Can't stand spending my springtime here...
March 21, 2011 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Do I have to tell my future employer that I quit my current job?

I currently work at a school, but I honestly don't think I'll be able to make it to the end of the year. It's a terrible, terrible workplace that has caused me anxiety and the students are not benefiting from my "teaching" them.

My contract expires in July, but I am employed on an "at-will" basis, meaning I can leave at any time.

I have an interview with another school at the end of April that I'm very hopeful about. That job would start in September.

Is it acceptable for me to quit my current job as soon as I get a new offer (in April, presumably)? If so, do I need to alert my new employer that I left my current school?

I'd prefer to leave my job in April and have a few months to recuperate if I am offered the job. But I'd rather that my new employer not know that. Is that unethical?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Gut reaction: if you're going to another school, I think they would be very concerned, even post-hire (especially post-hire?) to learn that you left another school during the term. This puts the school you're leaving in a bit of a lurch, I would think.

You may not be obligated to tell them, but I think you should operate on the assumption they'll find out.

I would make it to end of term and contract, at least. Surely you can "recuperate" between July and September? :-)
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:34 AM on March 21, 2011

I agree with radomkeystrike, with a bit of a qualifier. If you give your current employer notice, and sufficient time to replace you in a manner that doesn't disrupt your class, I wouldn't see that as a negative.

On the other hand, quitting and leaving a school in the lurch midsemester when it isn't necessary puts the burden on the students. If I were your prospective employer and heard that you did that, I would have second thoughts.
posted by tomswift at 8:40 AM on March 21, 2011

Reputation is important in any industry but especially in education. What happens if you don't like your new job? This would make anyone very nervous about hiring you.
posted by mewohu at 8:41 AM on March 21, 2011

Hell yes that's unethical. Tell your new school they're getting a quitter.

Do whatever you need to do to make it through the year. Get a calendar, cross of days. Smoke a joint. Take up kickboxing. Paint.

It's not even a matter of you telling them that you quit. Bad enough if you quit and tell them. Even worse if you quit and they find out. The problem is the quitting.
posted by nickrussell at 8:42 AM on March 21, 2011

If your interview is at the end of April, you may not even receive an offer until mid-May. It's worth staying for (less than?) a month. The professional consequences may be serious.
posted by amicamentis at 8:52 AM on March 21, 2011

Don't leave in the middle. You'll regret it, your kids will regret it (even if they don't like you, even if you're terrible--it's unlikely that getting a replacement random teacher late late late in the year will be anything but disruptive.) I completely hear you; I left teaching after a series of awful experiences that I now know were the result of a toxic environment and not my fault, and I absolutely know the horrible feeling of having to get up and go in each day, the desperate relief when you get home...But soldier on.
posted by Frowner at 8:56 AM on March 21, 2011

It's not unethical, of course. It's a job. You have contacts, not commandments, and the contract is out will, anyway. If your new school didn't find out, there would be no consequences.

But the new school could find out. The small amount of extra time you'd have spend at your old job is worth it to prevent any consequences.
posted by spaltavian at 9:58 AM on March 21, 2011

If you don't tell your employer, I guarantee they will find out anyway and you'll not only be labelled a quitter but a liar (even by omission) as well. I work for a school, and something that happened on the Friday before we left for March Break, while my co-worker was away, was the first thing she asked me about upon our return.

Is it acceptable for me to quit my current job as soon as I get a new offer (in April, presumably)? If so, do I need to alert my new employer that I left my current school?

It's acceptable to give notice and make the transition as smooth as possible once you have the new contract in hand - but it's not showing dedication to do so. And should you do so on the up-and-up, you don't need to alert your former employer, but once you're properly free and clear, you could notify them that you're available for supply work or to begin prep as soon as it's all good.

I'd prefer to leave my job in April and have a few months to recuperate if I am offered the job. But I'd rather that my new employer not know that. Is that unethical?

The benefit of working for the school system is the school schedule - the summer months, weekends, holidays...(unless you're in year-round system, it's just spread about differently). If you need more time, there are often other leaves you can take, especially if you're going to use it to further your education and training. Ethics aside, you're asking if you can do something that's not really honourable.

I'm not a teacher, but I work in various positions and volunteer in a school (an inner-city school, with a "behaviour" class; ASD classes; students in a shelter system; other at-risk kids; and students who are part of this area's gentrification and it is pretty tough on a good day) and from that perspective as well as a parent's, I'd say you wouldn't really be modeling the kind of behaviour or reputation that I can get behind from any of my positions. And the students can probably already smell your desertion, which isn't helping your current situation any.

I'll agree with everyone who says something like: Buck up, soldier on, take the high road and the only way out is through and above all, leave everyone with a good lasting impression.
posted by peagood at 10:30 AM on March 21, 2011

Also: are you paid year-round despite working September-June? It may be financially beneficial for you to give your notice at the beginning of August.
posted by amicamentis at 10:57 AM on March 21, 2011

I know this is the armpit of the school year. You're going nuts, the kids are going nuts. Everyone just wants it to be summer RIGHT NOW, only it's a few months + finals away. I know how much it sucks right now, especially at a school with a shitty professional culture. Going to work in the morning and wondering what kind of crack you'd been smoking to think that becoming a teacher was ever a good idea.

But you can do this. You can get through the next couple of months. (March is already half-over! Woohoo!) Cross of the days on the calendar, take yourself out (or spend a nice night in) every Friday. Do something small nice for yourself Monday nights. And Wednesday nights. Don't think too hard beyond grading and planning and the tide of the school year will take you to the end. Just get through it.

Because yes, leaving mid-term is really pretty horrible. It's a huge red flag unless there's some kind of documented emergency. It'll be damn hard, even in this economy, for them to find a replacement teacher which means that the kids will get one sub after another. And that poor person/people will have a class who despite their, um, unfortunate behavior choices, will feel abandoned, which they will show by escalating their unfortunate behavior. They will learn even less then they are learning now. It would be nothing short of amazing if they got anything academic out of the rest of the year if you leave. Seriously. I've seen this happen a lot.

Teaching in American schools is stressful (I can't speak to what it's like in other countries), even at schools with awesome colleagues. Teaching is learning, which is largely about perseverance in the face of frustration and failure. Wise words from my master teacher: "You're only a failure if you don't get up again after getting knocked down." That thought got me through the day more than I care to tell.

I'd only suggest leaving early if you think your mental health is putting you and/or the children at stake. In which case, I suggest getting help post-haste and taking a break from the profession.
posted by smirkette at 1:39 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's unethical to quit. It's a stupid career move to quit. But it's not unlawful to quit and it's not unethical to not tell your new school about it.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:25 PM on March 21, 2011

I can't tell from your question if you're a full-time teacher with class(es) of kids. If you are, it is unethical to quit in April, and it's not good for your students, even if you're not doing a great job. It would be really difficult for your replacement to get anything done in the next couple of months before summertime, especially since your kids may feel angry and/or upset that you left them. Also, burning this bridge may make things difficult later on; where I live, administrators tend to know each other.

I know that this feels incredibly painful right now - trust me, I know, I'm a teacher too - but try to think long-term. Staying out the year not only allows you to leave your current position with your reputation intact, it will also give you a sense of pride that you stuck it out. Teaching is so much about confidence, and completing the year, if nothing else, will give you the confidence that you can survive the worst that's out there.
posted by LizzyBee at 6:05 PM on March 21, 2011

« Older CESAB BLITZ 315 forklift service manual   |   Who said/wrote this? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.