My Regrets about Quitting Teaching

I've been a teacher for several years but left the profession in 2021. Many positive aspects of teaching made me want to stay in the field, but some negatives led me out of it. This post will cover my regrets about quitting and give advice for those considering similar career changes.

My story

Hi! I'm Keith. And you're probably curious about the title of this blog post. For reference, I was a full-time educator turned full-time teacher-author. I still teach online, so I am still in the education field. But teaching out of the classroom is way different than teaching online, and there are pros and cons to that.

I started teaching in 2015. I flew to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and landed an English and Literature teaching job position at an international school. In addition to that, I was also an ESL teacher at a language school on weekends. So, I worked seven days a week. The money was good, but I was so dang exhausted. 

In January 2019, I flew to Brazil and landed a teaching job at Cultura Inglesa. The money was not as good, but I was laxer, and the people and students were way more appreciative. You see, sometimes people can't have the best of both worlds.

During the pandemic, we taught online using Google Meet. We went back to in-person teaching on January 2021. Back in 2020, I lost my closest colleague to COVID. I dealt with anxiety and other issues. In other words, I was unhappy. I would complain a lot every time I left the house. I wanted to stay inside my bubble. So, instead of waiting until December 2021, I quit in June, right before the vacation. I became happier and never looked back.

Life After Working from Home

Now that I work from home full-time, I discovered many great things about myself and my job.

  • I became more productive and learned how to manage my time well.
  • I started exercising and became more concerned with my health.
  • I uncovered so many skills and abilities that I didn't know I was capable of back when I was still in the classroom.
  • I also earn more and spend less (I took Uber a lot back in the day). 
  • I can work anytime and anywhere I want. I can have a workation (or even a staycation!) with my laptop. The world is my oyster!

But here are the things I regret about leaving the classroom:

There are some amazing things about being able to show up for kids daily. As a teacher, you get to build relationships with students that can last a lifetime. You get to make a difference in their lives and teach them skills that will help them succeed in life. And there's no better feeling than seeing the look on their faces when they understand something that seemed impossible.

I'm so grateful I got to do these things while I was teaching elementary school. Still, now that I'm out of the classroom and working on my own business full-time, something is missing from my life without those daily connections with young people who look up to me as a role model and teacher.

Another reason I regret quitting teaching is because of my relationship with my students. Teaching is a relationship-based profession. The relationships I formed with my students were important, and I miss them. As a former teacher, you know that there are relationships that come and go as they mature over time, but the ones that stick around are what makes teaching worthwhile. It's hard to let go of these relationships when you leave the classroom; some may fade away completely, while others remain strong throughout your life. These types of relationships are unique in our society, as most people are not comfortable sharing so much of themselves with others outside their family circle or close friends until much later in life (if at all).

If you are in this pickle, here are some things you can do:

  • Don't let your emotions take over.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I made, and it's a mistake that many others have also made. The emotional side of quitting was painful. If you feel like quitting because you're in an impossible situation or otherwise unhappy, don't make rash decisions until you've calmed down and taken time to think things through logically.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help.

It can be difficult to admit when things are going wrong, but if someone might know what they're doing better than you (and who isn't part of the problem), ask them for help! There's nothing shameful about getting out-of-the-box thinking advice from someone else when everything seems hopeless at school. In fact, asking for outside perspectives will probably help you realize what steps are the most realistic options in your situation—after all, not every possible solution is appropriate!

As you may have guessed, I was worried about how leaving teaching would affect my identity and career path. But here's the thing: I wasted so much time and energy worrying about this when all along, there were much more productive things that I could have done to improve my situation.

Instead of worrying about who I was supposed to be or what I should do with my life (which is something we all worry about at some point in our lives, no matter how old we are), perhaps it would have been best if I had focused on making positive changes in my life instead of dwelling on things outside of my control.

And while some may argue that these two examples are not directly related to each other—that is true—they both fall under the umbrella category known as "worrying." And as someone who has spent years living this way (without success), I've learned that worrying does nothing but make us feel overwhelmed and hopelessly trapped by our circumstances.

I may have reasons why I regret quitting teaching, but I've learned a lot from my experience. I'm still young and have plenty of time to figure things out, such as having my own business. Taking this time to reflect on what went wrong has been incredibly helpful in recognizing what's important in life and helping me make better decisions about how to spend my time and energy.

Talk soon.

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