Melanie is a fifth-grade math and science teacher at a Title I public school in Florida
where 79 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch.
She’s looking for advice from fellow educators – past and present – on whether she should leave teaching.
Here’s her story:
After teaching for seven years, I have come to hate my job.
I dread waking up in the morning. The children put me in a bad mood. The stress of being held accountable for situations out of my control puts me in a bad mood. Never feeling like I am successful at my career has put me in what seems like a permanent bad mood.
I’m tired of not being recognized for good work. I am tired of not being able to “move up” in a company even though I work hard. I am just tired!
While I was in college, I was a shift manager at CVS. I have recently gotten in touch with my old store managers and I have been given a window of opportunity to become a store manager myself, starting out at $10,000 more a year than what I make now with my master’s in education. I’m not sure whether I should take this opportunity.
When I think about store management, I start feeling happy. I enjoy daydreaming about mastering my job duties and being recognized for them. Everything about this seems appealing except for the hours.
I am only 28 years old, and I want a family one day. Teaching offers a great schedule for having children, with holidays, weekends and evenings always at home. Store management does not offer such a stable, family-friendly schedule.
Can anyone provide me with a perspective that may help me make a decision?
Those who teach or have taught: What advice can you offer Melanie?
I know that lots of teachers work retail jobs on nights and weekends or during the summer. Do you find retail work relaxing compared to teaching? How else do the two compare?
Here’s my take:
Both retail and teaching require standing on your feet for hours. You also need to interact with large groups of people, manage a wide range of personalities, and cater to people’s needs and complaints in both situations. I know this from making Blizzards at Dairy Queen in high school, checking through long lines of customers at Target in college, and teaching high school for seven years.
So working in retail full-time will be tiring too, but in a much less personal (and more manageable) way. Sure, you’ll have to deal with old ladies complaining about discounts that didn’t scan, or hear kids whining to their parents, but those kids won’t be complaining to you or about you. They are no longer your responsibility. I think that could be really freeing.
But you won’t get to do much creative or intellectually challenging work. And you won’t feel the joy or accomplishment that can come from a great lesson or a funny moment you share with your students.
You say you want to be able to spend evenings and holidays at home when you have kids, but I don’t think that means you have to stay in teaching right now, or that you can never go back to it if you leave.
You’re only 28! What if you try the retail job for a year? You can go back to teaching when, and if, you’re ready. In the meantime, you can try something new, get your energy back and make more money.