“I Never Thought I’d Leave Teaching, But Here I Am”

“I’m the quintessential great teacher,” Reddit user NopeNotMain posted recently. “Perfect scores on evaluations, teacher-of-the-year, mentor, two-decades-in sort of teacher…And I’m quitting.” We all know that teaching is facing challenges, with 50% of educators saying they are considering leaving. But what NopeNotMain’s thread revealed is it isn’t just new teachers considering throwing in the towel. It’s not just the folks who were on the fence anyway. It’s also the teachers who previously would have described themselves as career educators. Who never in a million years would have imagined leaving…until the last few years.

When a teacher like me is ready to quit, things are REALLY bad. from antiwork

“Teaching is an emotionally abusive, deeply problematic field that conditions educators to believe that their job REQUIRES self-sacrifice and self-harm”

NopeNotMain minced no words in describing why they’re leaving the field they thought they’d be in forever. And other Redditors, also long-time teachers, were quick to agree. “Hit the wall in 2017 after 19 years,” wrote seasalt-and-sequoias. “Two national teaching awards, commercials in campaigns, mentor, home visits, blog, etc. I will never, ever go back.”

“I resigned last month after 7 years…it was like the weight of the world was lifted off immediately. I’ve left many jobs and never felt happier than after leaving teaching,” adds Disappointed-hyena.

“Ready to throw a graduate degree, tenure, and experience out the window to save sanity”

Thoughts4Bots says her husband is another former career educator who’s ready to move on. “I’ve seen my husband go from the teacher who hopped out of bed to a man who texts me midday with a countdown to number of hours left before he’s home…Teaching is far from wholesome. It’s psychological warfare. I don’t know how to help other than to support him. The deck is stacked against teachers. Teachers have zero support, none.”

Reddit isn’t the only place long-term teachers are looking for an out

We’re also seeing veteran educators in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE community on Facebook say they’re done with the job they thought they loved. “This slow motion train wreck is starting to get to me,” wrote one teacher with decades of experience. “I can’t stay hydrated if I’m crying all the way home.”

“Gave 100% of myself and got nothing in return,” adds another 18-year educator. “I have given my days and my nights for my students. I can’t take it anymore.”

How did we get here?

For NopeNotMain, “it was a training we attended that asked us, exhausted, overworked, and under paid, if we were doing enough if we only had a 99% success rate” (whatever that means). It was so tone deaf.”

Indeed, toxic positivity is a growing problem in schools, especially during the pandemic.

Other Redditors called out a number of issues that have contributed to even longtime teachers the field, including low pay leaving, hostile parents, combative students, and lack of support from admin. Stress, workload, and lack of respect are some of the other major issues that surface again and again in our WeAreTeachers community. These are big problems that are going to require big solutions. And as NopeNotMain points out, we need to fight for teachers now or else “they may not be teachers for very much longer.”

Are you a career educator who’s leaving? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Please feel free to share in the comments or in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

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