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For several years, we read news about teachers leaving the profession. Now we hear more stories due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Educators are under a tremendous amount of stress and emotionally drained. Some may not make it to the end of this school year. Those that do make it will seriously consider a new profession. Others may fear what’s on the other side of teaching. Have no fear; life after teaching does exist.
How do I know that life after teaching exists? I experienced it and have first-hand knowledge. Here’s my story. In 2016 I left the profession, but it was under duress. After 26 years of teaching and being an administrator, I lost my job. District politics pushed me out of my principal position two weeks before starting the new school year. Without going into all of the details, I was beyond distressed for not only losing my career but leaving my students, staff, and families.
Never had it crossed my mind to think about what one can do after teaching. Despite the heavy emotional load of the job, I planned to stay with it until retirement. Others had a different plan. I felt hopeless and depressed because I knew it is even harder to find a job at my age. Age discrimination in the workplace is a reality. Anger, sadness, sleeplessness, and grief were just a few emotions I felt at the time. It felt like I experienced the death of a close family member. I did not have a plan for a day like this. However, it was time to regroup, recharge, and re-evaluate my options.
Life after teaching began abruptly, and I did not have time to plan for the transition. Thank God for years of saving for a rainy day. The savings fund gave me time to re-evaluate what I wanted to do and what skills I could bring to the new table. It was time to rewrite the resume and get ready for a new way to interview.
After rewriting the resume, I searched for jobs using Indeed.com, educational sites, and professional references. Virtually completing and sending resumes to school districts throughout my state, my epiphany became very clear. I did not want to work as a teacher or principal ever again. Then I felt a heavy burden lift off my shoulders and mind. Life after teaching allowed me to take control of my next chapter. It was not easy, but now I have healed enough to share the journey.
Let me finish my story, and next, we’ll get to your next move. While my next steps did not come easy, I am happy with the choices that I made. My life after the teaching journey led to becoming an instructional coach for a not-for-profit organization. I also am a part-time professional learning consultant for an educational publishing company. Both positions allow me to train adult learners and coach educators across the country. For one position I responded to an ad on Indeed.com. A friend and former colleague assisted me in getting hired for the other position. Years of helping others returned the favor.
On a personal level, my creative mind now has room to grow. I published a book and this blog for educators. Also, I have spoken at national conferences and freelance to write for publications. Free your mind, and the rest will follow. I learned to use and market my skills, knowledge, and expertise.
We know some of the reasons educators leave the profession. The Learning Institute created an infographic that lists six reasons for exiting. Why Do Teachers Leave lists these reasons: Inadequate preparation, lack of support, challenging working conditions, lack of compensation, better career opportunities, and personal reasons. Whatever your reason for leaving the teaching field, a career change is possible.
Now let’s talk about your life after teaching. How do you prepare for your next steps? First you are not alone in your feelings of wanting to leave. According to the Economic Policy Institute, fewer people are interested in teaching. A recent study states, “Schools will struggle to staff their ranks with well-prepared teachers if fewer individuals are attracted into teaching or if their training and preparation have weakened.”
Now due to COVID 19, more educators consider this a good time to leave the profession. In an Edweek article, Did COVID 19 Really Drive Teachers to Quit, teachers from across the country were asked about leaving the profession. “Surveys showed that 1 in 5 teachers said they were unlikely to return to in-person instruction in the fall, and that the same percentage said they were more likely to quit at the end of last school year than they were before the pandemic.” While COVID 19 may not be the only reason you want to leave, here are three things to do before exiting the profession.
However much you want to leave right now, take a moment to stop and breathe. It would help if you planned before you walk out of the door. First, are you financially fit to quit? If you do not have another job lined up, how long can you live without a paycheck? Figure out how much you need to pay your rent, mortgage, and bills. Write all of your expenses down and begin to think about the necessities and the things you can live without. Are you the only breadwinner, or do you have a spouse or partner to help out financially?
Next, begin to collect references and recommendations. Who do you know that can help you with your career move? Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know helps to get the foot in the door. Reap some of the seeds you’ve sown over time. Think of all the times you helped others in their careers. Call them up! Time to use them as a reference and their recommendations.
Begin to assess your marketable skills. Educators often underestimate what they have to offer outside of the school buildings. Some transferable skills you have include problem-solving, coordinating projects, critical thinking, and instructing. Decision-making, managing time, multi-tasking, and more are skills to add to the resume. You also have skills at working in challenging positions and customer service. These are just a few items you can list on your new resume. Companies and organizations will love to have you on staff. Or you may want to start your own business. Go for it!
Lastly, stay encouraged as you pursue the next chapter in life. Sometimes, the feeling of despair and desperation will show up in your mind. The pursuit of a new profession or career does not happen overnight. You must align many things. Life after teaching is a personal and professional journey; therefore, you must prepare emotionally and financially. Start planning your exit. Research your options. Stay positive and pursue your dream. Life after teaching does exist!
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Why Do Teachers Leave – The Learning Policy Institute
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