This April my teaching license expires.
I’ve been out of teaching for three years now, but friends and family tell me to renew it because, apparently, “I’ll never know when I want to return to teaching.”
However, do I REALLY want to return to teaching? Nope. Never.
Why? Isn’t it a rewarding job? Don’t I miss the kids? Yes. Of course.
Don’t get me wrong, teaching has tons of pros–but it also has its cons.
Let’s start with the pros:
- The kids become YOUR children for the year
- The staff become your friends and family
- You get paid.
- You learn many skills
- You can teach anywhere (to just to name a few)
But after eight years of teaching, from preschool, to abroad, to private, I was done. I was done teaching when I came home every day with a migraine. I was done teaching when I didn’t want to make lesson plans every single night, especially Sunday night. And I was done teaching when I wanted to start a family but had no clue where I was going to fit parenthood into my schedule.
This is where the cons come into play. Note: These are my reasons for leaving teaching. Not all teachers go through the things that I did. And there are tons of teachers who retire from the field. If it is your dream to teach, I say do it! I still admire my ex-colleagues and teachers all over the world for the work that they do.
Teaching is a wonderful career and I miss it every single day. It’s a field I still admire, therefore “Once a teacher, always a teacher.” I will always refer to myself as a teacher.
But here are my reasons for leaving the teaching field:
- The kids are YOUR kids
During the Pandemic and lockdown, I would hear parents complain about how they now have to “teach” their kids from home. They have to make sure their kids get up and log into class, do their coursework and homework; help their kids with homework; they have to monitor their kids and make sure they’re not playing games, on social media, sleeping, etc..
These skills are “parenting” skills. These are the things schools asked parents to do when stay-at-home was enforced for everyone (and for schools that return to the method for the safety of staff and students.) Yet parents (not all) complained. They complained and called it “teaching.” They complained that they weren’t being paid to “teach” their kids. When in actuality they were “parenting.”
Parenting is something ALL teachers do too. Teachers get paid to teach, and parenting is just part of the job. We are up early at the schools and home late, making sure we are prepared for our kiddos the next day. Why? Because we love our kids. We are raising our classroomful of children to become independent adults who can do anything. We want bright futures for our students, and to get them there we sacrifice our sleep, time, and energy for them. WE become their parents indeed.
And this is one of the reasons I left teaching. I want to parent my own children, not someone else’s.
- You’re responsible for other adults too
In the classroom, there are children who put in a lot of effort, and children who put in minimal. Same goes with the teachers and staff themselves. Among the teachers, especially on my team, I was one who put in a lot of time and energy, and I worked with others who barely put in any work (this was not my whole team thankfully). This was very apparent in our classroom set-ups–some of us spent hours designing our rooms, while others had few to artwork on the walls, minimal anchor charts, nor student and teacher material anywhere. Our teaching was the same–some of us came in early, left late, and spent our free time preparing for the students; while others had minimal writing on shared lesson plans, few to no resources or ideas to offer, and our deadlines were postponed just to accommodate these “busy” teachers, just to name a few.
It was draining for me. I was creating lessons and material, and colleagues were using them and taking my credit. And there were times when, during team planning meetings, we would set deadlines for projects or tests and quizzes–I would tweak or rewrite my already-made lessons to ensure the kids and I make the deadlines, only to find that another teacher still needs two to three more days. And this would be the same teacher over and over throughout the years. This was also the same teacher who used my lesson plans and resources but ignores my input and existence during meetings.
As the years grew on I became tired of being responsible for other teachers. And so I left.
- A lack of support
Teaching felt like the blind leading the blind. Not every teacher came with years of experience, and whoever started fresh had to quickly learn as soon as their classrooms were full of students. It’s quite intimidating.
To go along with this, a new teacher may or may not get the support of a mentor. I was lucky to gain mentors in all my years of teaching, but there was one year where my mentor just never returned. He was dismissed from his position during the holidays, and my team and I were never given a proper reason for this.
I now lacked a mentor–who was fantastic at his job–and had to rely on other teachers and ever-changing-supervisors. One particular supervisor sat in her office all day and emailed us ideas after ideas, but if teachers asked her to co-teach and support them, she’d refuse. This same supervisor had us look at a new curriculum all year, instead of focusing on student data. By the time we did look at data, in which my students had been struggling all year, this supervisor decided to put me on a Teacher Improvement Plan (to save her butt). I knew that if I could get next year’s students to do better than this year, she would look like a “great supervisor”. I was not going to give her this satisfaction when she hadn’t helped me throughout the year, so I quit. (According to ex-colleagues, this supervisor was dismissed quietly the next school year.)
The lack of support I’ve experienced also extends to other schools I’ve been employed at. This really killed my spirit and love for teaching, and, obviously, I left the field.
- The difference between the school belief and my own
As much as I loved the students, and I cultivated wonderful friendships with teachers and staff members, I found that the school’s belief system and my own do not mold. I began to realize that a school’s goal–and main care–is to get students to pass tests. I believed my students could do more than perform on exams. Plus, a child’s true abilities cannot be measured in test form.
A student’s success, to me, was not how well they did on the MCAs (state standardized tests). I looked at their overall character and behavior changes in my classroom. If the students could treat each other with respect and create friendships, understand the classroom rules and guidelines without reminders, know the classroom routines, be independent, and so forth, they had succeeded in my classroom.
The biggest success for me was when students would start calling me “Mommy.” Being seen as my students’ safe place was my yearly aim. Forget the tests and quizzes, forget the MCAs, all I cared about was my students’ well-being.
Sadly, not every school believed in this. The push for me to have 80%-100% of my students pass these standardized tests made me lose hope in the schools, and with this I left.
- The pay isn’t worth it
As mentioned before, I was in the teaching field for eight years. I now work an office job where I make more money than I did teaching.
Not only do I make more per paycheck, but I also do not have to “volunteer” my time in the morning and night. I also have no homework during the weekend.
I now have time for a family, time to cook meals, clean up the house, watch TV/movies, see friends and family, etc.. When I was teaching, I dedicated a lot of my time and energy into my work and students. This left very little for myself. And when I did get a day off, I wanted that day just to myself. Nobody else.
I can go on with my reasons for leaving teaching, but that may bore you. This is just a small list.
Again, these are my reasons for leaving teaching. I applaud those of you who are still in it for the long run. If you are a new teacher, or considering the field, I encourage you to do it. Why? Because you’ll never know what you like or don’t like until you try it. I already did, and I can now say “Teaching is not for me.”
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