Quitting teaching. It’s something that runs through all of our minds on our worst days, but for some, the consideration is more serious than others. And maybe it’s just me, but it seems like I’m running across a lot of teachers who are about to throw in the towel.
For some, it’s typical teacher problems that are frustrating them: the day-to-day grind, particularly difficult students (or parents), or the challenge of managing a classroom. But increasingly, I’m hearing those who are frustrated with the system, unreasonable expectations, and policies that tie their hands.
But while my first tendency is to write you a note of encouragement telling you why you should remain a teacher, I realize that’s not always the best advice either. Because maybe teaching isn’t the right calling for you at this point in your life. In which case, to remain a teacher would be detrimental to you and your students.
So what should you do? You need to find time to sit down and seriously consider a few key questions.
Questions to Ask When You Are Considering Quitting Teaching
- Why do you want to quit? Examine your heart and your frustrations. What are the main reasons you are considering quitting? If there are a lot of them, try to narrow it down to the top three. Identifying the real reasons you want quit will help clarify your decision.
- What can you do about the reasons you want to quit? Think about the reasons you want to quit. Are they temporary problems that will likely resolve themselves next year? (If it’s your first year teaching, I can tell you right now that next year should be easier.) Can they be solved by seeking advice or by getting additional training? (If you need help with classroom management, check out my book Create Your Dream Classroom.) Would things be vastly different if you taught at a different school (or even a different type of school)? If you had a little less work and a little more time to rest, would that make a significant difference?
Sometimes the solutions are not obvious, but often there is a creative solution if it’s important enough for you. And I’m guessing there are quite a few administrators or veteran teachers who would be willing to sit down with you and help you figure it out if it meant the difference between your staying or going.
The key here is to think through all your options of how you can make things better. It’s likely you can improve your situation and get back to the point where teaching is enjoyable again. But if the reasons you’re considering teaching are issues that are not going to change regardless of what you do, then that has to factor into your decision.
- Why are you a teacher? Think back to when you first started teaching. Why did you decide to be a teacher? What about now – why are you teaching now? What is your mission? Your purpose?
- What does why you’re a teacher tell you about if you should remain a teacher? If you, at one point, felt a strong calling and mission as a teacher, ask yourself if anything has changed. Do you still have that calling? Is there still more for you to do?
If you’re not sure why you’re a teacher, why is that? Is there something else you do feel called to? Or have you just never given it enough thought before?
- What are wise counselors saying? This is not a decision to make on your own. You need to be discussing it with wise counselors – people you trust who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. If you’re seriously considering leaving teaching, find those trusted advisers and start seeing their advice. In the multitude of counselors, there is safety (Prov. 11:14).
- What is God saying? I listed this last, but it is the most important question of all. What is God saying to you in this situation? He has a plan for your life, and He will give you clear direction if you ask and are patient in listening. No one else knows the future, knows your desires and thoughts intricately, and knows exactly what you and your students need. His ways are always best, and He will never lead you astray. So spend some serious time in prayer, and don’t make a final decision until you’re confident of His leading.
And if you don’t have a relationship with God, you’re missing out your greatest source of guidance, strength, joy, and purpose. Find out more about having a relationship with God here.
Are you considering quitting teaching (or have you in the past)? What are your biggest considerations? What has helped you in your decision?
Photo by Crashmaster007