Thinking of leaving teaching, realistically what else could I do?
January 20, 2015 1:46 PM   Subscribe

After 6 years of abuse from admin, parents and non-stop stress I'm tempted to leave my dream career of teaching, just unsure of what I can do now?

Some background, I have my BA in Sociology, was planning to go on to Law but changed my mined after working as a legal assistant for a year. I got my education degree and loved teaching and working with kids. The past 6 years I've worked hard finally securing a permanent contract after years of temp contracts and subbing.

I love teaching, I've taught K-3 and I love seeing the growth in children and how rewarding it can be.

Dislikes? Administration's unrealistic expectations and micro-managing, cuts so class sizes are huge with little support (for special needs especially), abuse from parents, the amount of work I do evenings and weekends.....

I'm very disheartened by the state of education, I feel like we are going backwards and it's a frustrating feeling knowing I can't help so many kids because there is only one of me and my hands are tied so often.

I'm expecting my first baby in May, currently on medical leave right now and I've had time to reflect. How can I manage it all? Work life balance? I feel like I can't sustain the stress of my career and be a good mom. On other hand, what else can I do that pays this well and gives me the time off to spend with my future child?

I've been googling what else someone with and education degree can do and the answers all seem to be the same, tutoring, day camp leader, daycare..... doesn't appeal to me and I would love another career if I made this jump.

Any words of advice? Any former teachers move on to something else that they love with no regrets?
posted by bluehermit to Education (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a teacher, and I grapple with the same issues. Would you consider looking for work at another school? Because of tenure, I suspect most job applicants either lack experience, or have experience but haven't established themselves and that having achieved tenure would put you at an advantage. I'd advise you, as I'd advise everyone seeking employment as a teacher, to talk to someone from the union if possible before accepting the job.

A lot of teachers I know have gone into real estate, with some doing consulting work in education, teaching teachers in higher education, or providing professional development to groups of teachers.
posted by alphanerd at 1:58 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a very similar experience. I ended up migrating into the world of informal education/experiential education, and eventually museum education. I taught at an environmental education program and did programs in nature centers, and then moved into the field of museum education, where a background in learning theory and curriculum design is really valuable. I've moved on into interpretation and administration but still have a big hand in developing programs for adult learners. Have never looked back!
posted by Miko at 2:07 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Where about's are you (ish) ? (Geographically speaking)

Awful to read a loving, committed teacher driven to this.. cos Jeez do kids and schools need people like you!
posted by tanktop at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2015

Response by poster: I live in Alberta Canada. Have worked in many schools with this district and seen the same pattern sadly!
posted by bluehermit at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2015

A friend and I started at the same time in a pretty terrible school. After two years, I left like my hair was on fire, and she ended up teaching at a tony private school. If you enjoy teaching, you may like it better in a private school. The bonus was that her children attend with no tuition costs.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:20 PM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm also in teaching and am going on the idea that it's so bad right now that it can only get better! However...I've been thinking that for a LONG time while watching it getting progressively worse. I'm trying to apply to another program to ideally teach at the college level later. It's hard...all of it. Can you take longer maternity leave and give yourself a lot of time to think?
posted by bquarters at 2:24 PM on January 20, 2015

You sound like you might enjoy working at a private school (Montessori, etc.) (ON preview, jinx with RB).
However, I was also coming to say I would also suggest that you think very carefully about changing careers, if you actually do love being in the classroom and teaching the kids, but feel frustrated with the conditions, the administration and the parents. Every job in the world has crappy parts that make you feel you aren't in control. In fact, teaching, even in a ridiculous system, might give you a sense of more control than most other jobs. It sounds like you're pretty new to the work force. THink about how you disliked the law environment as a paralegal and decided against law school. Since you mention that, and that's all we know of you, it's worth pointing out that's something to consider -- whether perhaps you're starting out in an idealistic mindset about a career and then being disappointed with the inevitable BS that goes on in any work environment. Don't forget you'll be trading one set of compromises for another if you switch careers, and if you'll miss the kids a lot, you might not find even lesser compromises worth it. Just something to consider from someone who's taught from middle school to university....
posted by third rail at 2:24 PM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

Also, want to add that I've seen a lot of teachers from my position as a parent. There are many perfectly nice people in the profession who don't really like kids all that much, are irritated by the inevitable derails that kids throw their way, and seem like they'd be happier working at some other job. Other teachers really like kids, get a kick out of them and their differences from each other, and really just enjoy seeing them develop and grow. From your post, you sound like this latter type, and it's not something to assume is easy to come by; you might have a talent and a predilection for this that many others just don't have, even if you all hate the bad systemic parts. I was trying to think of another career involving kids and I can't think of any except being a child therapist of some sort -- even speech or physical therapy for kids would tick the boxes you mention enjoying.
posted by third rail at 2:45 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Corporate training departments. I would be pretty happy to get someone with an education background about now. We have too many subject matter experts and not enough people who know how to deliver the goods.

It's not a bad gig. You still have several different stakeholders with mutually-exclusive goals, but at least they're all adults.

Unfortunately for us, our training branch has to attempt hiring internally before opening up the announcement externally, and people keep applying for it. So of course we get more subject matter experts. Maybe someone out there has figured out this lack of balance sucks, and specified a position as "education background required."
posted by ctmf at 3:07 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have heard your concerns from pretty much every teacher I know no matter what school they teach at (we're also in Canada). Not usually complaining about the kids but the parents and the administration. They are overworked and vastly underappreciated. And it strikes me as an environment where incompetent people are rarely fired, making things difficult for people like you. Sounds very frustrating to me.

You have lots of options if you want to try something different. University administration, school board, government, nonprofits, private sector. Heck, one of my dear friends quit a permanent full-time teaching position and is now opening her own fitness studio. She's still a teacher, but on her own terms and she still gets to work with kids sometimes. I'd say if you're off for a while, take that time to think about all your options. Also might be helpful to wait until the baby is born and see what that's like before you make any big decisions.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I left teaching and moved into working in marketing for a large educational publishing company. The big plus for the company that hired me was that I was well versed in education lingo, trends, etc and could "speak" to educators through the marketing pieces that we created. They figured that this outweighed my lack of formal marketing experience. I've been with this company for almost 15 years now and I've never regretted making the move. It keeps me in the education loop without the negative aspects that it sounds like you're experiencing.
posted by bookmammal at 3:57 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

You seem like a perfect contender for an education outreach position at a museum, environmental education center or the like - basically informal ed. They are always looking for people with classroom experience and the change in venue would most likely result in better hours, fewer kids to deal with at a time and possibly oodles of fun. Try or possibly just look up all the informal ed. places within a 30 mile radius of your house and see what pops up.
posted by Toddles at 4:10 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a really naive suggestion and a longshot, forgive me, I have no idea what's involved and assume it would involve a lot of work and not a little money (loans?) - but Alberta has charter schools, right? What are the odds you know other dissatisfied teachers? Maybe some with entrepreneurial inclinations? Maybe some with wealthy partners or good connections? If you straight up love teaching, maybe there's a way you and some friends can do it right. (I don't think you could get away from parents, though.) I don't imagine it's the kind of thing you'd want to take a lead on with an infant, but maybe it's something to think about for later on.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:16 PM on January 20, 2015

After having kid2, one of my friends teaching in the Edmonton Public system went back to 0.5 or 0.6 and split her position with another teacher for several years. This really helped with her stress level and work-life balance.
posted by tangaroo at 5:31 PM on January 20, 2015

I would just say that after training in public schools I actually was a teacher in a private school and did not really find the situation much better. A very tony private school might offer good employment and working conditions, but many private schools do not. What I found was: no union; unrealistic expectations for amount of time given to the school, class, extracurriculars; low rates of pay; no breaks in the day/off periods; no pension or 401(K); entrenched power system allowing little advancement or movement; parents with an even higher sense of entitlement due to high tuition (though also in many cases a positive sense of commitment); inadequate classroom budget; minimal professional development; minimal administrative support; and extremely minimal support from professional specialists like learning aides, school psychologists, health practitioners. Private schools can be good - I have some friends who found nice berths in Quaker schools and boarding schools and country day academies - but your average Montessori or other private primary grades school is likely not to be a terrific employer, and in fact you lose some of the benefits and protections of public employment. The one plus was quite a bit of academic freedom. So if you do investigate private school employment, ask a lot of challenging questions.
posted by Miko at 6:27 PM on January 20, 2015

I came in to say what tangaroo said above. If you can afford it financially see if there is another teacher who would like to share a job with you, I've seen it work really well. In one case it was two moms of young kids who just did not want to come back full time, in another it was an older teacher who didn't really want to work fulltime anymore who shared with a younger teacher.
posted by mareli at 6:59 PM on January 20, 2015

I have my bachelors in education and I work in the administration of a large research university. I get to support and sometimes do a bit of research with people who care about education and are doing what they can to make it better. It's not as intensely rewarding as being in a classroom, but it's no where near as stressful either.
posted by shesbookish at 7:35 PM on January 20, 2015

I have been in the education field myself for over 15 years and can say with some force: If you have been given the gift of teaching, you MUST teach. I have seen burned out, tired teachers leave education for other fields, and still speak wistfully of their craziest days teaching. Find another school, start your own class in a daycare or preschool...whatever you do, keep teaching. At the very least use your skills to teach something--4H projects, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc. You will have an empty spot in your heart if you don't.
posted by msleann at 10:07 PM on January 21, 2015

Teach overseas.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 8:44 AM on April 5, 2015

« Older San Fran CA: House cleaning service or specific...   |   Parents want to give me money, how to reduce tax... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.