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

Three dusty, plastic crates sit in a closet in my apartment.

Their contents include hardcover, dog-eared Folger Library editions of Shakespeare plays, piles of novels, hanging folders, manila folders, scattered handouts and a couple of DVDs. (Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo and Juliet” and Kenneth Branagh’s “Othello,” to be exact).

In one of the boxes, a calculator plays bedfellow to a neon-green Koosh ball, made super sticky from being touched by hundreds of kids.

In another box, there’s a small, stained-glass suncatcher depicting Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims on the way to Canterbury — a gift from students I had seven years ago, in my first year of teaching.

But I haven’t touched any of my school stuff in awhile…not since I joined the ranks of Those Who Taught this September.

Almost three months have passed, but I just updated my About page a few weeks ago and my Twitter page yesterday to reflect my new, ex-teacher status. When people ask what I do for a living, it takes me a minute to remember not to say I’m an English teacher. I was an English teacher.

So what do I do now?

I’m a writer in the communications office of a large nonprofit. And I have some freelance writing projects.

Do I feel guilty about leaving?

Yes.

Do I miss teaching?

Some parts of it, yes. More on this later.

And am I happier in the new job?

Abso-freaking-lutely. More on this later, too.

Leaving teaching is like breaking up with a bad boyfriend, exactly as Rose said.

When I first asked Rose to share her experience on the blog, I had been looking for someone to tell me that life after teaching could be better — even though I knew teaching was the most rewarding job I’d ever have, and even though I still cared — and still care — about education.

Turns out, a lot of teachers are searching for Life After Teaching. I mean, they’re Googling “life after teaching” and making Rose’s reflection on why she’s better off the most-read post on this blog!

(I also asked her to share what she misses about teaching, but that hasn’t gotten nearly as many views.)

I definitely did not start this blog to help teachers quit their jobs. But I’m ready to add my story to the fire…

Related

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

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

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

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45 thoughts on “Life After Teaching, Part Three: Yup, I Joined the Club.

  1. Thanks for sharing this – I can certainly relate to the feelings you mention (though I am still teaching and looking outward…)

    • sbesty,
      Thanks for reading! It took me a long time to transition out of the classroom, but taking lots of little steps — including asking people what their jobs were like, and how to gain experience in them — helped me make the jump. Good luck!

  2. Pingback: Life After Teaching: Five Little Things I Look Forward to at My Desk Job | Those Who Teach

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

  4. Pingback: How Informational Interviews Helped Me Find a Job After Teaching | Those Who Teach

  5. I appreciate your post. I joined the club in December. I’m still trying to figure out my after-teaching life, but this has helped me.

  6. I am also joining the club, and I have started the massive clean-out of folders, and books, and writings. After twelve years as a high school English teacher in two different states, I’m leaving the classroom. What is over the horizon for me? I wish I knew! What I do know is that I will miss the students, and the joys of helping a kid connect with Macbeth, or Hamlet, or even Freak the Mighty! I can’t refer to myself as an “ex-teacher”, since I know that no matter what I do next, I will always teach – (just not full-time in a classroom!!)
    I’ve always worked in the public service sector, so that’s probably what I will return to, in time. But for now, for me, I’m taking a vow of “discreet poverty” so I can sit on my back step and reflect on what I have learned from the past twelve years…
    Thanks for letting me share, and good luck to all!

    • Crowapple,

      Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the former high school English teachers’ club! 🙂

      Enjoy this time to reflect and recharge. Your positive outlook and passion for teaching will help you succeed in your next step, whatever it may be.

  7. Pingback: My Interview with Marie Ardito, a Veteran Teacher Turned Retiree Advocate | Those Who Teach

  8. That’s an interesting analogy about ‘breaking up’ with teaching. It seems such an intensely difficult process but it also feels like it becomes a huge part of your life in a way that other jobs don’t tend to? I hope I’m right?

    • Yes, teaching is deeply personal in a way that many other jobs are not. It requires a great deal of time and emotional energy which may or may not be reciprocated by other people — including students, administration and colleagues. The fact that you care makes it painful to leave, even when you know it’s what’s best for you.

      • Caring made it painful for me to stay. I took it home with me in every way. I worried about the students and some of their home lives. I worried about being attacked by the parents and administration, and I was soooooo stressed all of the time. It effected my marriage and being a mom. Now I am a better wife and mom.

      • Hi whimsyburd,
        Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you are now able to take better care of your family, and I hope you’re finding time to take good care of yourself, too!

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

  10. Pingback: Life After Teaching, Part One: Four Reasons Why I’m Better Off | Those Who Teach

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

  12. One of my collegues referred to teaching as like being in a dysfunctional relationship – I think I might be on the verge of jumping ship. I’ve never felt so low at the end of term before and realise that some murderers do less time than the ten I’ve clocked up. Thanks for your thoughts, it’s good to see there is life after teaching. Also, your new job sounds like bliss and exactly what I’m looking for too! Well done!

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

  14. I love NOT teaching lol. It is the best. I feel truly sorry for young students who go into the field. They are so clouded by what colleges tell them about how great being a teacher will be. These colleges just want money and do not care about telling students the truth. Teaching is not rewarding, not respected,not stable, not supporting and basically not healthy. I of course speak for myself and pretty much every teaching I ever met. I thank God I did not stay in the field long and found something that is healthy for my overall well being.

    • Isn’t it sad? Such a waste of time and money. This morning I was thinking about throwing away 2 giant folders that I compiled for my 2 year registration, which nobody ever requested to see.

      It reminded me of when i was training, having to make a giant folder for each 6 will practicum placement, that the lecturers never read.

      “We should make them do a whole lot of extra paperwork that nobody will ever read, that’ll prepare them for the reality.”

      Teaching is far more bureaucratic than it is rewarding in any sense. I too am glad I got out early.

      • I am an artist and this is what I do now. Here is my website http://www.whimsyburd.com I am so glad to be out of all the bureaucracy of teaching. Life is short, and I do not have time for all the waste. Like you mention all the work that never is even looked at. All the testing we do on the children that is pretty much a waste of time. I could go on and on, but do not want to waste my time lol

  15. Your articles have given me hope. I have followed different forums and all the opinions are rather dismal on teacher’s leaving the profession.

    I am in my official 2nd year of teaching 1st graders and have been with my District as a substitute and other capacities for 5 years. This year, we have a new admin that is making things very difficult for me in evaluations. Her expectations seem to be inconsistent between teachers. I was called out for things I know for a fact she didn’t even bat an eye at for another teacher. I am now seeing non-reelection a possibility for me as I can’t seem to ever win with her. Any improvement she did see, she condescendingly gave a praise for and other comments were unprofessional. I have been highly stressed and depressed this year.

    In addition, I have been introduced to the highly bureaucratic and backstabbing politics of my school. It’s so ugly I can’t help but be disillusioned. Added to my experience as a teacher, I also observed the horrible politics happening during my 5 years as a substitute too, so I know other locations are not any more different than my school site. Why and how did education turn out this way?

    I am now preparing for an industry change if I don’t get reelected. Your articles have been helpful. Is there any advice on crafting a resume for outside of education when all I have is education experience? How do I highlight desired skills while listing teaching jobs I have worked?

    Thanks for you time and reading my story.

    • Hi Michelle,

      I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult year. It might help to know that you’re not alone in feeling targeted by administrators and disillusioned by the politics at your school — I and many others have gone through similar experiences.

      For resume advice, please read my posts on transferable skills and business skills from teaching.

      I’m also planning more posts on resume tips, so I hope you’ll consider subscribing to the blog.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, and thanks for your kind words!

      • Thanks for replying! I recommended your blog to another co-worker. She also loves the blog already. I am unsure how to subscribe with WordPress, but I have added your blog to my Bloglovin’ as a blog I follow.

        Thank you again for taking the time to address my concerns.

      • Michelle, thank you for following the blog and recommending it! If your friend would like to subscribe, she can click the “Follow” button on the upper right of the page. Thanks again.

  16. I’ve been following this blog for a while. It reassures me, but it also make me sad that at the state of the career worldwide.

    I’ve left after only 2 years and am once again a student, studying natural medicine. I still have the occasional teaching nightmares, but I physically and mentally feel so much healthier.

    One day I hope to be able to work with teachers with chronic illness – of which there are far too many – and help them to make healthier choices that will aid their lifestyle.

    Thank you for your the support you offer to people of all ages around the world. You have provided a great platform for people to share their feelings and all for advice. Within the occupation, most people just tell you to tough it out because it will get better over time!? (Or you become complacent) so I think it’s great that you’re offering your support.

    • Calbyt,
      Thank *you* for reading and sharing! I know your story will help inspire other teachers who want to change careers.

      And it’s great that you want to help teachers heal. There are many who could benefit from your care and appreciate the empathy you would offer.

      Hope your own healing process continues to progress and best of luck with your studies!

  17. That’s awesome you quit and found something you love much more. I found you through Suzie81’s blog. I have much respect for teachers, but also understand their stresses from friends who teach. Good for you!

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

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

  20. Hi. I really like what you’ve been posting about your life after teaching. I am already on the verge of leaving teaching…permanently. But I’m also thinking what my life would be after, what kind of job I could have. Can you give suggestions where I could apply? I really want to have a peaceful life withe my husband. This is my 11th year and everyday im telling myself im done. I can’t do this anymore. But we can’t just leave and pack up in the middle of school hear. I still have to go on each day, having This dreadful, depressing, and anxious feeling. I hope I could find the kind of life you have when you left teaching. Have a great day! 🙂

    • Hi Gretch,

      Thanks for reading and sharing. First of all, congrats on making it to your 11th year — the fact that you have been able to make it this far shows you have the strength to figure out your next step! That brings me to my next point: I can’t tell you where to apply because you it depends on your own interests. However, I strongly recommend arranging informational interviews — they’ll help you decide what jobs to pursue, how to revise your resume and and may even lead you to job openings. If you haven’t yet, you can also take a look at my other career change tips. Hope they help and best of luck!

  21. Please, i need some serious advice!
    I’m only 23 year old, i’ve been teaching for a year now, and to be quite honest i can’t stand it literally it came to the point where i just want to cry everyday I always feel like i’m under pressure when i tell my friends and family that i’m going to quit this awful job they judge me instantly! (my family got no chill) i’m not even sure if i want to quit or not i’m torn in between! if i quit it obviously my family will cut me off financially. I’m more depressed now than normal. should i quit?!!!

    • Please know the first year of teaching is hard for everyone. Not only that, even experienced teachers have days when the pressure of the job are overwhelming — just read the stories on this site for proof!

      I’m sorry that your friends and family haven’t been more supportive, but that makes me think that they’ve never taught themselves, so aren’t in much of a position to judge. For your own peace of mind, you may need to limit your conversations with them to non-teaching topics and seek the support you need online, as you are doing here, and with other fellow teachers in real life, including those at your school and ones that belong to professional associations of teachers. You should also try to speak with a mental health professional who can teach you stress-relief strategies and counsel you through this.

      Ultimately, I can’t tell you whether you should quit — but taking the steps above will help you come to a decision you can feel good about.

  22. I’m not sure how long I’ve been visiting this blog, but I finally officially “followed” it a few days ago. It is comforting to know that I’m not the only person who does not feel that I can go for thirty-plus years in the classroom. This is my tenth–and hopefully last–year of teaching high school. I’ve taught mostly high school English and also a couple of years special ed and ESOL. Every single year, I have had regrets about ever entering this profession. I know that everyone has his or her reasons for wanting to quit teaching. For me, it’s been everything from standardized testing pressures to, more personally, the way that I feel like my self-confidence has suffered. Looking back over ten years, I feel a little lost. I feel like teaching has somehow taken away my “personhood,” my identity, my authenticity, if you will. I feel like I’ve never been in the right place as a teacher. I’ve always been fearful of everything–fearful of evaluations and observations, fearful of confrontations with students, fearful about the tremendous level of liability I had as a teacher and (for several years) cheer coach, fearful of people seeing me with a drink on Facebook, just plain fearful. However, I’ve often felt like I’ve had NO other options than to teach, and this is ridiculous, but I often just didn’t feel like life was worth living if I had to be stuck teaching forever. Then, I had a wake-up call.

    I think sometime last year, I read a book about different personality types and how you should choose a career not just based on interests, but also based on your personality. Sorry, I can’t recall the book’s title. I began to realize that even though I’m not a great teacher (and I’m seriously not; I’ve seen what a great teacher is, so I’m really not being self-deprecating or modest, just telling the truth), that doesn’t mean that I have to suck at life in general. Maybe I just chose the wrong career, but I know that I can do something else. I can’t let being a teacher completely define my life.

    One thing that makes me angry, especially because I used to feel this way myself, is that many teachers have this idea that if they quit teaching that the world is going to crumble or that they’ll be begging on the streets. I think it’s because teaching is such a “secure” job, and people who go into teaching are probably people who like security. (I won’t go into how it’s becoming less secure). But just looking around me, I see all types of people working all types of jobs on a daily basis. I think that I just have to put myself out there, but I will not sell myself short and fool myself into thinking that teaching is the ONLY thing I can do.

    At this point, I don’t really care what I have to do. I’m so over having “summers off.” When it gets to the point where I feel like life is really not worth living, it’s really, REALLY not that serious. I feel bitter that my job has taken me to the lowest depths of despair that I could imagine. It makes me feel like crying, thinking back to the many times that I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. Yes, that’s totally melodramatic, but totally true. There was an administrator whom I read about several months back who killed herself, apparently over her school’s low test scores. Like I said, it’s really not that serious. I for one would rather do just about anything else before I allow a job to take so much away from me, so after this year, I’m saying “peace out” to teaching, and good riddance.

  23. I am loving reading that I am not alone. In fact a coworker and I both are considering joining the ranks of “life after teaching” if we can make it through this school year. I find it encouraging that we are not alone and that the problems we are facing are everywhere though it is actually disheartening. What has happened to our society? To our education system?

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