For another look at quitting teaching, see my article 9 Reasons To Quit Teaching (And 10 Reasons To Stick).
One of the most popular search queries that has sent people to my blog lately has been “why do teachers quit?” Doing a quick search of my site tells me that I have a number of articles that reference this idea, but have not yet explored exactly why it is that many teachers choose to quit teaching. This weekend, I will write two articles on that very topic. Today, we’ll consider the question Why Do Teachers Quit? and explore some valid reasons they do so. Yesterday, we considered the same question and explored some of the invalid reasons for quitting. Next weekend, we will consider How Do We Keep Teachers From Quitting? which should be a great follow-up.At the outset, I would like to ask for as much audience participation as possible. This is a key issue that I think all educators should approach with great passion. You who are reading this — YES YOU — have thoughts on the issue. Share them. Just leave a comment below and let this be a conversation among professionals. With that out of the way, here we go.Why Do Teachers Quit Teaching?
Now some of you will consider this sacrilegious for me to say that there are circumstances when it is acceptable to quit teaching. But that is not what I am saying. I am saying that there are circumstances where leaving the teaching profession is the best course of action. I think everyone should be lifelong teachers, whether they are employed as such or not. When I wrote Finding Excellent Educators to Emulate, I made it very clear that some of the best educators are not employed in school districts. Most successful nonfiction authors are teachers at heart, as are most successful pastors, coaches, church choir conductors, politicians, and game show hosts. I mean, teachers are everywhere, as well they should be.
When should I quit teaching? (Valid reasons to quit teaching)
This, of course, does not mean that if you are pregnant or have children, you MUST get out of the teaching business. But if your heart is there, then by all means, do it as quickly as is financially possible for you. Once kids have grown up, they have grown up. If we miss out on childhood, we miss out on it. This is an issue of priorities here. Every person has a different set of priorities and ranks them differently also. I think if this is where your heart is, it is perfectly acceptable to leave the teaching population. Be a teach inside your own home!
- You become an administrator
Some would argue that teachers should NEVER become administrators, because administrators are the enemy. Others would argue that administrators should never stop teaching. I interviewed at a school once where the superintendent came in from mowing the football field to meet m, and then he went back. Both he and the principal taught classes because they didn’t want to get out of touch. In smaller districts, that’s fine, but as districts grow, administrators really need to focus on the administrative tasks at hand. If this is your goal, and it works out for you, then go for it. Be the best, most teacher-centered administrator you can possibly be!
- Health Concerns
Nobody will say that you have given up if you quit teaching because of either disability, stress, or disease. This is often a temporary change, but sometimes it becomes permanent. Either way, it is definitely a valid reason to quit teaching.
- You’re not cut out to be a teacher
These are those people who enter the teaching profession and think it will somehow be different than it is. These are the people who complain about low pay and low credit being given to them. This is one of the biggest causes of complaints. We’ve all seen those people who are teaching, but really seem out of place and don’t seem to belong. That’s because they don’t belong there! This is not to be rude, but some people really are out of place when educating children. This happens often with coaches who enter the business so that they can make a name for themselves or music teachers who want to conduct a professional symphony. I know countless music majors who major in education as a “fall back” in case their performing dreams don’t flesh out. These people are prime candidates for a valid reason to drop out of teaching! The education of children is too important to leave to people who don’t want to do it.
- You’re no longer cut out to be a teacher
As far as those who are no longer cut out for teaching, I honestly think many teachers allow the promise of full retirement benefits to keep them from quitting when they should. Some people are so in love with teaching that they continue teaching many years after they could easily retire. Now, I know I am stepping on toes here, but if I’m stepping on your toes, maybe it’s because we’re dancing too close! These people love teaching, but they don’t necessarily love being a teacher any longer. They love teaching children, but they don’t like teaching classes of children. It’s hard to admit defeat, and sometimes that is what this feels like. To me, this is the saddest of all reasons to quit teaching, usually because the reason is so obvious to most other people, but these people continue teaching. If you cannot wake up most mornings and eagerly look forward to going to work, then perhaps you should seriously consider either taking a break, or calling it quits entirely.
Next weekend, we look the question How Do We Keep Teachers From Quitting?