What Would I Do if I Quit Teaching?

On day 8 of my 30-Day Writing Challenge, my thoughts turn to pursuing a career outside of education. This post explains why.

Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash


Although I have been certified to teach English for over a decade, this will be my fourth year teaching in K-12, and my third year teaching in a traditional public school.

Prior to that, I worked in corporate America, most recently for an educational software company. It was hard to find a teaching job in 2010 and 2011, as many teachers lost their jobs and districts were not hiring. The software position as an instructional designer came along after a year of subbing. I took it.

The job market in K-12 education improved. I returned to my pursuit of a teaching position when the opportunity presented itself. I left corporate America after almost 20 years. I am a “career changer.”

I am almost 50 years old. My first year in traditional K-12 ended with remote instruction. My second year was the year from hell, to which all teachers can attest, but I had added stressors in my personal story that compounded the problem.

Now, all stakeholders in education face a third year of hell. Am I up to the challenge? Honestly, I don’t know.

Battling Anxiety and Depression Is Exhausting

My posts thus far have leaned toward rebounding from the challenges of teaching and learning. A pandemic rages, an ever-present reminder that our lives are subject to things outside our control. When I write, I am trying to encourage myself and others to keep going, keep pushing, and keep searching for solutions.

Behind it all however, is intense anxiety and depression. I write to relieve myself of anxiety, to prove to myself that I can propose solutions to problems. I write to pull myself from depression, to prove to myself that I can overcome. I also write to send a clear message to others: we can remain hopeful.

It’s exhausting. I write and then feel hopeful. I hit a “wall” (usually that day) or “fall down a hole.” Choose the metaphor that most resonates with you. I despair. Upon reflection, I write and then feel hopeful. Again… well, you can probably relate to this if you have read this far.

In June, I was so hopeful that this school year would be better. I thought, “This might be my first full year teaching.” I’m not sure now and again feel the need to prepare for the worst. But am I up for it this time, or have I reached the end of my rope? Can I shake it off? Can I climb out? At this moment, I don’t know.

What Do I Do?

There are many professional development opportunities to help educators rebound. There is even a book by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Dominique Smith, and John Hattie called Rebound, Grades K-12.

I’m so exhausted, though. I don’t have the energy to sit through another seminar. I bought the book, but haven’t had the energy to read it.

I force myself to think through the personal issues I have faced in teaching and learning, because I want this year to be better. The skills and knowledge are there in my head. I just need to figure it out.

Would it be healthier for me to leave the profession? Would I feel better? Would the anxiety dissipate? Would the depression lift a little? Am I missing opportunities to lighten my mental burden? Should I start attending webinars? Should I read the book? Should I find other ways to recharge and reignite hope?

I don’t have answers. That’s why I’m writing this post. If you have suggestions, I’m anxious to read them.

If I Were to Leave, What Would I Do?

Search Google for “jobs for teachers outside of education.” This morning, I noticed there were over 210,000 results. That’s because many teachers leave after approximately five years in the profession. Teacher burnout is real.

I’m feeling more than burnout. Today, it’s about the loss of control and the disappointment about how our current health crisis has been handled. We return to school soon, but are we ready? Other districts have already returned, with mixed results.

I question our safety. Then, I question how safe I would be outside education. Would it be better? I don’t think so, actually.

I reviewed a few articles from that Google search. None of them appealed to me as much as teaching teenagers. I can’t think of other options! Again, if you have suggestions, please leave a comment.

With this post, I hope to start a conversation by being honest with anyone who reads these words. Thank you for reading the eighth post in my 30-Day Writing Challenge.

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