On The Day I Quit Teaching

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The day came and went without me even realizing it.  A year had passed since I quit substitute teaching.

If you go back and read this post, it paints a rather rosy picture of me quitting my day job to pursue a dream. In fact, what really happened wasn’t as rosy. I was cornered in a parking lot by a group of angry teenagers (because I’d told their teacher how they’d behaved when I subbed for them the day before). I was afraid for my life, quit my job without notice, and scrambled to make a complete career change in a very small amount of time.

I was terrified.

At the time, I kept it from the blog because I didn’t want anyone to talk to me about it. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t stand up for myself. I was worried that the kids would find me through social media. I was constantly making/taking calls from cops, administrators, and angry teachers that I’d bailed on because I was too afraid to go back to school. I even lost a teacher-friend over it.

To put it simply, I didn’t want to drag that into my private little blog space. I didn’t even want to remember it in my journal. This is the only entry I have that sheds light on the situation, written a week after the fact:

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With one year behind me, I can write about this more easily. It seems silly to be afraid of half a dozen teens in a parking lot now.

Ultimately, I’m very happy that I abandoned my career in teaching. I had done it for several years and I could feel myself starting to stagnate. What I do now allows me the freedom for side projects, creativity, and travel; benefits that aren’t found in many careers. I still have days where I miss the kids — you know, the ones that don’t threaten to inflict bodily harm upon your person. But there’s a lot of it that I don’t miss. I don’t miss working late for little appreciation. I don’t miss chaperoning prom and feeling like I didn’t belong because I was a sub. I don’t miss teaching to walls, because the students were so disengaged with everything. I definitely don’t miss waking up at 6 AM to be anywhere. No, thank you.

Making freelancing my full time job wasn’t easy, but after a year of hindsight, I know struggle was worth it. In my journal, I had the optimism to write about possibility before struggle. Thank you, past self, for being wise enough to want to remember it this way.

Have you ever abruptly quit a job or changed your career? Are you a teacher? Do you think I’m nuts for any of this? Let me know in the comments!

~ Meg

Big thanks also goes to all of my cheerleaders through the past year: Mike, Jenny, Kelley, Mom & Dad.

 

36 thoughts on “On The Day I Quit Teaching

  1. Good for you for quitting and pursuing your dream and something that makes you happy. I used to want to be a teacher. I went to college one year for secondary education but college was just sooo boring to me, that I ended up quitting and going to a tech school instead – which was more hands on. I had a job for 2 years at a newspaper as a graphic artist and I quit to try to sell digital artwork online. and to blog. I loved being at home for that year and a half, but I wasn’t making any money and it really annoyed my husband. I mean ex-husband. oops whatever, you know who I am talking about. anyways, his lack of support in my dream really hurt me. and I know I could have tried better… I ended up spending more time on my blog than on the artwork, so there’s that. I ended up going back to a 40 hour/week job and I don’t hate it, but I do miss being at home and being able to go on a short vacation whenever. maybe one day soon I will try my whole artwork thing again! it’s never too late, that’s what I think 🙂

    • You should try to start again on the side, if only for extra cash or xp. I think it’d be a good creative outlet (but I’m obviously biased).
      I used to preach tech school to my previous students. Cheaper, faster, more relevant xp. I wish I’d had the foresight. My dad used to teach at a comm college in graphic design and newspaper production, so oddly, I know a lot of what you used to do. Crazy!
      Again, I’m so glad you are in a better situation now. ❤

  2. It takes guts to do what you did. That is absolutely awesome. Good for you! Have seen others do this, and they’ve all been weary about it at first [understandibly] but they’ve all been better off because of it. The system in many ways [not just education] isn’t as supportive and positive as it used to be in the past. Individuals really need to take control of their journeys, if not, they’ll get swept through with much of the BS that takes place.

    Anyways, great share by the way. Hope this inspires others to at least put thought to circumstances and better their lives somehow. Cheers!

    -Zy

  3. I did quit one job with a two-week notice when the owners pissed me off enough that I decided to ignore the facts that I had no money, I had no other job to go to, and that my wife was seven months pregnant. I hoped for years that the state of Tennessee would eventually find out about the nursing home fraud that the owners of my company were committing at other companies that they owned, but that never happened. I did hang onto some evidence of their fraud for a couple decades after leaving, but finally threw it away. A happy accident after quitting was that I got into college teaching a couple months later.
    After teaching college at two colleges for 30 years, I was extremely happy to leave (I retired, as you know). I never had threats in or out of the classroom, but did have confrontations with a few students, mainly a group of four football players that thought getting a free ride (read “free ride” as “scholarship”) entitled them to do whatever they felt like doing in the classroom, and outside of it as well. I only blew up in a class once in those 30 years, the same football players. I suggested that they were at the wrong college if they wanted to make it into the NFL, so they should at least make a slight effort to learn something. Actually, it was slightly more intense than that, with me yelling at them for a good five minutes, with every fourth word starting with “F”. Afterwards, I figured some other student in the room would go to my bosses to complain, but instead one nice girl told me after class that it was about time someone told those assholes the facts of life.
    The sad realization for me was discovering in the last couple of years of teaching that the quality of students had really gone downhill, from both the preparedness and the ambition viewpoints, and that most found their iPhones much more interesting than anything I could tell them about technical careers and reality. The administrative attitudes and state legislative politics of higher education had also deteriorated to the point that when I realized I could afford to leave, I announced my retirement plans to the college president that same week, and was gone when my contract ended five months later. I did a little adjunct teaching for a couple years, and really enjoyed it as a part-time activity, but I’m very happy so say I don’t really miss the job at all.

  4. Wow. This is so inspiring. I love how brave and open you are in this post, and just by quitting in general. I can also really relate to so much about this, even if it is in a different way. I miss the kids every day, but since being back in school, I’ve realized that I actually don’t miss so many other part of the job (i.e. getting up at 6 a.m., dealing with the bullshit that comes along with the education system). It’s a struggle right now to know what’s best for the future, but reading this gives me some hope that’ll whatever happens will work out for the best anyway. 🙂

    • Thank you!
      I understand the disconnect from leaving. It’s weird at first, but sleeping in really trumps everything. AND YOU GET TO READ BOOKS FOR SCHOOL! Oh my goodness.
      Whatever you decide, I know that you will only move on to do fantastic things. Your heart is so big that I know you will leave an important mark wherever you go.

  5. Got a little misty eyed reading this. I’m proud of you for standing up for your future self and reaching for your dreams. I can’t wait to see what you post a year from now. It’s going to get better and better.

    • THANK YOU. I think I will keep this as a series, just to check in every year.
      You’re a fantastic friend, btw. Your support was crucial and I’m glad we got to go through such huge life changes together.

  6. As a teacher, I get it! Completely. Times/education have changed and fear is now part of the job daily. I don’t love that feeling and have thought many times about quitting for similar reasons.
    Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is quit something steady. Good for you!

      • I teach in a middle class elementary school, so it’s the parents we fear, not so much the kids. though we did just get fancy lock-down bolts installed on our doors just in case…

      • Ooooo. That is fancy. Middle school was fun while I taught it, though the one day I wore heels was the day I had to chase a kid because he ran away from school. Never again.
        I taught mostly inner city, btw. Lots of troubled kids. So many extremes — great losses, great rewards.

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