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

Even though I left teaching last summer, I didn’t find a new, non-teaching job until September.

That means, for the first time in seven years, school’s out — but I’m working full-time.

I do get a little misty-eyed seeing the adventures my teacher friends on Facebook are having…

But on the whole, I’m OK with “losing” my summers (and all the other long breaks in the school year) because I’ve gained so much in return.

Here’s why leaving teaching to work year-round at a “real” job has been worth it to me:

I get to “sleep in.”

Sleeping In

School started right before 8:00. That meant getting up around 6:30 every day. I think I hated this ritual almost as much as my students did. Now I roll out of bed at the very luxurious 7:45 to get to work by 9:00. Sure the commute can be more crowded, but the extra sleep is glorious.

I get treated like a professional. 

handshake-256

Even though I haven’t finished a full year as a professional writer, I feel so much more appreciated and respected than I ever did in my seven years teaching. My opinion is valued. People thank me for the work I do and notice when the quality of my work is good. When I make a mistake, it feels like just that — not that I’m a bad person. It is much, much easier for me to accept and manage setbacks or changes. I haven’t had a truly bad day on the job.

I don’t have to grade essays.

This week's grading

My old colleagues and I used to joke about the stacks of ungraded papers we carried everywhere — home, the doctor’s office, jury duty, kids’ soccer games and on every vacation before June. I would feel guilty when I didn’t bring grading with me, and when I brought it but avoided the work. Shedding the emotional and physical weight of Ungraded Papers has been freeing.

I get nights and weekends to myself.

relaxing panda

Not only am I essay-free, but I also don’t have to plan lessons, submit lesson plans, or make and grade exams anymore. Unlike previous summers, I’m not taking grad classes, writing curriculum, or preparing to teach a new course, either. Now I relax after dinner and enjoy the whole weekend, including Sundays!

To be fair, I loved the courses I took for my master’s in English, and I would get excited about planning for a new year.  So yes, I am sad about losing these experiences, but I’m willing to accept the loss.

I still get lots of vacation time. 

vacation-with-your-pet-1

I think of it this way: instead of two months off, I have two days and five nights of vacation every week, plus the paid time off from my job. And now that my breaks are more evenly distributed, I don’t need the weeks and months away from work as much as I used to.

Did I mention no grading?

Teachers (especially English teachers!), I know you get what a big deal this is.

Some non-teachers like to point out that teachers get paid a full salary for ten months of work. But the truth is that teachers do at least twelve months of work in ten months! That’s why they need the summer to recover — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

One year after leaving teaching, I am happier, calmer and more well rested than I’ve been in a long time. And I’m even more convinced that teachers richly deserve every day of the summer and more.

Related

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

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

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

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

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

Teachers Definitely Get Summers Off. And That’s OK. (Paul Bruno)

What People Think a Teacher’s Summer Is Like Vs. What It’s Really Like (BuzzFeed)

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

  1. I’d like to know a bit more about how you made this transition. I recently resigned after 19 years of teaching English and am trying to transition into technical and/or proposal writing. Any advice (particularly on the resume end) would be very helpful given that you’ve done it! Thanks!

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

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  5. I made the big step just last Monday. After a class that I could not believe had actually happened, I came home and filed for Social Security. I had already retired from the university where I have been teaching for 15 years. I knew I would also retire from the community college where I have also been teaching but when or how that would happen, I didn’t know. I’m a little scared about the next few months as I’ll be living on 1/2 my former salary in the expensive state of CA while I try to sell my house, but…

    I will always be grateful for 35 years in a profession that was 85% satisfying. I still think that’s a win, but in the last few years, it has been a situation with fewer and fewer rewards and more challenges way beyond my abilities. Here’s the story of the last straw:

    Part one: http://marthakennedy.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/cant-win-intro-to-lit-only-7-days-left/

    Part two: http://marthakennedy.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/intro-to-lit-midnight-in-paris/

    • Martha, thank you for sharing these last moments. I can hear some of my own former students making some of those comments, and I tense up just thinking about how I would’ve felt as the object of their “aggressive” disrespect, as one commenter put it. But I can also imagine the satisfaction you must feel knowing you helped them appreciate art. You fought for your students till the last, and now you’re finally retired. Hearty congratulations to you!

      • Thank you! Just met them for the last time, a MUCH bigger moment for me than for them. I’m glad I did it and I’m glad I’m finished!

  6. I am a 44 year old foundation phase teacher in Cape Town , South Africa. I was absolutely engrossed in your blog and read it all in one go. I have been teaching for 20years and am presently in that love/hate relationship. I resigned 5 years back when I battled with stress and depression brought on by teaching and also to get rid of my HOD status.

    After a year of starting up and running my own overnight successful cleaning company I missed teaching too much and went back. My husband could not understand my “madness”.

    The new school is better but the day to day stresses as you also mentioned in your blog , is getting me down once again. I wish I could just quit again, but how will I support my family? No-one will employ someone of my age. Besides I’m not fully computer literate. What would I do that would pay me more or less the same salary? It seems like I’m stuck in this hell hole for a long time still. I envy the ones who got out and stayed out.

    • Hi Analene,

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your story.

      Please don’t be so down on yourself — your experience in education and business make you much stronger, in many ways, than a new grad who’s never held a real job. But you have to believe in your value, and help prospective employers see your value, too.

      Not being fully computer literate is something you can change with online tutorials, library classes, or other resources.

      Please read my interview with Marie, a teacher who started a new career in her 60s. She gives a lot of good advice for teachers who want to switch fields:

      https://thosewhoteach.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/meet-marie-ardito-a-teacher-turned-retiree-advocate/

  7. Thank you for writing this article. I taught Kindergarten and 1st grade for a total of 4 years and I began to feel really burnt out from teaching after 3 years. I finally made the decision to walk away from teaching this summer and return to what I did before which was working in retail. Although I am worried about starting over again in retail and taking a pay cut, I am excited about this new step that I am making and hope to grow in the retail environment and possibly become a supervisor or manager to use the skills that I learned in the classroom into my new career.

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

  9. I worked harder than I ever worked last year. On the last day of school I was written up for the first time ever for an incident that is even too stupid to mention. I came home and bought some years. I am going to garnish my wages and buy another year as I work this year. It is scary to think about leaving the only career I ever considered, but teaching is no longer about trying to guide kids to become adults who can tackle challenges. Teachers are being blamed for failing schools, but administrators are truly gutless non-leaders who refuse to make the hard choices it is going to take to make education better. They run and scrape to pay lip service to “new” idea they must adopt in the school.

    Currently, my school has no attendance policy, no tardy/late policy, no policy for keeping kids out of trouble on the electronic devices they are encouraged to bring to class, and we teachers are strongly encouraged to pass all students regardless of their efforts. I could go on, but I think all the teachers out there already know what I’m going to say.

    This will be my last year teaching. I admire the teacher who started this blog. I can’t wait to get a cubicle/paperwork job. I do not even know what it would be like to not have mounds of papers and hours of planning to do. As I said before, it is scary to leave a career after 25 plus years. I am ready, however, to start working out of this job and actually putting my creativity and effort towards work that will really count for something.

    • Hi Theo,

      Yes, there are many forces that undermine the work that you do, and the lack of policies (and/or enforcement of policies) is something I can definitely relate to. But all your hard work *does* count for something. You are still doing the necessary work of helping students, even if you’ve realized that you need more return on your efforts.

      It’s hard, but I hope you can focus on the positive during your last year of teaching. I tried to enjoy each day once I knew I would be leaving — including the colleagues who helped me, the students who were a joy to be around, and the good moments in the classroom. Something else that got me through was spending time figuring out what I wanted to do next, instead of just stewing about why I was unhappy.

      To be clear, my current job is not as meaningful or emotionally rewarding as teaching, but it is much less stressful, and gives me more energy to devote to people I care about, and things I care about, like this blog.

      Best wishes for your last year, and good luck with your next step!

      • Thank you for your encouragement. I do plan to “just enjoy” this year and take it all in, but I’m also glad I made a decision to move on in life. I have started thinking about my new goals, and I always said I would never be bitter when I retired/quit teaching. I am just moving to some new challenges – they may even be related to education. I’m thinking about a nice part time job where I enjoy the parts of teaching I really love – helping people sans records, charts, meetings, and all things related to the elusive “accountability” standards. Thanks again for the article and the response.

      • You’re welcome, Theo! Thanks for reading and commenting.

        Now that you have a clearer vision of your next career, you can focus your job search on positions that fit, and weed out the ones that don’t.

  10. I just came home at 7:45, I began my day at 5:45. I was hit by an elementary student which resulted in about an extra 3 hours of documentation. A friend of mine asked to hang out tonight but I was still at work. I told him, trying to find humor in it, teaching is the only job in which getting assaulted lands you in more paperwork. My wife and I are having our first child in a month and I can’t stand to think I’ll come home to children I won’t have energy or love for because I’ve spent it on other peoples kids…

    I’m losing more and more nights and weekends to this thing…this article helped me answer a question I’ve been asking a long time. If I get 2 months in the summer, does that make up for being absent to my family and friends the other 10 months of the year? Probably not…

    • I’m sorry you had such a terrible day. You may feel better knowing that there are many commenters on my first Life After Teaching post who can commiserate with you, especially Jack Smith, Latin.

      The sense that the sacrifices v. rewards of teaching just don’t add up is something I couldn’t shake, either. Now that I have more time and energy for family and friends, I feel like I really could handle the responsibilities of being a parent when the time comes. At the same time, I know teachers who seem to balance work with family life really well, and cherish summers off with their kids.

      I’m not sure what your circumstances are, but if you’re new to teaching or have just changed schools, you may find that it gets easier (and you can make your day shorter) with a few more years. Or it may be that you need to change schools/what you teach. I was only interested in teaching high school English, and realized that that would involve ceaseless paper grading no matter where I was. Knowing this helped motivate me to leave.

      Whatever you decide, I don’t think that you could run out of love for your future kid! You might be dog-tired from a long day of teaching, but when you come home to your own kid, he or she will just make your day by being adorable. Or at least that’s what they say. 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Best of luck for your life ahead!

  11. I wrote down your comparison of leaving teaching to leaving a love partner that just isn’t healthy for you anymore. I too left teaching this year for the same reasons. You put into words my thoughts! You must have been an amazing english teacher! I love the part about the favorite fast food restaurant! I totally agree with that one! I hope you don’t mind if I use some of your picture perfect words to explain to other people why I quit my teaching position.

    • Of course you can use those analogies, Mary — the post was meant to be shared! 🙂

      But Rose, the former biology teacher who wrote the post, should get the credit for coming up with those fitting comparisons…

      Thank you for reading, and best of luck for your brand-new Life After Teaching!

  12. After teaching for 17 years (10 of those in international schools), I have changed careers. Not only did I work at night and on weekends as all teachers do, but was pretty much available to my kiddos via google chat almost all the time.

    Fast forward to present…I had no idea weekends were so long! I am not even allowed to bring work home. 4:30 on Friday to 8:30 on Monday I am totally free! And every night! It is crazy.

    But, I will say, this summer without vacation time was a killer. How do ‘regular’ people mark the passage of time without the school year? (I don’t have kiddos of my own) Now life just flows together. A psychological hurdle that I’m sure will dissipate with time.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing, Paula. I’m still getting used to the craziness of weekends, too.

      I think “regular” people break things up by making the most of their time off. So far, I’ve signed up for music lessons, an improv class and a casual sports league. Now’s your chance to discover new hobbies, revisit old ones and go to far-flung places in the off-season. Enjoy your year-round summer break! 🙂

  13. I could not love this blog more! Thank you!!!
    Here I am… Starting another year and not happy! Why do I teach? ( I ask myself) “it’s just what I do…. It’s what I have experience in, and although it doesn’t pay a ton… It pays more than a lot of other jobs, and I’m pretty good at it!”
    BUT the more time I spend teaching the more I find myself very unhappy! I actually love teaching! I love lesson delivery and planning good lessons ( when there’s time), but I seriously want to walk out of the room right after and have someone do EVERYTHING else! Those are the only things I love about being a teacher! I like the kids, but I find myself frustrated when I’m trying to plan good lessons and they have to come back after break and lunch! Frankly, I would rather be planning! ( I know it sounds horrible and most people would say I probably shouldn’t be in the classroom, but I know I’m a good teacher too)! It makes me sad. I wish I loved it more, but the fact is, I don’t!
    This is only my 5th year, with a break after my third year to stay home with my daughter. So I went back last year to see if anything would be different…. Nope! However, even after last year I accepted another position again this year because… That’s just what I do! I’m a teacher.
    The problem is that I don’t know what else to do! I dream of that office job too, but when I had it I wasn’t making much money. It is finding that balance that I’m having a hard time with and desperately wanting to leave teaching to find it.
    My struggle is that I’m scared to make another change. I’m almost forty and in 5 years of teaching ( with a bit of time off) which started in 2004, I’ve been in 4 districts. I moved across the country after my first year of teaching, then after coming back home, I got a temporary one year contract last year and another temp in a different district this year. As I feel that I am a pretty stable person in most other aspects of my life, my career has never been a source of true passion, love and stability. I love education, but don’t want to be in the classroom. So confused…. But ready to go….38 more weeks to go! Haha

    • K Gard,
      Thanks for reading and sharing! I don’t think it’s too late for you to find something new. There are other jobs beyond the classroom where you can still lesson plan to your heart’s content — but those lessons, and your students, could be different from what you’re used to. Please read my interview with Marie Adito, a veteran teacher who changed careers in her 60s. She brought her teaching skills to a fulfilling new job as a retiree advocate. I hope you find her advice helpful!

      • K gard,

        I apologize for the rambling…

        Your comment is music to my ears! As I am just going into the 9th week of my third year of teaching Spanish, I am already feeling burnt out and defeated.

        After getting all lessons set for 10 different grades, I’m already spent. Therefore the strong lessons I have written out on paper come out as mediocore during actual classes. Like you, I’d love to have someone else come in and teach the lessons instead.

        Having to plan for all those lessons one would think that the weekend would be needed for this right? but when I start thinking about all the work I have to do, I get anxious and then the work I do create is awful. In fact most weekends I set out to do nothing so the weekends go by slowly – so freakin’ sad right?

        this past summer I had to take a certification exam for the state of Indiana(originally certified in Michigan) 1 week before my wedding (it was the only time available in the summer ><). I passed but barely. Of course everyone else was like "hey, passing is passing" but I felt so guilty. I honestly didn't want to pass so I could have an excuse to tell the principal, " I didn't pass the test so then I think you'll be wasting the students' time in keeping me…"

        So like you, I had signed the contract this year just because it's what I went to college for, the too much money my parents spent to help get me this degree, the financial stability that my brand new husband and I need and most importantly, to not disappoint everyone else. But what about me??

        Now the principal has been great in trying to help me in every way possible – but I still dread most days. It's like I feel guilty for all that he is doing for me…

        I am torturing myself here but when I mention such things to my family they just call it whining.

        My husband once asked me "why did you become a teacher?" The only answer i could give him was "I love Spanish, I really do. but teaching has made me lose a lot of passion that I once had for the language."

        I once thought that wedding planning was reeking havoc on my teaching, but it was honestly what got me through each day – something I was overly passionate about.

        Do I need a teaching position where I have less grades to teach? Perhaps

        But I'm not passionate about teaching. I feel that I have too many insecurities to be the best teacher I could be…

        To sum this ramle a thon up, I need to find myself and teaching is not helping

      • Emily,
        Every teacher has planned lessons that seem amazing in theory, but turn out to be mediocre, or even terrible. Plus you’re only in your third year, which is well within the bounds of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. At the same time, I can relate to your point about insecurity holding you back from being a better teacher. I certainly struggled with this. I can also remember feeling guilty all the time, just like you.

        I agree that it might be worth trying out a new position that requires less lesson planning. That will help you figure out whether to stay in teaching or change careers. Or you could look into both at the same time. Thanks for reading and sharing. Best of luck to you!

  14. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I’ve been a teacher for 12 years but now I realize I just can’t do it anymore. The nights, the weekends it’s just too much. My boyfriend thinks I am crazy because I have to work every night and on the weekend. And he just sits on the couch and watches football – and makes three times as much as I do . I am so jealous! I have a science degree (bs biology) so I’m hoping that I can transition into a career in the energy or health sector – even if just very entry level. I will keep up with this blog throughout the year to keep myself motivated and to look for tips on how to transition into a different career. Thank you so much for this.

    • Miss Joolie,

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing. When I was teaching, I was also jealous of the people I knew who worked normal hours and made so much more than I did. Now I work normal hours and, though I’m not making big bucks, I feel more fairly compensated for my efforts than I did while teaching.

      Your degree could help you transition smoothly into a new career, but you should also frame your teaching experience as an asset. I share some strategies for translating your skills in this post.

      Thanks again for reading and good luck!

  15. Pingback: A National Survey of Former Educators Shows that Life After Teaching Is Pretty, Pretty Good. | Those Who Teach

  16. I’m in the same predicament as everyone here it seems. I’ve been teaching for 9 years and honestly don’t know how I’ll manage to finish this school year… 2 years ago I took a leave of absence because I was burnt out and depressed. I did not want to teach anymore. I felt like crying every night when I was going to bed thinking about having to teach the next day, and nauseous every morning as I was getting ready to go to school. My doctor didn’t seem to understand my distress and only allowed me to take 1 month off. I also met with a therapist during that time to help me deal. Both my therapist and my doctor kept asking me what my employer could do to help me ease back into work. There’s no ‘easing back’ into teaching. You either teach or you don’t, with all that it entails. There’s no such thing as part time elementary teaching jobs (at least not in my school district). So I went back. And kept telling myself it wasn’t that bad.
    Fast forward to today and I’m back to where I was 2 years ago, nausea and all. I really want to quit but like so many others, it’s scary when it seems it’s the only thing you know how to do. I’m 30 so I know it’s far from being too late but still… What makes it harder is that I’m from Canada and I make quite a good salary compared to my US colleagues. With a mortgage, car payments, etc. it’s hard to think about quitting and even harder when I know I will not make even close to what I’m making now somewhere else. I know my health should be my #1 priority but it’s just not that easy I guess…

    • Hi Karen,

      I’m sorry that the past few years have been so emotionally draining, but glad that you are at least going to the doctor and seeing a therapist.

      You’re right — there’s no such thing as “easing” back into teaching unless you are able to teach part-time.

      And of course, going to work should NOT make you feel nauseous and depressed each day.

      Not only that, think about all the time you spend outside of school feeling stressed about it.

      If you had a lower-paid job with regular hours and a better-work life balance, chances are high that you would you be making about the same or more per hour spent thinking about/doing work.

      Teaching requires many skills that are in high demand elsewhere. But you have to believe you are capable of moving on from teaching and applying your experience in new ways.

  17. I quit teaching after 10 years. I felt like you had written about my life story as I read your blog. The other added benefit to not having summers off is that you can take vacation whenever you want and not when the rest of the world is taking vacation too.

    • You’re so right, Sandy. In fact, I recently returned from a two-week vacation that wouldn’t have been possible had I been teaching. The lines at the airport were relatively short, which was wonderful. It’s also a luxury to get over jet lag in a less demanding job. I could work through my tasks for the day without incident, and drop off to sleep without worrying about work still to be done!

      Thank you for reading and joining the conversation. Would you mind sharing what you do now?

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  19. Hello
    I just came across your piece on how you do not need summers off and I totally agree. I am going to go back and read your other pieces.

    I was an elementary teacher for 7 years. I took time off to take care of my children and when I tried to get back into education the economy failed. Teachers were being pink slipped and there were no jobs to be found. I could not get hired. On top of the low job availability I had also been out of the classroom for many years, no one was going to hire me. So when I was offered a job this year I jumped at it and it has been so stressful. The students are wonderful and I love the staff and administration at the school however the work load is intense and since I commute an hour and a half one way it is a nightmare waking at 4 am to leave by 5:15. I have so much work to do there are days I don’t leave until 5:30 or 6pm. I never see my family and weekends and vacations are catch up days for me. I make copies and plan at home every weekend and on my vacations. I am sick to my stomach every day. I don’t know how much longer I can continue. I’ve been told it is like this everywhere. If this is true then I do not think I can continue my career in education. Many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep because I feel I just can’t do anymore. I would have quit already but I was told my credential could be revoked if I did. I would love to find a regular job. I want to be able to leave work at work. I wish I could find something else to do.
    Any advice?

    • AV, It’s wonderful that you have positive relationships with your students, the staff and administration — it’s not easy to find all three! So it’s a shame that the commute and the workload are making you miserable. The commute can be changed, but I agree that the take-home work will be constant as long as you need to work full-time.

      For advice on how to transition out of teaching, please check out these posts:

      https://thosewhoteach.wordpress.com/category/career-change-advice/

      They include tips from my job search, and tips from other teachers who’ve made a change. Hope you find them helpful!

  20. Just stumbled upon this website and it’s a great read thank you. I think I feel at my lowest ever as a teacher and as a person right now. I feel I’m continually battered at work by senior management with little support, I have no faith in my abilities anymore. I was going to leave a Easter but made the decision to stay until summer which I’m regretting but never mind. I’m petrified of how I’ll find another job outside teaching but feel I need to do it somehow. I’m not sure what I want to do but know this will break me if I stay in teaching, feel very pathetic but know I’m going to have to try and stay as positive as possible to try and find a different career.

    • Sara,
      Sometimes teaching made me feel at my lowest as a person, too. This made it hard to imagine what I could be capable of outside teaching, but like you, I resolved to find out. Now I feel much better about myself on a daily basis, although my insecurities from teaching can still flare up.

      Keep listening to that positive inner voice that says you *can* move on, and that you *don’t* have to be miserable in teaching. Let it motivate you to take positive actions like reaching out to your network, updating your resume and applying to jobs. I hope my career change advice posts will help you take those next steps.

  21. I’m sitting at my desk at 9:45 at night trying to wrap up grading my 4th set of research papers of 6. Did I mention it’s spring break? Everyday for the past 3 days and for the next two, I will be grading research papers. This is why I have a vacation. I am probably going to work close to 60 hours this week with absolutely no pay. Andy why? I do love my job. I really do. But what would I give to not miss summer vacations! I live in Texas and have been paying into my retirement system and only have to work 10 more years, so I’m not at a point where I can consider retiring, but if the older me could talk to the younger me, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Thanks for letting me vent and for sharing your story.

    • Hi Daniel, I remember the arduous task of grading 100+ research papers well, so you have my sympathies. Hope you were able to carve out some honest-to-goodness vacation time nonetheless.

      Ten years is a long time, even if you love your job. Hopefully you are vested in your retirement system by now. If so, consider how much you would get if you retired sooner. You may find that you’d rather start your grading-free years earlier — and stop putting in all those hours of unpaid work! — despite the reduction in income.

      Wishing you the best either way. Thank you for reading and sharing!

  22. Wow, do I resonate with the idea of taking my papers everywhere. I take stuff home EVERY night, but many nights I find other things to do and I feel so guilty! And the weekends, what weekends? Catching up on my grading and trying to find something to make 8th graders “engaged” with American History is exhausting. I am no longer free to have “downtime” while school is in session, so frustrating. I’m glad I’m not the only one. http://www.twoteachersintexas.com.

    • Hi Todd,
      Nearly two years after leaving teaching, I still feel guilty on the weekends for NOT having work to do, and it seems “wrong” to have free time that’s truly free!

      For more on school-life balance, check out my post on the subject. It offers some interesting food for thought from several veteran teachers.

      Thanks for reading and sharing — and hang in there. Only a few months of grading to go!

  23. I’m curious about the writing job you do now. How did you break into it? Does it pay as much as teaching? Like you, I have a MA in English (Composition and Rhetoric). I’ve taught for nine years and want out. I live in Austin, Tx, where there seems a plethora of writing and editing jobs. However, I’m afraid that no one will hire me because I don’t have experience in that field (other than grad work as a technical writer nine years ago). Also, I need to stay within the salary range I’m at now in order to maintain my home and family. So, I’m curious about how you broke into the profession and what you see others making in terms of salary.

    • Hi hkmcdermid,

      I broke into writing through informational interviews and after applying to nearly 100 jobs. I’m currently making pretty much the same salary as I did in my last year of teaching, even though I’ve been at my job for less than two years.

      So it’s definitely possible to change careers and maintain your standard of living — but you should research salary ranges for writing jobs in Austin, including for specific companies that interest you. Start with indeed.com, payscale.com and glassdoor.com.

      You should also read my posts on informational interviewing and my job application process.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  24. I am so glad I found this article! After earning my Master’s in Education and teaching for three years, I left my school back in October (yep, in the “middle” of the year). A lot of my friends and family didn’t understand how I couldn’t just push through, especially knowing I was only weeks away from Thanksgiving or winter break. People everywhere (in coffee shops, friends of friends, and in interviews) ask me why I left, but no one really understands. I actually had a district substitute say something that insinuated that maybe I just wasn’t very good at teaching, and I’d find something else. Ha! The teachers that leave the field are rarely the teachers who should. They’re the teachers who feel undervalued and over-worked; they’re the teachers who put in so many extra hours because they know the kids really need it.

    Just a week after I left, I was lucky enough to land an office job coordinating a new department for a pretty small company, and I feel the same benefits you describe above. Nights and weekends are amazing. I feel rejuvenated on Sundays, ready to get cracking on Monday. As a teacher, I never had enough time to relax and put myself back together. I was always a little tired or a little behind.

    Sure, the shorter hours and the immense reduction in paperwork have been enjoyable, but it’s your second bullet I feel most strongly about. I feel so valued and important at my company. I get recognized often for my attitude, work ethic, and work quality-something I never experienced in education (at least by any supervisors/admin).

    I’d like to add one thing to your list. I know that now, post-teaching, I am a better friend and fiance. I no longer miss out on happy hours, birthday parties, or date nights because “I’m too tired.” I no longer skip calls because I have 35 more essays to grade. I no longer forget important dates and events in my friends’ lives. I no longer pass out at 8:45 on Friday nights. Leaving education has allowed me to be reinvest in so many relationships that took repeated hits during my time teaching, and I am forever thankful for that.

    Thanks for your article-I woke up feeling a little bummed today about not seeing my students before the end of the school year, and now I remember all of the things I have gained in return.

    • Hi stefanied,

      Thank you for reading and for leaving such a thoughtful comment.

      I admire how you left teaching when you needed to and ignored those who doubted you. I also wholeheartedly agree that leaving teaching helps you be a better friend and family member. I, too, used to avoid calls and social events because I felt like I didn’t have the mental and emotional energy to deal with them. I was also often irritable and anxious to get home so I could rest or catch up on schoolwork. Now I actually make an effort to call and see the people I care about, and enjoy my time with them more fully. Reinvesting in relationships is a great way to put it.

      Thanks again — you’ve helped me appreciate my life after teaching, too!

  25. Pingback: Leaving Teaching: The Money Question | Those Who Teach

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

  27. Right now, I’m still “hangin’ in there,” but it does get more difficult each year. I’m glad to have found your site. I love the connections I have with the students, but the scales shift a little more each year. I believe it is important for teachers to know that we have options. Teachers who dread going to work are doing themselves and the students disservices.

    Unfortunately too many of us have any idea of how to transition out when we know it’s time. Thank you so much for providing this resource!

    • Hi Tracey,
      Thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate your kind words.

      When my scales shifted toward not teaching, it definitely took me awhile — years, in fact — to figure out if I had other options and what they might be. You are so right that *not* knowing that life exists beyond the classroom takes a toll on both teachers and their students.

      Wishing you the best for the coming school year. I hope you feel better prepared to move on when the timing is right!

      • I am actually excited about starting this year because it’s all new. For the first time, I will be coordinating with two social studies teachers for some combined studies. I love it when my teaching gets a chance to evolve!

      • That’s a great word, “collaboration.” If we don’t think of our classes as a collaboration between us, our kids, and the parents, we’ve failed before we start.

  28. I would like to leave education but I don’t know what to apply for in other fields. Because I enjoyed my “summers off,” I have let one M.S. degrees go to waste. I will complete my second M.S. in the Spring of 2016. It will be in Cyber Security. The first us in Courts and Law. I have no professional experience in the cyber field. I have been teaching since 1999 and I want out. None of my degrees are in education and I really could use some help.

    • Hi Patrice,
      I would imagine that many employers –the U.S. government included — could use someone with your expertise to help them handle and prevent massive data breaches, which are all over the news these days. Being a cybersecurity lawyer seems like the natural next step considering your first degree. Even if you don’t want to be a lawyer, your background would come in handy at the many law firms that specialize in such cases. In other words, you seem to be in a much stronger position to leave teaching — and get a substantial pay raise — than you think.

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

  30. I love love love this article! This is my last year teaching! I want to work in a more professional environment! I can’t wait! GREAT ARTICLE!

  31. I left teaching this June due to burn-out and developing an anxiety disorder – or at least I tried. I’m unable to find a job and the temp jobs suggested barely allow me to support myself financially so its back to teaching I go. I hope I can make it through the year.

  32. On your grading comment, I once calculated the hours that I work in a year. If the hours were divided into 40 hour weeks, without lunch or breaks, I work 56 weeks a year. Now try putting that into 10 months. And no, the school year does not need to be longer; that’s bad for kids and teachers would either do less out of self-preservation or just do 70-80 weeks worth of work in 52.

  33. First, I am so grateful to have found this blog. I am currently in my 14th year of teaching high school French. I will resign at the end of this school year, for so many of the reasons others have indicated here. (In fact, I would resign at the end of the semester if I could!) The pride I felt at the beginning of my teaching career has waned, making me burnt out and unhappy to enter my building each day.

    How do I move through my paralyzing fear? As a single parent, I need at least my current salary and health benefits. What arrangements can I make for my child without afternoons and summers off?

    I feel completely unqualified for jobs that seem interesting. I don’t have a passion that I feel the need to follow. My degree is in French, but I do not care to pursue a career in translating or such. I feel as though I have very limited skills.

    I guess I’m still in the “can’t see the forest for the trees” phase. What advice do you have for those preparing a transition?

    • Dawn,

      Thanks for reading and sharing. Though what’s next may be uncertain, you owe it to yourself and your child to try to find a career that will help restore your energy and rebuild your confidence.

      I think you should research more jobs through informational interviews and take a second look at the jobs you feel “completely unqualified” for. The skills you’ve developed in teaching make you more qualified than you think! The “trick” is to translate what you’ve done for the jobs you want. Here are two posts that can help you get started:

      http://wp.me/p1ylqw-dT

      http://wp.me/p1ylqw-dD

      The most challenging part of your job search may be taking action — applying to jobs, networking and interviewing — despite your fears. It’s definitely uncomfortable at first, but with enough practice — and enough small actions — you’ll figure out your next step.

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

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