How to Know If You Should Quit Teaching


Just ten more feet. Hold yourself together for ten more feet.

You’re rushing to your car as fast as your wobbly knees can take you. It’s been a bad day. And not a typical this-wasn’t-the-best day but an honest truly B-A-D day that has you ready to burst into tears.

Which is why you’re practically running towards the safe haven of your car. Your eyes are burning and those tears are coming. But if you can just make it ten more feet, at least you won’t have the added embarrassment of your students (or, worse, their parents) seeing you fall apart.

And as you finally, mercifully fall into your car and hide yourself behind the tinted windows, the floodgates open and you feel the warm tears streaming down your cheeks.

But as the tears assail you – and you try desperately to forget that horrible conversation you just endured, a disturbing question inches its way into your mind:

Am I cut out to be a teacher after all? 

Maybe teaching just isn’t for me. Maybe I should quit and find something else.

Quitting teaching. The thought runs through all of our minds on our worst days. The day-to-day grind, particularly difficult students (or parents), and the challenge of managing a classroom combine to make us wonder what on earth we’ve gotten ourselves into. Not to mention frustrations with the system, unreasonable expectations, and policies that tie our hands.


But if you’re seriously considering quitting teaching, you need to weigh this decision carefully. Don’t just get frustrated and walk away because our kids need good teachers.

But while my first tendency is to write you a note of encouragement telling you why you should remain a teacher, this may not be what you need either. Because maybe teaching isn’t your true calling at this point in your life. In which case, to remain a teacher would be detrimental to both you and your students.

So how do you know? What do you do?

I can’t give you all the answers. But I can tell you to sit down and seriously consider a few key questions.

Questions to Ask When You Are Considering Quitting Teaching

  1. 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, narrow it down to the top three. Identifying the real reasons you want quit will help clarify your decision.

  2. 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? 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 you can often find a creative solution if it’s important enough to you. And I’m guessing there are quite a few administrators or veteran teachers who would be willing to sit down and help you figure it out if it meant the difference between your staying or going.

    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 you’re struggling with issues that are not going to change regardless of what you do, then that has to factor into your decision.

    **Are you struggling with any of these common challenges?
  3. 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?

  4. 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 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?

  5. What are wise counselors saying? Do not make this decision on your own. Discuss 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 seeking their advice. In the multitude of counselors, there is safety (Prov. 11:14).

  6. What is God saying? The most important question is what does God want you to do? 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, understands your deepest desires and most intimate thoughts, 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.

    Not sure how you can hear from God in these matters? Consider joining us in our next session of Teach Uplifted, where we face these challenges head-on and find the secrets to truly trusting Him not only to guide us but also to help us in all areas of life.

    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.

As you wrestle with these questions, the situation should clarify, and in time you’ll be ready to either confidently step away from teaching or jump back in with both feet.

Feet that hopefully won’t have to make too many more mad dashes back to your car.

But if they do, that’s okay too. Because the mad dashes and the tears and the agonizing questions are all part of the journey. And they don’t have to destroy you. In fact, God can use them to make you stronger.


Linda Kardamis

I believe that when God calls us to teach, He promises the strength & wisdom to do it well. All we need to do is keep learning, growing, and depending on Him. I'm here to provide practical advice and Biblical encouragement so you'll have the confidence and perspective to not only inspire your students but reach their hearts as well.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Ximena Hurtado - January 6, 2014

Love #6

Reply
IRobot - January 7, 2014

Love teaching, can’t deal with administration anymore. I am being forced to provide course work that goes against every professional fiber my being. My years of study and passion and expertise account for nothing. I feel like Asimov’s robot being given and order that violates the first order. Because I put students learning and engagement ahead of administrations wishes I am constantly in trouble, and increasingly put under microscopic scrutiny, that sucks any joy I might have for teaching. It has made me constantly angry, sad, stressed, to the point that even during holidays I am feeling it.

Reply
    Linda Kardamis - January 7, 2014

    My heart breaks for you & teachers in your situation. Have you considering switching schools or looking into private or charter schools? It sounds like you’re a great teacher and I know there are schools, administrators, and students who would love to have you.

    Reply
    Anonymous - March 21, 2016

    I know how you feel.

    Reply
    Anonymous - March 26, 2016

    My thoughts exactly! iRobot#1 ….and on the Teacher Scale rating of a 1 – 5….I feel like I am a negative (-5)!!

    Reply
    Anonymous - March 26, 2016

    I feel like iRobot #2. When you hear about other administration, you realize it’s about the same everywhere. oh …. and the teacher scale (1 – 5), administration makes me feel like a negative (-5)!!!!

    Reply
Debbie - April 28, 2014

Private schools are no better. I speak from experience. What other profession is dictated by so many who never spend a day in that profession. Agree with I robot. Teaching is being forced to be a business,not a work from the heart and expertise.

Reply
    Linda Kardamis - April 29, 2014

    Hi Debbie – Yes, I know many private schools have the same issues. But the thing about private schools is that each one is private – and thus each one is different. I taught at a private Christian school that put first things first, let us teach, and was there to support us. It was an absolute joy to teach in this school – and I know there are others schools out there like this – even if they are rare finds.

    Reply
Beverly Turner - February 24, 2015

Health has been a big issue. It’s has if the energy, .motivation and desire has been drained from me!
Dr. Has put be on an extended medical leave. The stress has caused my Asthma has gotten worse. Dr. Says gone cand cause the other and vice versa. I had no choice. From I have been told from other people who have shared stories with me
..Stress is causing health issues and are recommending they find other jobs!

Reply
jb - March 23, 2015

I have been on the fence all year; my students this year are more rude and disrespectful than ever; parents feel that they can decide what grades my students receive, and my administrators agree with them. I am supposed to be a 7th grade ELA instructor, but most of my students are so low that they struggle to determine whether a new vocabulary word is a noun or a verb, and after six weeks of teaching parts of speech and the four sentence types, they are no better at determining parts of speech. I’m exhausted, angry, tired of being angry, and terrified that one day these students might be in charge of something. I used to love teaching because it was so fun when kids learned, but school is no longer about learning; it’s about grades, finishing early, and not putting forth effort.

Reply
    Laura - May 16, 2016

    Ouch! I understand what you mean. I have been teaching for 27 years and the decline in respect is most apparent! Hang in there! A couple of things to remember: 1. You were called to this “ministry” and God will never leave you or forsake you. 2. The kids you have will NOT remember one thing you taught them regarding the content, they will only remember the way you treated them and spoke to them. Make your words full of grace.

    If your class is rowdy, try doing a “goNoodle” activity. (gonoodle.com) The kids love it and it makes them move, I do it with my kids-they laugh at me, but that’s life. When they are laughing at me, they aren’t making fun of someone else.

    I believe it was Larry Bell that said, “On your worst day on the job, you are still some child’s best hope!”

    Reply
Tere Rodriguez-Baez - April 10, 2017

I have been teaching for over 30 years. I would like to do something else, but I don’t know what else to do. I would like to have more control of my time, so I wish to do some type of entrepreneurship, just can’t think of anything at this time. I am praying for the Lord to give me some idea.

Reply
      Patricia - May 8, 2017

      Hi Linda,

      I actually found your website from that article on Angela Watson’s website today. I am glad I found her site and now yours. I have a plan for my move from teaching, it will take time but I will be doing it with my daughter and be able to spend time with my grandkids too. I am just ready to do something else. I love teaching but as I get older I want to spend more time with my grandkids while we are all still young. I will be writing children’s books and creating a blog of our own around early childhood education, parenting, breastfeeding, grandparenting, family relationships etc. We are at the very beginning planning stages so I estimate we will get things going this summer. I think I also want to write a book for teachers unlike yours or Angela’s which are both so you inspirational and not thought out yet. (Something for the future)

      Reply
Karelia - April 24, 2017

I am a first year teacher. I started as a flex teacher(I only teach 2 hours of the day), where I have constant coaching and a great support from my instructional coach and friends. Yet I am still really doubtful whether this is the profession for me. I see the students that I am working with and although I find most of them to be great individuals, I often don’t feel the care or the love for the students. I am always willing to help students succeed but I don’t feel like I feel the care for nurturing them. I am a really hard worker and I often find it really hard to do the prep work “extra work” or go the “extra mile” for my students. I am not sure if its because I am 22 and working with 7th grade or if its because I don’t have the passion yet for teaching. I feel really unmotivated to keep going. I have always wanted to be a teacher, I did everything in college to go into teaching and somehow it just doesn’t feel right. Everyone tells me the second year is better and that I should wait it out, but I am not sure how to know whether this is the profession for me. I need help or any advice as to how to make the decision to quit for now and maybe return to teaching in a later time in my life, or to continue

Reply
    Linda Kardamis - April 24, 2017

    If you’re a believer, I would encourage you most of all to pray about the decision.
    But honestly, if I’m going to give a general rule, I don’t think anyone should quit teaching after their first year. The first year is just not a good indication of what teaching is really like. Almost any teacher who’s been teaching for awhile looks back at their first year and thinks “wow, that was brutal. How did I survive that?” – even if at the time it seemed normal.

    It very may well be that teaching isn’t for you – but unless you’re sure that’s how God is leading, it would be really hard to know that after one year. You likely just barely kept your head above water and didn’t get to experience much of the rewarding and energizing parts of teaching. You didn’t have time to go the extra mile – or the energy to do so. And that’s totally normal.

    I guess what I’m saying is that if you still feel this way after a second year, then it would be time to really give these questions some serious thought. But if you quit now you’ll never really know whether or not you could’ve loved teaching…

    Reply
Leave a Reply:

Sign up for updates!