Should i quit teaching?
I remember asking myself, “Should I quit teaching?” back in 2015. Before I get into this story, I want to preface it with a note of gratitude. All of the experiences I had while teaching led me to where I am today. Spoiler alert, I still teach, but I work as an Online ESL teacher and I coach others on how to make a lucrative career doing the same.
When deciding whether or not you should quit teaching consider the following:
- Can I make a living doing something that I enjoy? – I’m proof that you can and I’m not some kind of anomaly.
- Will staying be in my best interest? – For example, if you stay teaching will it make you miserable, depressed, or anxious?
- Do my values align with the school system? – Many schools have an authoritative (autocratic) or bureaucratic leadership style rather than a laissez-faire or democratic style. If you want to read more about leadership styles, check out this article from Indeed.
why i left teaching
The reason why I left teaching in a brick and mortar setting is because my values didn’t align with the system. I thrive in a laissez-faire or democratic work environment where administrators and staff make decisions together. Those in the field deserve to be a part of the conversation when making important decisions for students, especially high-risk students. Not only should teachers be a part of the conversation, but also their suggestions should be weighed highly when making major changes that affect students.
The ability for administrators and teachers to work together seems difficult at best. Administrators are doing their job to the best of their ability in a system that often leaves people with their hands tied. It was difficult to see that clearly while advocating for my ESL students’ interest. My last year teaching, I remember one conversation with an administrator provided me with clarity about how different our leadership styles were. She spoke with me about a decision I opposed via e-mail and said, “Nikki, you have administrators for a reason,” meaning, just let us do our job and you do yours. That moment, I no longer debated quitting. Reflecting on this years later, now I can see their decisions weren’t personal at all. I was advocating for a difference in leadership style, not just a difference in opinion about what was best for kids.
i want to quit teaching
You might be thinking, “I want to quit teaching, but can I really do it?” I totally understand because I’ve been there. I thought about quitting for two years before I made my decision. Actually, I quit teaching two times. The first time was in 2010 and the second time was in 2016.
The first time I quit teaching I never thought I would go back, but I was still in my 20’s and had no idea what else to do. For awhile I worked as an assistant store manager in a clothing store, thanks to my sister for referring me to her district manager. After working in retail for a year I knew sales wasn’t for me.
Coincidentally, right when I considered quitting one of the best schools I ever worked for called me and told me they had a temporary position. It was a one year maternity leave. I figured it was an opportunity to give teaching a chance again in a school I already knew I loved. Unfortunately, at the end of the year they didn’t have a position for me. Even though I knew it was temporary, I was disappointed and back at square one.
Come June 2012, I had a plan to start a tutoring business. I used a website called WyzAnt to find students. Next, I created a WordPress website called Savvy Spanish Tutor (it doesn’t exist anymore) and was excited about the potential of creating something for myself. By the end of the summer I only had 5 students.
At the end of August I got a call from a former colleague about a position that was a 7 minute drive from my house. I decided to interview because I figured, “what’s the worst that could happen?” Well, they ended up hiring me on the spot. The first two years were amazing because our principal definitely used a more laissez-faire style, but in 2014 we got a new superintendent who cleaned house and sadly, my principal was one of the first to be reassigned to a different school. That’s when the more autocratic style started. Immediately, I thought, “I want to quit teaching.”
Even though I wanted to quit teaching, I had no idea what I would do when the time actually came in 2016. However, this time I had a little bit of experience with entrepreneurship. I already knew what it was like to take a pay cut, start a tutoring business, and make a website. With that in mind, I knew I would have to kick it up a notch.
I put off quitting teaching as long as I possibly could because I was scared of becoming poor. Plus, I didn’t know exactly what type of work I would do even though I imagined working for myself.
how to quit teaching
There really is no guide on how to quit teaching, but I’ll give you my version.
First off, I started my last year with the idea of quitting in mind. I just wasn’t 100% ready to quit and give notice until about April or May. Being that I knew I was going to quit from the beginning of the school year, I made a few decisions in the best interest of my well-being: 1) Don’t try to change the system, you can’t control decisions that are made without you, 2) Maintain an attitude of gratitude and 3) Keep your head down and stay focused on your job.
Towards the end of the year my principal wanted to know if I would be interested in a different position for the following school year. It took me a week to respond to her. She e-mailed me once. She e-mailed me a second time and I knew I had to tell her I would not be renewing my contract. In that sense, I was under pressure to share my decision.
quitting teaching mid year
Even though I was unhappy working in an autocratic school environment, I didn’t feel the need to quit teaching mid year. However, if you’re in a position where your mental health is suffering, I advise putting your health first even if that means quitting mid year. Discuss the options with your family. Don’t make the decision alone.
If you plan to get back into teaching, will it hurt you during interviews? It could. However, in my experience, any job I got was due to connecting well with the interviewers or being referred by someone working at the district. Overall, staying in a job for fear of getting a future job is not worth the cost of your mental health. You can always find a job. Period.
When you’re weighing your options consider if you want to be the same old teacher tired self that you are right now or if you want a new and much more liberating life! Even though it is super scary to make such a huge career change, if you are determined you can do anything.
quit teaching and happy
Quit teaching and happy, baby! Yes.I.Am. 😍
I didn’t even have a job lined up by the time the last day of school arrived and I was happier than I had been in years. The first two years after I quit I made half of my teacher’s salary. It wasn’t easy, but I am very lucky to have a supportive family. That’s another aspect to consider to ensure you’re happier after you quit. Make sure that your family is onboard with you by discussing a plan with them. It’s much easier when everyone is ready for a major life change and prepared with some semblance of a plan.
Quitting teaching was the best thing I ever did
Quitting teaching was the best thing I ever did because I now make more money than I did as a brick and mortar teacher. The first two years I did take a major pay cut, but in the end I know I will become a six-figure earner, which wouldn’t have been possible in a brick and mortar setting unless I became an administrator. That never would have been the right fit for me anyway because my leadership style is more laissez-faire.
get out of teaching
Just because you quit teaching doesn’t mean you have to completely get out of teaching. In fact, I still teach. I tutor in person and I teach ESL online. This year I’m expanding my business into online courses for ESL teachers and I am happier than ever! Since 2019 I started making more money than I did as a brick and mortar teacher. The possibilities are endless when you’re a teacher entrepreneur. You get your autonomy, creativity, and you’re still able to serve others through education.
i want to quit teaching what else can i do?
When you’re thinking, “I want to quit teaching what else can I do?” You’re nearly at the tipping point, but you might fear becoming homeless, not being able to support your kids, or taking a pay cut. Listen, just because I took a pay cut my first two years doesn’t mean you have to! I will tell you all the ways I now make more than I did as a brick and mortar teacher so you can start to plan now.
- Tutor – You have a teaching degree and parents are willing to pay you a lot to tutor their children. I started out charging $45 an hour, but now my price ranges from $50-$60 an hour. When I was tutoring a lot I taught around 10 students a week. Now I cut back on tutoring because I make income primarily teaching and recruiting online ESL teachers.
- Teaching ESL Online – You do NOT have to work crazy hours to teach ESL online. In fact I work from 7:30-2:30 on some days at a company called iTutorGroup. Get your feet wet and establish your clientele before you quit teaching.
- Don’t just teach ESL Online, recruit! You can earn $100-$130 with each person you recruit.
- Create resources and sell them on Teachers Pay Teachers.
- Think of any skills you have which you can monetize. Other ways I earn money are through interpreting, affiliate marketing, and YouTube.
jobs for ex teachers
Other jobs for ex teachers can be anything you desire. You don’t have to teach if that’s not what you want to do, but I know teachers who have transitioned to
- Education companies such as Pearson or Achieve3000
- Online Teaching
- Blogging or YouTube
These are just a few options. You’re the author of your own life story. Make it a good one!