Anne is a writer with a passion for self-expression and publishing.
The Decision To Leave
It's An Uphill Battle
For those that are teachers or retired teachers, you know that this career is a constant uphill battle. Everything you do is evaluated carefully, every decision you make has some sort of outcome in the longer term. That's why it is so difficult to make the decision to leave the teaching field. There are so many joys to working in education; seeing the difference you make in others' lives, seeing all your hard work pay off, etc. But at times the job can be quite taxing and stressful, which is a reason that a lot of teachers quit. In the post-COVID world, many schools and school systems are seeing this drop in teachers because of everything that happened during the pandemic. This is my story, and the five reasons I will give you on why I decided to leave the teaching profession and start a new chapter in my life.
1. Anxiety and Stress
One of the number one reasons teachers quit their jobs is due to stress and anxiety that they get from being in such stressful situations all of the time. This was even the case before the pandemic hit, and then the pandemic further exacerbated that problem for many. I will say that I have been a long term sufferer of anxiety even before I started teaching. When I became a teacher, I had to learn to manage my anxiety and I went to see a therapist every week so that I had an outlet to destress and voice my concerns about my job in a confidential way. For a while, this method seemed to work for me, but as time passed, I felt that my anxiety was getting worse. It wasn't until my 8th year of teaching, during the COVID pandemic, that I actually decided to quit, because the anxiety and stress of it all had gotten to be too much for me. There are a variety of things that contribute to the anxiety; communication with parents, pressure from evaluations done by your administrators, the expectation that you always need to be "perfect" and that things should go flawlessly even when every day something seems to go wrong. Learning to keep your cool in times of chaos, and learning to discipline children in a fair and just way without losing your head over the little things. It's a lot to take in and a lot to deal with, and even though I had become a seasoned teacher, at about year eight, I just felt myself starting to crumble beneath it all unfortunately.
The Top Reason
2. Workload Issues
Anyone who is a teacher or who has been a teacher will tell you that the workload and amount of things that we were expected to do for the job is ridiculous. Mountains upon mountains of paperwork, evaluations, lesson planning, goal setting, etc. Every year there was something new we were expected to do and turn in to our administrative team that would make the workload even larger. At times I felt myself slipping away and often procrastinating because I felt like I was drowning in all the work that I had to achieve. On top of all that, we were still expected to teach our kids every day and make sure all of their grades and paperwork were kept up to date! Oftentimes this can feel like you are being pulled in many different directions at once, and that you are actually doing the jobs of five different people instead of just doing one, single job. The responsibilities related to your workload seem to always be endless in the teaching profession.
3. COVID-19 Related Issues
One of the biggest reasons I had to quit my job as a teacher and leave the profession altogether was because of the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, nobody seemed to know what they were doing. The CDC outlined expectations that public school systems had to abide by and meet during the pandemic, but unfortunately different school systems seemed to modify those guidelines to suit their own needs in their communities, which has nothing to do with teachers' needs and everything to do with parents complaining about their childrens' educations. I'm not saying that's not important; we are, after all, in the business of teaching the children and they are the MOST important part of the job, however, when the expectations of the school conflict with your personal health and safety on a daily basis, and no one seems to care whether you live or die, then you have to take a step back and ask yourself "Is this really worth it?" That was where I was at a lot of time during the pandemic. No matter my concerns, I never felt like my voice was heard. Instead, we were expected to just do whatever they said and not complain. We were forced to put our own lives at risk just so that the kids could stay in school, when really, we should have been focusing on EVERYONE's health and safety during the time. You will find that a lot of school systems around the country had the same problems and many teachers were taking to social media platforms to talk about how horrible the working conditions became during the pandemic. I won't get into details here, but I will tell you, it was enough reason for me to quit and realize that my life and my health should be the main priorities in my life before I can help and serve others.
4. Undervalued and Underappreciated
Most teachers and prior teachers will tell you that they have the most undervalued and underappreciated profession out there, and it is absolutely without a doubt true. Not only do we not get paid enough to make ends meet, but oftentimes during my career, even though I was doing great things and I got praise from some parents and students, I rarely got any praise or recognition from colleagues. I was very well liked by parents and students in the community, but it seemed like in relation to coworkers being recognized for their hard work, it was always a popularity contest. The higher ups only took notice of the teachers that were "popular" among other co-workers. (A lot of times, those were even teachers that parents and students did not even like, but because they were friends with some of the higher-ups, they got rewarded for their service instead). I can't tell you how many times parents and students gave me compliments like "you should be teacher of the year" or something, but I never got anything, not so much as a "thank you" from any of my co-workers. I know that the most important part of the job really is just the kids and making a difference in their lives, but every once in a while, it's nice to be recognized for something you are doing, even if it is a really small thing. I don't want to say that's a reason that I quit, but after I quit, I really saw the true colors come out. Most times, when other co-workers quit, even if it was outside of contract to do so, other teachers and the staff would say "We are losing a great teacher, let's recognize them for their awesome work over the years". I NEVER got that. Everyone else got that treatment but me. No phone calls, no emails, no "I'm sorry to see you go". Nothing. It was depressing, to say the least. It made me feel like my presence there was unnoticed, and that nobody really cared about the eight years of hard work that I put into this job, and all of the service I did for the community in that time.
5. Future Plans and Goals
This isn't really a reason I left so much as what happened after I left. I have always dreamed of moving on from the teaching profession to become a writer and work for myself, and once the pandemic hit and I had to quit, that became a reality for me, more out of necessity than a success story of any kind. Still, I enjoy working for myself. It can be a struggle some days, it can be hard to get motivated and keep working towards my goals, but I have to know that if I keep working at it every day, something bigger and better is going to be headed my way.
And there you have it! Those are the main reasons I left my career and decided to start a new journey for myself as a self-employed freelancer. It's a lot of hard work, but it's worth it to know that I am in control of my destiny, I don't have to answer to anyone, and I am the one that makes my own dreams come true. If you are seriously looking into leaving the profession or want a career switch though, I would say definitely do a lot of research and planning beforehand. I had not expected to leave the field this early, as I was not ready, but unfortunately, the pandemic kind of whipped me into it and I just had to become ready for it out of necessity. Sometimes though, that's the push we need to get closer to achieving our goals, so I guess I am thankful for that even though it's been tough. I have to stay strong though, because throughout it all, this is my life, and it's my time to decide how I live it.