Quit Teaching and Happy. That’s me, I got there. When I was looking for routes out of teaching I hit brick wall after brick wall; I couldn’t work out what alternative careers were out there for me and, quite honestly, I was scared of the financial and personal-life obstacles I might face once I stepped away if I was even brave enough to quit teaching.
I made this website because when I was looking for exit routes, I found nothing useful. I did find TES articles talking about the reasons people quit. I did see guilty NQTs admit they were struggling on Twitter and replies from teachers saying “hang in there, I have thought about quitting so many times but we have to continue” and other morally charged moments. I thought to myself… why? If a job is so distressing, leave. But the support wasn’t to be found – how does someone who has spent years qualifying and working jump ship and not suffer terrible financial repercussions?
By the time I finally decided to quit teaching I was earning around £45k; a decent public sector salary by any standards. I had a house with a mortgage, car with finance and a child that was in school but needed childcare until I could get back and collect. How was I going to afford to live when I changed careers? I was desperately searching for jobs that would get me away from school; some with £15k pay cuts! I wanted to quit teaching so badly that I considered anything.
My wellbeing had spiraled out of control. I drank every night, and ate too much. Stints at the gym were short-lived and fad diets popped up every few months. My weight had ballooned and, as I approached 40, I was genuinely worried about diabetes, heart disease etc. I knew my blood pressure was too high and the GP wanted me to lose weight. I was depressed and anxious, passing out with exhaustion (and alcohol) but struggling to wake up and start the day. The problem is teachers talk about this stuff like it’s part of the job, a badge of honor. Wellbeing issues are just part of the job! We see our colleagues get signed-off sick and think nothing of it because it happens with such regularity. Someone tells us they were up until 10pm marking, we don’t challenge that, we say “That’s nothing, I was up until 2am last week getting those books marked”.
Yet we soldier on. Because it’s our vocation. Our moral obligation. We might talk about leaving the profession with our closest work friends but don’t dare express a genuine interest in taking action. When we do, we feel the guilt pump through our body and the looks on our colleagues faces change.
“What about the kids?!” (What about MY kids?!)
“You’ll miss the holiday too much!” (Spent worrying about work?)
“You’ll be wasted outside teaching!” (Let me find out for myself!)
We worry what our loved ones will say. They supported us through a grueling training year. They saw the sacrifices, and made some of their own too! We probably teach to put others first, so when we get responses that make us question our judgement we accept them and struggle on.
In a 2017 TES article, they discovered that whilst teachers took a pay cut, they were overwhelmingly happier. In 2018 I lived that reality.
Returning to work in September had always made me feel ill, 2017 was no different. By this point I was ready to quit and had been actively seeking employment away from teaching. I found it hard, resignation dates never matched or salaries were too low. I started losing a grip of my priorities and was looking further and further afield, desperate to find something that would save me. I knew if I was serious about leaving teaching, I had to make job hunting my hobby; so I did.
It wasn’t easy, I couldn’t get the advice I wanted. Every website I found was about teacher retention, and why I should stay in the profession. I am not anti-teaching, but I had made the decision, I wanted advice on how to leave. I had to do my own research.
Eventually, I had a system where I would set up alerts with a set of job websites I had identified as being in my areas of expertise. I had also listed my new job priorities as a set of non-negotiables. I used these guidelines to filter jobs that sounded appealing but would have led to other stresses e.g. financial burden, longer commute, loss of time with child, loss of weekends etc.
It took longer than I wanted. But I handed in my teaching notice in February 2018 to leave in the Summer. If I’m honest two things delayed me; not having support in my decision, and not knowing what lay on the other-side, being too afraid to find out.
Quittingteaching.co.uk is the answer to both of those problems, so I hope that you find your journey a little easier.
Quit Teaching and Happy. That’s me!