If you made it to this corner of the internet, chances are you are considering leaving the classroom. Perhaps you want to completely change careers, or you want a new position in education.
I am a former classroom teacher. You may think I tell everyone to run from the teaching field, but that’s not exactly the case. There are days I wish I was still in the classroom.
Instead of telling you why I think you should quit – I’m going to tell you why I think teaching is a career worth sticking with. And why I don’t regret a single moment I spent teaching.
In 2017, I took my first teaching job in the middle of the school year. We all know what that means – taking over a class that already had a teacher and routines for the first half of the school year. Worse, the students I gained were mixed from other classes. New class, new room, new teacher.
By March, I was already looking for an out. I was asking my old company if they had any open positions. I was applying to other school districts. Nothing quite fell into place, and soon enough, it was summer.
The summer eased a lot of my school anxiety, and I began to feel like I could conquer the next year in the classroom. The 2017-2018 year started out really amazing. Even though I had only taught half a year previously, I felt much more confident and prepared as a classroom teacher.
My students that year were able to establish a wonderful community. I genuinely loved being at school. Then, in March, I received a new student. Immediately, I could tell this student needed a lot of support.
My whole attitude about teaching quickly changed. My anxiety was at an all-time high. I wasn’t sleeping. I would cry before I left for school. I didn’t know how to be an effective teacher anymore. How could I keep everyone safe and also give this student the support they desperately needed?
By spring break, I was looking for new positions.
Same story as before though. No jobs fell into place and summer quickly rolled around. That summer, I entered therapy, started anxiety medication, and felt confident I could conquer another year in the classroom.
The 2018-2019 school year was the best year yet. I began to find my stride as a teacher and come into my own. I knew my strengths, what I could bring to my team, and where I fit into our community. It was amazing. When the end of the year came around, I was confident I would be back.
I started the 2019-2020 school year on maternity leave. When I returned to school, I had to do a lot of clean-up. Being that it was a pandemic school year, it was rough – but I still loved it. At the end of the year, I made the difficult decision to step away because I have a daughter I wanted to keep safe. A humbling decision as I know there aren’t many who had a choice in the matter.
The thing is – every time I thought I wasn’t cut out for teaching, I realized how wrong I was. Were there tough moments? 100%. Did I want to leave at different moments? Definitely. But I’m glad I stayed.
If I hadn’t stayed in education, I wouldn’t have discovered who I am as a teacher and how good of a teacher I am. I would have never met the students that made me realize why teachers teach. I would have never experienced the most fulfilling and loving career there is.
If you’re second guessing your place as a teacher, especially as a new teacher, give it some time. If you’re teaching in a toxic environment, move to a school where you are valued and where you can grow accordingly. Remember why you chose this career and know that you ARE a wonderful, capable, and effective teacher.