I am not even full-time–just a reading interventionist para, who also happens to have over 15 years of teaching experience and a master’s degree. Because of my previous experience, I am taken advantage of in so many ways. I am doing the job of a literacy specialist for $10,000 per year. I must be nuts to continue doing this. The districts know they can stretch the money as long as someone like me agrees to work for peanuts. Like most teachers, I love the kids–and that is what has kept me coming back. But, honestly, it is just too draining. All of the testing, collaboration with teachers, planning and instruction takes me far beyond my allotted 4 hours per day. If I were paid appropriately, it wouldn’t be so bad, but I feel like I continue to give, give ,give, while they take, take, take.

    • Tell me something. If – instead of a job – you were trapped in a MARRIAGE like this, would you stay? A partnership wherein you give to exhaustion and your OTHER takes with neither conscience nor equal consideration is the clearest example of spousal abuse that I can imagine. Why be an enabler of such abuse? You just encourage the abuser to continue.

      • I agree. Why do governments and institutions world over get away with this? Because we let them. It’s all very well blaming governments for poor pay conditions and society and the proverbial “man” for the atrocious working conditions to which you are subjected, but the reality is that by accepting and complying with them, the collective of individuals that make up the workforce are to blame. What would happen if we just refused, collectively? Then what would they do? They only get away with it because we let them, at the destruction of our health and livelihoods. So why continue on a path that is clearly destroying you? Because society needs you to? Because society will judge you for it? What about the other sector; the people that make the rules and those who are subjected to them. How can that ever change if you continue to support it?

      • Very true. I think most teachers feel a great responsibility to society, that we owe everyone else so much but what about us? don’t we matter? I came to the realization last year that I do have a lot to give and I want to be in a job where I know I am really helping and making some difference in the world. I also realized with how horribly drained and unhealthy I was becoming that I could never really reach my potential to do those things in this profession, which is why I put myself on a new path. I do want to help, I do want to make a difference but I can not do that in these conditions. I felt so guilty about that first, really really guilty and I saw some great therapists that immediately were able to convince me otherwise (that I am not lazy or careless about not wanting to work that way anymore) and get me to straighten out my thinking about it.

        The job is SO busy that it is often hard to see things clearly because you are wrapped up in work or at least thinking about it 24/7. Take care of yourself first seriously. There are so many ways to help, and make a difference. You are not letting anybody down by making the decision to not do it anymore (if thats what you choose). You are meant to be happy in your life, and at ease.

    • You have got to quit now. As long as we keep showing up and working for nothing- peanuts- it will NEVER improve. I am with a group of teachers that are retiring at the end of this school year. We have all put in 30 years and more. We love the kids, but it is not getting any better. We are getting tired of training new people and receiving no extra pay, additional time to work with our new folks etc…. We are sad, but enough is enough. Teaching is not getting any better. I am sad, but I cannot keep doing this. The people in upper admin. Keeps growing and we are supposed to fall all over the school board for giving us a raise under 2,000. Dollars. Oh, surprise- you have to pay for your prescriptions until you meet the deductible. The school systems need a wake up call. I do not know what the answer is. It makes me sad. If we could roll back the time before No Child Left Behind and charter schools taking all of the well behaved kids. Yes, they kick out the special Ed students and behavior problems- I would gladly teach at least 5 more years.

      • How right you are! Charter schools are NOTORIOUS for this! They’ll take in behavioral and other special needs kids, then wait until classes are leveled in October and they receive a full year’s funding for their SPED kids – and then once the money is in hand, they’ll say, “Sorry. We can’t appropriately service these children. They have to go back to public school.” And back they go – WITHOUT their state funding! Charter schools are also far more likely to take in kids with mild visual impairments or slight physical disabilities – and hand the REALLY tough kids over to neighborhood schools – BUT THEY GET PAID THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY. What a racket! Anyone who goes into teaching today needs to have his or her head examined.

  123. Hi all. I need some serious advice…
    I just started my first teaching job as a high school biology teacher. I took an alternative route to getting my teaching license. I studied zoology in college and have worked at a zoo in the education department for a number of years. I absolutely love my work at the zoo, but my position is seasonal, so I do not make much money and benefits are not there. I went through the IPTI program through the ODE and received my license in a little under 6 months. I thought since I loved zoo education so much, I would love school teaching too. I think I was wrong. I have only been in the classroom for 3 days and I am already having the urge to run out! I cannot even put my finger on it specifically but I have sobbed to my mom/dad/husband everyday since the first day of school. My classes have good students, but the students that I am working with have previously failed the course and are very unmotivated. My program is a credit recovery program, and I am having serious issues with classroom management and getting them to be motivated at all.
    I come from a family of educators and they have all been very supportive and understand what I am going through, but I would like some outside advice. I understand that it has only been 3 days and I fully intend to try to last out a few more weeks, but the idea of being in this situation for an entire year is overwhelming and I’m not sure I can handle it. I am embarrassed that I can not handle being a teacher and feel terrible that I am even thinking of leaving to soon into the year. I don’t want to leave the staff and administration (who have been great) high and dry without a teacher, but tomorrow is only day 4 and I am dreading going in. Maybe teaching in a school setting just isn’t for me…maybe I’m just not cut out to do this..

    • No, kiddo. It ISN’T you. You just fell victim to one of the oldest (and dirtiest) tricks in the teaching book: giving the new guy on the block the hardest classes to teach. What the heck is a brand new teacher doing teaching credit recovery classes? I’ve taught them and they can be phenomenally frustrating and difficult – even for old hands like myself. You’re in the right church, my friend, but you’re in the absolute wrong pew. You need to be teaching non-remedial pupils in a public or private school – then once you’ve got your sea legs, you can move on to the more challenging students. What kind of principal and/or department head approved this crazy class assignment?

    • I agree that it’s definitely not you. You’ve been given the classes that others don’t want without any support. Think about that for a minute: the most experienced teachers — some with decades of experience — know they would struggle with these classes, so why wouldn’t you as a first-year teacher? At this point, you could try to stick it out for awhile or try getting another job as soon as possible. Either way, you will need to create your own support system at school. Develop relationships with your colleagues in the department — at least some will sympathize with your situation and want to help. Try to find out who’s taught the course before, who’s dealt with specific students, and get advice from those people. You could also ask a colleague to informally observe you and give you pointers afterward. Hope this helps and hang in there!

    • Many years ago I went from teaching high school to teaching middle school and felt just this way at the end of my first week.Then I remembered something from my teacher preparation (teaching was also my second career): The only thing you can control is you. If the classroom is not under control, you need to change that. If the students are not getting work done, you need to change that. I decided that I needed to take control, this was my job, I was up for it, and if I failed, I was responsible for that as well. I was the adult here. This may not help you, but the change in perspective let me really sit back and look at what I was and was not doing that could lead to a more successful class for myself and the kids. (and while I didn’t have your problems, I did have 30 6th graders in a class with 26 computers, only 23 working on the best of days, 205 students on my roster between three grade levels with an alternating day schedule, etc., etc.) Once you decide that you can do it, you really can do it. This article may or may not help you:

  124. I must be a masochist because I decided to teach again this year. A few months ago I was adamant about not going back to teaching. I’m so sick of being afraid to leave. I really do have an abusive relationship with teaching. I saw an opening for a job less than ten minutes away from my house in an affluent area. Since I thought maybe the problem was that I have only taught in Title 1 schools, teaching at this new school would be different. I thought the grass would be much greener. Well, I thought VERY wrong. I teach second grade and I have 3 emotionally disturbed children in my class. I’m thinking about quitting ASAP. I know it’s highly unprofessional and I may lose my license, but I just don’t give a crap anymore. I just can’t do it anymore. How do I resign in the beginning of the school year? My new school is somehow worse than all of my other schools combined. I’m at a point that if I stay, I’m afraid of what it may do to me. I know I’m not alone, but sometimes I feel that no one really understands what I’m going through. I don’t want to stay for the kids. They’ll be fine. I need to start living for myself. I’m praying for all of you who are going through the same thing. Teaching isn’t what it used to be.

    • First off, if you resign- they will not take your license away. In Texas, if you quit after school has started, they can call the Texas Education Agency And have your license pulled for the rest of the school year. If the district agrees and let’s you out of your contract, you can get a job in another district. I have never heard of a state anywhere, taking away your license because you resign. They take away your teaching license if you do something inappropriate or against the law.

    • Boy, you can say THAT again! Teaching has become a sordid, reprehensible caricature of what it once was. I’ve always thought of it as a dewy-eyed Miss who goes to Hollywood to be the next Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, and ends up in the degrading hell of “adult” films – and a likely suicide. The reality is a nightmare version of the original dream, and the parallel to what teaching has become is astonishing: demeaning, demoralizing and ultimately soul-killing. You made the mistake of thinking that a fancier zip code meant a return to a better time. Uh-uh. Teaching has changed both for the worse and forever. THIS is why a massive teacher shortage is developing. (Google the recent article in the New York Times.) One friend I know left contract teaching (Special Ed) to become a sub: she insisted on being per diem, not long-term, and though she made less money, she picked the schools and classrooms she was willing to enter and which days she was willing to enter them. She also refused to write lesson plans or IEP’s or to deal with Emotional Support kids.. As a per diem, she could not be forced to do any of these things; When one principal put her in a classroom with two severe behavioral disorders despite her insistence that she would not take them, she handed the man her keys and walked right out of the school, refusing to ever work there again. She STILL gets three or four calls each morning from the districts she has registered with. But if you really want out – tell them (truthfully) that you’re developing PTSD and before you end up being hospitalized, you’re leaving to preserve your own health. It’s tough arguing with that. Good luck!

  125. Hello…I’m back. The above statements about resigning resonated with me today. My hours as a literacy support para are technically 4 hours per day. I am supposed to collaborate with teachers, which is difficult to do, since my planning time also happens to be when teachers are with students. So, I show up an hour before school starts to meet with teachers. I then provide reading instruction in K-5 for 20-minute blocks of time, then stay another hour or so at the end of the day to re-group and think things through for the next day–sometimes a total of 5 or 6 hours. I do not get paid for any of that extra time, and I simply cannot do my job effectively in 4 hours. I suppose I could “ineffectively” do my job within the 4 hours, and see what the response would be. Of course, I know I could never actually do that because, like most teachers, I am conscientious and want to do the job well. I am considering either going back to subbing, or finding something else altogether. I’m guessing resigning would not be a good plan before the end of the school year, though. Feeling stuck…

  126. Teach64,

    It’s a shame that you go the extra mile without any thanks or monetary compensation. You’re doing all of this grueling work and it appears as though no one notices it. I completely understand how you feel because I feel stuck too. I give way too much of myself without getting anything in return. I feel like this vicious cycle will never end! I hope that you are able to find a satisfying solution soon. I’m applying to any job outside of the teaching field. I really hope I’m gone before Christmas break.

    Terry and Shoe50,

    Thank you so much for responding to my comment. I’m glad to know that I can’t lose my license here in Texas. I’m still thinking about leaving and might actually bite the bullet at the end of the month. I’m just documenting as much as I can so my exit can be as smooth as possible. And Terry, I’ve never thought about having PTSD, but that is exactly how I feel. I’m so grateful that this blog exists and for all of you that have shared your stories.

  127. God bless you, I couldn’t figure out what happened to me after teaching 6 years in South Korea. My excitement and joy in teaching was being sapped away in my initial 2 years, and after that, making lesson plans became more and more difficult (I’m still teaching now). Before i was happy and was able to laugh things off easily but now I easily cry and freak out over small things. I think God wants me to be a local guide or make my own small tour business, as it allows me to be interested and research various topics, let me meet various interesting people, and would keep me active at my own pace. I had hoped to have been able to keep teaching many years down the line, but I’m now dangerously burnt out and will hopefully finish my contract next year and go back to USA. I’ve had so many physical injuries while being a teacher, too…herniated disc, broken ankle, bad sprain, sick too often, falling asleep at work b/c I was so exhausted, etc…I think I will keep praying if that’s really what God wants me to go back to USA, or perhaps do something else. But I’m for sure this will be my last time teaching, at least for a while, until I get better, then we’ll see.

    • Hi Joëlle,

      I’m so sorry to hear about the many injuries you’ve suffered on the job. It sounds like you are recovering emotionally and that your concrete goals — finishing your teaching contract, returning to the U.S. and/or starting your own business — are helping you get better. The tour guide business sounds like a great way to transfer your teaching skills and interests, and I encourage you to work on your plan whenever you need to de-stress from school. Thanks for sharing and all the best to you!

      • Thank you, thosewhoteach! I still need physical therapy for my ankle, even after it has healed. I think I’m almost getting out of being burned out now. I had the chance to visit Japan before I came back to USA. Trying to keep things simple, starting a blog and doing audio books. I’m still interested in tourism though. We’ll see how that goes. Please, keep sharing!! What you wrote made such a huge impact and informative!! Sincerely Yours ❤

  128. As a teacher currently still teaching Further Education in England (and thinking of leaving the profession altogether), these points have been raised by my family and partner within the past 2 years.

    I’ve also, like you, realised that every moment of every day is spent worrying, thinking, second guessing and analysing every little decision I make. I’m even typing this as fast as I can so I can get my planning done this evening when I go home instead of spending it with my loved ones.

    Everyone is entitled to the best quality of life they deserve, not the left over hours during the week that aren’t spent trying to keep up with an over bureaucratic, micro-managed and self-destructive system that is literally squeezing the life out of the people who want to make it better. But it’s difficult…I CARE about the student’s education but I feel more like an administrator than a teacher.

    Thanks for putting together this post, all I have to do now is figure out what it is I am actually able to do after teaching!

    – Ant

  129. I taught science at an inner city school for four years. I am retired military (21 Years: ten in a physics lab and 11 in network encryption and administration). While teaching, I received good reviews and raised test scores from an average 20% pass rate to over 65% pass rate. The entire time I was teaching I was reminded that , because I was alternatively certified, the other teachers did not consider me a true teacher . The last straw came when I was told by a first year teacher, right out of college, that I was not really teaching the kids because they were being taught by teachers with teaching degrees. I was simply “watching” the kids in my science based classes. I reminded her of my teaching record and my performance ratings. Her and another teacher, in a room full of people, mocked me and stated that although I was successful at teaching, it would be best if I pursue a “science ” career and leave the teaching to real teachers.

    I combined this consistent attitude teachers held with the lack of parental involvement and responsibility…The low pay and horrible working hours… Administration that was ineffective at best and a teacher’s union who ignored and abandoned the children and the teachers in favor of national politics and I started thinking…….Hmmmmmm What are the real benefits? I see the true benefit in the eyes of children when they look at me and gasp as they begin to understand a complicated scientific principle for the first time. But what about personal benefits? I have little support from the community and even less from administration. The teachers have been separated into two distinct groups, those with education degrees and those without. Finally, I earn more from my military pension than I do teaching, so the pay is horrible.

    I then talked to a trusted friend, a language arts teacher who had 15+ years of experience. He said that teaching was a dead field and as soon as he had enough time for retirement, he was going to change careers. He encouraged me to leave the service while my skills were still fresh enough to get back into networking or physics.

    Well, I left the profession a year ago. Now I don’t coach basketball or softball, I don’t stay late tutoring kids in math, I don’t work at volleyball tournaments on weekends. I don’t come home and grade papers until 11pm and I don’t spend my lunch hour working with ESL students who need extra time learning the new and complicated language. While it may seem that I am complaining about these things, I am not. I miss these things and I miss the kids!

    I must say that I am much happier now. I wear a tie to work and I am again working with professionals in a very peaceful environment where mutual respect is abundant and everyone understands that the team is made of all participating members. My salary went from $39K to $98K; keep in mind that I live in a part of the US where the average wage is about $12-$15/hr. With my additional salary I was able to purchase a lake house this year so my family and I can enjoy our extra time together. I spend my evenings involved in hobbies and civic functions. I volunteer regularly and try to give back to the community as much as I can.

    I can’t cay I miss the “Teacher” experience, but I do miss the kids and I miss teaching them. I would like to remind teachers to please be tolerant of those with alternative certification, especially retired military. Many are doing this because they love a life of service. In this day and age, you don’t find many science teachers coming out of college and if you run off all the Troops to Teachers and Alternatively Certified STEM teachers, you are going to be struck applying for waivers so you can have a “real” social studies teacher instruct an AP Physics class or an organic chemistry class.

    • Hi Herman,

      I’m sorry that your colleagues belittled your non-traditional path to teaching, and it’s also a shame that they seemed to lack respect for your military service. I believe that you would’ve been accepted and valued at many other schools.

      Though it’s unfortunate that your teaching experience ended this way, it’s great that you have found a much more emotionally and financially rewarding path that allows you to continue to serve your community.

      Thanks for the inspiration and gentle reminder that alternatively certified teachers are teachers, too.

      • Which begs the question, is teaching really rewarding? I never thought it was monetarily. There aren’t any incentives for performance and no teacher is rewarded monetarily for their individual merits. Your performance will either garner jealousy or just keep you neutral. The only reward that I think is achieved is intrinsic. Not everyone deems that rewarding.

  130. I am leaving in 3-1/2 years. Last June I decided that I needed to take control of my future and that included determining when I would move on rather than letting a bad year or bad management determine it for me. When I returned to school this year, some people thought I would change my mind. The start of the school year was very good, I’m having a very good year, and I haven’t changed my mind. I cannot keep giving constantly. My health suffers every year, all through the school year, as a result of stress, fatigue, and exposure to germs. This is my 21st year so I will complete 24 and then do something else. I will probably need a few months off to sleep-no joke there-but I look forward to the emotional freedom, being able to watch television with my husband at night, being able to go to a social event on Sunday afternoon, coming home on Fridays without a headache.

  131. here is my reason!!! Many people dont like to be a teacher bcouse of 1 inadequate facilities 2 insufficient salary 3 dont have any respect in the society

  132. I discovered this post at the start of the year and have visited a number of times. It bothers me when I hear what teachers are dealing with. I’ve been a school principal for over 20 years and the impact of stress, lack of work-life balance and unachievable expectations on teachers is doing our learners a disservice. It shouldn’t be like that. Teaching children to learn should be joyful and how we spend our days making a living should be rewarding.

    I have felt so strongly about this I started a blog, Teachers Thriving ( to help teachers love the work they do whether that’s in a classroom or taking their qualifications and experiences into other ventures. I have written a number of posts on topics such as 10 options to consider before you quit teaching and how to land a part-time teaching job. I have started profiling folk with an education background who have made the transition out of the classroom into various career paths. Their stories may give you inspiration. I’ve also written an ebook, ‘101 Alternative Jobs for Teachers’ which is available from the site.

    On a side note, if you have made the move out of the classroom into other related education fields, started a business or made a career change, please make contact through my website as I’d love to feature your story.
    Here’s to teachers thriving – love your work, enjoy life, make a difference.

  133. I love teaching, I just hate every argument and glare of resentment I get from my husband about how I spend too much time doing “school stuff” or how I “check out” when it’s time for me to get some “school stuff” done. Everything I love about teaching, planning, and organizing, and reading about new ways to do things, learning about my students through their writing, its all shoveled into the category “school stuff” with him, and is then condemned. I love my husband. I love our kiddo. I love the summer vacations we can take. I love working with my colleagues, I love my school, the parents, my principal. I love spending time pinning ideas or reading the latest research on adolescents brains. I love arriving at school on a crisp morning ready to teach the heck out of my kids. I love skipping down the stairs on the Friday afternoon, ready to chill with my family, a very optimistic tote of “school stuff” to be done. But come Sunday night, I panic because all weekend long, I’ve avoided doing the work I NEED to do: the grading, the planning, the prepping…. and when I say “you know, babe, I’ve spent lots of time with you and our boy, now I need to spend a few hours doing my ‘school stuff'” I get tight-jawed stares and passive aggressive temper tantrums from my grown man of a husband. I get as-loud-as-can-be television shows and a preschooler who should have gone to bed an hour ago, but because Mommy is doing her “school stuff” someone can’t be bothered to do anything with him but plop him in front of a TV or iPad while he grows increasingly cranky from tiredness and lack of Mommy-imposed routine.
    I love that, despite my first fears about being a teacher-mom of putting everyone else’s kids before her own and letting strangers raise my baby in daycare, I’ve been able to spend time with him each day and watched my him learn tons from his teachers at the daycare center he attends.
    I love my husband. But I don’t love the stress that teaching has brought between us constantly. I’m greatly saddened by the fact that no matter what I do (ignore schoolwork and have awful days with the kids OR ignore my family and have awful evenings with them) I get bit in the butt with something I’m not balancing well. I look forward to when I can look at the stuff I love right now and say “I’m better off without it” and when I can come home and just be home. I don’t need summers off. I just need my family to be happy with the time I can give them and unfortunately, quitting teaching is what will make that happen. Thank you for writing these posts on Life After Teaching. My heart will be needing them.

    • Corinne:

      May I ask what grade/subject you teach and how long you’ve been teaching? I think that you must be rather young with not too many years in the profession. Your enthusiasm for your job is so reminiscent of the way I felt in my first few years of teaching — before brutal administrators, a disrespectful media, increasingly outrageous parents and students, ridiculously huge amounts of paperwork, and the bane of standardized testing hammered the joy out of me. I know so few elementary teachers who still feel the way you do – and no secondary teachers at all. If you DO end up leaving the profession (which I finally did after several decades), at least you will leave it at the top of your game and with many fond memories, not with peptic ulcers, high blood pressure and a thousand regrets over the time you took away from your family and the ensuing divorce (like mine) and estrangement from your kids (like mine) that my insane devotion to a profession that never once appreciated it wrought. If I could somehow go back 40 years to warn my fresh-faced, exuberant young self about what lay ahead, I’d do it in a minute. Instead, I’m grey-haired, bitter and in poor health, living on a meager pension that I’m told is soon to be cut This isn’t just a personal gripe session; the number of my colleagues in the same boat is legion. I hope that things work out far better for you than it did for us.

      • Hugh, I love ya, man, and I only know your name….and the obvious heartfelt love and devotion you had for your calling…and the disappointment of coming to the end of a career….but please allow me to say from the back of the room…thanks….thank you, Hugh, thank you for your service to all of us….live with the pride of a life not wasted….if I could find all my teachers, I’d tell them the same, with tears in my eyes and a grateful hug, Hugh…please accept this virtual hug.

  134. Hi, I am going through the same phase, as my family forced me to join teaching job just because it is of permanent nature. While i m a creative person since my birth who enjoys to work silently and with full concentration. After completing my graduation in computer engineering, i was happy with my contractual technical job because there i got enough time to do R&D and working on new projects excite me always. Here In teaching, I feel dying everyday….

  135. Hmmmm, I have taught High School Biology for 28 years….every year in the last 10 has been harder than the next. Some days I can’t believe I have hung with it this long, I feel like a survivor. After a recent incident I decided this was it. For me, it wasn’t about administration. For me it is dealing with an increasingly selfish, narcissistic and arrogant culture that is the teen culture.

  136. Pingback: “I Hate Teaching”: My Most Popular Search Term in 2015 | Those Who Teach

  137. The natural dream for a teacher who has had enough is a ‘nice quiet office job’…something where you can just shuffle papers all day and go home. I know, because I, like so many others who have mentioned the exact same dream in the comments for this blog post, dreamed the same dream many, many times. ‘A nice quiet office job’…it seems idyllic!!

    I’ve been teaching for nearly 20 years and pretty much have never liked it. I was never cut out to be a teacher. All in all, I’ve had some good days but plenty of teeth gnashing. I’m quitting for good either in July 2016 or July 2017.

    I have kind of realized though, that the ‘nice quiet office job’ dream is just a pipe dream. It’s only idyllic in comparison to the chaos and frustration that teaching can be. There’s no way I’m finally extracting myself from one job I don’t like to go and sit in some cubicle like a sack of turd earning turd money.

    I have no idea what I’m gonna do when I quit in terms of a proper/ different job. I actually quit teaching back in July 2015…but couldn’t find work in anything else so signed on again in October to earn more money and save for a while. I own a house which is all but paid off. I have nearly half a million in the bank. I’m gonna sell my house, buy another one…a better one. Then I’m gonna build a home recording studio and do what I have been distracted from and too tired to do for 20 years…. play and record guitar. I’ll set up a guitar repair home business and just sit back.

    I’m 42 and I’m just about done with teaching.

    • Hi Matt,
      Loved your post, it sounds like me. This is year 28 and the final year. I have done it all. Algebra, Biology, Anatomy/ Physiology. It was never about the leadership for me it has been dealing with teen brains and teen culture. Don’t know what I will do yet, but I have a few options and some time to get something in place.

  138. I promised myself at the start of this year-year 21-that I would teach for another 2-4 and then be done. In the meantime I would look at jobs and if anything interesting came up, apply for it. Regardless of the odds of getting it, or the odds of them waiting for me until the school year ends. I applied for one late in December and will apply for another this month. Working with the children (I teach high school) is not a problem, but all the other stuff that keeps growing to such a degree that my prep time at home and at school is consumed by non-prep activities and vacations are nothing more than long weekends where all I do is sleep. In June I sleep for about 2-1/2 weeks. Unfortunately, that’s not a joke; I will get up at 5, again at 8, again at 11 or 12 for the day, and I have children. The job takes everything from me and the rewards are not equal to what my family and I pay for them.

    • NHWomen,
      I did my undergrad work at Plymouth State and taught my first year in Ashland. My how things have changed since then. I’m sad to hear that all you do is sleep on vacations. Funny this is the time we start dreading going back on monday after christmas break. Vacations aren’t really fun if all you do is dwell on the return, is it?Good luck to you in the future, I hope your next endeavor works out for you and your family

  139. I’m in my first year of teaching, and feeling the worst that I’ve ever felt in my life. I cry almost everyday…before work, during work, after work, and when I go to sleep. My biggest problem is the students. I teach Standard/ESE 6th grade Language Arts at a Title I school. I am not cut out to work with “low” kids, as harsh as that sounds. It is exhausting for me to try to find things that are on their level. Being 6th graders, they have NO independence at all…I have to hold their hand through every little thing. On the other hand, they’re halfway to being 7th graders…which means the attitude problems are getting worse. It amazes me that kids who can barely read have the nerve to talk back and act like everything is beneath them. I have an anxiety disorder, and I’ve always been sensitive. I take things personally. I can’t handle having kids laugh in my face day in and day out. I started off the year strong, with great evaluations from my administrators and really positive interactions with my kids, but I’m slipping quickly. As I spiral out of control, so do my classroom management skills and the quality of my lessons. I have good, sweet kids…but the number of “challenging” kids is growing by the day.

    I do not plan on returning to the traditional classroom next year. I am considering teaching virtual school, or going back to school so I can get a job in curriculum design. I love the psychology of education. I like writing lesson plans. I like the boring workshops that everyone else hates. But, the stress of being responsible for other people’s kids and being expected to reach all of them despite their home lives is more than I can handle.

    I’m confident in my decision. I’m not worried about where I’ll be working this time next year. I mean, I’m at the point where, when I go to 7-11 to get my morning coffee, I’m jealous of the cashier’s job. I’ll live in a shack if I have to. My main problem now is getting through the rest of the school year. Does anyone have any advice for how to get through the final months of the school year?

    Also, I’m rereading what I wrote about my students and feeling terrible about it…I’m not always this negative! I know many of them will go on to be OK!

    • Actually, I am a LITTLE worried about completely changing my career plans…and wasting my parent’s hard-saved money and my scholarships on my college degree…but I want to focus on the more immediate crisis!

      • Sarah, I would encourage you to think before leaving even though this thread is all about leaving. Just for one more year. I taught middle school for a brief while and my first set of 6th graders seemed like hyperactive monkeys. I had too many in the classroom which was part of the problem and I had just come down from teaching high school. The next year my 6th graders were complete sweethearts.

        I also remember that first week of middle school being completely shell-shocked and wondering what on earth I had accepted that job for. I wanted to quit. Then I sort of gave myself the pep talk, the one where you say: Wait a minute. I’m the adult. This is my career. I can do this. I am in charge.

        Maybe you really can’t make it. The anxiety thing will kill you if you don’t get control of it. I completely understand that. But perhaps some of what I say here can help you get through the rest of the year.

        Middle school students are sarcastic but can’t handle sarcasm, though they do appreciate humor. They are concrete sequential and thrive in that environment. They need logical consequences and rewards for what they do.

        They like to be important and responsible. Give them jobs. I taught computers so I didn’t have the same kids all year; instead I had 200+ kids per semester in three grade levels. I named two students in each class per week to be my assistants. I had a computer club and my kids were trained to do trouble shooting for people in the building. Their names and schedules were posted outside my door so if a teacher had trouble with a printer or wasn’t sure how to use a program, they could be found and help. Their ability level was posted next to their name.

        This age really likes solving puzzles/mysteries/problems. I know it’s hard to do in your first year, but they do like to have choice in their learning. They like to be recognized/validated but not falsely for their skills and talents.

        Title I kids at this age will be scared. They have not been successful in academia, so school is hard for them. It’s not a place where they feel safe. Their sass to you is evidence of that. As you say, they are almost 7th graders and that is the scariest of all the years. That is when their friends, people they have been best friends with since kindergarten, start to pass them. Even if they play sports or do something else together, that separation begins as soon as the academically talented child gets to elect a foreign language while the Title I child gets to take a remedial course. The academically talented child is in the newspaper for honor roll. They are not. There is a lot of depression in the 7th grade year as these children struggle to remake their identity. They thought they knew who they were-like everyone else-and now they know that not everyone is alike and they’re not going to walk the same path together.
        They are not old enough yet to know that not being good at school is not equal to not being good or having value.

        I don’t know if any of this helps. Hopefully some other veterans can add to it and the second half of the year can be more rewarding for you.

  140. Hi, I resigned from teaching elementary school, this past December. I began the journey of teaching in 1998. Throughout the past years, I have good and bad experiences in this field. I contemplated whether or not I would continue about 5 years ago. Well, somehow 5 years ago, I thought that a Masters Degree in Curriculum & Instruction would lead me in a different direction. This blog was very interesting. I’m searching for a new direction, What should be my next steps. I need to work but I don’t want to just jump into anything. My first step was to stop leading myself toward teaching and to acknowledge that I no longer desired to work in elementary school.

    • Tonya,
      28 years for me…but now 76 days and counting. Funny, when I first started I loved the idea of teaching and learning. Now its all about managing behavior…and I teach the honors! (In name only) I have had enough of the teen brain syndrome and what has happened to our society. I am hoping to work with adults soon.
      Good luck in your new venture, whatever it is.

  141. I am looking forward to leaving – I am currently in year seven. I will probably have to teach one more because I am starting school this summer, but then I am out, and I am never looking back.

    • What is your #1 reason for leaving? Personally for me it was never about the money or leadership. It was always about the teenage culture.

      • Good for you, Mike! I left for much the same reason. I was a teacher of Special Ed – specifically trained to deal with kids with medical disabilities (I’m also an RN). But when I moved east to Philly, I ended up helming class-after-class of “emotional support” THUGS. I lasted four years and I could kick myself right square in the butt for not having walked out after 4 MINUTES!

        Why did I stay for 22 years altogether? I’m ashamed to say it was for the sake of a pension.

        I was an emotional wreck – not sleeping, not eating right, dreading having to go in each day – and I finally ended up with high blood pressure, blinding headaches and, ultimately, PTSD.

        And here’s the real irony of it all. Ready?

        NONE of us are going to receive the pensions we slaved and sacrificed decades for. State finances are in such an ungodly shambles across this nation that public pensions for those of us who came into the profession from the mid-80’s onward will go the way of the dinosaurs in the next 3-5 years. (I’m quickly becoming an expert on this subject; I do voluminous research.) Those of us who have gritted our teeth (especially in states like California, Pennsylvania, etc.) and beat ourselves onward year-after-year under increasingly abysmal circumstances, are going to find ourselves kicked in those some teeth when we retire in dreadful physical and emotional condition – old, frail and terminally depressed – with scarcely enough to eke out our final days.

        Sound improbable? Just do a little homework on the matter. It’s ALREADY happening.

        THIS is why education majors are becoming as scarce as hen’s teeth. THIS is why 67% of America’s teachers are currently looking for an escape hatch. And THIS is what baffles me so much me about bullying administrators and ill-tempered principals. They’re caught in a time warp – still thinking that their threats and intimidating behavior will work when those they threaten and bully are becoming increasing irreplaceable.

        The final straw came for me when my last high school principal screamed at me in front of a group of parents for something that I had no part in. I removed my classroom keys from my pocket, threw them (hard) right in his face, breaking his glasses (something I did NOT intend to do), picked up my backpack and walked out.

        It was the beginning of a 2 year journey back to health.

        Where did I go?

        Well, I knew that I did NOT want to leave Education. I also knew that I didn’t want to teach kids anymore. So I put in applications for staff positions at a half-dozen local colleges. I got a job working in a campus parking office, doing billing. Then moved into the Theatre department as an administrative assistant, Then into the Student Health office as a junior administrator, Then to another college as Projects Director for Recruitment and Retention (where I often counsel incoming students NOT to pursue a K-12 teaching career.)

        Today, I make a lot more money than I did teaching in Philly. My benefits are just as good. I eat unhurried lunches in the faculty/staff restaurant. I work out four days-a-week at the campus gym and swim in the campus pool. I’m treated with respect and consideration and many pupils have thanked me personally for my help – something I NEVER got in K-12..

        And I still teach – an adult school night class on classic American films at a local high school – which fully satisfies my “teaching bug”.

        Life for me is what life SHOULD have been all along. My only regret is the decades I wasted getting to this point.

  142. I can’t believe this forum. It resounds my sentiments. I became a reading specialist which has lightened my load considerably. That being, my weekends are not spent doing as much lesson planning and such. My greatest complaint has never been the students or the parents, but the meetings we have to attend after school hours without having the time to plan and prepare after the school day. There are additional activities we are required to participate that keeps me from my real job. My school claims this is all about the kids, but truthfully it is not. JUST LET ME TEACH!!

  143. I’m still teaching. I can’t believe it’s been so long that I am the old guard now. In faculty meetings people makes jokes about how I’ve been around forever. So perhaps I shouldn’t still be flirting with quitting. I hang on to what an old guard teacher told me when I first started “you need discipline and a stick of chalk.” I laughed her off. But now I know what she meant.

    If we want to keep good teachers we need the conditions that create good discipline. We need….

    1. To be able to say “no” and enforce it at every level from home to school to society.
    2. To give and get respect. When teachers are treated with little respect, it hurts classrooms.
    3. To have RELEVANT curriculum in the zone of proximal development of our students ACTUAL level of ability.
    4. Not to be made the scape goat or fall guy for all the problems of society.
    5. To be allowed to keep our high expectations and our integrity.
    6. Less “new and improved” and more good solid learning.

    I wish happiness and joy to all of you, whether you quit or keep teaching.

  144. Good points Martha.
    And of course what you are describing is an educational role for teachers as part of a team, one in which society as a whole accepts responsibility.
    I am not surprised this thread has run on so long. It reflects a crisis in society. It is not only teachers who are on the receiving end of all accountability. The doctors, nurses, police, even fire-fighters and ambulance crews are your fellow victims.

    So, firstly, do not feel isolated.

    The corporate world has changed too. There will not be many ‘cubicle’ jobs around.
    If you get out of teaching, it could be a move into an equally tough world. Think about ‘chugging’ for a living! Agency work, zero-hours contracts, and MacUniversity time and motion burger flippin is no picnic even for manic teenagers.

    I have not just survived decades in schools and education, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
    I am going to try and explain why. I am no ‘star entertainer’. Nor a fan of endless curriculum changes and tedious evidence-based markers of success.

    The main point that comes across from many accounts in this thread is the accuracy of the self-assessment made about the motives to go into teaching.
    ‘People who can’t do, teach. Teachers who can’t teach, teach teachers.’
    Not from a news byline. The honest comment from an extremely gifted old-hand who was head of subject in my first school.
    If you are in a job already and cannot make it as interesting as you thought it would be, say a scientist, what have you got to offer students? They, as many posters identify, have multiple hurdles to jump and may never have the opportunity to even make your choice.
    I’m Caring?Nurturing?Love your students?
    Identify what it is in you, honestly, why do you need to feel this way?
    Do you imagine everyone who doesn’t want to work with kids prefers euthanasia?
    Did you really enjoy school that much!
    I loved my subjects, but the only thing that compares to being a teacher under constant scrutiny is being a pupil. Remind yourself of the random punishments, the bullies both teachers and fellow students, unfair criticism, prejudice, having to repeat boring work. None of these sound familiar? Sure, in comparison some teachers were ok. Not angels though.
    Try and see yourself through the students eyes. Irrelevant, perhaps? Just because you can entertain (‘distract’) as part of your good management, school is for many students a resented compulsory part of life with its’ own sub-cultures. And you definitely aren’t in the pityparty loop, old man(sic).

    Political change may come, but what teachers need is tools to manage the situation as it is now.

    For example, why are you making yourself ill with the demands of any job?
    If you are serious about not staying, work the contract, do the classroom as best you can, mark the work there and then going round the class, go home!
    Yes, you get fired sooner or later. But you have used a healthy life-long strategy.
    If a new business employer asks, ‘give me an example of a successful strategy..’
    Your answer will be – ‘I got an annual wage, I did the essential hours. Any extra hours I was not paid for I did not do. Then I got sacked, so now I can work for you’.
    Of course, you would re-phrase this a little better, but what you are saying is that you understand your own value and will understand the value of your time to a potential employer.

    You have to be the kind of brave that isn’t a breakdown, the kind that comes from a real rational understanding of who you are, your motives, what you want out of life.
    Sometimes I wondered if teachers weren’t pupils who hadn’t really grown up yet. It sounds insensitive, but an adult wanting to sob on my shoulder who was not in danger of their life if they just got their car keys and drove off to a new life?
    I’ve worked with very young victims of gang warfare who turned their lives around with less resources.

    This job as it is now needs a sense of proportion.
    I mean I literally used to not only smile all the time but burst out laughing at some absurd pupil antic, once in the staffroom at breaktimes. Yes, I took all my breaks and had a long lunch. Sometimes walking around the playground if it was sunny, chatting to the kids or the poor member of staff rostered on duty. Which I refused to do, not in my contract to roster, I am available and do it when it suits me!!
    I would happily provide details on the ways I have deflected all the management stressors and government waterfall of pointless scrutiny.
    I am not sure how to do this without identifying information being revealed, but I can certainly try. I often had fellow teachers seek me out for confidential counsel on issues with school management.
    It has not got me promoted to their dubious ranks, but neither have I been fired either.
    I get emails every so often from former students who let me know how they are doing in their careers, sometimes miles from home, I am recognised and proudly introduced to a former students spouse. Nice to know they remembered, but not essential.

    There is a David and Goliath discrepancy between the government edict machine and the support for teachers. What I am suggesting is subversive in that context.
    Pleased to be able to contribute to the discussion in a positive way.

  145. You make many good points about living a balanced life and following your true motivation. I think there are three major reasons teachers lose heart and quit.

    1. They weren’t really meant for the field which their teacher training did not reveal to them in time. These people should move on to an occupation that more closely matches their motivations and talents as quickly as possible.

    2. They are meant for teaching but haven’t found their niche yet. For instance, I discovered that I am happiest working with “at risk” students. Find your niche is meaningful advice in any occupation.

    3. They are at a life transition which may be causing confusion. For instance, many early twenty year olds are unhappy at work when they first have to take over responsibility for all their own needs. Any job, teaching or not, can seem restrictive when you have just left the comfortable womb of college. Alternatively, older people like myself may be transitioning from the workaholic phase of youth into a work smarter not harder phase.

    I believe this third reason is much more complex and individualized. Some young teachers just need to hang in there until they find their working feet. Some older teachers need to find a new passion-perhaps a new subject. Others need to make a career switch. In my case, I don’t know yet. I went back and got an M. Ed. and added an Earth Science endorsement. Both of those were refreshing while they lasted. However, I truly dislike teaching freshmen biology which is what I do now. I find myself surrounded by younger teachers who only want to teach the children “that belong in my class.” This translates to “hey old lady you teach the difficult students.” Moreover, we all know that the high needs students are the least likely to score well on standardized tests whoever teaches them. Increasingly I feel like my students and myself are being treated like the departmental trash can. Gifted is great, but so are my students. I don’t know if I have the energy to be the advocate I should be anymore. Perhaps I should find a new retirement career.

  146. Yes, I agree with the overall tone of your comments Martha.
    A short controversial comment here…..
    There are many alternatives even within teaching. I can understand the draining frustration with the situation in schools now, but things always change.
    The recent TES hosted video of the UK Ofsted Inspector Michael Gove in the pub is interesting to watch.
    Emotional intelligence is allegedly hand in hand with career success.
    It is unfortunate that he wasn’t offered a drink and mutual space to be given and reply to questions off the cuff. No teacher has had a baying mob of dozens of inspectors crowd into a class and egg the pupils on. What happened at the end looked as unprofessional as an out of control policeman doing unspeakable things to peaceful marchers as seen so often on youtube. He surprisingly agreed to discuss, someone should have seized the opportunity to get concensus on a fair respectful exchange from everyone present.
    He may genuinely believe that he has made possible improvements in childrens educational opportunities. Maybe he hasn’t been able to do all he wished, yet…?
    Certainly, like most who have progressed up the ladder, he demonstrated an ability to keep functioning under pressure. As also would he have been sure to show he ‘fitted in’ or could display the required ‘connection bias’. There is no one set of data that shows everything, good or bad.
    There are no guarantees of anything anymore, but one route within teaching is to move on up and take your principles and values with you.
    As long as you haven’t burnt your boats like me. (But then on the other hand, who better to lead than a smart***** who micro-manages the managers for no extra pay?).

    I too have been the school trash can, and like for so many living rough, it has thrown up some interesting finds. It is annoying when the dump comes just before exam entry and I am assessing an empty book to give a predicted grade…if I can find a space under a table for them to work, it has always turned out ok. Sort of speed-learning, just the key points conveyed with hand signals. But no negative whining in front of the kids! Smile Please, proportionality. A friend in serious cutting edge post-doc scientific research told me it now takes 100 applications for each extra bit of funding – all in their own time (24/7) and not a squiggle wrong in any document no matter how tired, or they let the whole team down. He is now taking some time out, restoring his house.
    Pargetting (lime plaster decoration) is one job a teacher I know re-trained for and now thoroughly enjoys. She works mainly alone, her choice, still recovering from stress years after leaving secondary school teaching.

  147. Yes there are many options within teaching. There are also many good administrators. I have a lot of respect for my A.P. She’s quite a workhorse. Furthermore, lots of adolescents are fun to teach even when they aren’t easy to teach. And yes, later it’s great to see them grow up. It’s even gratifying to see the next generation. Parent teacher conferences with a parent you used to teach are irreplaceable. It is tempting to tell the overanxious parent, “well as I recall, when I taught you…..”

    Like you, any good, older teacher has burned bridges. We’d have left long ago if we didn’t tear down a few obstacles. Furthermore, it isn’t professional to take it out on the kids. As you say it is our obligation to smile with them.

    No-one with any sense should believe that life outside of teaching is easy. It’s just different. The question becomes where is the fit best, in the education mess or in a different mess. The answer to that involves what do you need and want both at work and outside of work. I can’t imagine working a cubicle. But I can imagine route sales. I can’t imagine underwriting, but I could see claims adjusting and so on. There are many options depending on your skill set and personality.

    For the moment, I can hardly bear the thought of another year of freshmen, but I could work with sophomores, juniors or seniors. I have multiple endorsements. Ultimately the question will be which of my endorsements my district choses to employ.

    Who knows?

    In the meantime, we have that last quarter to focus on. May it be joyful for all.

  148. I have only officially been teaching for 1 month and some weeks but I DO NOT LIKE IT! I have been told to give it some time but every day I find myself saying “I can’t see myself doing this every day as a career” I am mentally worn out and the whole week I’m just sad. I try to perk myself up but that does not work. I really hate feeling this way, but this is how I feel. Even my husband and kids notice the change in me. They say I get irritated really quickly and I snap a lot. THIS IS NOT ME. Recently, over our spring break, during that week I was myself, bright, cheerful, happy, and I looked overall radiant. When it was time time to go back to school ALL of that chances, which made my husband chuckle a little. While on brake, unbeknownst to me, he took a picture of me and I looked so happy and vibrant. The day before school started back, again that feeling came over me (it’s usually like a huge knot in my chest and stomach that hinders me from eating or sleeping). I tried to hide and not express it, but my husband saw it. That’s when he showed me the picture and reminded me of the person I was. During this is time I have really missed myself. When I took this position I realized it would only be for 11 or 10 weeks. However, this has been the longest, most depressing 10 or 11 weeks of my life. Whether it’s 5 weeks or 30 weeks when you know, you just know. I don’t think this career is for me.

    • What you are describing is something that I can understand.
      It sounds like you have a great support network to draw on.
      The ‘new job blues’ is not likely to get much attention right now, since any job at all is supposed to be heaven!
      However, since I seem to be able to post here without the rottweilers of the TES forum diverting the thread, here are some helpful comments.

      Until you discover the second and third rewards of your job (the first being the Easter hols wherein you reverted to your happy self), it will be a struggle.
      Not the tasks, as I expect you are doing a fine job there, but the feeling of reward.
      Your students will not have progressed much in a month, so the feel-good reward can only be limited from that source.
      May be it is not your career, but 1 month or so is hardly a ‘career’ experience.
      You need to find number two reward, something to hold in mind when you set out for your commute. Could be getting in a bit earlier and in a quiet classroom, researching alternative lesson resources or display materials on the internet. You need a ‘plenary’ too, to get your day off to a positive note.

      I’ve no idea what might be out there on the internet on this topic, but ‘new job/course blues’ is probably quite common. We have such high expectations heaped on us, of ourselves, of our colleagues, the education system, that it is easy for a feeling of disappointment to get a hold.
      I left one job after a week, I felt it had been totally misrepresented and discussed and agreed a ‘no fault’ exit ASAP.
      On other occasions , it has been less clear cut what is wrong, but ultimately found out how to make it a positive employment or course experience. For one thing, you will need to demonstrate resilience to a future employer?
      Hope my sympathetic comments help, and good luck with whatever you decide.

    • If you do not like the “you” that teaching makes you, get out. Any job can make you exhausted but you can be exhausted and still in love with it. If a job or career steals your soul, it is the wrong one.

  149. Do you mind if I ask what you do now and how you got into it? I’m currently an out of work teacher who just can’t seem to land a teaching job…and I’m now I’m terrified of the profession and what it’s become. Even if I did get a job i’d be afraid I’d lose it after a year. I have no idea what else I could do with my life career-wise. Any advice on how you figured out what to do would be greatly appreciated.

    • Colleen, I’m not sure if you posted for answers from the original writer of the article?

      Besides teachers having decided to quit and not having any job at all, one big issue is a need to fully recover from a stressful work experience.
      If it all felt like it was falling apart and you put loads of energy into ‘performing’ the role, then it may take a lot of healing and coming to terms with the self belief that you somehow failed a life-critical test. Much longer than people like friends and family will indulge.
      You may not yet be ready for a ‘life/career coach’, I certainly still have an ambivalent deja-vu deep emotional response just being in a school. It may be a sense of lost opportunity, unrealistic expectations, or many things plus an unresolved feeling of injustice.

      I gave some ex-teachers examples of a hobby or hands-on activity turned business, not necessarily as THE second career, but to provide an environment and a time-scale more appropriate to the healing of emotional damage.
      You should make yourself aware that this is not unique to teachers. There are many problems for former recruits into the armed services who either fail training targets or become overwhelmed by the experience. A lot of research on the internet should help with keeping your new horizons more fluid and open to new measures of success and reward?
      Not easy I know, with the current economy.

  150. Hi!

    I am so so happy I found this blog, I definitely needed it. It has given me so much to think about. I am currently getting my M.Ed in conjunction with my teching certificate. This year has, hands down, been the hardest year of my life. I left a job in marketing to pursue my M.Ed almost a year ago now, thinking that teaching would be something that would give me life and a way to feed back into my community. At first, I was so excited to enter this profession. Over the summer, my professors were incredibly supportive of me, exclaiming how wonderful of a teacher I would be. I continually felt affirmed about my decision.

    Unfortunately, starting around Christmas, I began to have doubts. My placement for student teaching has been awful. My mentor teacher is not someone I respect or look up to in anyway, and has put a bad taste in my mouth about teaching. I tried to fight these feelings for the last several months, just telling myself it will be different when I have my own classroom. I know that is mostly true, but at the same time, my feelings toward education and the behavioral issues with students today are things I do not think will just disappear with having my own classroom.

    That being said, I hit a wall about a week ago, and finally felt okay admitting to myself that teaching might not be for me. I am very passionate about education, and have been applying for various jobs that I hope will allow me to work with education to some degree. At this point, I am looking into Academic Advising and other staff positions at the college level. I am trying to do everything I can to avoid taking a teaching job next year.

    My fear now rests in the fact that 1. I HAVE to have a job by the start of fall (even if that is teaching, which also gives me slight anxiety) and 2. That potential employers will find it odd or strange that I decided to not be a teacher when they review my resume.

    What are some ways that I can still stand out, without having the “teaching experience” under my belt. I am thinking more about if and when I have interviews. How do I approach this subject, or what are some things I can lean on, to ensure my potential employers see my excitement for education but that I chose to skip over the classroom teaching portion of my professional journey?

    • Thanks for sharing! The first year of teaching can often be trial by fire, and you have experienced what many of us do every day. Do you have any opportunities to teach in other nearby districts, even to sub? That said, it is not a great time to be a teacher. I have one foot out the door myself, and also considering finding a similar-type position at the college level – or, at least find another option in the education field where I can use my credential to great advantage, but without most of the crappiness that is part of the profession.

      To answer your job search questions, I think it depends on the types of organizations and jobs you are targeting. But I’m wondering if you could benefit from teaching for at least one year? Not to dissuade you from not teaching, but a year of running your very own classroom could probably give you the best answers to those questions, and solidify your decision to work outside of the classroom. Keep us posted!

    • Luna:

      Are you only considering public schools? I quit public school teaching after 13 years and after hating every second of my last three years. I had no idea what I was going to do next — until my next door neighbor, who is principal of a Catholic school (I’m Jewish) asked if I’d consider long-term subbing for a semester at her high school, teaching social studies. WOW! What a difference! I felt as if I’d left the jungle and ended up in Leave it to Beaverville of the 1950’s. The kids weren’t angels but I LOVED them! They were respectful, generally attentive, and they obviously had parents who kept on them. My salary was not the greatest, but the bennies weren’t bad and I had the freedom to teach my way without being hindered by constant testing and overbearing administrators. When the job opened up permanently the following semester, I grabbed it. Yeah, my salary stinks, but I’m doing what I love — and I’m loving it! Good luck!

  151. Thank you for this post. It has given me a lot of encouragement. I have been in education for 15 years, working as a special education teacher, a History teacher, and an assistant principal. I left administration and went back to teaching 2 years ago because of emotional distress from hostile parents and students. Now, after this school year, I am leaving education entirely. I will be working at a job for less pay but am looking forward to being away from education. Public education has become a cesspool of negativity. A result from too much government control to parents and students who aren’t held accountable for their behavior. I am finally FREE! Thank you.

  152. I am visiting this thread for the umpteenth time – thank you for it, all! It, again and again, has helped me to feel NOT so all alone and lost in addition to giving me encouragement, ideas, validation, and more. I taught for seventeen years, mostly high school English, enjoyed it for the first eight or so, then increasingly hated it. I moved around from school to school to try to find a better fit so I could stay in the profession, got my graduate degree and even tried teaching at the college level; not for me either… Like so many of you have mentioned, teaching exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed me. It took over my life. I lost myself, my confidence… I was miserable. When not at work, dread of work consumed me. Many mornings I would have the dry heaves in anticipation of going to work and at school, when the students left the classroom and I finally had a planning period, I would have myself a little cry.

    Unlike many of you, the students were as much a factor in my misery as the testing, increasing workload, etc. While most of my students were genuinely nice kids, when it came to the classwork, it seemed to me that apathy and entitlement grew every year – as did the number of helicopter parents, I guess caring because their kids didn’t? I also had a couple of real bullies, students whose whole purpose in my class was to disrupt it and especially to get under my skin as much as possible, to push my buttons. Given my waning energies for teaching, unfortunately getting under my skin wasn’t always that hard to do. It was tough.

    So, having saved some money in preparation, I finally left teaching in December of 2015. And I get to the reason for my post: It has been hard finding work after teaching – at least for me. I see it was hard for some of the people on here as well. Now in my fifth month of looking for a job, I have applied for eighty-five positions and only gotten about a dozen interviews. Have I had a couple offers? Yes, but thus far I’ve turned them down R