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Teaching Tips & Tricks   |   Nov 22, 2012

Why I quit my teaching job mid-year (no, it wasn’t the testing)

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Why I quit my teaching job mid-year (no, it wasn’t the testing)

By Angela Watson

I wanted to write a post for those of you who are barely making it, and are so dreading the return to school the following morning that you can’t even enjoy your evenings off. The idea of going back to that place just makes you sick to your stomach. I get it. I have been in your shoes. And I’ll share with you what happened when I quit my teaching position at exactly this point in the school year almost ten years ago.

What my teaching situation was like

Quitting was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. My administrators were blindsided by the decision–after all, I was an experienced teacher with multiple years in urban schools, and I had a good handle on my classroom. My students were learning, and their benchmark test scores showed strong gains. The kids liked me, their parents liked me. Things seemed to be fine. But what people didn’t know was that it took EVERYTHING out of me to keep it that way.

Things seemed to be fine. But what people didn’t know was that it took EVERYTHING out of me to keep it that way.

I had just moved to the state and had no idea what to expect in my new school. I was disappointed to learn that most of my second graders were reading on a late kindergarten level, and the pressure to get them up to speed was weighing heavily on me. We had no windows in our classroom, and were not allowed to have recess or any break at all during the day (per district mandate), so I was stuck in a tiny, dark classroom with a large class of energetic seven-year-olds and zero outlet for all their energy.

Beyond our four walls, the school’s atmosphere was in total chaos. We couldn’t send students to the bathroom alone, as there had been instances of both girls and boys being raped there by other students. One of my kids found a knife on the ground on our way to lunch. An off-duty police officer and a drill sargeant were hired to help control the students in the cafeteria: one of them would bend over and scream in the children’s faces while the other marched up and down the center aisle, yelling into a microphone as the kids threw food around his head.

Not exactly a fun working and learning environment.

Things were quite a bit calmer in my classroom, but student behaviors still posed a huge problem. Getting students to respond appropriately to even the smallest request took Herculean, first-day-of-school efforts from me. It was like the movie Groundhog Day. We practiced the same basic routines and procedures over and over, and three quarters of the class just wasn’t internalizing anything.

Why I quit my teaching job mid-year (no, it wasn’t the testing)

My breaking point

I remember the exact breaking point. I hadn’t used our social studies books yet that year, but there was a particular passage I wanted the kids to check out as an intro to our activity. I said to the class, “Okay, when you hear the magic signal, you’re going to take out your social studies books and turn to page 35.” At the mention of the word social studies, one student burst into tears and crawled under desk so he could bang his head against the floor. (Later I learned this was a reaction to social studies he’d begun having in first grade and his previous teacher had no idea why.) Another boy murmured something under his breath, causing all the children in his vicinity to say, “Awwww…Andre called you the B word!”

Simultaneously, another child took out his social studies book but accidentally dropped it on the floor, causing the children around him to laugh. “What you laughing at, punk? Shut the F up!” and then punched the kid nearest him in the arm. The child who was punched did the same thing right back. The two of them sat there glaring at each other, and the children around them were either frozen in anticipation or egging them on to a fight.

Almost every child in the classroom was now either disrupting the lesson or distracted by the disrupters. One child had her hand up asking to go the bathroom. Another had his hand up and was pointing at the child next to him, who was gleefully ripping out pages of the social studies book. Yet another child was tapping me on my arm and asking me to repeat the page number.

As I took a deep breath and made a decision about which fire to put out first, I heard a scuffle outside the door and a voice come over the intercom. “Lockdown, code 3. Lockdown, code 3.” That meant the police were pursuing a suspect in the neighborhood, and I had to cover the small window on our door and move the class away from it.

I wanted to teach…and THAT wasn’t teaching

It was in that moment that I knew my job was not worth the energy expenditure I had to put out everyday. I realized that I was up against too many obstacles, and most of them were insurmountable. Things were not going to improve significantly and I was going to go home exhausted every day for the entire year.

I was managing the classroom, I was maintaining some sense of order, but I wasn’t teaching.

It wasn’t that I was incapable of handling it. That day, I could have had the class back on task within a minute or two after all those interruptions. But those things happened all day long, every day. I was managing the classroom, I was maintaining some sense of order, but I wasn’t teaching.

I wanted to have deep conversations with my students about current events.

I wanted to delve into books with them and watch their eyes light up when they made connections between the text and their own lives.

I wanted to see them develop a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world through investigations in science.

I wanted to teach.

But after seven weeks of school–almost the entire first quarter–the kids still weren’t anywhere near ready for those things. And so I was still spending the entire day disciplining students and teaching them basic work habits and socio-emotional skills.

The worst part? All teachers who were new to the district were required to stay in the same school for THREE YEARS. Sticking it out until June wouldn’t have done me any good, because I would have had no choice but to return to the same situation again in the fall. And again the following fall. I was trapped in that level of stress for another two and a half years, and the thought of going in for even one more day after the long weekend passed was enough to make me physically ill.

And yet the guilt I felt over even thinking about quitting was indescribable.

Making the decision to quit my teaching job

Was I really willing to abandon such a needy group of children in the middle of the school year?

What kind of person would give up on those kids and look for an easier job just so her own life could be more comfortable?

I felt selfish. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like a failure as a teacher.

But I had to do it.

My principal was shocked and furious, vowing that I’d never work in the district again (Not for a million dollars, lady!, I wanted to yell.)

Even worse was the unexpected reaction of my students. I thought they’d be devastated, but most of the kids barely blinked when I told them Friday would be my last day. Part of their nonchalance was because of their young age, but I realized with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that they were so used to losing teachers and other important adults in their lives on just a moment’s notice that this was par for the course.

I got hugs and letters and a few tears on the last day, but the majority of the class was so wrapped up in their own issues that they weren’t even thinking about me. Five minutes before the final bell rang, two of my toughest kids got in a physical altercation over an eraser one of them had thrown, and I was so busy dealing with them and school security that there was no opportunity to have wistful goodbyes. My time at that school ended just as chaotically as it had started.

What happened after I quit my teaching job: a fresh start in a new school

My decision to quit in the  middle of the year would have been much tougher if I’d had to leave the field altogether. I know that’s the situation for many of you who are reading this post and unable to find other teaching jobs. I quit in a year when there were far more teaching positions then qualified teachers. You’re going to groan when I tell you that within a day of making my decision, I had an interview in a neighboring county and was hired on the spot.

But maybe you can relate to this part: the hope that in a different school, the love of teaching would return.

I can tell you without a doubt that it did. My new school had its problems, of course, but I felt safe there. My students were safe. And I was able to really teach again. I stayed in the classroom for another five years (and probably would have stayed longer, except I got married, moved to New York, and started doing instructional coaching). I even chose to spend my last two years as a classroom teacher in another inner city school.

Urban teaching is where my heart has always been, and will always be. I know that it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. These days I work with teachers in some of the toughest areas of Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx, and I see the amazing things they’re able to do. The quality of teaching and learning in many high-poverty schools is truly exceptional and they can be fantastic places to work.

5 things to know if you’re thinking about quitting YOUR teaching job

There’s no clear-cut moral to this story, I suppose. I’m hoping it’s helpful just to know you’re not the only one and someone else has been through this.

But there are a few other things I want you to know if you feel like quitting teaching right now or are still feeling tremendous guilt about having quit:

1) It’s not your imagination–teaching IS getting harder.

Our students are coming to school with more and more problems, and the bar for achievement is continually being raised.

2) Sometimes, the school year does not get easier with time, and that’s not necessarily your fault.

Usually I’ve found that teaching becomes less stressful as the year progresses because students get the routines and make more and more academic progress. Occasionally, though, this was not true for me and it’s not true for other teachers I know. Sometimes the class is just a really difficult one and your stress level won’t improve until the following year when you have a different group. That’s very normal.

3) You are not a bad teacher just because your job feels too hard.

Even the best teachers get put in situations that are physically and mentally exhausting. Feeling like you want to quit does not mean that you were not cut out for the job, or are a bad person. The position you’re in just may not be the best one for you, or you may just be having an exceptionally tough year.

4) Quitting does not equal failure.

I struggled with the decision to quit long after I’d left the job, because I felt like I had abandoned the kids who needed me the most. I had to remind myself over and over: It’s not that I couldn’t do the job, it’s that I chose not to for my own mental well-being and physical health. I was not a failure, I was successful in taking care of myself. I have many other responsibilities in life in addition to being a teacher, and I was not willing to let all those other areas fall apart because of my job.

5) There are lots of ways to use your talents and gifts to help children.

 Many teachers who quit still have a deep desire to work with children and make a difference in their lives. There are many, many ways to do that. Your career as an educator does not have to be over simply because you don’t want to stay where you’re at.

Is quitting really the answer?

Now, to be clear: I’m not telling you to quit your job. Quitting is not always the right decision: in fact, there were plenty of other low points in my teaching career in which I wanted to walk away but didn’t. During those times, I found that I was frustrated in the moment, but I knew in my heart that things WOULD get better, that an overbearing principal would transfer to another school (he did), that the transition to a new curriculum would be for the best (it was), or that I could make it through just a few more months with an exasperating parent or student (I did.) One of the best things about teaching is that every fall is a new start. Sometimes the best thing to do is hold on until then.

But for those of you who have emailed asking me whether to quit your job or teach on (and there have been hundreds of those emails over the years), I continue to say: do what you know is best for yourself.

If you’re not sure, keep teaching. Hang in there as long as you can.

Read Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching and learn how to perceive stress differently.

Read Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day…No Matter What and get ideas for infusing your day with meaning, purpose, and joy.

Join The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club and get productivity hacks to help you achieve balance.

If and when you hit that breaking point–your gut feeling is to go, and the reasons to leave truly outweigh the reasons to stay–you’ll know, and you shouldn’t ignore that realization if you can find another option.

You will hear many voices within the school system telling you to prioritize your work (or more accurately, your students’ test scores) but it will be far less often that you hear the message to prioritize your health and well-being. I’m telling you that today.

It might mean finding another job, or it might mean staying and developing different coping strategies for stress, but my advice is to do whatever it takes to avoid complete burn out. I think as teachers we owe that to ourselves.

I’d love to read your stories on this topic. Have you ever quit mid-year? Are you thinking about doing it? What advice would you give teachers who are in that position?

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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    1. This is my life this year! After 29 years I don’t want to go there ! I’ve nearly had a breakdown , had to go on meds , and cry daily. I’ve been teacher of the year 3 times. I’m a good teacher. I can’t quit. I have one more year to get my retirement. What is happening ? It’s everywhere. It breaks my heart.

      1. Oh my goodness, Tracy, my heart totally breaks for you. This was supposed to be my 4th year teaching (first in a new district), and my new school was a complete nightmare. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to have invested 29 years into a career that is now causing so much stress. My thoughts and best wishes are with you. x

        1. OMG–i could have written this comment. I was RIF’d during my 3rd year at my first school and took a last-second job at a school in another district in another state (I’m in a “border” city). It’s November and I’ve walked out twice but come back out of guilt and a lack of options. My physical health is suffering and my mental health is off the chain bad. I just don’t belong there. I’m hoping I can make it the next 5 weeks to semester–at which point I will leave and not return. I’d rather sub and take my chances for next year than endure this abuse any longer.

      2. Tracy,
        I have been teaching for 20 years. I have some other health issues, but I was trying to hang in there for 1 1/2 years to get my retirement package. I used to live for teaching. I loved my job. Over the last 2 years, I cried and prayed every day that I could just make it through the day. I was on depression and anxiety medications. But it didn’t help. I felt like I was going into combat everyday. Then I started having these strange seizures. It’s what they call conversion disorder. The doctors told me the seizures were a result of what I couldn’t verbalize. My body just couldn’t handle the stress anymore. November 12, I was returning to my classroom from a grade level meeting, walking behind my wheelchair and another seizure came on. I took a step of faith, went to the principal and resigned. I’m in a position now where I’m not able to work at all. I can’t handle being around any children, including family. I felt like a failure and guilty. I taught K,1 and 2 and was a reading specialist. Now I’m not sure of who I even am. Don’t let this happen to you. Listen to your body and your emotions. I so appreciated this article because it made me feel “okay” about quitting in the middle of the school year.

        1. This is a powerful story and warning, Claudia. I’m so glad you took the time to share it. Our bodies often manifest stress in ways we never see coming. The anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, etc. are not the worst of our symptoms as we often assume. They are warning signals that our bodies are about to break down if we don’t make changes.

        2. I’m so glad you said you prayed to God for the strength you needed to go keep going everyday. Sometimes, however, a physical ailment is God’s way of telling us “It’s enough, child.” It was for me. After leaving midyear, God gave me a year sabbatical of doing nothing except waiting to know Him more, waiting for His next mission for my life. Almost a year to the day, He gave me a new vision. It still involves teaching but to adults instructing them in church how to be more effective, brain-based teachers of the Bible. Isn’t that cool. I get to use all the skills I’ve become proficient with in a new setting that also uses the gifts and talents God gave me. You look too for where God wants to place you. He will give you not only what you need for life fulfillment, but also what He needs to further His kingdom through you. Keep the faith, sister.

        3. I am a school teacher in Philadelphia. I resigned effective Oct. 13th but I signed the form September 13th. I was out sick for 3 days went back to work finished the week out. I realized I signed on September 13th as opposed to Oct. being my last day. The board took Sept 13th as my last day. It was before the time anyway. I have been calling all over the school board but they will not allow me to rescind my resignation or to even re-apply ever again. Would someone please help me or tell me what I should do or who to call. I have 3 children and that is my only means of employment..

        4. So very sorry to read what happened to you.How are you now? I feel like I need to quit as well. I will listen to my body before anything bad happens.

          1. Ditto. Parochial school, face-to-face. I have been throeing up and crying since I sogned…I wasvtold we’d be online and will not. Lax enforcement during pandemic. My health, physical and mental, arecmore important.

        5. Health comes first u made the right choice. Our worth is not based on what we do it’s who you are , and I’m sure you are a wonderful person inside and out.

      3. Tracy, Before you get thrown out of the building (like I did) retire. The money is not worth it. I am signing a separation agreement with the district today and I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders.

        You are a good teacher. Times and kids have changed. I feel for you.

      4. extremely sad when you have to take meds to do your job, it is so hard and not getting easier. There will be a shortage of teachers soon unless the children have accountibility and the parents start doing their job and not leaving it all to the teachers !!!

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      5. Life is too short to keep teaching when it’s making you sick. I retired early after 26 years. Everyday I wake up and I’m so glad I don’t have to teach.

        1. Me too and I get very irritable when people ask why with an incredulous look on their face. I don’t feel I should explain why partially because there are so many things that brought me to resign after 20 years of mostly what Id love to think was successful teaching. I just don’t want to step in another school again. Right now I’m happy as a full time mum of two boys and enjoying my freedom. Don’t worry if you can get support or help ask for it. Health is more important. After all we only have one life to live.

      6. I am in my 40th and final year of education. This year has been the worst of my career. Nothing to do with covid, but admin took advantage of the covid circumstances to try and get rid of me. Why? Because I am the reading specialist and I did not become an ‘expert’ on the reading series the county adopted. So new principal, who is the 3rd one in 4 years, started targeting me with every little thing he could find to try and get me to quit. Horrible treatment, horrible situation. But I thank them because I was struggling with retirement and now…I CAN NOT WAIT.

    2. I feel like you are writing about my school, my year, my emotions. I tried to resign yesterday and they won’t release me from my contract and threatened to “go after my credentials” if I leave any way. I feel broken. Lost. Incredibly sad.

        1. I’m wondering the same thing. This sounds just like my present school. I had a complete breakdown in early September and have been on FMLA. I have found a job outside of teaching and don’t plan on ever going back. This was my 25th year and I actually asked to go to this school. There was just no reading these kids and there were threats daily. They will take $750 for breaking my contract and can sue I have been told, but I don’t even care. I was in danger of stroke or heart attack if I’d stayed!

      1. They are lying to you about going after your credentials. I was told the same thing years ago. I called up the state agency that certifies teachers and they told me no teachers had their credentials pulled for quitting.

    3. I just started a new contract its three weeks in I love the school but now the board is asking us to create 200 portfolios online for report cards with a full teaching load of 7 grades and two hundred kids. I cant do it even if wanted to Im looking at 250 hours for report cards in the next two months. Um any ideas. I have a good name and experience but I can’t do what they are asking . Its illegal to teach over 180 as a specialist I think and portfolios are intensely crazy they are even asking us to blank over the pictures. I’m fiercely against this I wondering what to professionally without ruining my name or career due silly policy that is going to fail. Another specialist has 300 kids to teach for PE and it going totally crazy over this. Um. what do you do when they ask the impossible. Also Im having to carry very heavy books and my back is really bad. Should I just opt out medically to be polite I don’t want to cause any harm. I love the kids I teach and the school but soooooooooooo unprofessional.

    4. I read your posts with h tears in my eyes! I am there! I love teaching but due to budget cuts I was transferred to a new school. It is horrible! My students are so low and my admin dictates what I must teach.

      I am ready to leave! Trying to get a new teaching job in another state. So far no luck! Two interviews. One principal said he didn’t want to hire a teacher that left or would leave mid year. Any suggestions on how to handle that?

      1. Count your lucky stars that principal revealed his true character up front. He doesn’t understand that teachers are human beings with complex needs and emotional lives, and will expect you to always put the students first before your personal life. You don’t want to work at that school.

    5. Sorry you had such a horrible experience ….It is true…as a 27 year veteran teacher and national teacher trainer – teaching is getting harder – but there are good schools out there for teachers to work at- not all horrible – teachers who feel called to teach should move to other schools before deciding to quite entirely.

    6. Hello

      Bitter sweet article

      When applying for another position in another district, on application, when asked why did you leave last position, what was your response?

    7. I am thinking about quitting now. Things have changed so much due to Covid, but we are not being given grace by our administration. I have been teaching for 27 years and I juxst received the worse observation I have ever gotten. It was extremely nit- picky. I got marked down for not doing things that I could not do due to Covid. I am having to clean my own bathroom every time the children use it, and I am totally exhausted. I am spending over 80 hours a week on school and I need my life back!!

  1. Thank you for sharing, it is not some thing that we openly talk about, but some thing that we’ve all felt at one time or another. I appreciate your honesty and I love your message about balance and personal health. This is something that I have always struggled with! A touching post.

  2. Thank you for expressing what I have been feeling. I can do the job and get results. I have a good relationship with my students, their parents,my principal, and my co-workers. But it takes absolutely everything I have to make it work. I leave at the end of the day just exhausted. By the end of the week, I can hardly function. It takes the entire weekend to recover enough to be able to drag myself back in on Monday and start over.I hope to finish the year, but after that, it’s anybody’s guess.

    1. This is exactly how I feel. I could have written the above message, yet I didn’t. What I did do was tell my principal that I am resigning at the end of this school year after 21 years of teaching in a Urban setting. I love my students but I can’t function at all by Friday and I, as well, sleep all weekend, just so I can drag myself back in on Monday morning. I am going to lose my husband and child if I continue to choose teaching over my own family. I am not willing to do this.

      1. What did you do after you left your job of 21 years? It does take everything to keep it going and weekends too. I so appreciate my summer time off.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I also had to quit midyear some time ago. In that case it wasn’t the kids but the administration and superintendent. I had been harassed for so many years and on many different sites (mostly for standing up for other teachers) that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was on a lot of medication just to get to school each day and still have long term health issues from the stress. I finally decided I could not take anymore. Luckily, I also found another job soon after. Sometimes we really have to put ourselves first.

    1. Heather, I know this was from a long time ago, but I’m hoping you or someone else will respond. I am in this situation right now in my district and have resigned due to harassment from the administration (mostly the principal) and am on medications to help with the anxiety and stress. Now they are having me call every single family, as well as hold a meeting, and send a letter home addressing my resignation. I feel I am being harassed even more, even when I have expressed that I am uncomfortable with all of the requirements, they advised that I need to stick to this “outline” (even though I was not involved with the establishment of it). What were the steps you had to take once you put in your resignation? I have never heard of a teacher having to jump through all of these hoops once resigning.


      1. It sounds like they’re trying to help ease the transition for the kids and families, but if this isn’t in your contract, Brianna, you can push back. Call every parent individually PLUS a meeting sounds excessive. The principal can hold a meeting him or herself after you’re gone to introduce the new teacher and talk about transitions.

      2. I am being bullied at my school. We moved here from outside the area and are seen as outsiders. My coteacher acts she knows everything and talks to me like I’m an idiot. The kids are taught to lie. It’s part of their culture. They go home and tell lies about me. Of course the principal believes them because I’m an outsider. She’s also buddy buddy with my co teacher. I have a heart condition that has been getting worse because of all of the anxiety and stress. I don’t want my teaching certificate to be suspended for a year but I can’t go back there.

        1. I’m switching to a new school next week, with the semester change. The behavior of the principal of the school I’m leaving was easily the #1 factor in my decision to move. Hang in there, Michelle, you’re not alone (but if you can afford not to stay, don’t stay).

        2. What state are you in? And I know this was a few years ago, but my daughter is in this exact situation. What did you end up doing and what was the outcome. I hope you are doing well now.

          1. I retired after 22 years and left mid year due to severe anxiety. Two and half years later the anxiety has stayed with me and I am having a hard time getting any job. Right now I am a para in a school system having gone from almost six figures to Pennie’s per week. I miss the proud feeling I got from teaching but suffered such burnout.

    2. I worked in an urban setting for six years. Three of those years were very difficult, because there was a tremendous amount of drug abuse. I was able to maintain mostly good behavior, but it took everything I had. While I worked there, I was physically threatened by a parent and had my car broken into. Fortunately, I was forced to transfer and I went into a much better section of the city to teach. However, there was not enough supports in place to help those students who greatly struggled. I had a principl who could have been Hitler’s brother, and I worked many hours and spent so much of my personal resources to purchase materials the district did not supply. I went to school for my Masters of Science in Reading Specialization. I found a position in the suburbs in February, and left the inner city. I felt bad, becauses I grew up in this area, and these students were quite nice. However, there were too many of them, and I had a fist and second split classroom. I felt terrible about leaving. However, the salary and the distance served much to my advantage, so I had to do what was best for my career. I will never forget my experience working in the city. It taught me a great deal about compassion and humanity.

  4. Thank you for this very personal reflection. Although, I have not been in this type of situation, I could relate to the obstacles that get in the way of doing what we love; teaching.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story. While I am not in that severe a situation, I am at my wit’s end, too. I echo Sarah’s comments. Unfortunately, I support myself, so quitting and losing benefits is not an option. I’m just hoping to make it 6 more years to retirement.

  6. Thank you for the post you wrote. I JUST turned my letter of resignation in 2 weeks ago. This coming Monday after turkey day, I am starting a new job as a toddler teacher.
    I had been in the public school system for 14 years. Like one of the other women who posted, I left due to adminstration. Pressure was put on me last year and had to increase my current medication as well as be put on others to control my situation all due to working in a school district. Before they could do something to me, my husband and I decided that if things weren’t going well this school year that it was ok for me to quit and look either elsewhere to teach or in another field until I felt ready to return to teaching.
    Quitting 2 weeks ago has brought the person I always been, prior to the pressures from school, back. That person that returned has been missed for a long time.

  7. Wow I feel like I’m reading about my classroom. I am at the end of my rope and can’t breath. My principal says the students behave that way because they are ‘trying me’ but its nothing I have ever seen. I have 17 4th graders and 5 are on IEP’s but because it is a catholic school we do not have the resources. We are very much inner city and there are 3 more students that should have an Iep. The behavior issues are so severe that one of my students has his own psychologist that visits in addition to his services. One female student has threatened to kill me and the other students 3 times and threatened to burn the school down. She received in school suspension that she called a party and was back in my classroom. I am seriously considering making winter break it for me. I love teaching but I can totally relate to not being able to ‘teach’ anything because of all of the issues. I wrote a grant for a free field trip -all paid 2nd grade through 5th and only 5 of my students were able to go because of disciplines or in school suspensions. I do my lesson plans each week and we get to about 60% of it all because of stopping, moving clips, sending to the office, parents who drop by and sheer chaos. We also run out of food at times on late lunch (4th grade) so I have to then hangout until they send more food so my kiddos can eat. This happens at least 1 time a week and they run out of the adult food twice a week. I get supplies and have to hide them in a classroom with no storage. They eventually find it and dig out what they want and I have to hide things again. I used to have it out in those cute bins all labeled and they took them all…home..etc. I’m on my 4th pencil sharpener because they jammed erasers in it. Oh yeah I can’t forget that one student chased another while I was breaking up a fight and knocked over my laptop and destroyed it. I have to use the classroom one which has the screen right by my students. One of the parents paid half but the other one avoids my calls. Out of 17 I have 3 at grade level and the other 14 range from 1st grade to beginning of third. Common core says we should be doing 2 and 3 digit multiplication but I only have one student in my class who can do 1 digit above 75% even one time. We have specials but the kids get sent back to me if they act up and I believe some do on purpose. We give food out over the weekend to 5 students who really need the help. Tuesday I caught one of the students selling something in the pack to a classmate. That’s not even bringing the administration. I’m at the end. Thank you for posting this. I feel less like a failure. I just don’t know how long I can keep up.

  8. My heart goes out to all of you that are teaching in schools like this. Thanks for your post Angela – it gives support to those who are in the position you were, and puts things in perspective for those of us who teach in calmer schools and get upset about relatively minor things compared to what others have to deal with every day.

  9. I feel very similar to all of you, which is such a relief. It’s hard to get friends/family who don’t teach to understand how hard teaching has become.

    After reading through all the stories, I feel like I shouldn’t complain. These are very difficult/violent situations which I do not encounter on a day to day basis. However, the demand and pressure for results (no matter what) is always lingering. I feel like I am a parent to these children. I’ve taught at this school for 7 years now and I usually say the same thing every year. “Next year will be better…”

    I’ve been married for over 6 months, my husband has watched me go through these swings of emotional. He wants me to be happy and thinks I should quit at the end of the year. However, I don’t know what else I could possibly do for a living.

    I have other passions but let’s just say they aren’t lucrative enough to live on. Also, we want to have kids soon, so we need to money. I feel as if this situation has become a catch 22. Any advice out there?

    1. Yes. See a therapist. I taught at a nightmare school and really wanted to leave teaching altogether. Seeing a therapist (covered by my insurance) helped me create boundaries so that my husband could get his wife back. It will give you perspective to see if you want to stay where you are or move on.

    2. I was in a similar situation and taught for six years. At the 2 year mark I became a wife and at the 3 year mark I became a mom. My priorities had changed and it was sooo difficult for me to juggle the ever growing demands of teaching and my growing family. I would come home exhausted with little time for my husband and daughter. I finally decided to resign before this school year started and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My husband and daughter have both noticed a happy change in me. Now I get to homeschool my daughter, I’ve started a business with my friend and I also substitute teach. Instead of having my life revolve around work, work revolves around MY schedule. Substitute teaching has been awesome because I can choose when, where & what grade I want to teach. Not to mention, I dont have to waste time on pointless meetings or neverending paperwork. I actually get to teach!

      While I was struggling with my decision to leave the school system, my mom reminded me how my grandparents and great grandparents raised umpteen kids in a two room house on one income. That’s what made me go for it. Our society has changed so much for women we forget sometimes how women got through so much more “back in the day” without worrying about going to work to make money.

      My advice: Think about your well being, your husbands well being & your future child’s well being and also listen to your husband. Mine told me the same thing yours did. With his support you can make it through whatever decision you make. Hope this helps…

      1. This is my situation EXACTLY. My question revolves around the actual letter of resignation. What did you state in that letter? Was it simple and exact, or did you into great detail? Also, how much notice did you give before actually leaving your post?

  10. I’m so glad I found this post. I made it to February in a classroom that was very similar to the ones you and Tracy described, only my students were first graders. I was too nauseous from stress and anxiety to be able to eat breakfast in the morning, too busy at school to eat lunch, and too tired (i.e. asleep on the couch) to eat dinner when I got home from school. Needless to say, the decision to quit my teaching position was definitely the right choice for me and I’ve never once regretted it. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I can’t imagine having an experience more emotionally and physically taxing than my time teaching in that school. It was quite honestly the worst 6 months of my life.

    1. I should add that I am now a substitute teacher for a well performing suburban school district, and the difference between the two schools is incredible. I’ll also say that I think teaching in an urban school has made me extremely thankful for things other teachers might take for granted. For example, my first graders didn’t get recess and they had to eat breakfast and lunch in my classroom because the district couldn’t afford to hire any aides. I had to hide all my belongings during the day so they wouldn’t get stolen and any time I left the classroom I had to lock my door. Bathroom doors had to remain locked so students wouldn’t break the mirrors and cut each other with the glass… So, it sounds crazy, but knowing I can do things like set my purse down behind the teacher’s desk and leave it there while I run an errand down the hall still makes my day.

      1. There are no truer words. I know teachers that work in a district only a few miles away from the district I work in. I have 26 students, with 11 of them functioning substantially below grade level, severe behavior issues, etc…..and I hear them complain about such minor issues and they only have 15 students in their classes whom are all basically on grade level. It almost makes me laugh… if only I wasn’t so sad.

  11. Thank you for this!

    I have been teaching for 8 years and turned in my letter of resignation two weeks ago, after so much praying, pondering, and second-guessing. It was not an easy decision, but my reasons for leaving mid-year are all solid, and even supported by my administrators.

    Even so, I am dealing with a lot of guilt over letting people down. I never thought I would quit a teaching job mid-year.

    I am thankful to know I am not the only one who has been in this difficult place. It is a tough process to walk through, but I knew that for me it was the right choice, and would ultimately bring peace.

    Thanks for posting.

    1. Hi Joanna, I feel this way too. I am actually home today because I have the flu, probably because of all the stress. Even taking today off meant leaving at 5:30 am to leave handouts and work that my inner city students may try to do. I have a temperature and have been throwing up and my principal stopped in and just told me not to leave microscopes out while I am gone and didn’t offer any help while I was obviously struggling to get ready because of how bad I feel.
      I am curious as to what you stated as your reason for leaving. I want to resign but I would like to teach in some capacity in another district.
      Appreciate your help.

  12. I have just read the story of my life! I have been teaching for 18 years in an inner city school and I don’t know how much longer I can last. What kills me is that 50% of my job depends on my students test scores…..I can’t even explain the make up of my room because it gives me anxiety. Daily I suffer from shortness of breath, chest pains, and my arms go numb! My retirement age has just been up 5 years because our fund managers made poor decision, yet we are the ones to suffer. Teaching is awful, I would quit today if I could. What I want to know is when are we going to make a stand and lay the blame where it belongs…..A mass exodus of teachers, maybe someone would listen! Let’s face it, we are All too tired and don’t have the fight left!


  13. I understand the situation totally. I took a job teaching in an urban middle school, starting a music program. It’s been… Well, awful. The kids have no discipline, and they just laugh at the consequences. Sending them to the office is a joke. I’ve had kids throw rocks at me, paper, pencils, chairs. I have security remove them and then nothing happens. They use terrible language, fight with each other, and have called me every name in the book. We can’t get work done because of discipline issues. They would rather talk, rip pages out of books and write, “F$&@ you, Mrs. S!” On my walls, and floor. They won’t show up for after school detention and calling parents has a low success rate.

    Needless to say, I’m at the end of my rope as well. I’m currently looking for other employment outside teaching. This article has made me feel much better. I’m not alone, and not a failure. Maybe this isn’t for me. And that’s ok.

    1. I can totally relate!!! I was asked to build a high school choir grades 7-12. Every child acted awful!!! They would fight, yell obscenities, run around the room, rip up the music , groan when asked to sing, threaten me, and the administration did zero to help with establishing expectations in the classroom. There were literally no consequences for insane behavior. Not to mention my classroom setting was completely unsafe, no PA system, no phone, only my laptop and cell phone – which rarely had reception due to the location of the classroom. What’s worse is that all of the student behavior was constantly blamed on me . Administration would ask kids what I said , the kid written up, and take their word as gospel and use it to attack me. I asked administration to visit my classroom without my knowledge or to record the class so that they could get an accurate view as to what was going on , but my requests were refused. I finally took medical leave toward the end of the year and do not anticipate going back. My one regret is taking this job in the first place as I fear it will mar my chances of ever working again. Hindsight is better than foresight!!

  14. Thank you for this post. Fourteen years ago I was in that position in an urban first grade and made the difficult decision to quit. I spent a long time questioning my ability to teach, but was able to move on. I now teach in a different state at a school that I love, and I’m currently working on my National Board Certification. There’s a lot to be thankful for including fresh starts.

  15. I’m so grateful to each one of you who has taken the time to comment and share your story. It’s so encouraging to other teachers to know they’re not the only ones in this situation. It’s also interesting to read how each of you has chosen to deal with these tough situations.

    For those who are still grappling with the situation you’re in and looking for advice on other career opportunities in the education field, you can check out the Eduprenur section of my website here: https://truthforteachers.com/free-resources/edupreneurs. I’ve shared resources for becoming an educational consultant, doing instructional coaching, starting a teaching blog and selling teaching materials, etc. I hope that’s helpful.

    1. Thank you for helping me make my decision. I plan on quitting this coming week and have already another job offer in a much better district..

      One of my classes sounds similar to yours but with one difference I have a cote acer who is the special ed teacher in the r oom. SHE DOES Nothing To Help BUT CritIZICE everything I do. I create lessons, teach, grade, and contact parents while she walks around screaming at students.

      Another reason why I’m leaving is the fact that I have three different classrooms and have to drag my things ftom room to room. My back is suffering and I had to see chiropractor to help me with pain. Also the teachers in the rooms make comments about the room being messi and one of them does not give me any board space and if I post something up she takes it down. The other day I talked to her just to make friendly talk. She ignored me and asked me if I was ha b ING a conversation with myself and she had no clue what I was talking about.

      1. Sometimes it is not the administration, the students, but also your colleagues. Sorry to hear your state.

  16. Thank you, thank you for the article you wrote. I left my position at an urban school at Christmas time last year. It was one of the most difficult choices I have ever made, and although I am still searching for a permanent position I know that it was the best thing for me. It helps to know that others have been there and are now successful.

  17. Angela , thank you so much for writing this post and explaining what you went through. I really appreciate your honesty. You’re a fabulous person, educator, and friend. Helping others is your speciality, and I’m beyond thankful to have read your story and encouraging words. 🙂


  18. Um , you should be ashamed of yourself, if you were a good teacher and in the profession for the right reasons you would have stayed knowing you were the only shot those kids had. It’s teachers like you and all of your so called “fans” who have created the dropout factories we call schools. I teach each and everyday and its the hardest job in the world but like everything in life it’s a choice. It’s reprehensible for a teacher to quit midyear, at least have the grit to finish the year and then move on.

    1. I agree Zachary. Reading the post and replies makes me very worried for our most vulnerable students – classroom management and relationship building is part of the job.

    2. Zachary,

      I think that’s the same doubts teachers have before quitting. I’m in my eighth year of teaching and for the past five, I’ve wanted to quit. Yet, every year I think about the fact that I’m one of the few teachers willing to fight for the kids. But I always wind up stressed out and sick mid-year. I’ve been hospitalized every year for some type of stress-prompted medical condition. So this year I’m done. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it for the whole school year, but if not, there will be no guilt on my part.

    3. Don’t throw stones, my friend. You may not know this lady’s whole story. Sounds to me like you’re sitting in judgement right now.

    4. Zachary & January:

      It is great that you are able to withstand the stress and challenges of your classrooms; your students and school are the better for it. However, it is not shameful if others are unable to persist in a similar environment. We all have our strengths, weaknesses, and limits. There are a myriad of factors that impact one’s ability to sustain his/herself in a negative environment; until you get to know the other person, how can you judge them so sharply? Rather than demean them, why not thank them for the contributions they made up to the point they could not take it any longer?

      Responding to a calling, I became a teacher after a quarter century working in high-tech. I felt full of empathy, compassion, and drive as I made my way through ed school. Yet, once in the classroom, the enormity of the job cast a shadow over what until then was unabashed idealism, ever for a baby boomer. However, all too often, the reality of today’s classrooms clash with the ideals of helping others overcome their challenges in life. As teachers, you should recognize this as truth, and empathize with your fellow teachers who suffer in their desire to serve, rather than belittle them.

      I hope you remain as strong-willed as you seem to be so that you may both continue serving those in need. Yet, if the day comes when you realize you have exceeded your threshold, I hope you recognize the irony in the moment as others thank you for your service, when they could bemoan why you were unable to endure.

      [reposted from below]

    5. The teachers job is to teach not to give out the discipline. When students make that job impossible teachers become the disciplinarian and wind up no longer teaching which is why they did the job in the first place.

    6. Why should she be ashamed? Being at a school like this could potentially destroy your life. It could result in a financially damaging lawsuit or even a media scandal if you are falsely accused of something. It could result in serious, or even permanent, injury. It causes serious mental and emotional distress that can take years to get over. At some point, it stops becoming about having “grit” and starts becoming about having the self-awareness to realize you have reached your limit. Certainly, I feel sorry for those kids, but one teacher quitting mid-year is no going to make or break their outcomes. Our schools and society needs bigger changes for these kids to have a shot.

    7. Wow, it must be nice for you to sit on your pedestal shame all of us below you. It’s fine for you to express your opinions about what is best for the students. But shaming people is uncalled for.

  19. I teach a first-grade class that is not quite as bad as the one you mentioned, but it is my second year with a tough class and an unsupportive administration. I have a student in my class who is ADHD, ODD, and has intermittent-explosive disorder. Even with an aide in the room, he refuses to stay in his seat. He is constantly throwing things, climbing in cabinets/on counters, yelling and hitting other kids, taking things from my desk and drawers, jumping on the tables…anything to get attention.
    This is all documented and nothing new.
    My principal has continually blamed this behavior on me (saying if I taught him expectations, he would not behave in that way), and does not understand that I can hardly keep the attention of the rest of the class (or teach) when I am constantly dealing with him. I have a few other students who join in, which always makes it even crazier. I feel I am at the end of my rope, but had decided to stick it out – only to be put on a growth plan for not keeping 90% of my students engages 90% of the time. Now I am afraid that – despite attempting to stay with it, I will end up with a “bruise” on my record as bad as if I had just left (but I still have to deal with going back).
    Any advice/words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

  20. I am so glad you wrote this.
    I quit teaching a junior high job in middle of second year. I had 5 different class preparations and was too overwhelmed creating lesson after lesson and having different levels ( first and second year) students in language classes. I was also coaching and asked to take on mor ecoaching. I went on a medical leave and ultimately resigned. I felt like a failure fo ra long long time afterwards. No one can do everything. Many of us have taken on classes and situations which we could not handle.
    I would nto have taken your job as the no windows andno recess part would have been signals to meto nto take the job. I have refused jobs and then been a waitress for another year when I interviewed for a no window job.
    We must listento our hearts, encourage others and communicate as much as possible with our knowledge and ideals. namaste

  21. Angela,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Teachers need to hear from each other, especially during the most challenging times. We have to be the ones to hold each other up, and also to encourage decisions that consider the teacher’s well being, when most people don’t. So many teachers are facing unsustainable situations like you describe. My book Why Great Teachers Quit is full of stories like yours and with suggestions to change schools to help retain wonderful teachers like you! I’ll share this post widely. Thanks again.


  22. Yes. I’ll be giving up teaching due to exhaustion very soon myself. It’s tough tonight (Sunday after Thanksgiving) thinking I will need to go back tomorrow. Tears and stress building up already. A good article, full of much wisdom…..

  23. Wow, those who have posted here certainly have painted a negative picture of your students. Keep in mind, there are those teachers who have classes just as “bad” who are thriving and doing wonderful things. I would offer the advice to sit in on some of those classes. Perhaps you may want to examine your knowledge, skills, and dispositions as critically as you have assessed those of your students.

    1. Hi, I just want to say that we really cannot judge what situation any one person is in. Have you been hospitalized for stress related conditions? Is your health at risk? Is your family suffering because of the effort you must exercise to make a job as tough as that work? There are so many components to our lives. I’m not in the position of being in such a tough district. But there is no way to judge someone when what they are going through professionally, personally, physically, and emotionally is different from you. You need to take your peace with your decisions, and realize that taking care of yourself is an important job. When your health suffers, what help will that be for the children? When everything else in your life suffers, where will that leave you? Everyone is different and that should be respected. Remember, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before passing judgment.

    2. January, you sound like you have never taught a day in your life. If so, you have no business judging others for a job you have never done.

    3. Yes but we are not comparing ‘bad’ or good classes. If an educator is saying it was too much for them, it must have been. I have been teaching just over a year. I’m 42 changed careers out of a desire to teach and share my love of history and literature with my students. Of course it didnt take long to realize that my vision of teaching was based on my fantasy. In today’s classroom n matter how bad or good, no one is interested in you sharing your love literature, not the students and definitely not the administration ( though they will tell you how much they want students to lve reading). My first school was a nightmare and I wanted to quit after the first month but ‘stick it out’ as people suggested I should. Well I made it by relying. Coffee and little sleep due to spending my evenings and weekends preparing 30 lessons plans (6for each day) every week. But at the end of the year I thought, maybe. Was wrong and its not teaching, but rather the school thA was the problem, so I applied cord and received a transfer. So I started a new position at another school hoping that my feelings would change. When I entered the school I felt a warmth and care for the students and thought yes, this is it. This year will be much better. I must have just been overwhelmed at the first school, but the feeling hasn’t left. I love my students, the school is doing its best to meet the new demands of the field while still being concerned with student welfare, but I am still overwhelmed. I do know if I have the energy to make it throw another year, let alone and entire career of being perpetually tired and overworked. I was raised I the ‘urban’ school systems and so I knw personally what my students are facing at home but that shouldn’t mean I forget my own well being and stay on when I am pretty certain the profession as awhile is it for me. …..just some thoughts from someone who is considering resigning now, before it goes too far.

  24. I am so glad to have read your article. You don’t know how relieved I am–I, too have given much thought into quitting after 12 years of teaching. I have felt such guilt; but like you I realized that if I do not quit I will risk my health and sanity. I am going to finish out the school year; but don’t think I haven’t thought about quitting after December. 🙂 I have made a decision to join the Peace Corps for 2 years (my application should be in the “process” stage after December) and see what happens from there when I get back. I have felt in the last two years that teaching has gotten a lot harder on the part of the teacher–the expectation for teachers is so high it borders on extremely rigid and impossible to reach. There is always a want, want, want, and a need, need, need from administrators, parents, and students; but there is no give to teachers–give us adequate classroom supplies, teaching supplies, a classroom with enough space for 25-30 students, or classrooms with fewer students, and there are probably a few hundred other items to give a teacher. Thank you Angela for your story in helping so many teachers who are in the same boat to come to a decision and know that we (I am) are not failures as teachers–cause no matter the decision made there will be one more healthier and saner person on this earth. 🙂

  25. I am grateful that this is my 30th and last year of teaching. My stress level and the hours spent on work have increased steadily over the past 6 years. I have taught three different grade levels in the past three years. I have had to move my own classroom and start all over again creating lesson plans and materials. This is due to the financial problems within the district and being “highly qualified” to teach many grade levels. I feel guilty for the relief that I feel when I realize that I do not have to go through the new teacher evaluation program or the testing of the new Common Core. Children bring to school with them so many life problems that interfer with learning. I now deal with behaviors and issues that I did not have when I started teaching in 1983. I am still passionate about my profession, but I am so tired of being in the only profession where perfection is the standard. Teachers must meet 100% of their students needs 100% of the time and be 100% successful too! God bless all of the teachers who wrote comments to this article.

  26. January, I don’t think these posts have been directed towards the students as much as they’ve been directed towards poorly run administrations and school districts. I’m passionate about education reform, but not to the point that I’m willing to sacrifice my own mental and physical health. Can children from high poverty backgrounds excel in the classroom? Absolutely. Is it the teacher’s job to set expectations, form meaningful relationships, and plan engaging lessons to keep students on track? Of course. But at some point schools have to draw the line between what is and is not feasible for 1 person to do, and, unfortunately, that line is often crossed (or not drawn at all) in urban schools due to a lack of resources. You’re right in saying that it’s not fair to blame the students for being in these situations, but it’s also not right to blame teachers who go into low performing schools and try to make a difference, only to find out that it comes at a pretty hefty cost.

  27. Angela’s post could not come at a better time. With less than a year and a half as a credentialed teacher, in a suburban setting no where near as tumultuous as hers, thoughts of quitting have become more prevalent of late. Will I act on them? I doubt it. I simply need to seek balance, which is nigh impossible given the near infinite number of tasks that require my attention to teach my three preps to 150 or so students. Saying such is easy; achieving it remains elusive even today.

    Zachary & January:

    It is great that you are able to withstand the stress and challenges of your classrooms; your students and school are the better for it. However, it is not shameful if others are unable to persist in a similar environment. We all have our strengths, weaknesses, and limits. There are a myriad of factors that impact one’s ability to sustain his/herself in a negative environment; until you get to know the other person, how can you judge them so sharply? Rather than demean them, why not thank them for the contributions they made up to the point they could not take it any longer?

    Responding to a calling, I became a teacher after a quarter century working in high-tech. I felt full of empathy, compassion, and drive as I made my way through ed school. Yet, once in the classroom, the enormity of the job cast a shadow over what until then was unabashed idealism, ever for a baby boomer. However, all too often, the reality of today’s classrooms clash with the ideals of helping others overcome their challenges in life. As teachers, you should recognize this as truth, and empathize with your fellow teachers who suffer in their desire to serve, rather than belittle them.

    I hope you remain as strong-willed as you seem to be so that you may both continue serving those in need. Yet, if the day comes when you realize you have exceeded your threshold, I hope you recognize the irony in the moment as others thank you for your service, when they could bemoan why you were unable to endure.

  28. I quit after I was with a district for a year and a half. I worked with high school, sped, gang kids in two border towns. The week before break was like this; one student was watching videos about Columbine, another was dealing, and a third got in my face because he was moved to Fridays only. It was such a dangerous place to be so I left. However, no matter what teaching position I interviewed for, I didn’t get a job. I went without work for more than three months and was told that if you quit mid-year no one will hire you, you’re not dependable. I finally was hired and able to get back on my feet, but what a challenge. Find a job before quitting the other would be my recommendation.

  29. I am so thankful to hear the stress of teaching is affecting other teachers and not just me. I loved teaching, but in a 100% farms school with a 90% ESOl population, my 2nd grade class has 30 students. There are 5 IEP”s and 1 autistic boy who qualifies for an aide, but I was told there is no money to pay for one. Since NCLB, education has deteriorated to chasing scores that are not attainable. Teachers at my schools work and collaborate and come up with wonderful ideas that are exhausting to implement with little or no resources. The steady flow of paper tasks and admin requirements increases weekly. Oh and did I mention that our county has not had any pay increases for 5 years, none, nada, nothing…….it really kills a teacher’s spirit.

    1. Sorry to say but you really miss the whole point of my post….. I do not quit because I love the children and they deserve to be educated. I don’t want to get another job….

      1. LL, my comment was not directed at you….it was directed at teachers who are feeling energy sucked from their core. It’s unhealthy and it’s ok to leave the profession.

  30. I am quitting as of December 28th. I have been a Pre K teacher for 12 years in the same room. I wished I would of done it in August after my last class moved on to Kindergarten but I tried it one more time but by Nov I knew I was done !

  31. Your post describes exactly what I felt last year as a nineteen year veteran. Fortunately, I chose to stay and fight the battles each day, mainly because my own son was in one of my classes. This year, I’m pleased to report, my joy for teaching has returned. To all new teachers, hang in there! It is the toughest job ever, but it is so crucial that children have quality teachers.

  32. My 8th year of teaching was a HORRIBLE year. The teachers, students, admin, and parents were a nightmare. In October, if I could have come up with ANY alternative, I would have thrown in the towel. The ONE thing that kept me sane was lunch time. During lunch I would go to the Discovery channel website and watch a few minutes of Deadliest Catch. I would say to myself, “If these guys can do this all day, every day for weeks on end, I can get through the next 4 hours.” It helped to put things in perspective for me. I made it through that TERRIBLE year, transferred schools and am in LOVE with teaching once again. You will not be the perfect match for every school. Search until you find the right one. Then, settle in for the long haul. Teaching is a WONDERFUL profession and I wouldn’t want to ever do anything else!

  33. Thank you for providing insight to what several of us educators face. You have helped me realize that my heart is in teaching teachers…something I did for 2 years and decided to return to the clsm this year, but I’ve struggled with my decision. Thank you!

  34. I completely understand and agree with everything you wrote in the article. I managed to hold everything together until the day after school was out in 2010. Then, I had a mental breakdown, or breakthrough, and committed myself to the mental hospital where I stayed a week. My mental and physical health suffered from all the daily stress of teaching. I retired early after teaching for 20 years. Even the thought of being around children, especially children with behavior problems who are disrespectful, makes me ill. I loved teaching children, but the stress of achievement scores, a rigorous curriculum, and having no time for myself or family destroyed my love for children and teaching.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Nelda. I can see how those three challenges could wreak havoc on someone’s soul. So few people understand a teacher’s travails. I know I did not as little as three years ago. Now, a year and a half into my new career, they weigh heavily on me along with the challenges of being a new teacher with three preps (algebra intervention, algebra 1, AP Calc AB) developing new curriculum for all three (Common Core based for one) and completing a second year of BTSA (in order to receive a clear credential). As someone who transitioned from a quarter century in industry, working for some very taxing firms in a very “go get ’em” type A fashion, I am convinced this profession places too much of a burden on the individual teacher. It requires a team approach, much like all other professions and industries. If that were the case,it might lessen the frequency of situations like yours where the individual who gives their heart and souls ends up smitten in the end. So sad.

  35. My 2nd year of teaching I took at job at an inner city school as a 3rd grade teacher. I had spent my first year teaching at a great suburban school, but it was in Elementary Library/Computers, a “foot in the door” type position. I was excited to have my own classroom.
    My team teacher was wonderful but that’s where the greatness stopped. The students were terrible, the admin even worse, and the electrical problems at the school were horrid!! We sometimes didn’t even have working heat.
    I could go on all day about all of the horrible, stressful, daily events, but I just don’t have the time to share.
    The breaking point was when I showed up barely a minute late to pick up the kids from Lunch. The admin was very racist towards the white teachers. I literally walked in maybe 5 seconds behind an African American teacher (whom was also late to pick her kids up). The principal was chatting it up with her as she went in.
    She saw me and literally started yelling at me in front of my kids and in front of the cafeteria staff. She also went off on a (rare) good students of mine for something petty. I decided then and there that it was the last straw. The next day, I went to the district office and said that they either let me out of my contract, or I press racial harrassment charges

  36. It was late October when that occurred. I worked a randome retail job for a month, then I happened to find a full time 4th grade job at a local charter school. I stayed there for 2 years before moving on to a better job.
    Now, the decision would’ve been harder had I had more responsibilities like I do now. I now have 2 kids. Back then, I was a newlywed with a very supportive hubby. While he’s still supportive, I know my own kiddos are top priority!
    I ultimate goal now is to be a stay at home mom and somehow stay involved in the education field in my own time and/or online. I just don’t know where to start.

  37. Thank you for the article Angela, and thanks to everyone for your thoughtful responses. After a terrible year of teaching (my 20th) with many of the problems you’ve written about, I’m pretty sure I’m finished with education. I never want to stand in front of a classroom again. Conveniently, I was furloughed from my latest position instead of having to quit.
    I’m now working a close-to minimum wage job at a psychiatric hospital, with patients who are considered some of the toughest at the facility. I regularly have bodily fluids spewn at me and sometimes have to restrain adults from hitting or biting me. But this is better! For the first time in my adult life I don’t dread every day of work. (And I was considered a really good teacher!)
    Like most of you in your individual subjects, I wanted to turn students on to the joy of learning. In my case it was music. I did not go into teaching to be a drill sergeant or to coerce people into learning. I’ve wondered if maybe I never the right kind of personality to be an effective teacher, but my 19 years of success would suggest otherwise.
    Our culture has changed and I suspect the model of education we’ve had for the past 100 years just doesn’t work for many of our children anymore. I’m starting nursing school in January, at the age of 52. Wish me luck!

  38. I’ve definitely been there before. After 6 years in a low-income school, I was done. The stress made me ill, I was so unhappy, and I was just miserable. I dreaded going to school every day. But it wasn’t teaching – I still wanted to TEACH. So I found a job fair – an international school job fair – and I got a job teaching overseas. As soon as the fair was over, I literally felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. As stressed and unhappy as I was, I didn’t realize just how much it was all weighing on me until I knew that once June came, I was done there.

    Four months into my new job, I love teaching again. I’m happy and healthy – haven’t missed a single day of school since the year began. I love my LIFE, and I am so happy. It’s an amazing opportunity, and I am so lucky. If it’s possible for you, I definitely recommend it. There’s some awful international schools out there, but it’s overall amazing. The administration, the school, the classroom resources, the students – all of it. Not only that – the perks are AMAZING.

  39. I know the pain that you went through in quitting in the middle of the year.
    I taught 6th-8th for many years but the stress level built up slowly kind of
    like the frog in the pot,anyway I had reached my breaking point. I felt that
    I wasn’t teaching anymore it was a battle everyday. But God stepped in and
    there was a 3rd grade opening in another town. I wanted to leave soonthat day
    as soon as I walked into my new classroom I felt a joy about teaching that I hadn’t
    Felt since my first year of teaching. What’s ironic is that I returned to the same school
    but now I now I teach 3/4 grade.

  40. thanks for the encouragement! as I am in tears on a Sunday morning thinking about quitting and dreading Monday. Feeling guilty for leaving the “good” students, the pressure that I will to my principal, who is the best; wondering what my 13 year old daughter will think of a mother who quit, wondering if I could replace my salary soon enough to keep the bills going.

  41. Angela,
    It takes strength to recognize when you lack what it takes at a particular moment to do the job the way it needs to be done. Passing the baton is humbling and shows how much you put students first. I too had a similar experience. I was teaching 5th grade at a title one school in the city. I was asked to leave my comfy, safe 3rd grade classroom because my behavior management could be of help to the 5th grade students. Although this was a compliment, I was unhappy about the change. I knew 5th grade was out of my comfort zone. I coached middle school soccer and knew the interests of this age of child. It wasn’t on school that’s for sure! Needless to say I spent all of my time disciplining students and trying to keep the oogling eyes to a minimum. My principal sat me down numerous times asking if I was okay and that I looked miserable. I was. I kept saying, “I just want to teach.” I waited it out until the end of the year, but I was exhausted emotionally and cannot remember one piece of content I taught. I thought about giving up teaching, but I accepted a position in 2nd grade and fell back in love with teaching. I realized I was mot the best person for the job. Sometimes that truth hurts, but it’s putting kids first. Their next teacher gave them everything they needed. I bless her everyday!

  42. As I sit here tonight writing my resignation letter to leave at Christmas, I feel sorry for all of us that went into education with such a passion and desire to help students learn, but are burdened by the behaviors we can no longer control, the continuous testing even at 5 years old, the data that must drive our instruction 24-7, lack of parenting, and administrators that wouldn’t even spend a day teaching in one of our rooms. I have been a teacher for 9 years, and I can no longer do it. I decided I would attempt to teach Kindergarten in an inner-city charter school, and it has been the biggest mistake I have made. Charter schools are not run like public schools and the work load is much heavier, yet the pay is much less. The stress is unstoppable, and the school year doesn’t get even a tad easier. Most days I put in between 12-15 hours and don’t feel I even make a dent in my workload. I have missed over a week of work due to stress and illness and have lost a significant amount of weight. I stand behind my decision of leaving and I know my health is way more important than any job, so too is my marriage. One can only give so much of oneself before you are the one who actually loses.

    1. I too have been out of work for 3 weeks due to stress and being over worked. I teacher 1st grade and the work load has become so overwhelming that I’ve become sick! I will be turning in my resignation. The issue for me is not the students; however, it is the excessive paper work, meetings, and unfair demands put on us. Teachers take time away from their spouses and children in order to perform this job. I’ve had to deal with my husband cheating on me when I began my teaching career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not using teaching as an excuse for his cheating, but a part of me have to look at myself in the situation. I spent countless hours preparing lesson plans, prepping, and studying material for the next day of teaching. Most nights I stayed up until 2 am preparing for the next day. Part of me can’t help but think that if I chose to spend more time with my husband that maybe he would chose me instead of cheating with other women. Needless to say, I’m giving my marriage another chance and choosing not to teach at this time. I love teaching and children, but I love my husband and family way more. Please PRAY for me.

  43. I feel your pain Waving the Flag, I am considering rendering my letter on Dec. 21. That would give the district 2 weeks over break to replace me and I won’t have to prepare lesson plans.
    Nice to know I am not alone in feeling this way about inner city teaching. I love the kids but have been moved to five different schools in six years. Inconsistency and chaos often rule the day. I am exhausted and really miss my family.

  44. I’m seriously thinking of quitting mid-year. This is the fourth year I’ve been at this school, but so many changes in the school have made it an even harder place to work.

    I work in a semi-isolated community (50 miles from the nearest town). I teach grades 5-7, but half my class is at a K level in reading and math. I’ve had successes in the past (gotten kids from four years behind level to reading and math at level) but in the past three years, we’ve had three different principals come in and try and make the school a functional school. This year, he means well, but students should not be referred to the office, and cannot be suspended. I have fights breaking out, my personal laptop has had keys ripped off, students screaming abuse (“I’m gonna F your wife till she dies”) on a daily basis.

    I know if I leave, I’ll feel like I failed. I know I’ll have a fight to get my “summer pay” (they take off part of my check to pay me in the summer, but they won’t give me back what they’ve taken if I leave). I could get a job pretty quick in the actual district (this isn’t a district school) but I’m worried about burning bridges and losing money.

  45. This is so sad, this is why Teachers get a bad rap! When pursing the teaching profession, people really should think about the worst situation possible and if they can handle it (mentally, emotionally, physically, etc.), instead of quitting when things seems impossible. I’m not judging your personal decision to quit, just that teaching isn’t for everyone, but people should figure that out before going into the field and giving up on the “bad” kids. More than likely those are the kids that needed you the most and just like you said, they have been left before so that is all they know. Knowing that and turning around and doing it to them is just atrocious. I think a huge injustice is done when teachers don’t stick it out. True, someone should not be a teacher if they can’t hack it or just don’t want to do it anymore, then they definitely shouldn’t be a teacher. I’m just disappointed by how the public and media treats teachers, and situations like this add to it. Again, I’m not trying to be judgmental on your own decision, in fact it was probably the best idea that you quit if your heart wasn’t in it. I’m just frustrated that people can give up on the difficult children, knowing full well that the teaching profession should inspire and attempt to help all students regardless of situation or ability. I urge everyone to do your homework before picking the teaching profession because ALL children need inspiring, strong, and caring teachers!

    1. Veronica, I am just curious – are you a teacher? Have you ever been in a teaching situation such as the one described above? I am also not judging your response to Angela’s post, but as you mentioned in your comment, you hate the way the public and the media treat teachers (I do too – in fact, teachers are my passion), but yet, in the next breath, you essentially DID cast your judgement on her decision, calling it ‘atrocious’. What I am finding more and more, is that quite a lot of people have a lot to say about teaching and teachers who have never stepped foot in a classroom, or who have taught a day in their lives, and unless you’ve been in a situation like Angela’s, there is no way to know how you would respond. In Angela’s post, I didn’t glean anywhere from it that her heart wasn’t in it. In fact, quite the opposite as she dreamed of being able to share literature and critical thinking, and stir up curiosity and wonder through science, but in her situation, it was impossible to get past the environment of the school, and the baggage that these children brought to the classroom that made teaching equivalent to climbing a mountain by one’s fingertips – every.single.day. Two things I am frustrated with in all of this (while we’re sharing frustrations): 1) In all of the increased expectations and elevated academic rigor for achievement, coupled with the behavioral issues on the rise (and not just in urban areas), NO ONE is talking about how to provide teachers with ways to fortify themselves mentally, physically, emotionally to continue to do what they do to the capacity that is expected. Teachers are expected to be superhuman and 110% selfless, even to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing. 2) There appears to be SOME talk and research depicting the increasing behavioral issues in classrooms, and the students’ home lives and backgrounds being at the root of these issues but VERY LITTLE in the way of talking about solutions. We’re essentially saying, ‘We know children are going to school with more needs than ever on top of their academic needs, but let the teachers handle it.’ End of story. There needs to be more conversation about change, and bringing an awareness to the public as the realities of what our teachers are up against daily. Then there needs to be a plan to support them, and not just in word only.

      I could go on. As you’re thinking about teachers that are horrible or selfish for leaving the profession, please also be thinking of ways to help improve the state of education.

  46. Veronica, I am a teacher who left the profession. Most of us thought long and hard about going into teaching and worked very hard to be the best teachers we could possible be, for the kids. But there was no way to prepare for what we have had to face. It’s like trying to imagine childbirth before going through it, or like knowing how we will react in a crisis situation when we’ve never been in one.
    Teaching is one crisis situation after another, especially in the inner city. What I had to do was to make a decision about the value of my own health. The decision to leave the teaching profession was extremely difficult. My heart was in it, but it was making me emotionally and physically ill.

    1. I agree with Blithe. I can’t imagine myself doing anthing but being a teacher. I do though have to draw the line when the time I take to do all the obligations and work required takes away from my family, and my personal health (spiritual and physical). Being a teacher today is becoming more and more difficult. You don’t know what you might do in any given situation unless you have walked in that teacher’s shoes.

  47. Thank you Blithe for your insight. I couldn’t agree more. I have to tell those of you struggling with the decision to leave, I was so nervous to provide my principal with my letter of resignation, but am now so glad I did. I am ready to move forward. I will continue with the field of education, but in the college sector. I am not sure if I will return to the elementary school classroom, as I no longer believe in the changes that are being made constantly. Teachers are now treated like unworthy slaves, and that breaks my heart. If my heart and soul are not in it, it is not fair to all of those souls who need someone whose is. My next task is to write a book on my experiences to hopefully shed light to those who have no true idea what is going on behind the closed door.

  48. Waving the Flag,
    I salute your courage. Curious as to what your letter said and how it was received. Haven’t surrendered yet. Still looking for another job first. So happy for you. Good luck in your new endeavors.

  49. I agree with Blithe. I was a teacher for 7 years. I just quit two days ago, right after our district’s return from the winter holiday. Never in my life did I think I would do something so risky as quitting my teaching job mid-year. But a series of events led me to this difficult decision. My body crashed. The stress and pressure that I used to handle with ease was manifesting itself in a great depression that left me feeling guilty. I had no gusto. My husband a daughter suffered because of it. It was a struggle, but I made the difficult decision to leave the profession behind me. I feel that I may have let the kids down but I also know that fourth graders are resilient and in 10 years this will be a blip on their radar. My ultimate complaint about the job is the relentless pile of duties and paperwork given to teachers with no regard for the number of hours in the day. It became so thankless for me that I had to quit for my own health. Were my first 6 years of teaching enjoyable? Yes. But it seems like this year contained the over-scheduling of meetings, half-hearted professional development agendas, over-bearing parents, and ever difficult process for getting struggling students help that was just enough for me to resign. Believe me when I say I am not the type of person to do such a thing. But I would hope that other people reading this post who have maybe done searches about getting out of the teaching profession would take solice in my story. And make a decision for YOUR SELF. Teachers take care of others’ needs all day long. If your job is harming you emotionally, physically and spiritually, DONT DO IT!!! While I’m scared of my immediate future I know things will be ok, my husband is supportive of my new focus to care for my sanity 🙂 and my daughter is going to have a happier mommy. To the people who think those of us that quit “give teachers a bad name” for running when it gets hard….change your perspective a bit. If you had a friend who was an accountant and they were unhappy with their job would you sink so low as to judge them for needing a change? Teaching may be a calling, it deals with precious children and it’s noble but when you step far enough out of the bubble of education you realize it’s just a job like pumping gas or serving fries.

  50. Sarah,

    I am curious as to what state you teach in. I am in the same boat. I just got back from break and I am ready to resign. It’s just too much. I am trying to stick it out and find another job first. However, I don’t know if I can make it until May 28th.

    1. Andrea,
      I had planned to stick it out through this entire year as well (my husband and I agreed upon that earlier this school year) but, like I said, my body told me otherwise when I had such terrible anxiety that I didn’t want to do anything! If you can stick it out, do. It makes the most sense financially, right? But I will tell you this…the day I spoke with my principal and told him I wasn’t coming back I felt such a weight lifted. I hadn’t felt that great in months. I live in Oregon. I don’t know teachers in any other states so I’m not sure if I had it better or worse as far as the job goes. I just know that we get one life and I was not going to do this til retirement so I made the change.

      1. Sarah,
        I hear what you are saying!! I keep hanging in there hoping for a change or a new job offering but the stress is taking its toll. I just don’t have the nerve to quit without another job lined up. State tests came back very low last week so now there is even more pressure added. Just praying my way through this. I admire your courage and can only imagine how much lighter you feel.

  51. My daughter’s two teachers of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade classroom of a private school quit midyear too. One called me to give me the news on the first day after Christmas break. She said they were being harassed and going to start their own school. She was calling each parent ( except the parent on the school’s board). At first, I was supportive. I understand how stressful teaching in our current environment is. Later, after further investigation, I changed my mind. I found many details were distorted based on reports by fellow teachers, parents and the children. The deciding factor for me was the testimony ( corroborated by my child and other children in the class) that the children saw both teachers that Tuesday. The waved and called hello to both AND THE TEACHERS TURNED THEIR BACKS ON THEM. The child that told me this was one of the two of the sixteen students that my daughter ( 11 years young and innocent) had reported were most devastated by the teachers leaving. I have lost all respect for these two teachers. I am a physician and am bound by law ( not to mention ethics) not to abandon my patients. I have to put my patients needs above my own. if I am not emotionally sound enough to practice, I am expected to turn in my license. There are now 16 souls facing abandonment issues that will scar them for a lifetime. I have lost respect for these teachers that did not at least say good bye to their students. I hope they never are in the position to hurt other children.

    1. Suzanne,
      That sounds like a terrible experience for the students, parents and remainder of the school staff. I agree that what you described was very unprofessional. I hope that my posts above (tinged with a bit of venting) did not make it seem as though I don’t care for the students or the profession. In fact it’s quite the opposite. And I feel resolve with the way I said goodbye to my students. To use some of your words, I don’t feel emotionally sound enough to give my elementary teaching position it’s due diligence while simultaneously giving the same time to my toddler and husband. Granted, this is unique to me and many women manage this and more with grace. I simply had to make a life change. I am now working through the guilt of leaving something I once loved but ultimately put my own health above the profession. That I cannot apologize for. I am sorry that the students at your school are feeling abandoned…they have every right to feel that way. But I always remind myself that children are resilient. That won’t stop the anguish now, I know, but it has proven true over time in my experience. I sincerely hope the situation at your school changes for the better!

      1. Sarah,
        I would not have had a problem if the teachers had explained and said good bye. Nothing we ( parents and other teachers) say seems to help them. I am glad you said good bye. I trusted these teachers with my children. I will not do it again with these particular ladies ( who are starting their own school). This does not apply to you or any of the other teachers who leave without hurting the children.
        And about children being resilient. They are not as resilient as you think. You are not the first adult who has mentioned this. I was surprised at first, but I later realized not everyone is as aware of the effects of childhood trauma as I am.. I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist by training. However, I now see adults and geriatrics. Abandonment scars cause problems that last into adulthood. That is why divorce is so harmful to children. It is as though these children have lost someone through death. A few have asked if this happened because they were bad. Mine just keeps it inside. Some of the parents have even suggested grief counseling. This incident affected many people.

  52. I made sure to say good-bye, not only to my students, but also to my parents, and my colleagues. I also made gift bags for all of the kids with special messages inside. I also keep in touch with the new teacher who took my position (God bless her). My health is now much better and I have had several people tell me how much better I sound when I talk to them. I feel like I have gained my life back, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I was doing a disservice to those students by staying any longer. I was absolutely miserable. I was angry. I was exhausted from working 15-17 hour days which my boss told us were expected of us, I was tired of getting sick from being so worn down, I couldn’t do it any longer. My advice to those of you who are ready to resign, do make sure you find something you can fall back on, even if it is part time, independent tutoring, subbing for the district, administrative assistant, working at the mall, anything to be able to get out and regain who you’ve lost sight of. Best of luck to those of you who are trying to decide what to do. Don’t let the guilt of leaving weigh on you, the kids WILL be okay!! Most importantly, do what is best for you and your family. It is not worth losing a marriage over, not having any energy or time to take care of your own children, and allowing your health to deteriorate like mine did. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I promise you.

  53. I have been teaching 8 years, 7 of those in urban settings, but this past year we moved to a smaller town and I’m in a rural school district. Even though there are hardly any behavior issues, I still feel burnt out. A group of teachers were talking recently about what could we even do for a living if we didn’t teach. I would love some ideas for a former teacher. I’m not seriously considering leaving at the moment, but I do think about it.

  54. What you don’ t address are the significant discrepancies in pay and respect when comparing teachers and physicians. Most of us anticipated the low wages but the blatant disrespect is completely unexpected and difficult to overlook.

  55. Lisa, I do not hink you or any of the teachers on this page have mistreated children like our 2 teachers did. Money and respect have nothing to do with mistreating children. I am not saying stay in a profession that doesn’t pay. I am saying get out without hurting the children in your care. My post had nothing to do with the people here. I was just needing to vent about the treatment of our 16 children. 2 weeks have passed and my daughter is still having trouble.

    Howver, regarding the pay issue not all physicians are wealthy and the pay is much worse than it used to be. I had to go to college, med school and residency/ fellowship 15 years total. I have 100k student loan debt ( my husband had 75k and has never been able to work at ant more tha a minimum wage job because of health issues- nursing not physician). I usually make about 80 k, but have made about 70k. Some teachers make more than I do (administrators), so for the years of my life and the hell I went through, the difference is not that much.

    That being said, teachers do not get paid enough. My GGM always tod me there were 3 noble professions, preacher, teacher and physician. I started out at 11 wanting to be a missionary. I changed to planning to get a Ph. D. in English History. However, a year after graduating and putting myself through a very difficult life experience, I took the advice of a man who was a car salesman and was a previous college professor, “Do something else, teachers don’t get paid well”. So, at 19, I reexamined my life and at 33 graduated from med school. I had planned initially to do pediatrics, the very lowest paying specialty, but changed to child psychiatry because my initial plan was to work with abused children and I didn’t think psychiatrists could help. I think police and firemen are under paid as well.

    I agree with the respect issues, though. Psychiatrists don’t always get the respect the other specialties do, but all physicians get more respect than most people. Many do not deserve that respect. I do think teachers also get more respect from the community, parents and kids than most other people. It is the individual teachers that don’t get respect from the administrations, institutions and governments they work for.

    Money and respect should have nothing to do with not mistreating children. Anyone, from a babysitter (low pay), to a stepparent ( no pay), to a teacher, coach, clergy, physician) have a duty to put the children’s needs before their own if they are going to work with them. Teacher, like doctors and clergy, in a position of authority. The potential for abuse is huge. Anyone who goes into these endeavors just for money and respect should find another profession.

  56. It’s helpful to read all the comments and suggestions. I’m currently a librarian who is extremely homesick (spouse, pets, house 3 hours away). And I am disheartened that the career I loved has so changed that the requirements and expectations are not much different than classroom teaching. I wanted to share a love of literature thru simply sharing stories and modeling reading, but now I am tasked to implement the latest strategies, content lessons, assignments, and basically show that all I do corresponds to the ‘test.’ And teachers are stressed to the max. I wanted library to be a respite from the day to day tasks of the classroom, as modeled by my mentor. This is only one of many issues in public ed that are sad for me. I have already made the decision to not sign for another year, but I just don’t know if I can make it until June, the homesickness is so unbearable. Just thought I’d share.

  57. I quit my teaching job mid-year, too.

    I loved my school. I spent eight years at that middle school. They hired me straight out of college. Looking back on it now, I feel like my co-workers watched me grow up. They helped raise me.

    But, last year, I found my breaking point.

    I broke.

    I always said that when I became a mean teacher, I would leave. And I had become a mean teacher. I was teaching an elective that the kids did not get to pick – Creative Writing. My classes were huge (35 and up) and I was also stuck in a windowless room, in the back of the school. For some reason, I’d gotten a really challenging crop of kids. There was very little disciplinary support from the front office, and very few rules I was allowed to actually enforce with any authority. I was charged with making all my own curriculum but not given any direction, then I got slammed by admin for not being on pace with a non-existing learning schedule. I had one functioning computer for the students to use while the other elective in my grade level had a full production graphics design studio. Oh, did I mention the 35 thirteen year olds in the room?

    I’m a good teacher. I know this. I love children. I love learning and I am constantly searching for new ways to reach my students. Also – I’m a great employee. I always to what I’m told, when I’m told. I constantly offer and give help to others. I practically made a career of scratching backs. So, I don’t think it was unreasonable to that when I asked for help, I expected to get it. But all I was hearing was “No”.

    During this time, I was serving as the yearbook advisor. I loved those kids. My yearbook kids were hard-working, sweet, and dependable. Additionally, I was working part-time for a virtual school as academic integrity support. These two second jobs were necessary because my salary was slashed 10% in the last three years of my employment with the county. When you’re not making much to start, 10% hurts. It really hurts.

    So, when my virtual school offered me a full-time teaching job, at the same salary as all three of my jobs, and the opportunity to work from home, I was at once overjoyed and immediately conflicted. Would it get better next year? I didn’t know, but honestly, I didn’t want to know. If it was going to get better, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be there anymore.

    I still didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I could go. Could I leave my kids? Could I leave my friends? Could I leave my school?

    Yes, I could. And I did.

    I agonized for weeks, but when the time came to make a decision, I went with the virtual school. I don’t regret my decision, not for one minute. I’m extremely supported at my new school, I get to work from home, and I’m still teaching. I get to spend one-on-one time with my students for however long they need me. My kids come from all walks of life – teen moms, hospital homebound, caring for sick parents, military families, and kids who just don’t find the brick and mortar schools to be a good fit. Is is perfect? No. But was it the right decision for me? Yes.

    As teachers, we are here to serve the needs of others. You can’t possibly do that if you’re unhappy. You can probably skate by for awhile, but if you can’t give 100%, then there’s no way you’ll get 100% back.

    My students treated me like a princess during my last week, and their loving acts were not lost on me. It stung when my principal didn’t really acknowledge my departure, in any official or private capacity. I chose to interpret his actions as a reaction to being hurt, and not really meant to hurt me. It was disappointing, but thankfully, my co-workers cheered me off into my new job and showered me with hugs.

    I did what was the right thing for me, and I know it was best for my students. They didn’t need another disgruntled, angry, burnt out teacher. They needed who I used to be. I’m happy to say that my new students are getting to old me, the happy me, the true “teacher” version of me.

    Quitting mid-year?

    So worth it.

    1. What you describe is the EXACT situation I’m in. Creative Writing, forced elective, no curriculum, 38-40 students, serious discipline issues. I work at the school until 9-10 and then get up between 2-3 in the morning to try to plan. My heart pounds and I am nauseated and unable to eat, I feel so stressed about this class. I’m trying to figure out How to get out.

  58. I’m hanging in there until May. The passion, patience and tolerance are gone. I’m currently an elective teacher of Nutrition. I’m also a certified School Counselor. If I’m not hired as a Counselor, I will end my career as a classroom teacher. Point blank. Ditto to everything read in the above posts.

  59. I’ve been teaching for over 25 years. There have times over the years that I have wondered how I was going to get through the next month, week, day, or even hour. Teaching is a tough profession. If you are a title 1 school, you must deal with issues related to poverty and violence. If you work at a middle class school, you must deal with individuals that feel teachers are beneath them. There is no perfect place to teach, nor is there a perfect class, but what gets me through the day is the love that I have for each of my students.

    Today, members of the district visited our classrooms. They were not happy with my grade level. Each of us were doing what was expected of us, but not what the district wanted to see. I was working with a small group of students, preparing them to work with partners on a comprehension activity while 2/3 of my class were either on computers working on Destinations (a program that the district wants the students on each day) or working on other assignments. My principal wants us to conduct small reading groups. How do you conduct small reading groups if the other students are doing mindless worksheets? The disconnect between what districts, principals, parents, and students wants makes teaching very difficult. How do I satisfy everyone? Simply, you can’t please everyone all the time or even any time. I was doing what my students needed at the time. I did nothing wrong even if the district didn’t see anything right. Oh well, I can’t help that these individuals are short sighted.

    As a 25 year veteran teacher, I have seen it all. I have gone through a half dozen programs and adoptions. Everyone thinks he knows what the kids need. Just like this group of District People, everyone thinks they have the perfect answers. Ironically, no one does. No class is ever the same from year to the next. No student is ever the same from year to year and no school is exactly alike. One year, I will have a good year, and the next year, I will be wringing my hands all year. I have seen 7 superintendents come and go, worked with 12 principals, taught from 6 different Language Arts series, and have seen the pendulum swing back and forth so many times that I feel dizzy from all the changes. I have been a gifted teacher to some and a pariah to others. Some parents have loved me and others have hated me. But… all in all, I have taught children to the best of my ability and loved them all with all my heart. I am not been a perfect teacher, but I have given my all. Of the 700 plus students that I have taught, they know one thing — that I loved them and I did my best. When I am laid to rest, it will say “Here lies a teacher who loved us best.” At the end of the day, that is all that anyone can ask of us — to do our best and love them as we do our best.

  60. overwhelmed and confused
    thanks for sharing you experiences !
    it was very helpful 2 me !
    I need to leave bc I ‘m giving it all that I can and it doesn’t seem to be enough. I’m a new Mom and my job is taking time away family. My princpal has written me up for submitting late assessment data and lesson plans … poor classroom management bc i wasnt able 2 handle a few students misbehavior on my own.I had to develop a teacher improvement plan and implement it now which is causing me more stress bc my principal made it clear I should take leave

    but I can’t financially my husband keeps telling me hang in there the year is almost over ! he will become the breadwinner for next year so I can stay home with our baby girl. He doesn’t get how hard it is 2 manage 26 kindergarteners without any help and more pressure to administer many assessments individually (that’s a requirement) my husband has an office job where he can put his call on hold or call the customer back later/use the bathroom anytime he needs to. I’m afraid to tell my husband that I need to leave I think Im reaching my breaking point and it looks like its all downhill. My husband says other teachers teach and have time for their family. Why can’t I ? this makes me feel like failure.

    I want to quit but I feel guilty leaving the students they all are very nice and well behaved except 4 several students behavior makes it difficult to teach. defiance/not staying seat/running around the room/a student who has repeatedly stolen from me and classmates, my breaking point was when two children were running around the room,refused to talk with me in private/go 2 time out it …
    they were so disruptive i couldn’t teach refused 2 have a time out in my neighbor
    classrm. i had to call the principal the well behaved kids were annoyed and had lost interest in the a have a few copycats ! this scenario is not good fot my TIP i feel like i’m failing that too. If I do leave i dont no what 2 say 2 students/co-workers/parents and I feel like my principal was right I’m not meant 2 b in this setting but would be good in a daycare setting, I feel like its best for my students they will b able to learn more. I feel so bad that I have used up all my sick days and feel uncomfortable saying I needed a mental health day. any advice or suggestions ? I already received call asking if i’m ok am i aiI have been out this entire week after I had to call the office 3 daqys in row afraid how that will b documented on my TIP embarassed kids will go home tell parents about those misbehaviors/parents will call 2 complain….i have lost my confidence and feel really bad about myself bc i didnt plan on being out that long had 2 fax my l plans which is not good 4 my TIP

    I appreciate any advice/suggestions thnxs again

  61. I so understand and relate to this article and many of the teachers who have posted. I taught public school for 4 years. My children were not being challenged at all so for 4 years I homeschooled. That was the best thing I ever did for my family. When they reached the ages beyond my teaching credentials I placed them in a private school where I also picked up a job for 2 years. So, after ten years of teaching, I took a long look at what I’d been through. Having a sexually abusive background, the perpetrator began showing up at my work my 3rd year of teaching. He was good friends with my principal. He’d already served time in prison for what he had done. I approached my principal and asked if he knew what the perpetrator had done. All my principal would say was, “I know him and you can keep your job as long as you are willing to work hard.” See, he had been told by the perpetrator that I had recanted my story and he was released. Not so. It was against the law for the man to be on school grounds. But, he would come every week to have a referee’s meeting with my principal during school hours. I hated the politics. I quit working for that school that year. It was a sad time for me. I was so low over believing my principal believed the perp. over me. I went into a depression. Then I pulled myself together and began homeschooling, not only to challenge my children, but to get them away from such evil. Yes, a huge investigation was conducted and I was given many options. But the school system had offered too little, too late. Homeschooling was a blast and my boys soared through school and became so far ahead of the public schools that I held pride in my boys. I then tried public school again. Fifth grade. My youngest went with me to school. my oldest into middle school. That was my year from Hell. I was given the worst kids with the most needy of problems. Not hard to deal with for me. I loved teaching. As time went by my teammates on grade level bgan to talk about me and the principal joined in on their efforts to make my life miserable. They would have meetings when I’d take my bathroom break. I never got them to switch time of day for meetings. Because I didn’t wear makeup, I was named unprofessional. Anything they could do to tear me down, they did. I ended up quitting before the end of the last 9 weeks…Again, an investigation was done only to find out the principal had broken several laws and codes of conduct. I was done. I only had an early childhood/elementary degree. So when my oldest son at 12 years old began taking college classes and making A’s I figured it was time to seek some help. Both boys were tested and placed in a private school. They wanted to move them up several grades. I allowed only one grade. Being the youngest in your class was going to be tough enough. I didn’t want them being bullied. I took a job there teaching 4th grade. I had a blast…..for a while. After my new principal found out I was on depression medication she told me that mind altering meds. were Satan’s work. The pressure began to build. My depression got worse and I began to have panic attacks. Only, my attacks looked like some kind of seizure. On my last day teaching at that school, I had a panic attack at the school convincing the principal I had a demon in me. I was released that day. My oldest son was months away from graduating..so I kept my children in school until number one could graduate. He graduated valedictorian, of course. The next year number two began having problems with the high school curriculum. Again, we had him tested and found out he had a simple type of epilepsy. He would blank out for 10-20 seconds several times in a minute. So, we asked for notes to be copied so he could study the entirety of the class material. We were denied. I told them they were breaking the law. That didn’t matter. Back to public school with number 2. He received the help he needed and over-came his disease. He was popular and a star athelete. He bloomed. I went 15 years without teaching a single child. I missed it very much. Today, I tutor a kindergartener and a 2nd grader 2 times a week each. My life feels full again and I’m having fun. I do not charge for my services. I don’t need the money. I do it purely for the love of teaching. I’m in total control. I answer to me. No one has an issue with me. In fact, I’m appreciated. I should be retired by now. But, I just can’t give it up. I’m having a blast.

    1. Christina, I love your story. Homeschooling was the coolest thing I have ever done. My son is flourishing in public high school though now I think that was the best decision for him. The comments about Satan made me laugh. Remember the two teachers I said left the kids? One of the new teachers ( and youth pastor) said they had been great teachers before. ( true for at least one of them). At our meet the teacher meeting, he said there must have been an ” evil spirit” involved. Wow, no one has to change or take responsibility if we can blame Satan and evil spirits.

  62. Thank you for this. I have been struggling with guilt ever since recently quitting my teaching position at a residential treatment center/open enrollment charter school. I taught two years previously in the inner city and though some days were exhausting, I stuck with it. The kids were good kids at their core and administration was supportive. When my husband was transferred out of the city, I got a new position at a small charter school serving a residential treatment center and neighboring community. The students who chose to come to our school from the community did so because they didn’t like the rules at the local ISD. Almost all of them came to school heavily self-medicated which made it impossible for them to comprehend most things, let alone learn. They proudly bragged about the drugs they were on. I spent my day just trying to get them to stop texting on their phone or talking over me. I had to constantly reteach materials because they would forget what they learned so quickly. I reached my limit when a student came into class every day and tried to intimidate me. I would write him up and nothing ever happened to him. One day I realized I was actually afraid to write him up because I knew there would be no consequences and I feared his reaction, as his methods of intimidation got worse. It was in this moment I knew my safety and mental health outweighed my concern for the students I taught. I felt/feel so selfish. We served an extremely needy population that required structure and discipline, yet administration was afraid to provide it. Our Superintendent/Principal did not like conflict and would not call parents. He had an extreme need to be liked. When I walked into the office to give my letter of resignation, I could hear him dismissing another teacher’s concerns by saying “write him up, write him up”. I felt like this was my sign, though it didn’t alleviate the guilt. Reading this has helped a lot. Thank you.

  63. I’ve posted once before. Not a classroom teacher, just a dedicated librarian who sees ‘teaching to the tests’ filtering down to the library so that the joy of reading is zapped by teachers who warn students to “listen carefully as we will be having a test (or assignment, or whatever) over the material.” But who can blame the teachers — the pressure is on them big time. However, it is my goal to joyfully motivate students to read, as the more they read, the better they will read, and hopefully, improve on what I consider to be a ridiculous amount of standardized tests. I personally believe that the powers that be are so concentrating on the academics (and grasping at any and every strategy that comes along) that we are not addressing the needs of the whole student. And students today, as always, are multi-faceted beings from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of needs, and concentration on academics only in order to pass the myriad of tests is not addressing some of the primary aspects of the problems teachers inevitably encounter in the classroom. Oh how I long for the days when standardized testing occurred maybe once a year, and many times students didn’t know about it until they came to school on test day. And teachers just taught with no worries that their job was on the line due to students’ test performance.

  64. I am a first year teacher of students with multiple disabilities in elementary school. For weeks I was understaffed; and then I was given my most difficult student from a more experienced teacher’s class without any extra aid support. Administration turned me down when I said I needed another instructional assistant. It took one of my coaches to influence them to change their mind and finally give the staff support I needed. I work 12 hours a day, manage two I.A’s-one of which who goes against my instruction and tries taking over my class on a day to day basis, have three teacher coaches/collaborators to correspond with, two gen ed teachers of different grade levels to work along with, parents-some who are in denial and blameable to the teacher for their child’s disability, I.E.P meetings with students who have 30 goals to master, and I am physically exhausted every day from my students; some have aggressive behaviors. I have no planning time during the day and for most of the year I have not got a lunch break. During the first few weeks of school when I was understaffed, I couldn’t even use the bathroom all day. On top of that, I am on a provisional license and I am taking graduate courses. I found out that the program I am in does not guarantee me a job next year at my current school because a year ago they changed the degree programs into three different programs and now what would have been accepted before no longer counts. Now if I want to stay I have to re-do my whole masters program because non of the courses transfer. And NOW I have a year less time to finish my license in time or else I am kicked out of teaching temporarily until I finish it.

    If all of this wasn’t enough I had become extremely depressed. I no longer have the energy or time to do anything I like. I worked all day and all weekend. I became really sick in November and all the following months. Every time I was almost better, I would get sick again and most likely from my students since they have always been sick a lot. I was told I was the hardest working first year teacher that my coach has ever seen in special education. I care a lot about my students and my I.A’s and my coworkers. But I think I care t0o much and I can’t turn it off. The affect of this job is taking so much out of me that it is negative. I had many suicidal thoughts, and constantly fantasized about getting in some kind of an accident. I was never like this before I took this job; I was bright and happy. Now I feel SO responsible for these children, and weight is impossible and unbearable. I feel like no one knows how hard this job is, and I feel like I have no to little respect.

    The moment that ended my depression just a few weeks ago was when I hit rock bottom, my boyfriend didn’t want to be around me anymore because I was always sick and stressed out and depressed. Then I didn’t even want to be around myself. What I want more than anything now is to be myself and truly smile again. I don’t know if I should just finish the school year or take a leave of absence or frankly quit. The people in my personal life deserve my very best and I deserve to be at my very best for myself. I don’t understand how people could think this is selfish. I am going to try to be my best while finishing out the school year but I am not perfect and not sure if I can make it till then.

    1. Do not feel guilty if you need to quit school before year end. Taking care of one’s personal health and personal relationships is not selfish.

  65. Anyone considering teaching should absolutely find another career/job. I don’t care how many years and how much money you invested. You’ll be MISERABLE. I quit after teaching Special Ed for 4 for the NYC DOE. Now I work in an office making less, but never been happier. I don’t even have to buy my own supplies anymore lol Oh, and when I feel the urge to pee, I just get up and go like a normal human being :O)

  66. After 20 years as a public school teacher, I’m moving into a different career. I now work in a Psych hospital while going to nursing school. This is easier than trying to work with people whose goal in life seemed to be to resist everything I try to do. Seriously, the occasional hit or scratch and frequent fecal exposure is easier than trying to influence 40 teenagers in a room that I had something to offer….something worth putting their devices away for. And I was a fun teacher. It didn’t matter.
    I’ve come to the sad conclusion that for a lot of our kids, the way we do education just doesn’t work anymore. The model is still based on the factory, the assembly line, where we try to impose knowledge like an accessory on a car door. They’re not having it. They see past our bribes or grades and rewards and are immune to the “consequences” we dole out. With all we know ,we should really know better than to be running schools this way.
    I believe we will see the complete demise of public education in the next decade and end up with a permanent underclass, if we’re not there already. Public education was the great leveling factor and thanks to unbridled greed in our culture, we can no longer fund this kind of fairness.
    I believed in what I was doing, I was passionate and dedicated but I could not spend every moment of my workday fighting. At 52, I’m excited to be starting down a different path.

    1. That is great! It is sad to say that nursing is extremely well compensated, while teaching is not. Money is not the only reason to go into medicine, but it helps to have your skills appreciated. Many musicians I know became nurses just to survive.

      1. Thanks for your response Suzanne. You’re right, nurses with 2 year degress generally make more than a teacher with a master’s degree. Interesting that you mentioned your musician friends becoming nurses. I was a music teacher!

  67. I really needed your 1-5 list. I teach in an urban school (only my 2nd year) and it’s just nice to reflect on that list. Thank you. I’m not going to quit my job, but it’s nice to know that I’m not a bad teacher for having thought about it.

    Thank you again.

  68. It was so refreshing to read the main story, and the comments from other teachers.

    We are highly-educated professionals, tasked with an important mission, but we are not given the resources or authority to do our jobs effectively, the basic respect that other professionals receive, or the wages to match.

    Any teacher who finds him or herself in a stressful situation would do well to resign. There are other schools and districts, and beyond the world of public education, other jobs. It is hard to find a professional-level job with longer hours, less status, and a lower wage than teaching.

  69. I Want to quit my job as a college professor, NOW. It’s driving me crazy, my life is destroyed, I can’t handle it anymore….
    I’m new to this field…I’m working as a college professor for 4 months, till now, but I feel very bad. In the end of the semester students do a survey online, and their comments about me was terrible; that I’m incompetent, incapable and incommunicative; In fact I did my best, but I didn’t have experience and now I want to quit (as a looser of course).
    What do you think? Do you think that I would finish this year and than quit? Or should I quit Now,in the middle of the second semester?
    Thank you very much

  70. I have been teaching in a public Jr./Sr. high school for 15 years.
    I am currently teaching seventh and ninth grade computer classes.
    For the past several years I have been seriously considering a career change
    as I feel burnt out and exhausted. Student behavior gets worse every year
    and I feel like I accomplish very little in my classroom after all the interruptions
    and distractions. The apathy and disrespect are taking its toll. It seems the older
    I get, the less tolerance I have in the classroom. The other teachers in my department
    typically have fewer students in their courses and always have the higher achieving
    students to deal with, which can make for a much nicer day. I know I am the workhorse
    and this never seems to change.

    I began teaching at age 33, and I have a business background in insurance and
    banking. I have been on some job interviews and even had two offers that I
    really thought hard about, but when the time came to give my acceptance I just
    couldn’t do it. Financially I understand that I will not be where I am today and
    that belt tightening is unavoidable. I am a single male so I am only supporting
    myself at this time. I guess my worry is that I am giving up a pension and security
    to jump back into the business world and such a volatile economy. My colleagues
    tell me I am crazy for jumping ship with such a horrible economy right now.

    There are times I don’t want to walk into that building and face the day, but
    I push myself to do it. I do enjoy teaching and working with technology but if
    only the students would let me do my job.

  71. I quit mid-year as well, and wanted to add my $.02 because I never, ever thought I would. I got into teaching through an alternative certification program and found a job at an urban high school in Chicago. I had 5 weeks of training before I started. It was rough from the very beginning.
    I was assigned an extra subject to teach a few days before school started (not uncommon), had no projector screen for my classroom (bought a bed sheet and hung it up, but at least I had a projector), and had no access to the online system for the first month or two (couldn’t input attendance, didn’t have a list of students, etc.). By the way, discipline at the beginning of the year is next to impossible if you don’t have a list of students, especially if they’re being switched from class to class.
    Anyway, within the first month they start throwing things at me. First, textbooks and the CDs that come with them. My stapler. Then some of them brought eggs and a milk carton which they pelted at me. I was very green at the time so I was in a state of shock when this happened. I didn’t quit – instead I just cleared my room of everything so they had nothing to throw at me.
    I took a day off in late October (school year started in September) because the job was killing me, I was considering quitting. I get a text from another teacher that my students had broken into some supplies in my classroom and were throwing them around the school. I went back and yelled at them, which was actually somewhat effective… I learn to yell.
    At this point I’m working ~110 hours / week, staying until 11 pm on Friday’s, taking graduate classes for my credential, and making an hour of parent phone calls every day, and 3-4 hours on weekends (I make so many that I max out my cell phone plan and have to buy an unlimited one…). I keep this up until I quit at the end of January. I also have 10-15 people observing my classroom regularly, but their advice is mostly nonsense because they don’t realize that my students and I are at war.
    Anyway, some kid gets into a cabinet when my back is turned and spills a toxic, cancer causing, highly dangerous chemical. When I see this I am horrified (I am a trained chemist and knew what it was on sight). I am sick to my stomach and start cursing like a sailor (not proud of this). This was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I tie plastic bags to my shoes and put on my gloves and clean it up. Not my best day.
    I scare them by doing a class on lab safety. For some reason they all now want to work with chemicals. Not going to happen.
    I buy speakers for my class so we can watch useful YouTube videos. When my back is turned they are stolen. My briefcase is ransacked and my headphones are stolen at the same time. I call up a few friendly parents (remember, I have been making phone calls nonstop the entire year) and ask them to question their kids. One of the kids saw who did it.
    The police arrest the perpetrator, search him, and recover my headphones but not the speakers. The perpetrator claims that the kid who saw him do it sold the headphones to him that morning (impossible because the kid and his dad were with me). He refuses to admit his guilt, even when caught red handed. The cop asks me if I want to send him to prison. I decline.
    Instead I file a police report and keep it on file in case he ever gives me trouble again. He never does, though like many of my students he simply disappears (probably transferred to another school).
    Now it’s the week before Thanksgiving and my father comes to visit me. I’m in bad shape. I’m working every waking hour and living off of diet soda, crackers, and pizza (Chicago has great pizza, though!). He isn’t happy. He basically saves my life by co-teaching with me for a week and buying me a printer, a jacket, and other essentials (and making me eat real food). FYI I moved to a new city 2000 miles away for this job, so I have no family or friends nearby. Support network is so important.
    Anyway, December comes and things are calmer for the most part. One of my female students is mad about her grade and curses me out for 5 minutes in front of my entire class and storms out. 2 of her friends join her. I call their parents. This is old hat now.
    I spend my entire Christmas vacation writing curriculum. (we don’t have a written curriculum at my school). This facilitates more teamwork (the other teachers are great, but they are so swamped with their own problems they can’t help me much).
    I come back and things are much calmer. I’m pretty unshakeable now. If a kid gives me problems I kick them out of the classroom for the entire period and then I call their parents that night. This is actually effective. I’m more prison guard than teacher though.
    Now it’s late January. Two of my best students get into a fight before my class starts (I haven’t had a fight in my class for a good, long while). One of the students puts his hands on the other’s neck and raises her up off the floor (she’s very small FYI). I yell at him and kick him outside the classroom. Then I send him to the dean.
    The kid’s grandfather shows up the next day. I tell the grandfather that it’s not OK for his grandson to put his hands on another person. The grandfather tells me that I only think this because I probably got beaten up in school (I try not to laugh). Then he tells the dean that growing up in this neighborhood if someone hits you, you always respond in kind. The dean sympathizes, and tells the parent that I grew up in another place and was taught differently. The kids are given a slap on the wrist.
    I go back to the dean later (he’s a great guy BTW, pretty much holds the school together, and a friend) and ask him if the grandfather was serious about the responding with physical violence in turn thing. The dean tells me “it’s a black thing.” (FYI he’s black himself, though I disagree with him – it’s a poverty thing). At this point I’m done.
    I give my principal my resignation letter. I didn’t mind the long hours, I loved (some of) my students, enjoyed the challenges of teaching, and I could handle the disrespect but not the disillusionment. As a classroom teacher you and the students are on opposite sides of a never ending struggle for classroom management, but there’s a line that neither of you is supposed to cross. Unfortunately they crossed it and I was afraid that I would too.
    When I told my students I was leaving I got mixed reactions. Some were sorry to see me go but they understood. Others celebrated and said good riddance. I cleaned up my classroom and walked out the door.
    It’s been 2 months and I’m only now fully coming to terms with the whole ordeal. I gave up my entire life in Chicago and returned home (which I said I would never do). Plus, I’m 24 years old, I left my job mid year, and I have no teaching credential. When I was in college I taught and tutored for years and I thought I’d do this for my entire life. I never thought I’d leave. There’s no easy way back into the profession for me and I don’t know if I want to go back (I can’t afford a regular certification program, either in terms of time or money).
    Anyway, I put this up here because I wanted to add some nuance to whether it’s OK to leave your teaching job. Sometimes things play out in ways you can’t possibly imagine. Don’t judge other people because you don’t know what went into their decision. A human being can only take so much abuse and still show up with a smile on their face.
    And BTW, most kids will have many teachers in their lifetime. I was only 1 of their 7 teachers for that year and I gave my boss enough time to find a replacement (I was replaced the day after I left by a veteran teacher). They aren’t psychologically scarred because of the whole experience. If anything they are probably happy to have me gone because now they’ll probably get less homework.

    1. I am considering quitting early, but I’m the favorite teacher. I have been picked on by a co-worker who the administration honors over my own word. CC has made things harder, but I keep thinking of my kids. They would be devastated; yes they’re a mess, yes, I’m on high blood pressure pills for the first time in all my life, and have panic attacks…and yes that’s not good either. But I don’t want to spend anymore money in certification when I want to change careers. Caesar, you’re the first posting I can connect with. I tutored for years and came in on alternative certification; now I’m being crucified. Even with representation, I don’t think I want to go any further. I have put myself out there, and think if I can make it to April-May, I can leave. But there are kids really trying, and once they graduate, I want to bounce so I can live and be me again. Thank you Angela for sharing, and helping me to deal with the guilt. Thank you Caesar for helping me to calm down.

  72. Caesar,
    I enjoyed reading your post. I totally understand why you resigned. I have been through many of the same situations in my six years as an inner city teacher. This was a second career choice for me and I thought I was meant to teach. I always enjoyed working with students of all ages in the ten years I subbed while my own children were in school. Nothing could prepare me for the resistance to learning that I have encountered. Like you I have many students I enjoy working with, but just as many who only come to school as a place to socialize and eat. Sometimes the endless challenges are overwhelming. I hope you can harness your good intentions and strong work ethic to secure a new position in education or in another line of work where you can add value and enjoy your work.

  73. I was interested in the comments of people who have taught for over 15 years and then moved.
    I like my job as a public high school teacher. I just don’t love it. Frankly, I feel burnt out. I feel to be in this odd situation where I’m in a very middle class high school where there is general, overall lack of respect for the profession. I have the occasional students that are motivated and driven and very pleasant. But I have an awful lot of students who are just rude and disrespectful and don’t seem to care about learning in general. Maybe it’s just me. I just found comfort from reading these posts. I’ve been contemplating a career change and, as an English teacher, with degrees in English, I’m wondering what I can pursue. I will take the salary cut. I know there will be one. Anyhow, it just felt nice to post this. Thanks.

  74. I just wanted to chime in once again to thank those of you who continue to share your stories here. There are many teachers reading this post on a daily basis, and I’m really appreciate of the fact that so many of you are taking the time to let them know they’re not the only ones. I wish that this wasn’t such a common problem, but I’m glad that we are here to support one another.

  75. I’m thinking about leaving my school, which I love, because of a colleague who is impossible to work with. She keeps behaving horribly unprofessionally. For example, she bursts into my classroom and yells at me in front of my students. She spreads untrue rumours about me to others on staff (without realising that they will come and talk to me about these rumours). She blames me for “sabotaging” her with the students and somehow making them dislike her. She makes me so stressed out that I don’t want to go to work anymore even though I love my job and my students. My union is toothless about this kind of thing, and administration has said that adults need to act like adults and get along, and won’t direct her to stop. So I feel like I’m out of options, and it makes me so sad.

    1. I had this same problem. It took a few years, but she finally sank her own ship. She alienated the entire faculty with her lies and accusations. Now everyone sees through her and “has her number.” She finally dug herself in so deep that she moved to another school to escape her nasty reputation. So, hang in there if you can. The sweetest revenge is when you don’t have to do ANYTHING to someone else because they do it for you.

      1. Thanks Texas Teacher,
        I know exactly what you mean, and I hope that’s how this ends too. Unfortunately my nasty colleague is pretty thick-skinned and doesn’t seem to care (or even notice!) that people are unimpressed with her behaviour. She doesn’t have the decency to be ashamed of herself, which makes this situation extra difficult. But I do appreciate your point and am trying to find other ways to survive so I do not have to give up my position at a school where I am otherwise very happy. Thanks for your support!

  76. This post was very helpful for me. I recently quit my job after Spring Break. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I am an African-American woman and i was teaching in an urban area where EVERYDAY someone was being called a “b—-“, administrators were yelling in the students face, multiple kids were getting arrested, getting pregnant and this was a MIDDLE SCHOOL! In fact, there were 2 17-year old at the school and they both asked me on dates! The administration did nothing! Kids would throw stuff at teachers and curse them out and be back the same day, no consequences. WE would get the blame for low test scores when half of the kids would skip the test. I would try to get through to the students, but they would fight you EVERY DAY and they loved me, but I just felt like they weren’t learning from me. I knew it was time to leave because when I would come home, I would be in a bad mood and my every thing my daughter did aggravated me. I’m trying to look for another teaching job at another district, but I think my decision is going to work agaisnst me. I know they are going to ask me at my interview why i quit, but I don’t want to bad mouth the other school or seem like I don’t have classroom management.

  77. I quit after the first two weeks of my seventh year teaching and experienced true grief over the decision, but I had to put my health first. We were under yet ~another~ new administration, discipline was out of control and getting progressively worse year after year, and I had 38 kindergartners in a room without enough tables or chairs. I just knew that I could not go through another year of chaos, stress, and maltreatment. Eight months later, my first thought is still “Oh no, we can’t have recess!” when it rains and I can’t resist going down the school supplies isle. I’m still very sad about the whole situation.

  78. Wow, I just finished reading some of these stories. Here I am after 17 years trying to buy years so I can retire early. I love being a teacher but the workload is more than most people can handle. I’m going to teach another year and hope things get better but the job has definitely caused health issues related to stress. Sometimes I wonder how my husband has put up with me because I feel like I’m always doing “school stuff.” Those of you with young children, I don’t know how you do it and I give you a lot of credit. I love working with children and will continue when I retire but not at this pace.

  79. Without a job lined up, I quit from my teaching job when the school year had already started. I never got to say goodbye to my students, fellow teachers and staff. I simply picked my purse and personal belongings went to the principal’s office and tendered my resignation right on the spot. I was teaching in an urban charter school. I must admit I had left the school unprofessionally because I had blindsided everybody including my students. I just reached the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. I have been in the teaching profession for almost 10 years, two years of which was spent in special education. When I left the building that day, I felt a heavy weight on my shoulder had been lifted and went home with a smile on my face chanting on my way: no more school, no more books, no more administrator’s dirty looks. I miss my students but only very few of them. Most of them just don’t give a **** when a teacher quits midyear. They just think it’s normal and that the school can always find a replacement. Fast forward, I am still unemployed, not because I am unemployable but because I couldn’t figure out what I really wanted to do as most of my working years have been spent in teaching. I just don’t want to go back to teaching anymore but I also couldn’t imagine myself doing something else. I also think that my quitting midyear has hurt my chance of getting a teaching job. Maybe.

    If you are reading this and thinking of quitting from your teaching job, yes, go ahead and quit but make sure you know what you want to do next and you have back up plans, enough funds to survive the days figuring out the changes you want to happen. It’s been hard for me but I am just glad that these things are happening now that I am still single and I only have myself to tend and be concerned about.

    Now, I would like to ask what other job options for former teachers. Thanks for reading.

  80. In a Bind

    I have been a teacher for twelve years. For nine years I worked with special education students with significant emotional, social, and academic challenges. About half of these students were physically aggressive. My caseload averaged about seven students, and I always had two I.A.s. My sudents were all “mainstreamed” for at least 75% of the school day. I had to collaborate daily with multiple classroom teachers and specialists, and I was in frequent contact with parents, some of whom were as challenging (if not more) as their kids. Despite the challenges of this work, I was good at it, and
    did feel that my program was much better supported than most programs in the district. By my 9th year though, I was restless, and I wanted a change and returned to grad school.

    I got a 2nd Master’s and switched to teaching middle school humanities in an urban school. While I did well in my grad program and with student teaching in an urban school, I have done poorly in my new position. At the end of my first year, I blamed my challenges with discipline and the long work
    hours, on my lack of experience. During my second year, I actively sought out help but received no support from my administrators. No adminstrators visited my classroom all year except for the two required half hour observations. It wasn’t until the end of the
    year when I received a poor rating in classrrom management that my supervisor promised a coach for me the following year. I should have left then, but I felt ashamed by my evaluation and felt that it would keep me from being hired elsewhere. So, I spent last summer recharging and started the new year with optimism. I did get a coach, but it didn’t really help. My workload actually increased because of the after school meetings with my coach and weekly check-in nettings with my
    supervisor. I wasn’t able to grade, create work material & anchor charts, or correspond with families – and often even lesson plan – during these meetings. On top of that, my district increased the number of dept. “planning” meetings, which, at my school, basically end up being gripe and gossip sessions
    plus a lot if loose brainstorming which results in great ideas that are never followed through upon. So, I was basically working 6 to 6 daily + 8 hours on the weekend, and was still unable to keep up. I experienced major burnout by winter break but kept trudging through until the spring when I was forced to take extended medical leave because of the toll the stress took on my health. At the end if the year I was placed on probation status.

    I have spent this summer tutoring ESY (“extended school year” for students with IEPs who haven’t made adequate progress toward their goals) students , teaching an ESY class, and applying for jobs,
    but I have not landed anything. I feel like my probation status is like the Scarlet Letter even though I
    am looking for special education jobs I know I could excel at. Comparing most Sp Ed jobs to secondary reg ed jobs is like comparing apples and oranges. Both, of course, have their challenges,
    but the challenges are extremely different. I cannot transfer to a different job in my own district because of my status. Now, school is about to resume, and I am sick to my stomach about returning to the job that has made me miserable (and an ineffective teacher!) but resigning would carry a huge
    toll. I am single and have a mortgage, car and school loan repayments, a health issue that needs ongoing treatment, and no family who can help me out financially. Unemployment could quickly lead to the loss of my insurance, car, and home. I would not qualify for unemployment compensation or be able to refinance my home. My therapist and a career counselor both have advised me to hold onto my job, but I fear that things will go even worse. I am close to the point of taking to huge financial risk of resigning.

  81. Oh wow, Skylark. I really feel for you. I don’t know if your private system is any better but maybe it’s worth looking at applying to the private school system too. Also, can you get your doctor or therapist to authorize a stress leave?

    I’m really sorry you’re going through this. Public education can be so brutal to its employees, uses them all up and then offers no support when they stumble. Take care of yourself and my advice would be that it you cannot stomach going back to school, take the financial risk. Talk to your bank about missing a few payments, take a loan, downsize, whatever you need to do to protect your mental health. Sending you all good wishes.

  82. I started teaching at at Title 1 middle school Aug. 15 and I’m ready to quit. I echo everyone’s comments except for the administration. They are, in fact, quite wonderful and supportive. However, for the sake of my health and my general quality of life, I choose not to spend 8AM-3PM in a severe state of stress where the only things I accomplish are writing detention slips and muttering empty threats. I feel an incredible sense of defeat, dread, guilt, and sadness. I had fantasies of medical benefits and encouraging lectures with a group of young minds. I failed and take responsibility for that. But if I’m going to fail, I want it to happen now and not 10 years down the road where I look back and think, “what am I still doing here?” This is one of the saddest moments of my life.

  83. Thanks for sharing. It really does make a difference if your administrators have your back. My first principal did have my back, but that new one…NO COMMENT. Every time I would send a student to the office, it was overturned and they won. Also,not once did I have my observations until a disagreement happened right after spring break. Then they showed up to spy but it was well then. I was fired because of students and parents with money complaining about me all the time. Even close teachers turned on me. Never would I have ever thought that my word didn’t count for anything. I begged for cameras in the room just to prove my case because every other day I was called in on during my planning. I had received excellent evaluations until this demon came on the scene. After that, all of my evaluations were horrific. Defamation of character occurred but I didn’t have a case. It was my word against theirs. The other administrator knew the truth but went along with him like a coward. How do I recovered from this??? I still love my career and just need a fresh start.

  84. I also am struggling with making the decision to leave the profession. I am currently in my 8th year in the same district. 4 years ago I was moved to our upper elementary building without any conversation, reasons why, and told that we should all be glad we have a job. Needless to say…I did not want to move. I was extremely happy where I was…my students loved me…the parents loved me…and I had excellent reviews every year. I woke up each day ready to work and extremely excited and happy to go. I love teaching! I always give 110% every day.
    I’ve been given the behavior issues each year (right from my first year). I’ve always dealt and have turned around quite a few students. I’ve been told by the administrators that they know I can handle them. Actually what that means is: they know I won’t be sending them to the office…I’ll handle it in my classroom. At the end of the school year, last year, I specifically asked to be given a break with the behavior. Again…I was told that I can handle them. I stated that I take that as a compliment, but I’m burning out and need a break from it for 1 year. Well…I’ve got 5 behaviors in my classroom. I feel like a babysitter instead of a teacher. I spend more time trying to keep students out of trouble than I do teaching. I feel awful for the students that do the right thing each and every day. The massive amounts of stress has caused my migraines to go out of control. I left on a 2 week sick leave with a doctor’s note. I am struggling now because the 2 weeks is almost up. I haven’t had a migraine at all in the time I’ve been off, but I’m beginning to think about what I’ll be facing when I go back next week, and I’m waking up in the middle of the night with dread in the pit of my stomach. Now, I’m grappling with: Do I resign? Do I go back?

  85. I’m so glad to find this post. I am currently struggling with the idea of leaving my job mid-year. I changed jobs this year (a decision I highly regret now!) because my school was far away from home and also increasingly test-centered rather than student-centered. Enter new job at a charter school designed for drop-out risk students. The idea is great, and the kids are great, but the job is ridiculous! 80% of my job is paperwork, and 20% of it is teaching. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to shortchange a needy student because I’m desperately trying to keep track of the paperwork. I wish I could fudge the paperwork, but teachers are audited on their paperwork once a month and given a numerical grade based on compliance. It’s crazy! We have some of the neediest students out there, but I feel like I can’t even teach them half the time.

    Meanwhile, we have no substitutes, so when a teacher is gone, we cover for them in addition to covering for our own class. If two teachers are gone…well, you get the picture. This wouldn’t be a huge deal except that someone has been absent almost everyday. Thus, I haven’t had a consistent schedule since the day I started. Apparently, the schedule is just for documentation purposes? Just like everything else here! So, that means I rarely if ever get a planning period to grade and plan. It also means lots of “working lunches” because all meetings are scheduled during lunch.

    Lastly, we don’t have an ESL teacher, so as an English teacher that responsibility falls to me. Don’t get me wrong; in a former life I was a SPED and ESL teacher, and I LOVE IT!!! However, the solution is to take my writing lab time and turn it into ESL time. So all my struggling writers lose out on the chance to be taught how to write better. This doesn’t directly affect me, but it totally shortchanges the students who I need to work with the most, and that’s the reason why I became a teacher in the first place – to help needy students! Don’t even get me started on 504 and sped students; I was told that it’s not part of the special education teacher’s job to modify curriculum, accommodate sped students, and certainly never to work with 504 students! That responsibility falls on the gen ed teacher…who is busy covering for other absent teachers and is spending 80% of her time on paperwork.

    It’s hard to believe I took a $12,000 pay cut to end up doing the job of three teachers. I hate the idea of quitting a new job mid-year, but I just can’t keep doing this. I spend my every waking moment focused on work, most of which doesn’t qualify as teaching. I think it’s time to change.

  86. I just wanted to share that after some serious soul-searching, prayer, and a lot of contemplation, I decided that I will resign from teaching in my district in January, at the end of the second marking period. It was not a choice I took lightly, but it is one that needs to be done. With the job starting to demand more and more of me and my time and energy, I am coming home later and with more and more work to do, all the while caring for a disabled husband and an infant daughter. My family has had to really suffer from my busyness, and I realized that I need to put them first, even over my job and paycheck. It isn’t an easy decision; I’m the breadwinner in the family and now we may be on welfare for a period of time. But it wasn’t worth it to stick it out and suffer and leave my family suffering (my husband nearly died last year from physical problems, and he’s still trying to recover from some issues). I’m sad about it. It pains me to hurt these poor kids. I really love them, nutty ones and all. I love my fellow teachers. But I just can’t do this job anymore. The country needs to get with it and take a careful look at what they are doing to teachers. If things were the way the were back in 2006, I wouldn’t be resigning. Thanks for sharing. I really needed to read this tonight!

  87. Wow, I can relate to everyone’s story here. I too am currently wrestling with the idea of resigning mid year. I taught high school for five years, and this is my first year teaching middle school. I can’t believe how much I really dislike it. I’m in the inner city (again) and I thought that I’d like this school and things would be different. Many students have severe emotional issues and it’s a really unpleasant experience going to work every day. Some students are just angry, disrespectful, and just plain difficult to deal with. I have very little support from administration; there is NO policy for discipline or behavior at the school in general. I find that baffling. I’m just tired of the inner city and the issues it brings. I’m also an adjunct college professor, and I truly love teaching WILLING learners as opposed to RELUCTANT learners. I think that’s where my career is heading. Despite the loss of money and insurance, I am really considering resigning. I can continue to adjunct and explore other opportunities. I never thought I’d leave mid year, but I truly feel like I’m going downhill. I hate to complain, and I’d hate to be that teacher…the one who is bitter and hates life. I think I need to make this difficult change.

    Thanks for everyone who responded here. It’s helpful to hear that we’re not alone, and sometimes life forces us to make tough choices. It’s hard because we all know that leaving affects so many other people. Ultimately, we all have to make our own decisions based on what we think is best, and we have to live with those decisions. If others don’t like it, oh well. Other people’s opinion of me is their business. I have to live MY life.

    1. SG,
      I wonder where you work. It sounds just like my own district. I worked under those conditions for six years. I really didn’t think I could go on and then a Title 1 position opened and I actually enjoy my job now. I work in classrooms with small groups of students and soon I will have a caseload of the lowest students who need small group intensive interventions. I have always felt that urban students fare better in the small group rather than the in a whole class setting. I taught middle school in the inner city for four years and thought of quitting almost everyday and certainly every Sunday. You are right to give yourself the option to leave if you are losing your joy and your health. Good Luck on your journey.

    2. SG,
      Teaching those “reluctant learners” is a super tough job. Teaching them with no discipline support from admin is even tougher! I’m glad that you realize that this situation isn’t the right one for you, but that it doesn’t mean you are a BAD teacher. Each teacher thrives in their own specific environment. Even a great teacher can feel or look like a horrible teacher if they are in a “bad fit”. Keep looking for your “right fit “. Once you are there, everything will fall into place. But in the meantime, try not to give up on those kids. You might be the one person who reaches one of them.

  88. Wow! My school is safe, but some of the behaviors are the same. It is crazy. I have been there for 5 years and every year is worse because there is a dump truck that keeps dumping dirt on us and we are buried. I cannot get a good relationship with my kids. This is crazy time! It is wrong….it is not good for kids or teachers! I hope and pray it gets better, or I will leave the profession all together. When educators make policy we will be heading in the right direction.

  89. Thanks for your story, Angela, and the many replies. I was a mid-life career changer and went into teaching with lots of idealism, in spite of my husband’s advice not to do it (he taught 33 years in the inner city and quit mid-year before retirement due to burnout). I got bumped around several districts, and managed to find other jobs because I’m a bilingual teacher. However, I got into teaching during a time when budgets are being tightened more and more every year, there are a plethora of terrible administrators, and there is the pressure of testing under No Child Left Behind. Also, here in Illinois, you must teach for 4 years and be rehired for your 5th in order to get tenure. I never got there, always losing my job due to a lousy, unsupportive principal or being cut in favor of a tenured teacher. It got harder and harder to find a job as my resume grew longer. So I finally gave up. After being a substitute for a year in an large urban school district, I am now working as a bilingual classroom assistant in a suburban district. The pay is low but the insurance is great, and I love it! The teachers I work for are very supportive and appreciative of my help. We have plenty of needy students and some cause trouble, but I love them. I enjoy being able to help teachers and work with kids in a capacity that I would have liked to have had help me when I was the classroom teacher. I am given professional development opportunities and to make extra money by attending other workshops or translating at conferences. I will check out the link Angela posted for alternatives to teaching, also. But meanwhile, I’m in the environment I love (school and children) with a much lower stress job.

  90. I never comment on anything online, but sheesh…Reading this, it’s like I could have written it.

    I taught inner city in New Jersey for 1 month. I had taught before, including some inner city kids, but what ruined it for me was my administration. I never saw IEPs or 504s. I had at least five emotionally disturbed students who threatened me and attacked my other students. When I called security, I was told that I was enforcing a racial stereotype and should break it up or let them fight it out and then deal with it in the middle of instruction.

    It broke my heart to leave those kids. I felt really sad and guilty for a few weeks. But I left because I was crying all night when I got home, losing weight, not sleeping, taking it out on my family, throwing up, and having panic attacks. I had to go on medical leave, because I was so sick from the job.

    Now, I’m in an amazing public school district where I went to school as a child. I still feel guilty about the students I left behind, but what these schools need to learn is that we can’t help “those kids” if we don’t have the administration behind us, open-minded, and supportive. Especially if you’re a young teacher like me.

    THANK YOU so much for posting this. It truly made me feel so much better than all the “non-teachers” I have around me who have tried to console me. It is nice for me, and I’m sure all of you here, to know that we are not alone and it is not our fault.

  91. florida teacher over here..I just have to say..that I have taught back on and off for 3 months at a clip never securing a full-time position. I finally have a position and now I hate my life..it’s really the administration..the principal..seems to find fault with everything i do..she comes from a failing school herself..she doesn’t know how to treat people right..the families and kids are very content with me..but she gave me a poor review. I’m thinking of leaving even though I finally wanted this position. It’s in an urban area and the kids can get out of hand..I dread waking up and going there every day..Do you think if i leave I will ruin all chances of teaching in another place?? Also, I do have other skills..I was thinking of leaving for the winter break..

  92. Thank you for posting this. I have been teaching for 19 years and it is definitely getting harder – so hard that even old ones like me are ready to give it all up. There are many days that I wonder what else can I do with my degrees (2 Bachelors – 1 in Elementary Education, 1 in English and a Master of Education) that isn’t regular classroom instruction? I need ideas for helping kids outside the classroom and I’m all ears. 🙂

  93. I really appreciate this post. I’ve read it twice this week; I found it looking for something to shake me out of my funk. I’m a second year teacher who has left an urban position near the end of the year because the battles just got too much: The aging, windowless building, the lack of resources, the students, inconsistent consequences, problems with the administration…. I’m indeed heartened that I’m not the only one.

    Groundhog Day: That’s what it felt like for me. Six hours of getting the students to quiet down and trying to shove in enough instruction so it didn’t feel like I was just a babysitter.

  94. To the critics. This kind of stress is cumulative. It builds. You start out being an achiever and keep trying, but the circumstances out of your control keep eating away at you. Some of you critics are male and I will point out that children can have a different reaction to male teachers — if you are even teachers. But male or female, the climate in schools can be toxic and is building. It will damage education unless outside issues are fixed. Teachers turn on teachers, pushing others down trying to keep their own heads afloat. Teachers are not supported and yet support is exactly what will fix education.

  95. I found this site a week ago. I have been going back and reading it every day since then. I am so glad to know that I am not alone. After years of guilt, torment, and regret, as a teacher, I’ve decided to leave a post here and move on with my life. I need a catharsis.
    I’ve been a teacher for 12 years in a very large urban school district (the one where we’re on the news all the time, especially two years ago). I started out bright-eyed and dedicated, as all young teachers do. But as time passed, as my personal life moved forward, I began to question why I was a teacher. Yet, each day, I went to work with hope and vigor.
    Four years ago, I was laid off. My principal called and read a scripted letter about budget cuts. She told me she was ashamed and embarrassed for letting me go like this, but “the top” informed her that was how it was to be done. Shocked, I trudged on. I sent out resumes by the dozens, waiting to hear from someone. The interviews slowly rolled in. To my surprise, here’s the unprofessionalism that followed…
    I interviewed with a principal, who then offered me the job on the spot. He was leaving on vacation for two weeks and would submit all my paperwork to HR on return. The two weeks went by and I did not hear from him. I called and did not get a response. I emailed and didn’t get a response. Four weeks later I heard from him, “Sorry, due to budget cuts, we no longer have this position”.
    Another principal insisted I bring my master’s degree portfolio (it had been five years since I graduated). He spent an hour critiquing my works, telling I had the potential to be a great teacher. He then made me sit in an after-school class he taught for an hour, to show me what a great teacher does. He lectured at the students for an hour (they were fourth graders). A student didn’t know who to spell “frightening” asked him to put it on the board, he misspelled it.
    At yet another school, I interviewed with a team. I arrived on time and was kept waiting for an hour and a half in the middle of a snow storm. When the interview began, no one introduced themselves, but the questions started to roll. I couldn’t answer them. After about five minutes of this uncomfortableness, I looked down at the papers on the table. They had another teacher’s resume in hand. They were asking me questions scripted for another position.
    A third principal, didn’t ask about my teaching experiences, but was more concerned about my political affiliations. He called my references, not to ask what kind of teacher I was, but wanted to know how active I was with my union.
    One Sunday night, after my children were in bed (about 9), I received a phone call from a principal. She didn’t apologize for calling so late, but rushed right into a phone interview. Surprised, but polite, I answered to the best of my abilities. I looked like a great candidate! She said she would bring my resume to her special education team on Monday to set up an in person interview. Monday came, no call. Tuesday came, no call. I followed up on Wednesday, just voicemail. I called on Thursday, only voicemail. By Friday, I gave up.
    I felt disappointed. I was frustrated, but I wasn’t giving up. I decided to take long term subbing positions. At least this way, I would have an opportunity to get into a school, do what I love, and make money. I’d have to give up my tenure, but that was pointless anyway. So I went from school to school for a few years. At the end of each position, there was nothing permanent. One principal was kind enough to let me know “on the sly” that I’d have a hard time finding a position, since I cost too much to employ permanently.
    Yet, I trudged on. Two years ago, I took a yearlong maternity leave position. The school was over-crowded. We were cramped two classes in a room. Students were receiving services in broom closets, hallways, and utility rooms. But I was happy to have a job. I loved the kids. I went to work happy.
    After the holidays, as happens, teachers started to get burnt out. They started taking days off. There weren’t any substitutes. So, I, the special education teacher, got pulled to sub in various classrooms. Then, due to lack of staffing, I also became a recess monitor for an hour every day. I saw less and less of my special education students. They weren’t receiving their minutes according to their IEPs. They were falling behind. Parents were emailing me about their grades. I couldn’t tell them what was going. I couldn’t tell them they weren’t receiving services. I would have been fired!
    As an advocate for my special needs students, I went to the case manager, then to the assistant principal to voice my concerns. Nothing was done. “That’s just the way things are”, I was told. So I continued to do everything except teach my special needs students. While running from room to room monitoring students at recess, my inner voice was nagging me, “Part of my teacher evaluation were my student test scores! How were their scores going to look when I wasn’t even teaching my students on most days?”
    That little voice in my head rang true. My student test scores went down, my evaluation went down, and I was let go. But not before I was summoned to the principal’s office to be humiliated two months before my dismissal. This is what I was told, “The position has become permanent, but YOU personally make me uncomfortable. I work hard to make this school great. You are undermining me with your complaining about subbing and recess duty. You’re not a team player.” I stifled back tears and shock. I apologized to HER! I told her that it wasn’t a personal attack. I had concerns about meeting my students’ needs. Their IEP minutes weren’t being met. We were violating laws. It didn’t matter. Her mind was made up.
    I continued to work there. I didn’t quit. I did the best that I could. Each day I would drive to work with this horrible angst in my heart. I would swallow back tears as I walked in through the door. I put on a smile for my students. I taught them the best way I knew how, I wrote their IEPs, I spent hours writing lesson plans, making copies, and collaborating with my fellow teachers. I went outside and supervised them during recess. I subbed when I was told to sub. I was a “good little soldier” and did what I was told to do.
    So ignoring my family’s needs, my own mental health and sanity, I found another school to work at. I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t a bad teacher. I was going to prove it to myself! I attended meeting after meeting about test scores, data walls, behavior management, and everything else you could imagine at the beginning of the year. You see, the requirements for teachers now, are five days of professional development with only three hours of teacher directed time before the start of the school year.
    I came in hours before and stayed hours after school to set up my classroom. There were no supplies, no materials, or anything in my classroom. I scoured the building. I went to thrift stores and teacher stores. I dragged in my own materials. I went in on the weekend to make my classroom welcoming and inviting. I worked on unit plans, lesson plans, and curriculum on weekends. My own children forgot they had a mother. I would kiss them as they were waking up in the morning and kiss them as they were going to bed at night.
    The school year began and so did the insanity. One particular student was extremely disturbed. He was out to get everyone. Within the first three weeks of school, he attacked other students and staff members. There were no consequences. Administration ignored him and pretended he didn’t exist. He told students, me, and other staff members, “Shut-up, you mother-@!?!s”. He tackled students in halls. He sexually harassed students and staff. He ran from classroom to classroom shouting his profanities. There’s so much more that went on, I can’t bear to write it.
    His aide chased him. I chased him. I called his mother. She wasn’t coming to school. I documented his behavior. I wrote referrals. Other teachers wrote referrals. Aides wrote referrals. That was all I was doing. I was not teaching. I was just documenting. And all I heard was silence from the administration. I emailed. I begged for a conference. I heard nothing, just morning announcements about how great the school year was so far.
    Each morning I would get up and tell myself that things would get better as the school year progressed. Each day I would come home and take out my anger and frustration on my own children. I screamed at them, I yelled at them, I humiliated them, all because of this one student. I had no support. I was on my own and it was only September. How was I going to make it the rest of the year?
    I knew I wasn’t. I knew deep down inside that this student of mine was going to keep on doing what he was doing. It wasn’t going to stop. That is how our system of education works, especially in the inner city. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t sleep. I was hiding in my bathroom crying, so my family wouldn’t see.
    So I did it. I QUIT.
    I went into work one early Monday morning and packed my personal belongings. I didn’t wait for administration. They’re always late due to some meeting. I apologized to the school secretary for inconveniencing her. I left all school property with her. I told her I was quitting. I left my resignation letter with her and I walked out.
    Deep down inside I felt like a coward. I felt so unprofessional for doing what I did. I should have stood up for myself. I should have stood up for all my other students. I should have waited for the principal and spoke my mind. But I just couldn’t. I was tired, shattered, and scared.
    I’m dealing with a lot of guilt. I gave up a month into the school year. I left my students behind. Students who really needed a good teacher are left with nothing. I left part of my dignity, self-esteem, and pride at that school. I am trying to find my peace. This site with all your stories brings me some of that peace I need. I know that I am not the only one: I was a good teacher, who tried, in spite of everything I’ve been through. I didn’t fail. The system failed. A system that is so disconnected from the children it serves and the teachers it employs, has failed. That student’s parents failed him. I won’t be held responsible for him or his behaviors. My family, my kids, and my mental stability come first.

  96. It’s so helpful to hear from someone who has been through a very similar situation as mine, and come out the other side.

    I’m feeling the exact same things you were describing, and seriously considering quitting. The problem is, I’ll lose my certificate in my state for the remainder of this year plus another year. The final straw for me has been that a parent has been threatening me for calling CPS. I really, really want to remain a teacher–just not in my current situation.

    I’m really at a loss. I don’t want to lose my certification, but I seriously question whether I’ll be able to live through this year.

  97. By chance I came upon this article this evening. After the hard decision my family and I have just made it was a nice confirmation that I have to do what’s best for my health and for my family. In my case, it was by no means the kiddos. I do have a very very low group of students this year,but all are eager and want to learn so bad. They are learning to be a great team/class. In my case it is the administration and the absolute lack of respect for teachers at the school I work at. I have been harassed, lied to, insulted, undermined, and made to feel worthless. Most of my colleagues have experienced the same. Thank you for posting your article. I has made me feel much better about my pending early retirement and hopefully a new chapter in my career at a new school.

  98. Finding a school is like finding a pair of shoes. You may have to try on several pair before you find the one that fits you best. But eventually you find the right pair for you.

  99. My situation is not as harsh as yours. I actually have a very ideal setting: 11 kids in a portable and I have made my room like a warm, comforting home complete with dining tables & chairs, couches & curtains…but…the pressures of creating everything from scratch with barely any support or materials and the deadlines complete with putting my family on the back burner since July (yes, July) is not worth it. I commute 45 minutes each way and my husband’s job has him out of town almost every two weeks for that same amount of time. My children are too far away from me if, God forbid, anything happens to them and daddy is out. I am quitting without a job waiting for me and I will need a paycheck by November 30. There maybe something in the works and I am hoping for good news soon…but I am not banking on it. I hate teaching the test and not really educating my students. I have had the best bunch of students in my teaching career and I do feel guilty walking away…I consistently (by God’s grace) get proficient marks on my evaluations…but at the expense of my family…Please pray that something comes up soon that will maximize my abilities maybe outside of a classroom setting…sometimes that choice must be made and bridges may be burned, but I would rather burn that bridge than burn my family.

  100. I am a new teacher, so some of the stress probably has to do with that… however I teach kindergarten and we have four sections in our school, each of them with 23 students. The schedule us pretty much 8-2:30 pm with one hour break to get their things ready in the morning and then a lunch break. All I do is work and have no time for me. I get sleep, just because when I get home I’m so exhausted because I’ve spent 13/14 hours at school. I know if I quit I’d be be ruining the kids learning, but I don’t know if I can physically do this all year.

  101. Wow. THANK YOU for the original story and all the comments afterwards except for the negative ones. I am in this exact moment, very much like the one above who said she was in her first year. I homeschooled my son for three years and could kick myself for ever changing that decision. I got my Bachelors degree and was so proud!!!! I got a job and was thrilled! Then the job started and I have been extremely overwhelmed. When I finally reached a breaking point two weeks ago, I so wanted to hand in a letter of resignation but my principal told me give it some more time and go to the doctor. The doctor told me, “HAND IN YOUR 2 weeks notice now… your anxiety is stemming from this new job”. After five days of being sick AGAIN over midterm, I now want am dreading going back. This has given me a confidence that it happens sometimes. Sometimes, you have to take care of your personal and mental health!
    My son does not care for the demands of private school either… and is happy to go back to homeschooling. Now, If I can only get enough courage to type that resignation letter and hand it in. My admin seems to want to argue you out of all your decisions.

    1. I too quit a teaching position. I quit three weeks into the school year, so about a month ago from now. This was my first job out of college and I was so excited. To my great dismay, things did not turn out how I had hoped.

      I left because I had no experience in the classroom and was overwhelmed by all the tasks I had to complete. Upon graduation, I joined an alternative route program, much like Caesar’s, where I had five weeks of training. Looking back, it was in an unrealistic environment compared to that of my independent placement school in the fall. While I trained at a summer school, I had four co-teachers, an experienced teacher in my classroom monitoring at all times, and an additional coach to guide me. Here I myself only taught for a 30 minute period and another 45 minutes with a small group.

      I started at my placement school a month later. Here I was by myself, with 22 bilingual second graders, from 8:05 to 3:45, and in charge of five subjects. Additionally, I had four students who demanded my attention at all times because they constantly struggled to stay still, remain quiet, remain in their seats, and keep their hands to themselves.

      I had no idea as to what I was doing. Keeping my students safe became my priority after realizing some of my students could not control their behavior and often hit others or put themselves in unsafe situations like climbing my shelves close to my windows. Not only did I not know how to teach but within the environment of my classroom, I could not teach.

      While I was “teaching”, I was in the school with my kids until 3:45pm and then remained there until about 7, sometimes 8. Then, I went home and fell asleep from exhaustion. I then woke up at 3am to plan for the day that would start within hours. Because my school was undergoing a lot of changes this year, the teachers had very few days before school started to prepare our classroom and lesson plan. So, I was living day by day.

      It was not long before my health began to deteriorate. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. After the second week, I began to have great anxiety and panic attacks. Every day I woke up and had so much nausea I could not eat breakfast. During my lunch, I was usually busy so I did not have time to eat either. After crying one day, I cried every day after that. I had never experienced something so suffocating.

      I had additional pressure from a graduate program I was required to complete to obtain my official teaching certificate. I began to fall behind on this work because of all the tasks I believed were more important for my class.

      Regardless, my efforts in my classroom were fruitless. By my third week with my students, I was still on the first week of curriculum. My students’ parents also began to complain about the lack of homework. Since I struggled to prepare work for my students to do throughout the day and prepare lessons they could understand, I often failed to give homework.

      So, I decided to leave. I couldn’t spend another day seeing my students gazing into outer space or building a collection of paper airplanes any longer. I was afraid of delaying their learning any longer and I was afraid that someone would get physically hurt because I did not have the classroom management skills to help my four students who needed it most. I was not ready to be their teacher and I knew I could not provide them with what they needed. Also, I had no idea as to how to teach, let alone teach children whose native language was not English. Being able to speak Spanish and English, I thought I was going to be capable, but I wasn’t. I quickly realized that teaching bilingual children requires a set of very special skills because they need specific tools and strategies to help them understand and learn.

      Talking and laughing with my students was the best part of those three weeks. I love children and I really cared about my students. I dreamt of making my classroom a place where my students would love to be present in and had so many ideas as to how to celebrate our successes, birthdays and holidays. I wanted to help my students who had behavioral problems learn ways to reduce their stress and prevent their triggers. I wished to help my students who couldn’t read in either language do so and push the others who could further.

      Being a person whose life has always been about serving others, my decision to leave was very difficult. I have always worked extremely hard in my life and have never quit from anything. So making this decision a month ago is one I will never forget. I left my students with substitutes because I could not deal with the anxiety and panic I felt every day. I went in on a Monday morning and handed in my resignation letter. I had already arranged for a substitute to cover my class that day because I felt so unstable. I collected my few belongings and brought in some classroom supplies I still had unopened in my house. I asked for the attention of my students and told them that I was going to leave that morning. They, like others from former posts, were quiet. I gave them hugs good-bye and told them it was not their fault but mine and that I needed to go back to my “teaching school” to learn how to be a better teacher before I taught again. I told them they would get a teacher who had a lot more experience and who would be able to teach them so much more. I spent a few minutes with them, telling each one that I believed they could achieve so much and was counting on them to do so. Tears and all, my time with my kids was over.

      I’m crying as I write this because the whole experience still hurts a lot. I wish I had never stepped into that classroom because then my students would not have lost their teacher. I know I brought great disappointment and frustration to my students’ parents as well especially because I did have an overall good relationship with them. I was only able to speak with a few that morning and explain my decision.

      I know my experience is very different from that of teachers who have taught for many years. Nonetheless, the guilt and sadness veteran teachers talk about after leaving is very real and painful for me too. I believe I am still suffering from depression today because of my decision to leave my second graders behind, and my inability to remain in the classroom for them.

      However, at the time, it was continue with my panic attacks and inability to teach my students or leave.

      So, reading Angela’s article and the stories in the comments have made me feel a little better. (Yes, I have read all of them.) They make me feel like I am not crazy for what I did. I loved my students, regardless of what anyone believes, but I couldn’t handle the pressure of what was expected and what my students truly needed. So instead of coasting the rest of the year, I left. I didn’t want the money if I knew I was acting more of a babysitter than a teacher.

      I know I have a long road ahead of me to recover from this experience. My confidence and what I think of myself has been seriously damaged. However, knowing I am not alone and others have gone through this as well, in their own situations, makes me feel like there is some hope. For others who are struggling with the decision to leave, know that the road you choose when you leave is very difficult too. However, I hear it gets better and I wish you all the best as you decide what is best in your circumstances.

  102. Great posts everyone! I am a 2nd year P.E. teacher/coach for a rural school district teaching both elementary and high school students seeing about 190 students per day and have subbed 1.5 year in a metro area before my position. I am newlywed since July and live 3 hours away from my wife living with my parents who are very supportive, which this is our 2nd year being apart while she is finishing up nursing school and is very difficult to be away from her and our close friends. I am struggling dealing with disrespectful students after having many talks about character, little support from administration and putting more focus on coaching than my actual teaching. My health is not very good after being sick twice already and still sick the last 7 weeks. I am angry and frustrated on how trying to teaching these students.

    Even being a PE teacher, you think you would enjoy teaching, but I do more managing behavior, emailing parents, and constantly reminding students of expectations, but no change has happened and little teaching happened. The younger students really like me, but will not work in class for me. The staff is not very friendly and the community is not very supportive to the staff. I want to resign mid-year to be with my wife, to regain my health, have a chance to be hired again somewhere else next year, and enjoy life again. It is very hard and knowing that after Xmas break I will still have 5 months to push through. I do not want to disappoint my students, my parents, staff, or my wife, but life is short and so is my overall well-being. I have experience working many other part-time jobs in college, but don’t want to be pressure on my wife financially once she gets a job.

    Would like to hear some advice from everyone on my situation!

  103. I quit. I didn’t even have a problem with my job. I believe my principal started “bullying” me when I opened my mouth about simple and mundane issues at staff meetings. Pretty ridiculous. I was ambushed one Friday, the day after BTSN, and was told I spoke to slowly at BTSN, and was I on drugs?!? Being around the other stressed, competitive, robotic teachers was enough. Now this? I quit on the spot. I had to SAVE myself and my family. I feel guilt every day for leaving. I still can’t understand why the relationship with my principal went so sour. Thank you for your post. I AM a teacher…a good one, too. I need to put time and space between what happened, but I do believe education is in trouble. Thank you,
    Jen Madrid

  104. Thank you for this post. After teaching as an adjunct at community colleges for 3 years where I was paid little but lived in hope of securing a HS or MS or college FT position, I’m leaving just before Thanksgiving. As you and others here have attested, it is a very difficult decision. I started looking to return to work in other fields over the summer, but when nothing turned up, I went back to teaching. Now that I’ve had this offer for a job I really want [that will help me pay back my student loan and share the other costs that my husband has had to shoulder since I went back to school to become a teacher] I’m of two minds. I’m so happy to be able to return to work that I enjoy and to the security of being paid year-round. However, I’ll miss the students. I’ll miss that spark I’ve seen when a student understood something (maybe for the first time). Knowing that others have done it and found other ways to still make a difference in the lives of others encourages me very much. Thank you all for sharing you experiences.

  105. What a powerful post. Thank you so much for having the courage to share that. So many teachers identify with that story.

  106. Angela,

    Thanks so much for posting your story. I’ve taught high school for over a decade, but this is my first year teaching middle school – new school, new district, affluent area – over 150 middle school kids on my roster, with over 150 sets of helicopter parents, on a rotating bell schedule. I consider myself a very good teacher, and my first few years were my best. However, since the recession, I’ve had to scramble for temporary positions, wade through months of unemployment (I am single), only to be placed in various “creative” school settings with multiple preps before being RIF-fed or displaced. Some of those places were okay – always worked with awesome colleagues in the toughest neighborhoods. However, the lack of administrative support, and especially the increased bullying by the kids, were not. I could not say anything, especially as the new teacher on staff, because I knew that my job could be cut if I said anything.

    This year, my learning curve has steepened, and my antagonizers are parents who are upset that I am not in perfect lockstep with our department curriculum. While I admit that adjusting to a middle school mindset and approach has been harder than I realized, I am also still feeling the exhaustion, fear and overwhelm left over from my last positions.

    Although I want to do my best to honor my principal and colleagues, I also feel that I need to find an education-related position that will allow me to use my background in an environment that won’t run me over – and will allow me to develop some creativity and enjoyment. One hurdle? Looking into legal ramifications of abandoning my contract early in an at-will state. I have nothing else lined up, and I am afraid.

    Angela, I plan on purchasing “Awakened” soon. Thank you for writing it. And, again, thank you for sharing your story.

  107. I quit my Pre K class in December of 2012 because of management. I tried very hard to ignore their childish ways but was just to stressful. Was there for 12 years!

  108. There are many who face this situation but don’t have guts to share with the world. It is your inner heart feelings which are true and pure. It is really appreciated. Doing anything without interest and passion is not successful. There are many other field or areas where you can make your career. A very all the best and happy successful life.

  109. Thank you! I needed to read this and see that I am not a failure. I have a few more weeks left at my old scool and I was sad about leaving but know it is not good for my health. Too many uncontrollable variables with a clueless administration. Gotta take care of me.

  110. I barely had the strength to come back myself. In fact, I am already looking forward to Christmas break, I think I need to think about quitting. It it weren’t for my podcast I think I would have quit last year.

  111. Wow. Thank you for posting this, it resonated with me on so many levels. My school is very similar, down to the tiny, dark, windowless classroom. I have 8th graders and class sizes over 30. Adrenaline coarses through my body nonstop everyday from the moment I walk into my building until I leave. By the time I get home, I am so drained that i regularly fall asleep next to my five year old son as i sit down to play with him before dinner. Like you, i am able to mantain order in my classroom and my test scores last year and benchmark scores so far this year are good and show a great deal of student improvement. The students, parents and my coworkers like me, and I like them. I really care about my students and am passionate about my content area. However, it drains 110% of my energy to do so, and recently, i have started getting to school a few minutes late because i will become frozen at my door in the morning, unable to walk to my car in sheer panic, with more anxiety than i ever thought i was capable of feeling. No one around me except my coworkers has any idea how difficult my job is, and i have found it becoming increasingly difficult to remain calm when a stay at home mom tells me how exhausted she feels from her morning workout, or someone asks me about how great it must be to work “half days, with all of those long breaks”. I teach down the hall from an ex-marine, who says that he is far more drained after a day at our school than after a day in training or desert storm. Another teacher down the hall passed out in front of her class this October, and the emergency room diagnosis was dehydration and exhaustion. We have to manage hydration carefully, as there are no bathroom breaks for long periods of time, but need water due to the hours of projecting your voice. We hardly ever get time to work during planning-there is almost always a meeting or we have to cover for absent teachers, as many substitute will not come to our school. I teach with extremely intelligent, hardworking people who all want the best for our students, and we put everything we have into the job, at the expense of our own families and physical/mental well being. We are paid on a pay scale, and as a 2nd year teacher w a masters, i take home $512 a week. It has been very difficult to support my son and myself on this budget, especially with preschool, early and late stay costs, and childcare for days he is out but I have to work. I am a single mom, and my healthcare plan is so poor its almost nonexistant (7,000 deductible- i chose this over the really expensive plan bc i wasnt sure how I could make ends meet with a higher monthly payment). I have invested several years into this career, and am so drained that I do not even want to apply to a different school next year- i need to find something totally different and have so many feelings about leaving a career where I know my natural talents lie and I am just now becoming really sucessful in (given the situation I am teaching in). I have always been an extremely energetic and optimistic, positive person, and am terrified that this job is changing me and causing long term health issues. I will be recieving my full certification in June, and know I need to stay until then in order to find a better job, because of the stigma of quitting mid year. And i feel an enormous responsibility to my 124 students. My son and fiance ask me every few days to please start applying to jobs, and i have spent the entire fall debating whether to leave mid year and wait tables until i can find something more secure. The real victims are the students- kids who need safe, positive learning environments the most are the ones who suffer from the problems of teacher turnover, crazy decisions made by higher ups, etc. I am at a title one school, and supposedly we get extra federal money bc we have over 90% of students on free lunch. But I dont even have enough textbooks for each student in my room to have one during class- they have to share. The school ordered enough for every student to have their own, but i was told that they were “animals” who would tear up the books, which were being sent back to the publisher for a partial refund (seriously- it was exactly like the scene in Americn Teacher). I love teaching, and i love my students (yes- even the ones with severe issues). But I am in such an unbearable working enviornment that I literally will break out in hives due to the stress. You are right about how it is almost taboo for teachers to complain or say anything negative about their jobs, and I can not express how much I appreciate your courage in posting. Being able to share my experience here and knowing other teachers have had feelings and experiences as extreme as mine might just give me the strength to make it until June. The real victims here are the kids- if our nation could pay teachers a decent salary, and hire enough to give each teacher a manageable class size, and provide us with materials we need, the payoff in the future for our country would be worth every penny. The money is there, it is just being grossly misallocated (im looking at you walmart executives w the million plus bonus tax loopholes). Teachers should be respected and valued as highly specialized professionals, like doctors and lawyers. I might be able to make more waiting tables next year, which says so much about what our society values. What really worries me for these kids and future students at schools such as this is that I do not know if the people who have the power to make the needed changes will. In my state and district, all of the leaders (governor, superintendant, etc.), send their kids to private schools. Teachers are being put in impossible situations in schools like mine. Schools that need great teachers the most can not retain them. My school had over 30% of staff leave last year, and leaving mid year is not uncommon. These kids have never had adults consistantly love and care for them in healthy ways, and need this desperately. Honestly, that and respect for my coworkers is the only reason that i do not run out of the building screaming “i quit” each day during the most chaotic moments. But staying has a very steep price- i feel as if I have missed two years of my own son’s life. The mid-year quitting feelings are so mixed and complicated, and i really appreciate the way you articulated the experience. Again, thank you.

  112. Thank you for sharing your story I feel the same way about my school and this is my first year teaching. I felt defeated and felt that this was not the right job for me. I am leaving mid year because my school is possibly losing its charter this year. The students do not want to learn and their attitudes are horrible. I did find another teaching position before I leave, I just believe this is the right move for me. Management and Administrators are a revolving door and it is hard on us teachers, Hope my new position is better, the structure should be better and support as well. I am glad I am not the only one.

  113. Hello,

    I am in the same boat as most of you on this thread. I am a high school ESL teacher within an urban school district in New Jersey. I am an in-class support teacher for five different subjects; geometry, biology, English, economics and History. Mind you, I am not certified in any of these areas. I try to prepare word walls, differentiation and other scaffolding methods to help my ESL students on a daily basis. I feel that my ESL students do not take me seriously as their teacher; due to the fact that I am not knowledgeable within this areas. When it comes to the issue of working with another teacher, it has been very difficult. I had teachers who would completely ignore my existence in the class and when I try to be apart of the classroom or the lesson, they do not take my expertise as an ESL teacher seriously. I also tried to plan lesson ideas and assignments with the teachers I try to work with but they are never followed through. When I try to follow discipline procedures that the principal wants all of us teachers to follow, I follow them. When it comes to the issues of students taking out their cell phones during a lesson, and I ask them to put them away, they do not listen. What is even worse is that our school district gave all of the students laptops. These laptops have touch screens, and worse cameras and video capabilities. The teachers were told at meetings that our evaluations will be affected negatively if a student decides to take their cell phone out during class. My last observation I received a Basic for classroom climate because a student took out their phone; which I think it is completely unfair. We have no control over our students hands. Now with the laptops it is going to be a larger issue. The students are already going on youtube and playing loud music and I had to tell them that these computers are not to be used for that. They kept talking and listening to music while I was telling them this. It was a major struggle. I then told the teacher who left the class for fifteen to twenty minutes about how the students were using the computers, and they did nothing. I feel like my hands are tied in this teaching situation. It is getting to be more and more of a horrible struggle day in and day out. How can I enforce policies and procedures when the other teacher I work with does not enforce the same rules as well? The school also has no rules set up for these laptops etc.. The administration told the teachers to make up their own rules for the laptops. Here is the problem… When the student goes from one class to the next, they are going to try to take advantage of knowing that there are really no rules to be followed or set up. In the end, this makes it harder for all of us teachers to effectively do our jobs well. I was told by the administration that they want the In-class support teachers to ask higher level thinking questions in the class that we teach. Here is the issue with this one… If we as ESL and or special needs teachers who have little or no knowledge in the content areas we are in, how can we do that effectively? It does not make any sense. In addition, we are also being evaluated like regular classroom teachers; which is not right either. There should be a different format for In-class support teachers when they are being evaluated. We are not the primary teacher in that classroom. We do not create or make the lessons. Now, it is virtually impossible to try and sit with the content area teachers to create plans for lessons, assignments and projects. They are busy working with the other teachers in their own department and trying to follow the “Common Core” standards. Plus, all teacher within their own department have to do cooperative lesson plans. I never get lesson plans on time or at all. This also makes my job hard and to be able to be effective and provide the proper services to my ESL students; which is not fair to them. I was told in the beginning when I was hired that I was going to be teaching ESL within the self-contained setting. When I got to the school I was working in, I was told I was going to be doing In-class support; which I knew nothing about and I had no prior training in whatsoever. Last year was the hardest year to boot. they had me teaching seven classes; two maths, history, English with a teacher who was a bully in her tone to me and the other students, biology and I had two classes of my own for ESL. I was observed in a pop up observation and I was given all Unsatisfactory’s in four domains; due to the fact that the teacher never gave me lesson plans, they would not give me any of their PowerPoints so I could learn the material and help my students, and they were also taking a benchmark test the day they came in. After my post observation, I told them what the situation was and they kept the marks the same. As a result of this situation, I received a partially effective for my annual evaluation. When I came back this September of 2014, I had to sign a paper to be on this improvement plan. I told the principal about the situation that happened last year and he did not say anything or even bothered to look into it. The goals in that plan were to have a meeting once a month with the administrator on the progress, that has never happened once this year. I have only been observed once and it is now almost the end of January. I am really at the end of my rope here. I feel like I have no more to offer my students; because the content is over my head and I cannot keep up. I have bad anxiety and depression and my levels are making it worse to be in the job. I have been out of work for almost six days due to these issues. The doctor has me trying different medications to see which one works well. The nurse at the doctors office tells me nothing is worth getting bad health over. My friends tell me they see a deterioration of my overall health. I just know I cannot go on much longer like this. I have been teaching now for over four and a half years. I also substitute taught for eight years; total 12 and a half years. I just think I would rather go back to being a substitute teacher while going back to school for something else. I do not have a family to support, no children, no mortgage, etc.. However, I am still at a crossroads on what I can do. I am also going back to school to get my culinary and pastry arts license. My goal is to be a personal chef and cooking teacher. If I substitute teach and be a personal chef and cooking teacher, I can make just the same if not more money than I make now. I would be curious to find out what other peoples thoughts of this are on this thread?

  114. I have an interesting dilemma. I taught music in private schools and private lessons and subbed for about 6 or 7 years. I finally went back to school to obtain my teaching license and master’s degree. Right out of my two year program, (maybe because it took a little longer for me to get my license approved) although I went on many interviews, and even had second interviews, the only school that offered me a job was a school serving a high poverty population in an urban area. In addition to that, this particular school is in my neighboring state, which freely removed reading and speech specialist, in addition to special education staff and has not law requiring a school from filling a classroom with more than a certain number of people.
    Although i teach music which should be a fun class, there are not enough electives in this school so kids are dropped into the classes. The kids at this school are extremely unmotivated and don’t really understand the value of an education. So even when there is a rapport built with a student, seemingly they still continue to go on a destructive path except for a few exceptions.
    After a year and a half working here, I barely had the energy to continue on with the current school year. Even though it was difficult and it’s been difficult, I was determined to finish out the year at this school and just start fresh next year in a new school, maybe even a new city….maybe even a college or university (that’s where my heart beat is anyways.)

    To add insult to injury, my family experienced a horrible tragedy over Christmas break. My sister (the second of my parents three children) suddenly died of heart failure at 41. She was autistic and 20 years ago, we buried my eldest sister who had cerebral palsy at 21, who also died of heart failure suddenly.

    My parents currently live in a different city and state than I do. Now more than ever, considering the high stress level of my job, the fact that my parents are now mourning the second of their three children, the idea that they will be mourning her while worried about me from another city, and the fact that I’m worried about my own health now more than ever——I DEFINITELY want to leave.

    I’m most likely going to leave early pending some tests I have to take and whether or not the doctor determines that I need further testing which may require medical leave– however I have thought seriously about it. I’ve felt the guilt that you described in your post, I’ve felt the fear of not having an income for a while (although I would have somewhere to stay) however it would be with my parents for a while.

    I guess I’m mostly sure but my health issues are taking so long it’s making me doubtful, but at the same time, the stress of the place plus the stress of the sudden death of my sister and the grief has been definitely having an adverse affect on my health.

    What are your thoughts? Any other teachers reading this post, what are your thoughts? Thanks.

  115. I am ready to quit now and have been for several years. What happens if I do quit in the middle of the year? With my contract?

    1. By the way, I am not interested in getting another teaching job. I want to do something completely different. I have insurance with my husband too.

  116. I am a new teacher and I just graduated in December. I got offered a long term substitute position thinking it would be a great experience and I could get my feet wet. Little did I know I would be upset each day and not getting any teaching practice in.

    This school was not a comfortable environment. I had 6 year olds cussing, fighting, throwing chairs and getting suspended. Some of my students yelled at me and did not listen to a single word that I was saying. I left each day feeling a sense of disappointment and waste of time.

    I got offered a job in a different county and decided to accept it. Therefore I had to quit my long term sub job a week ago early. The principal was furious and said she would be letting human resources know what I did.

    Will I be screwed for the future? Will l ever be able to get a job in that county again?

    1. I don’t know if you’ll be able to work in that county again, but I don’t blame you for taking a permanent teaching position when it was offered, considering there was only a week left on the long term sub position.

  117. I have read through the majority of posts, and I am largely in agreement, sympathy, and empathy of many of the situations and individuals mentioned. Before I taught four years at a private school and my current teaching position in a public school that is currently two years accredited with warning and may very well lose its accreditation after this school year, I had worked two years as an instructional assistant in a public school (sorry for the long sentence English teachers). I had a great experience at the school in which I worked as an aide, and was encouraged by other teachers and the lead principal to pursue certification (which I did). Though I do not have a lot of teaching experience (less than five years), I have noticed some recurring issues in education (be it private or public) that are concerning in my opinion.

    Some of the issues that I have noticed in both types of school settings:

    1) Administrators are often dishonest with one another, students, parents, staff/faculty, and the surrounding community on multiple fronts. Every administrator that I have worked under, including my time as an aide, appears to have this fantastic way of telling people what they want to hear depending on the individuals involved and the situation. Support seems to be proffered to the one with the “biggest stick” so to speak. Oftentimes (not surprisingly to many teachers), that support is by and large reserved for students, parents, and other administrators to the detriment of teachers who are making an effort to stand on principle in many scenarios. What better way to show your support for your teachers than to diplomatically “pull the rug from under them” in situations in which they are doing what is right and in the best interest of students? I didn’t really mean to do that to you and expect you not to get upset over that situation. Hey, let’s rub elbows at the next faculty Christmas party, eh? I know that there are upstanding administrators out there who do operate with a sense of consistent integrity, yet I do not feel that I have witnessed this kind of individual with any regularity in any of the schools at which I have worked.

    2) Parading student academic/scholastic mediocrity as if it were the gold standard. As a friend of mine once put it, we have done away with “average” in our schools. It seems that we want every student to believe that he/she is the “next” Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Ernie & Bert, Peppermint Patty, Tarzan, Jane, etc. There are a number of “advanced” students whom I teach that believe they are truly advanced just because they are taking all/mainly advanced classes. It does not matter to many of them or parents that they are not genuinely becoming educated in the true sense of the word. How many students have you taught that have been lackluster honor roll students who thought they were “ok” because they made “A”s and “B”s and yet have not developed much in the way of critical and analytical cognitive skills? And many parents are alright with this notion because their child(ren) has good grades, which means a bright future in their minds. Yet place many of these students in more classically taught classes/courses where much of the fluff is removed from their grade and they have to struggle with some sincerely difficult concepts and what happens to the egos of parents and students then?

    3) This desire to have teachers/educators fit a mold that involves edutaining (oops, I meant engaging) students every single minute of every class period. I am just about nauseated by the over-usage in my opinion of the word “engagement” in modern education. It almost always seems to be closely related to this idea of keeping the educational experience “fun and gamey” at all times for all students. If an administrator observes your class and the majority of students do not appear to be engaged throughout that observational time, then this tends to be a sign of weakness and an area of improvement in your didactic style. It’s as if every class for every subject has to involve games in various forms to “get” students motivated and interested in learning. You are supposed to wave a wand or give a pill that will cause another person’s intrinsic motivation for learning to increase magically. Old-school teaching that involves sitting down and reading a textbook for comprehension, learning how to create outlines, and listening to an adult verbally explain concepts is completely frowned upon in many districts. Many school districts claim that part of their mission is preparation for higher education of some sort after secondary education, yet many juniors and seniors are subject to the same age inappropriate antics that elementary and middle school-aged youth are. How many college undergraduate/graduate courses did you take in which your professors regularly played computer/board games with you. Was the “dog and pony” show one that you watched a lot as a child? To hook and keep them, it’s as if we all have to become entertainers on a regular basis.

    4) Constructive criticism does not seem to be an instrument that teachers are allowed to use toward others if it involves much in the way of negative commentary. Teachers are to submit to the thoughts, feelings, and actions of poorly behaving/achieving students, disgruntled parents/guardians, at times overly student-centered guidance counselors, and watchful administrators in a “help me to understand you and your needs” fashion without much in the way of complaint. Yet from many of the posts, I would wager that many of the health problems that many of you suffer(ed) were related directly and/or indirectly to some of the pent up frustration, anger, & bitterness that you felt as “invisible men and women” in America’s classrooms. Trust me, this is a current sticking point for me, as I am learning to voice my frustrations more and more as the school year progresses. I am giving students a little pass due to their youth & difficulty in expressing themselves constructively (though not too much), yet I am becoming increasingly less accepting of what I see as excuses and coddling that supporting adults (admin & guidance counselors) are offering. I believe the current national statistic of approximately 50% of all new teachers leaving within the first five years is in part due to this implied code of silence imposed on teachers who often may be fearful of occupational repercussions if they were to tell “big brother/sister” how they truly felt. I would encourage us to do so and breathe a sigh of relief (even if we may have to go lookin’ for another job) rather than sit on it and have our health and relationships with family and friends suffer at the cost of those who see us as expendable anyway.

    The list could go on, but for the sake of other posts I will cut it short. I do plan to finish the school year at my current school, though only the LORD knows what He has for me after the school year. Prayer from those of the household of faith would be appreciated, as I can relate to many of your frustrations with this profession. I have told people that I find it ironic that I have worked harder this current school year as a public school teacher than I did for four years as a private school teacher, YET, I feel that I was more successful, effective, and appreciated as a teacher in a private school setting than in my current public school. It seems that whatever you do is never quite good enough in a public school in spite of the unpaid hours that you work, meetings you attend, lessons you plan, etc. to improve the quality of education and lives of your students. I have been encouraged reading many of the posts, as they remind us all that we are not alone in our experiences. Another irony I have found is that the classroom can often be a lonely place in spite of the fact that you’re almost constantly surrounded by other people throughout the day. I hope this post encourages many of you though it is not completely congruent with the leaving/quitting public school education theme.

  118. I’m not a teacher, but a long-term sub. I subbed for a year straight from 2007 -2008 and enjoyed it the first go round. The kids were challenging, but it seemed like I could handle it better with the kids giving me respect and the class being able to complete the lessons for the day. Unfortunately, I wasn’t hired on at either school that I did long-term sub assignments for (or other ones I applied to) for full-time positions, so I left the field. I took a full-time job in something I had been doing part-time on the side and was there for three years.

    I switched gears again and got several contracts teaching adults which restored my passion for the classroom, so I finally got my sub certification back and started again this February. I feel like the kids are different and I’m different. Maybe I came back to the classroom rusty because I used to have my bag of tricks to keep children occupied the whole class period. For example, the first time around, I got an assignment where I found out later it was an EBD class. One of the administrators peeked in and said it was the quietest she ever heard that classroom be.

    This time around, I’m a support teacher in collaborative classrooms, which I thought would be easier, but, boy was I wrong. There is a small core of kids who are defiant and make a big deal of it which disrupts the whole class. They talk to me in ways I hope my daughter has never talked to a teacher. Zachary & January, you are both right that classroom management is key. A friend of mine said that if there is no classroom management, there also is no learning.

    I say that I’ve changed because I just don’t have that commanding presence where the kids stay or get back in line. It is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining to come from work everyday. It’s the intensity of the confrontations and what the kids say to me that causes this. I know I’m doing the kids a disservice by not being able to handle the core of constantly disruptive kids. I do see some kids, in spite the chaos that sometimes erupts, literally block everything out, have pencils scurrying across the pages, with meticulous printing, and really well thought out answers in their writing exercises, who try to shush and manage their classmates for me, and I feel like I’m failing those kids. I also feel like I’m failing the disruptive kids as well, because, when they’re not challenging me, and they’re actually doing their work or answering the questions, there’s a really smart kid hiding under that all that bravado and rebellion. I know with the right teacher, they will be able to get amazing stuff out of these kids. I feel like I’m failing the lead teacher because I don’t know if my presence helps or hurts.

    Zachary and January,

    I also notice a theme on this site that many of the teachers most stressed are female teachers. One thing I can say good about the school is that it has a good male/female teacher ratio and a multicultural staff where over 90% of the students are minorities. Most of the male teachers are my school are also tall and/or fit men and the students don’t carry on nearly as much in their classrooms as in some of the female teachers’ classrooms. But I will say that some of the female teachers are able to command respect despite being nice and/or soft spoken or way smaller than the kids. Maybe that comes with being actually being called to the job and experience.

    One thing I have noticed is that I don’t enjoy going to their staff meetings or sitting at the teacher table because all some of them do is complain (one of the ones doing the loudest complaining is also the one with the students with the lowest scores). We have a team approach where 4 teachers of different subjects teach the same four groups of students. The basis for that is so that the ineffective teachers could learn from the effective teachers. At one of our weekly staff meetings, the administrator over our grade, after praising us for the gains our kids made in our subject area not only over the past year, but also over other schools, did also admit that there are some ineffective teachers in the school that should just be fired. My thought is from all the complaining, the sour looks on some of the teachers’ faces, and the inappropriate or unprofessional attire they wear to school, they should be fired and replaced with people who have a passion for the job and can do it well.

  119. Wow, this was definitely an eye opener. Was accepted to this years 2015 TNTP Teaching Residency Cohort in Baltimore. After reading this, I’m not going to do it anymore.

    Thank you so much for this. You saved my sanity.

    1. As much as I hate the idea of turning someone off to teaching…if just reading the comments of this one article is enough to dissuade you from choosing the profession, then I probably did save your sanity. 🙂

      1. A few years, I befriended a brilliant young accountant. She was incredibly bright, caring and compassionate. She was also a legal immigrant from another country. She told me that her company was going to make her move within six months, and she expected more frequent moves. She proceeded to tell me, she thought about teaching in an urban area. Gut instincts told me was too brilliant, too caring and too nice to last in a public school classroom. I told her what she would face in the classroom, and gave her options to volunteer in child-focused nonprofit organizations. She took the choice of the later for now.

    2. So glad you changed your mind. Try a small charter or private school. Baltimore will strip your soul. Bless those teachers who can stand it. Starbucks have better benefits!!! Seriously

  120. Has anyone here received, and possibly receiving treatment for, an official diagnosis of PTSD? This reality is probably an understatement for educators nationwide. However, I am finding few resources to help educators through dealing with it.

    1. This reply may not be helpful, but my mom is a nurse practitioner at a local mental health center. She is not allowed to tell me who her patients are, but she told me (when I was struggling with stress my last year teaching) that she sees many teachers who seem to have symptoms of PTSD. I’m not familiar enough with it to know of treatments, but you are not alone.

  121. This was an amazing post! Thanks so much for sharing. Most of it is exactly my thoughts and feelings. It has made me feel a little bit better.

  122. I feel this way more so because I job share with another senior teacher who micromanages my every move and makes me so uncomfortable at work. I have anxiety over it every day.

  123. I am so glad that I read this. I’m a new teacher (3rd year). I’m a special education teacher moderate/intensive, and I just don’t think I can do it anymore. I don’t teach. My kids will not sit down for longer than 2 minutes at a time. I get hit, kicked, bitten, scratched on a daily basis. They put a violent 2nd grader in my class full of mostly kinders and I spend all day stopping him from hitting and knocking them down. I don’t get a real lunch break and never have time to plan. And administration acts like I should be able to handle all of the behaviors while still meeting all of their individual goals and the common core. I just can’t do it. I literally cry on my 40 minute commute to work every day. I can barely spend time with my 1 and 1/2 year old when I get home because I’m frantically trying to figure out how to restructure my classroom. And nobody will help me. I feel like I’m drowning every single day. Thank you for posting this.

    1. I am so sorry you are going through this. I am so sad to hear another teacher has to feel this way. I too felt like thus a year ago. I was set to teach again this year but I am blessed to have a husband who supported me not going back. My final straw was sitting in a meeting with my team and realizing I was the only person left from the following school year who had children. The rest either had grown children or none so they could work crazy amounts of time dealing with crazy curriculum, erratic classroom behaviors, and ever changing policies from higher ups who haven’t been in a classroom for years. I missed my family and I decided it was no longer worth it. God bless you and remember you have a choice. You may have to wait until the school year ends but you will make it.

  124. I am seriously thinking about leaving my contract mid year. Our building hired a new principal this year and she micromanages everything and everyone. There is no support, if you ask any questions it is brought back on you. If you can’t figure it out, she reminds you that it will be a reflection of your evaluation. I really don’t want to leave bc I love the kids I work with and the staff, but I can’t justify staying. I am currently co teaching but have had no training. So I asked to go to a PD this year, and I was denied, given no reason. So I am not becoming a better teacher by staying. It is not a good situation. I don’t know what to do, and I have been a mess since August. 🙁

  125. I am currently a secondary Sped teacher. I spent 13 years in a tough district where in my final year I could barely get out of my car in the mornings. A colleague remarked this as compassion fatigue. I am now in my second year with a new district with a wealthy demographic. I am constantly reminded that we can be sued and that we as case managers must have all our paperwork in order. Additionally I am teaching 5 preps with the expectation of rigor. .I have been teaching for 26 years and this year I feel like a rookie and have been putting in 14 hour days. I have made a mistake in staying in this district. I would like to explore other educational options as my mental health is deteriorating. I cannot function in my current position for the rest of the year however they are very strict on contracts. I am trying to navigate ways to exit this position by semester without too much negative consequences.

  126. This article really helped me through some tough times and helped me to make the tough but right decision for myself to quit my teaching job mid year. I now feel liberated! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  127. I too have decided to resign from my current teaching position. It was definitely a hard decision but it is affecting me mentally and physically. I have three kids at home, and I need to think about them. I’m not yet giving up on teaching. I’m hoping to find a new position where there is support and a place for me to continue growing as a teacher.

  128. Last year I had one of the toughest classes I ever had. By May my blood pressure on 2 medications was still extremely high, I was having anxiety attacks, and my depression was out of control. I was miserable and making everyone especially my family upset. I went to the doctor and she pulled me out of school for the rest of the year. I went to therapy to learn how to deal with stress and how to get organized. My principal was furious with me and it was noticeable when I spoke to her or she emailed me. However, I stuck with therapy and taking my meds. And this year is much better. Better class, happier me, happier family. It was not a decision I took lightly

    1. No consequence. In my interview, it was obvious from the name of the school and the city I taught in why I was quitting. I just said, “I need to be in a school where I can actually teach and feel safe.” The principal understood immediately.

      1. I just got fired from a job this week after being on an improvement plan for two weeks. Despite students starting to turn around their behavior and me scheduling parent, teacher principal meetings and me starting to enjoy teaching again and students engaging in the lessons, it didn’t seem to be enough for my admin. I had been feeling unsafe in my environment, so it may be a good thing all this happened. But I do want to teach again, so I hope I can also find an understanding principal like you did.

  129. I have the same situation. This is my second year teaching. I have resigned and my last day is next week. I have a new position already and I am looking forward to it.

    1. How did the resignation process work in your district? Did they try to hold your credential or not release you until your position was filled? What state are you in? I am very curious.

  130. Everything you said hits home more than you will ever know. I actually have only been a contracted teacher in an urban school with a lot of violence. I teach a special Ed Fals class so I am not really with the gen Ed population too much (thank god). I am elementary certified and teaching in high school because of my special Ed cert. like you I am stuck at this school for 3 years I am only in year 2. I am completely burned out between case management, obnoxious parents, defiant students with disabilities (which I understand why) no curriculum to suit the needs of these students (we are supposed to teach the gen Ed curriculum to student on a kindergarten level) so I have to create my own and literally no time to teach! What else can I do in the education field that is not in the classroom with only being a second year teacher. I really have lost my motivation to teach because I never get a chance to do that. I wanted to use my masters degree in education to transfer to a different career but not sure what is available to me. Please help!

  131. I’m sitting here on a beautiful Saturday (which I will not be enjoying) reading through these comments and feeling physically ill because I thought there was something wrong with me. I left at the end of September, 2012 after a “break down.” Anxiety, no life, panic attacks, dread…Out of necessity, I came back to teaching this year and am in a school where the problems are different, but so real. Middle school behaviors, a schedule that barely allows you to scarf down a bite or two and forget about using the restroom. Again….anxiety, no life, panic, dread…. I’m single and turning 49 in three days. I have no money saved. Blood pressure is through the roof and my body feels like it’s shutting down. I’m frozen and scared. Why is no one doing anything about this? It’s scary for teachers in these situations, the students in these schools, and the future of this country. I can’t quit again.

  132. Thank you for sharing this. I completely identified with your feeling that you’re “managing” a classroom rather than teaching (and expending most of your energy doing this). It’s a relief to read someone admitting that classrooms can stressful and chaotic, even when you’re a good classroom manager. I always hear educators saying “the kids were the best part,” and I feel so guilty when I feel that students are a large source of stress. It’s big no-no to say anything remotely negative about things that happen our classroom — I’m thinking about sexual harassment that has happened in my classroom as well as students who have attempted to threaten and intimidate me. I’m a successful teacher who can handle this. But sometimes I wonder why I’m putting so much energy into “handling” it.

    1. Oh, I totally agree about the guilt when other teachers say the kids are the best part of the job. I think that’s true for many of them only because the rest of teaching has gotten so difficult. In the 1950s, it used to be “teacher vs kids” in a battle of wills, and now it’s “teacher and kids vs a screwed up system.” The kids are kind of all you have now. And when the kids are a mess, you have nothing. I understand completely.

  133. Thanks! For me, the largest problem is the staff culture. Teachers are competing against each other, have cliques and are downright mean to any newcomer (I’ve been at my school 3 years). Hardly anyone speaks to me. I do have a tough class and am drained by the end of the day however it is the climate that is making me want to quit. Problem is I live in a rural town where there are no other opportunities.

  134. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I had a very similar experience when I taught at an inner city school. I would dread going to work every day and I felt helpless. I worked in a middle school where the children went through metal detectors to get into school and there were cameras and security guards in every hallway. Fights commonly broke out in my classroom and one at under was expelled after assaulting a teacher. I stayed for the entire year partly because I didn’t want to break a contract so early in my teaching career and partly because I had 3 students who needed someone to advocate for them and help them make it out. I chose to stay for them and knew it was worth it but after that school year needed I quit teaching for an entire year before rejoining the field at another school. Sometimes you have to save yourself and that’s ok.

  135. Been there; my school could have been your school. I had a ton of health problems, and cried every day. Quit at the end of the year two years ago. Now I am actually teaching, in a preschool. I have great children, a supportive environment, and tons of freedom. Of course, I don’t earn as much, but it’s worth it!

  136. I have read many of these posts with great interest. Teaching is difficult and getting more difficult every day. It shouldn’t be this way. Every day I dread going to school, struggle through the day and cannot wait until 4:00 when students leave, only to realize that I will stay there until at least 5:00 to get things ready for the next day. Then I drag home things to do and grade. Sometimes I get it done and sometimes I don’t because of exhaustion. I have decided that my sanity and health are worth something and I HAVE to quit at the end of this school year. It is a scary thought because I carry our family’s health insurance since my husband is self-employed. I am also 56 years old – I am worried that I will not be able to find another job. I am a good teacher – my test scores have always been good, and I put much effort into my job. Administrators at our school do not back the teachers, in general. They let the kids get away with too many things and put too much extra work on teachers. Thanks for letting me vent! I could go on, but I don’t want to bore people to death. I just hope that I can find another job. I have a masters in Elementary Education and am certified for Middle Level ELA and Social Studies. I have looked into doing something else, but working ALL year for less money does not sound good!

  137. Thank you for this! It is a perfectly timed message for me. I quit my teaching position at an inner city middle school. The end of 1st term was my last day. Since then I have been having some and feelings of guilt and missing some of the students and wondered why I went into teaching. I had to quit for my well-being. I have had 2 medical procedures since quitting and am still recovering. There is no way I could have continued to teach while undergoing and recovering from these surgical procedures. I know I made the right decision for me given the circumstances at school and my health issues at this time. I am glad I found this and glad to know I’m in good company! Thank you for sharing!

  138. Wow – thank you SO much for writing this and it’s my daughter who sent it to me that is going through a VERY similar circumstance. I know this was written quite a while ago and I hope that you still follow this thread but she went for a 5-year masters program and left a teachers’ aide position in a nice district for a full-on teacher’s position in an urban charter school and is absolutely miserable. She is almost to the holidays and feels that she should “tough it out” for the rest of the year so she doesn’t feel like she gave up. She’s literally texting me this very minute telling me she feels like she’s having an anxiety attack and asked me to pray for her. As a mom, it’s almost just as difficult as it is for her – to see your child, who worked SO hard to achieve her goals, be so broken down. Thank you again for your very, very wise words of wisdom and experience. Chris~

  139. Thank you for this. I quit mid-year back in 2001 and have carried guilt and failure around with me ever since. I left teaching altogether for several years but have returned with new energy, maturity, resources, and knowledge. I have found that I am a good teacher and my confidence has returned. It helps to know I am not alone!

  140. I wish I had seen this last year. Last year I worked in a similar school, I woke up every night in a cold sweat, mid panic attack. I got maybe four hours of sleep every night. It never seemed to matter what I did, nothing would get through to the kids I was teaching. Desks were flipped and students would cuss me out if I said they couldn’t go to the bathroom. I was verbally abused by the students and the administration would point to other classrooms where the teachers could seem to control the students and blamed everything on me. It was my first year teaching and I was not assigned a mentor until mid way through the year. I was never able to meet with my mentor because we had different planning periods and she left as soon as school was out. I was called into the office by the principal nearly every day because I was not meeting with my mentor, despite the fact that it was nearly impossible to speak to the woman. I was told to stop writing students up one day, and then when fights would happen in my room I was asked why I hadn’t written the students up before it developed into a physical situation. I spent hundreds of dollars of my OWN money on supplies and at the end of the year I had two pairs of scissors and a few broken crayons to show for my efforts. I had students a whole foot taller then me get in my face and yell and call me a racist for asking them to sit down during my power point and nothing was ever done. Another teacher (the only other female on the hall) had a student look up her skirt during an assembly and nothing was ever done about it despite pictures being on the student’s phone. I didn’t feel safe, but I didn’t think I had the ability to quit.

    I developed significant health problems, that now, a year later, are still plaguing me. I caught Pneumonia last December and I still have trouble breathing some days. I lost 20 lbs due to stress, even though I was stress eating. I was throwing up before work every day because my anxiety was so bad, my medicine never stayed down. On the days I felt brave enough to call in I was treated dismissively, like everything was my fault. It was a horrible first year and I wish I had quit. A lot of people say at least you feel stronger, for staying when you should have left and I always tell people I would have felt stronger quitting and being healthy. I wish I had your bravery.

  141. I too quit my first teaching job after 3 months. Though my situation was not as severe as yours, it sound all to familiar. I too was not teaching, felt more like a juvenile detention officer! The students were not learning and I too had that hollow knot daily.

  142. Thank you for your post. I too have just resigned from my teaching position in Texas in December and will not finish the year. I have felt so much pressure these past two years and have been pushed by my husband to quit based on all the pressure. I LOVE MY STUDENTS! I love being a teacher but the politics and everything that is being asked of teachers on top of the needs of our students is just an obstacle that is very unattainable. I have been with this district for 7 years. I have been a 4th grade teacher for 6 and a 2nd grade teacher for 1…..well 1/2 a year. I have been married for 8 years and have two children under 4. I fortunately have a wonderful school, wonderful students and parents, and love the atmosphere. Sadly, most of my time is spent at school and not with my family. I would normally spend 2 extra hours at school doing paperwork, lesson plans, etc. Giving me a total of, maybe two hours with my family. That didn’t include work being done at home. (and this is not adding the work on the weekends) On top of that I would come home exhausted and especially ANGRY. I would take it out on my husband and on my children and that is not fair to them at all. I was becoming the mother and wife I did not want to become. After much prayer, discussions with my husband, and biblical counseling, I decided leaving my teaching position was the path that God had me on. Every so often I begin to question my decision, but more that not I am rejoicing that I will be at home with my babies. I will miss my students, families, and staff more than anything. Thank you again for your post!

  143. Thank you for saying what many of us feel. I lay the blame on admin for not supporting but it is on the parents who are the major cause of the problem.

  144. Loved this post. I’ve been teaching for seventeen years in the same school. I’ve had some bad groups of kids but nothing like that. I thought about leaving teaching two years ago even applied for a corporate job. I changed my mind, I’m too old to change careers and I’m good at teaching and most of the time it’s very rewarding. Now I’m getting my masters as a reading specialist to try to get a teaching job in another state. My state treats teachers like second class citizens and now there is a major teacher shortage. Teachers are leaving the profession or fleeing to other better paying states. Teaching is so stressful my husband would love for me to quit, I’ve even been on antidepressants at times trying to keep my emotions in check.

  145. It is so amazing to me to see how long this article has stayed relevant for us teachers. It really shows that there must be a bigger problem outside of just the teachers. I think that we all became teachers to serve, help, and students tools they need to succeed as adults… but there are so many obstacles in the way for us to actually feel like we are making an impact, it begins to feel hopeless. I teach in a SPED setting with the most severe students in our elementary school. I manage 15 paraprofessionals, teach 16 students and case manage 12. I am overwhelmed and go home to the people who love me the most with little to no energy. I have scratches, bite marks and bruises on my arms and these are little people. My administration is not supportive and makes me feel like I am lacking in skills to make it work. I can’t tell if they mean that my behavior management skills aren’t there (which they ARE… they just aren’t working for that many kids with such high needs in such a small place), or if they just don’t know how to help because it is so crazy. Either way, I’m planning on resigning this week, giving them until Winter Break to find a replacement. I already have another position lined up. When I interviewed I told them about my situation… not getting any prep time… no lunch, getting beat up and they vowed to make sure I was in a better situation. They even have two secretaries to offer paperwork support to special education staff. That is like a dream to SPED teachers. Yet, I still feel guilty leaving. I had to go on anti-anxiety medication just to get through each day in my classroom. That is NOT okay. I shouldn’t need to be medicated to deal with my job. Your article made me realize how much my health and well-being matters and I shouldn’t feel guilty about protecting that. Thank you so much for sharing.

  146. Reading this article has truly lifted my immense guilt. I recently quit my inner-city position for a position closer to home. I felt the exact same way. I would leave crying almost everyday because once again, I failed to get all my lessons done because of dealing with behavior issues nonstop. I would go over rules and routines every single day just to have my students laughing at me in the back of the class. The fighting and bullying got out of control. Parents were calling and emailing me until midnight almost every night. The stress of dealing with students that never stopped talking and getting out of their seats got the best of me. I felt like a failure every single day when I went over what we did that day. I would take my frustration home with me. I was too exhausted and aggravated daily to be a good mom! My students loved me and I loved them but they didn’t respect me even the slightest. Not because they didn’t want to but because they didn’t know how. They didn’t know that telling your teacher “this S*** is stupid and I’m not doing it” was disrespectful because that’s all they knew. Leaving the unsupportive district was the easy part. Leaving those kids has left an amount of guilt that is hard to swallow. My breaking point was the day a student brought a few knifes to school and instead of calling the cops and going into lockdown the school hid it, WITHOUT EVEN CALLING THE COPS! I knew that not only was I stressed out beyond belief, but I no longer felt safe. Reading this article has made me feel like I am not alone and that quitting was the best option for me and my family.

    1. Megan, I can relate so completely to everything that you wrote. YES. YES. YES.

      “My students loved me and I loved them but they didn’t respect me even the slightest. Not because they didn’t want to but because they didn’t know how.”

      This was the hardest part for me–that on top of everything else I needed to teach my students, I had to teach them an entirely different “code” for lack of a better term. What they knew would help them survive in their neighborhoods, and couldn’t/shouldn’t be unlearned. But I had to teach seven-year-olds to code switch and think/behave/act completely differently in an educational and eventually professional setting with zero outside support. “Overwhelming” does not even begin to describe that task. A teacher cannot take on that responsibility alone.

  147. Ten years ago this week I walked away from my classroom. I left an excellent teaching job the year prior and took a job in this district (small urban) because I was engaged to be married. On the first day of class I found out there were teachers mad at me because I got one of the carpeted classrooms! The administration assigned me the room, I didn’t request it. The kids were horrible. Everything that worked at the school where I previously taught was a failure in this school. One of my friends told me I looked like I had aged ten years at the end of my first year there. I started my second year and about six weeks into the school year decided I was done. I took a $13,000 pay cut to work in a tutoring center.

    After taking time off and getting myself healthy, I’m back in the public school system again, this time in a small rural district. The kids are great, the administrators are very supportive and I’m really enjoying teaching again. I’m in my third year in this district and I hope I can retire from here.

  148. Thank you for sharing this. I moved to my hometown last year and got a job in November at one of the nicer schools in one of the major districts. I took over for a veteran teacher who left on medical leave and never returned. Administration seemed to like me, but started piling things on me including website manager, head of tech committee, and special ed/inclusion teacher. I am used to at-risk populations and behavior management has been a strength of mine. However, this year we had a long term sub who I was tasked with providing plans for (teacher of record was on maternity leave and I am not the team lead). My team lead and the long term sub didn’t get along, so I was left helping the sub even more. When the teacher got back from leave and was told she taught a “horrible lesson” the 2nd week back. She left at the end of that week. We just brought a new teacher on board fresh out of student teaching. I have my niece in my classroom and a coworker’s daughter (by request) and don’t want to quit, but I can’t continue like this. There is no access to the school on weekends and I have kids from preprimer level through gifted. Yet, administration asked me why my math data wasn’t as good as my team’s. They acknowledged I had a challenging group but the “data speaks for itself”. I feel so defeated and used up. I work 14-16 hours days and the weekends at home. I have a mom with dementia and have a partner whose son lives with us. He is tired of seeing me so unhappy and feels I am taken advantage of. He supports my decision to quit mid year. My mom does, too. I’m just so torn. I don’t want to hurt the kids, but I have to take care of myself. Any and all advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

  149. Oh my gosh y’all. I quit in 2013 and have not regretted it for even one minute! If anyone else needs permission to quit, I hereby grant you permission. This is your written permission slip. 🙂 You don’t have to feel guilty. Take a deep breath, step out from under that heavy guilt and lighten that load resting on your shoulders.

    It may seem like it is impossible for you to change your life, but in a year you will look back and wonder why you waited so long. You will have so much more positive energy to contribute to society and your loved ones as a happy, non-stressed, non-depressed, non-anxious human. You can get a job in a different field and do volunteer tutoring on the side. Think of the real impact you could make with one-on-one tutoring. You will have your best self to give kids who are so much more able to focus on what you’re saying than if they were in a busy, crazy classroom all day.

    One of my greatest struggles with quitting was the sudden identity change. I had strongly identified as a teacher, because I wanted to be a good citizen of this earth: someone who helps out others every day for a living, even when it was hard. I think I had an irrational fear that I would lose that part of me if I quit teaching. But after I quit and had some time to breathe and re-assess, I could see that I still wanted to be involved in education. Hence, the volunteer tutoring. It makes a big impact with the students because they get focused help in the areas they need most.

    So, if you’re reading this article and all the great comments hoping for a sign, here is your sign. You can still make a difference, but without feeling depressed/anxious/terrible every day. I don’t know you personally, people who read this comment, but I know without a doubt that the world will benefit so much from you feeling great every day (even Sunday night and Monday morning!) So, you don’t have to be afraid of taking steps towards feeling great again. It’s worth it, and you’re worth it!

  150. I am sitting here at this very moment with tears in my eyes because I relate wholeheartedly. I was purposefully hit by a student 2 days ago (8th grader) and blamed for problems in my classroom by the principal. I cry most days and had to start anti-anxiety medication for the first time ever. I was a well-respected high school science teacher before moving and having to teach middle school in an extremely rough area. Thank you for the article. It speaks to me and reaffirms my decision. Funny thing is…I just got a call from a high school today in a very good area for part-time science position so, if I get it, I can be with my own kids more and feel safe and enjoy teaching again.

  151. Hi,
    I don’t even know if you still receive the comments on this post, as it’s a few years old; however, I thought it was worth a try to get in touch. I, too, have 11 years teaching experience, and the school I’m in and the days you describe in the post are essentially my current plight. I am awaiting word on a third-round interview for a job that’s education related but not a teaching job, and the thought of leaving the profession completely is scaring the crap out of me. That being said, part of me feels I would be relieved to go into the world and work with adults (you know, humans who mostly manage themselves) and not feel that my energy expenditure is going into “stop looking at him,” “I told you not to touch that,” and put the desk back on floor!” I teach high school, and after breaking up my first seriously scary fight last week, I had a moment of reflection where I started to consider my real purpose and whether or not the positive relationships I’ve forged in the last fives months are worth the stress and anxiety I often feel walking into and out of this building every day.

    I say all of this to say “thank you” for posting about your frustrations because it’s hard to know you’re good at something but feel totally terrible at it because the environment just isn’t conducive to displaying your skills. 🙂 I feel less guilty knowing that it’s normal for me to feel exasperated and ready to move on to another chapter in my life.

    1. I feel the same way about making a change from working in the high school classroom! I was wondering if you would be willing to share some of the education-related career options you are pursuing? I’ve taught high school English for 16 years, and am subbing this year, but desire to do something else with my credential that doesn’t involve so much prep work, grading, and student/parent/admin stress. And – yes – offers a livable salary with health benefits. (I’m in California). Thanks for sharing, and best to you on your new chapter!

      1. I’ve been pursuing editor/copy writer jobs at local universities (Vanderbilt, MTSU, APSU…I’m in Tennessee), stewardship/grant/proposal writing jobs for local companies and universities, and I’ve applied to a plethora of state jobs, including local and regional educational consulting jobs (I’m in the interview process for two of them currently and have a Vandy interview in the morning). I’ve also interviewed for some e-learning jobs with educational websites, etc., and I’ve applied to some corporate trainer/event planning jobs because of my experience planning for state student council events and large school-based events like prom (500+ attendees). Use Indeed.com, as it’s easy to search jobs and to narrow the search to location, money, type of job, etc. There are so many jobs for English majors it’s ridiculous; the tricky part is to get companies to realize that we haven’t just been babysitting for the last 10+ years. Many companies see “teacher” and think, “aww…you could answer phones in our call center.” That’s not true! We have so many skills far beyond what the normal business person has, and with all of the electronic, web-based communications and materials that circulate each and every day, it’s crucial these companies hire folks like you and me to make them look good. Good luck!!

  152. Reading all the comments have made me feel so much better. It’s amazing how some teachers can give all their time and energy into teaching/managing/lesson planning without support. I know that I have things to work on (classroom management) but it seems impossible in the situation that I am in. The students say they don’t disrespect me when they do. The administration wants us to work harder and get parents involved when the parents raised their child this way or do not care about their education or just too young and growing up with their children. I realized that there are too many problems that I do not have solutions for. The school I work for is chaotic and the students run the school. There is limited consequnces (I should say no consequences) for students actions. Students roam the halls, come to school at what ever time they feel like it, on their cell phones. I feel like I’m baby sitting and not teaching. I don’t want to stay in teaching because of all the work we have to put in without the support, limited resources, large class sizes, extra duties. I’m only one person and I get overwhelmed by all that is asked of me. At this present moment I have many to do list where things are not getting done. There seems to not be enough time in the day. For me the students are the worse part of my job because they don’t care and do things right in your face without second guessing themselves. For example I had to deal with a student coming to my class trying to start trouble and after sending her out multiple times she continously banged on the door once I shut it. I almost had an anxiety attack that day and thought about walking out. I don’t know if I should stay or if i should go since I will be out for maternity leave at the end of the school year. I don’t want to be stressed and I don’t want my baby to be stressed while it’s developing.

    1. One observation: I’ve had students tell me repeatedly that they don’t think they disrespect me. At first, I thought they were just out-and-out lying, but I’ve come to think that most of the time, they don’t know the proper way to show respect. For many of them, there are “people they fear” and “people they respect”; what we tend to think of as “showing respect” is what they think of as “showing fear”. Showing respect involves treating you like a friend, and the way they show respect to friends is not what I consider “being respectful”.

      For me, this realization was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it meant that I really *had* communicated to them that I was an adult to be respected, not feared. On the other hand, though, it created a much bigger battle: How to teach students what “being respectful” means to the adult world outside of their neighborhoods.

  153. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for writing this article. I’m halfway through my first year of teaching and feeling so hopeless. I teach Standard/ESE sixth grade Language Arts at a Title I school. The year started off great, but started going downhill by October. It just keeps getting worse. My experience isn’t as bad as some of the comments that I’m reading on here, but it’s more than I can handle. The behavior of the students just brings me down so, so much. I wake up in the morning with the worst stomachaches due to anxiety, and I go to bed in tears almost every night. I’m late to work everyday because I can’t bring myself to get out of bed. I try to remind myself that it’s only a handful of challenging students who are causing trouble, but in the moment, it feels like everything is completely out of control. My coworkers and administrators are aware of my unhappiness, and are trying to support me, but there’s not much they can do. I’ve considered finding an excuse to quit (like a “medical” problem or a sudden need to move to another part of the state), but I know it would make finding a new job incredibly difficult. I’m only 22 and in my first year, but I am so beat down. I got glowing evaluations from administration at the beginning of the year, but as my mental state gets worse, my evaluation scores also slip, which just adds more anxiety. I plan to finish out the school year, but I’m only a few more REALLY bad days away from quitting. I needed this article and all of the comments to see that I’m not alone.

  154. Thank you so much for writing this! I currently teach in a title I elementary school. Last year was awful! I would sit in my car before work and not want to go in. I walked out crying twice. The first time, my principal used me as an example in faculty meeting. She said we are here to support you. Casey needed us and we took her class. A couple months later, I walked out again. There was a background checked paraprofessional with my class. I told the teach next door I needed my class covered. Long story short, the issue snowballed and my principal was going to write me up for leaving my class unattended. I respectfully told her that I disagreed and if I was going to be ‘disciplined’, I wanted my union rep there. Luckily, she agreed and dropped the issue and never set foot in my classroom for the remaining 3 months of school. Even though she knew I had hard kids, she never came back to support me. This year is much better, but I have a student who screams and swears at me with no administrative discipline, only to repeat his actions over and over. Teaching is so stressful that I think it will shorten lifespans. So there is another drop in the bucket of teachers on the brink of leaving the profession. Thank you for giving us a voice on the reality of teaching.

  155. I quit flat out and cussed the whole way out of my principal’s office. After 23 years of teaching, it was not the students that drove me to my famous exit. It was the toxic people, gossipers, one-uppers, and the fact that I was so stressed that I believed I was tired and had had it with trying to be perfect. In the meantime, “peers” were saying I was tired, running into things, slurred speech…I was ambushed with no rep, and I was herded into my principal’s office. They were concerned, and I needed to see a dr. I went off. Ends up I quit right there. So many unanswered questions to this day. I was going to be out on leave by “people” I knew, but didn’t know? I said the f word about 20 times. I ended up going to my OB/GYN. Three surgeries later; I have cancer. Well, the district knew they lost a great teacher. There were many ripples after my exit. I had a great class, but we were an island in a sea of sharks. Cancer is easier than the mourning I do for my profession as I watch it crumble and become a sad state of affairs all around.

  156. The boundaries of our school have recently changed, and with that so has the population. We have been thrust into a situation that is fast becoming the one you described, Angela. I am doing my best, but have a particularly difficult 2nd grade class in which I have already facilitated 3 students addressing medical needs (ADD, anxiety) with their pediatricians, 3 students to be tested for learning disabilities, 2 students receiving counseling, 3 students requiring constant non-crisis intervention, and a further 3 on behavior plans. This is a lot to juggle! But my main issue is the urban neighborhood atmosphere that has been brought into my classroom. Every day I reteach what kindness is and is not. There is still incessant bullying of some of my students, and general nastiness all around. My students do not feel safe because they are not, even though I do everything I can to keep them safe. Almost daily, something happens at lunch, recess, or in the hallways. This is more than just a safety issue, because if you don’t feel safe, you cannot learn! The administration is new – 1st year principal, 1st year AP. They started the year strong, but seem to have turned around and are taking an attitude of “deal with it in your classroom.” As I struggle, endure, and reflect, I have all these questions. How much should I be expected to “deal with” myself? When should I expect administration support? What can realistically be done? I believe what we tolerate becomes our standard. With this in mind it seems we are setting a low bar when violence and other dangerous behaviors are not addressed. Angela, you state that you have worked in other urban schools. What was missing in the particular school you quit? What works in others? What can we do to be successful with our new population? By the way, I have several applications in and out of teaching circulating right now.

    1. I totally relate to your situation. What was missing in the school I quit was the same that’s missing in yours–strong, experienced administrators. Our principal was new (though actually very good) but too focused on data and scores and completely unable to make the school environment safe. They were trying to intimidate kids into behaving and it’s very hard to intimidate children who live in those neighborhoods. It’s not the right approach.

    1. I think it was fairly obvious given my previous school’s reputation. I just said I needed to work in a place where I knew my students and I were safe and I could concentrate on teaching and learning. The principal understood immediately.

  157. Thank you for your story. I am so relieved that so many other teachers have suffered the same experience of the year from hell that I have and made a similar decision. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  158. Can someone from California offer advice or share their experience with establishing “good cause.”?

    I know that I signed a contract. I read that a teacher California teacher who without good cause fails to fulfill an employment contract or resigns with out the consent of the superintendent may have his credential suspended for up to one year. (Ed Code Section 44420)

    But I also found that the Commission on Teacher Credentialing regulations provide that: “good cause includes, but is not limited to, circumstances not caused by or under the voluntary control of the certificated person.”

    I hope that the district will consider that prioritizing health and well-being as, “good cause.” I love teaching and I am exhausted by Friday and I find myself sleeping all weekend just so I can go in on Monday morning and/or I am incapacitated by anxiety or depression.

    If the district knows that I am at my breaking point, that my intuition is to find another school, that the reasons to leave are more significant then the reasons to stay. Then hopefully, they’ll realize that I can’t ignore this, and I must pursue another option before June.

    I truly feel that I may damage my relationship with my wife and Mom if I continued to choose teaching at this school over my own family. For me it means another job, or means staying at this and trying to develop yet more and different strategies to deal with the stress.

    I know in my heart that I am willing to leave now and I will risk the suspension of my credential. I just hope that district will not pursue this action with the Commission.

    I also feel that my doctor and my therapist would provide me with medical cause. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and offering advise.

    1. I teach in California. I just read your post; I apologize that I missed seeing it earlier. I hope you have not resigned yet, and that you’ve chosen to remain in your position through the end of the semester. Each CA district is different in handling cases as yours, and some districts may be more lenient than others. But if you resign halfway through this semester, especially with no other job lined up, then you will have a tough time not only finding substitute work in another district, but you may also have trouble explaining to other potential employers about your (possible) credential suspension. Stick it out until June, and don’t resign until you have another teaching position – or any other job. The potential damage to your professional reputation is not worth the risk. Hang in there!

  159. Wow…..I know that I need to go. I began as a replacement for the 1st teacher who left mid-year. She was a very kind lady, who seemed to be a bit overwhelmed. I was hired to assist with classroom management & during that time she’d confided that the lead teacher was sabotaging her. I couldn’t believe it. The lead teacher appeared so nice. Even picked on. A victim. Here was this attractive teacher, who almost appeared paranoid, speaking badly about her lead teacher. And there was a very commonly looking lead teacher, who only appeared to only want to help others. Well, unexpectedly in the middle of all this back-and-forth foolishness, the attractive teacher’s parent died unexpectedly. I’d anticipated petty differences being set aside during the crisis, but just the opposite occurred. The sharks went in for the kill. Slander, gossip, and lying. My predecessor couldn’t take it anymore & left. Now, I have an opportunity to work with the so-called helpful woman. I’m nice, smiling every day, bringing treats for the staff. And guess what??? Just like my predecessor, the gossip, slander, and lying began. Pettiness on a level lower than my 4th grade class. My car was damaged (repeatedly), my class broken into, the after school program staff (who are friends with Gossip Girl) won’t assist my students with their homework….only hers. She’s sabotaged relationships, & given false information to my Vice Principal. She even solicited the help of children, inciting animosity until one child said that I should be killed. She’s a walking cancer, that should have been rooted out after the last teacher left. Instead, she continues to play victim as spreads lies and innuendo. As one crisis dies, she drums up another. And the sad thing is…..I sort of fell prey to her manipulation with the first teacher. She lies so convincingly, and she looks the role. Like someone you’d feel sorry for. She’s always complaining of health conditions, not very attractive, always speaking of helping the poor. The biggest crap-starting fake you’d ever want to meet. So……. it’s late & I’m writing this because I’ve tried every strategy, documented occurrences, reported vandalism……and nothing has happened. This is my first time teaching a full-class, and I suppose this experience may be my last. Teaching is like a box of chocolates……..you never know what you’re going to get. Not a career choice that I can count on. So, I’m outta here, but there is a brighter note. I’d spoken with the previous teacher who left mid-year. She has been hired by another school district that she loves. Go figure!

  160. I haven’t read all the comments, but I’m wondering what will happen if all the teachers quit when the going gets tough? How can we teach kids that there are people who care when we can’t finish a school year? Teaching is a lot like a Marine Corp. quote I heard once….”It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love”. I am a mentor to some first year teachers. I listen and try to support the bad days, laugh a lot, and keep encouraging. We talk, we cry and most of all we celebrate. I remind them anyone can be a good teacher in an affluent area with parents who are supportive….it takes a special person to make a difference when those variables are not there.What we were trained to do in college is not what it looks like in most buildings. I have taught in tough building, toxic buildings, etc. Before that, I long term subbed for teachers who quit half way through the year. What a state! After they finished bragging that they ran a teacher off, and them finding out that no matter what, they were stuck with me the rest of the year, things improved. I encourage teachers to try every day to find the good. I’m not trying to guilt trip people who have quit half way through, but I think it is unfair to encourage daydreams of quitting on tough days instead of cheerleading, encouraging and reminding the wonderful people teachers are that they may not think they are making a difference, but they ARE!

  161. Thank you for these comments! I know how hard it is to survive in tough urban schools. I’m a 6th year art teacher at an urban k-8 school and I also feel overwhelmed. The kids are pretty decently behaved and the families are involved. BUT I teach 750 students with elementary having art once a week for 30 minutes and middle school having art once a week for 60 minutes. It is just too many students! Too many lesson plans and too big a range in abilities. I only know maybe 40% of the kids names. I am over contract by 30 minutes now and next year I’ll be over contract again (teaching minutes max is 240 per day). But what bothers me is that no one cares. The principal just threatened me and used intimidation and scare tactics; and the union isnt helping because there is a nothing they can do except file a grievance which would mean I won’t have a job next Year, as it is my first year in this district and the principal can let me go. I’m the only teacher in the school who has to grade 750 students. It’s just too much! My head explodes on a daily basis. There is only one art teacher yet two PE teachers because our state requires 100 minutes of PE a week.

  162. My situation sounds similar to yours. I am so overwhelmed, completely exhausted, and so unhappy everyday, all day at work. The administration is completely unorganized and my grade level teaching partner with 14 years experience is always looking to me for guidance with classroom behaviors, curriculum, technology help, parent communication, and more. The teacher on one side of me is so uninterested in anyone but herself and on the other side of my classroom the teacher is out for maternity leave with different long term subs constantly through the end of the year. I have all the second graders with IEPs and so they gave me the lowest 2nd graders without IEPs as well. I have major behavior problems which constantly result in suspension (suspending 2nd graders – I couldn’t fathom this at first). My days consist of me reteaching the same procedures, filling out incredible amount of data on behavior contracts I have created and chosen to implement, and just trying to keep my students safe from one another both physically and emotionally. It’s a year round school so it doesn’t end until the end of July. My wonderful boyfriend of 7 years and i juat moved in togrther in a new state and I feel that my job is causing stress not only for me but for him when he comes home to a depressed me. Oh yeah and I am a first year teacher. Everyone says your first year is hard but I am not sure I can make it. I hate this job and im not sure how to tell if i hate it due to the situation or does this mean teaching is not for me. Any advice?

    1. Wow, that is a REALLY tough first year! You might want to consider joining The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club when it opens to new members again at the end of June. That would help give you support (there’s a private FB group where you can ask questions and share ideas) and help you work more productively, too. Hang in there my friend!

  163. Out of this entire, incredibly powerful story, I’m stuck with one very unworldly question – how is it possible for any authority in this world to ordain that an entire class be stuck in a windowless room and not be let out for an entire day? Can you explain a bit more?

    1. Hah! I have no idea why a school would ever be built without windows (hurricanes? crime? dunno) but it was. And the no recess policy sadly was and continues to be in place district-wide for grades 2 and up. It’s tragic.

    2. I worked in a high school with no windows. The official reason was because it was the community’s storm and bomb shelter. However, many urban schools either minimize windows or cover them up as a security measure (so that people can’t look or shoot into the building), with the “added bonus” that kids can’t look out and be reminded of the blight. In Detroit, we now have several charter schools where students are bused out of the city a mile or so into the “safe” suburbs. The windowless high school I was teaching in did happen to be in an absolutely blighted neighborhood, but I don’t recall how bad it was when the building was initially built (there were never any windows, not for forty years).

  164. I teach at a private school. The kids have their own issues: lying, gossiping, bullying. But how can we complain when the adults: parents, teachers and administrators are colossal examples of the same behaviours? The headmaster is a narcissistic, cold, mean, lying hypocrite who listens to the children’s lies about me (and makes up mor of this own) and has the nerve to accuse me of hurting them when he knows I never touched anyone. After both verbally abusing me, and accusing me of this, he has the nerve to say that I lack professional judgement! Today his assistant dressed me down for not getting a sub when I am sick with flu and called everyone on the list and left numerous messages with both him and her, none of which they answered. Other staff happily cover for others, but not for me. They talk about me behind my back and anything told to anyone in confidence ends up the next day in the head’s files. I am so tired of all of the mind games I have just had it. To make matters worse, my son has also been the victim of both the assistant’s child’s physical attacks and the headmaster’s bullying. Other teachers have also been victims. Inner city schools are not the only ones with problem. I need the money for this job, but the stress is just overwhelming. It is almost the end of the year now, but I don’t know if this latest straw is not the last. No one deserves to have to put up with this.

  165. I cannot believe how many of us have been through the same thing. I left mid-year in 2011. The guilt was crushing then and even now, I have to admit I’m still haunted. The moment I knew I had to leave was when I caught myself daydreaming about getting cancer, so everyone would understand why I had to leave. That and when I finally convinced myself that the kids needed something I couldn’t provide despite all my efforts and agonizing. I didn’t bounce back though; I left the profession. It is comforting to read this post and comments and also completely heartbreaking. Thank you for posting!

  166. I have been teaching for 15 years. In the same district, in the same school. I have type 1 diabetes and the stress of teaching is literally killing me. My blood sugar ranges most days from 200 to 500. I am not able to get in under control due to stress, lack of sleep, no time during the day when I can check blood sugar, eat the way I should, etc. There are days that I should be at the dr or in the hospital…but I have no days off and get docked big every day I have to be out, and admin is not supportive. I feel the same as you. I am not teaching. I am not in a bad school, but with all the helicopter moms, an admin that does not support us, and not being able to hold our kids accountable for their behavior or their lack of effort in their education, I simply cannot take it any more. Our kids do not do their work and admin bows down to any parent request. Parents say we hate their kids because we expect them to do school work and behave. Parents constantly complain about all of the teachers, because our admin has basically taught them that the more they complain, the more they get their way. The only behavior consequences a student ever receives is a lunch d-hall. My dr wants me to retire. I can take early retirement when I turn 55 this summer. I have been looking into all the retirement information and medical retirement (apparently they are 2 different things) and have an appointment with Teacher Retirement of Texas in July. We use to be able to actually teach, but now it is just passing them on because if you fail a student, it’s your fault, not theirs. When admin or the district attempt to address issues, all we ever hear is “What more can you do as a teacher?” We work 9-10 hour days, then spend several more at night on school work. I do everything I can to make lessons and activities that my kids will engage in and learn. I feel like I am wasting my time and get zero appreciation. I am not turning all of my effort and attention on doing what I need to do to retire. One way or another, this is my last year as a teacher. I have had all I can take. Thanks for your letter. I have been feeling guilty and frustrated. I know that I need to take care of me, and hope that those in charge figure out that we are not doing right for our kids by coddling them and their parents. They need to participate in their education and learn live skills such as responsibility, respect, compassion, and consequences.

  167. Thank you so much for the advice. Everything you mentioned I can relate to. I have made my final decision with tears because of your story. I know now that my decision was best for me!!

    Thank you

  168. Wow! It was purely coincidental that I happened across this site. Or perhaps it was fate. I have been struggling with whether or not I should remain teaching. I am sharing my story because…well…you expressed an interest in hearing stories from teachers contemplating a career. I live in Canada. It’s been 16 years since I started teaching at-risk teens, in a blended classroom within both a Young Offender Center (jail for teens) and a Youth Treatment Centre (where the “treatment” component is to “depth and breadth” in much the same way that a spray-park is like an olympic swimming pool)! Within these blended classrooms, I have students ranging from 11 years of age to 18 years of age. Each student comes to me at different times of the year, and can leave within a couple of days, or within a few months. It is rare for any of them to be reading with three years of what is expected of their age level. All of the students have experienced trauma, all of them bounce between parents, treatment centres and group homes, more than 95% of them demonstrate O.D.D. in addition to other disorders (most commonly FASD). More than 90% of the students do not retain what they learn for a variety of reasons (most commonly brain damage as a result of substance abuse). Currently, the teachers do paper work for registering and discharging students. We have no secretary or office manager on site. We have no E.A.s on site. We have no V.P. on site. At the treatment center, we also have no cops or guards on-site. We do not even have a librarian, on site.

    In the time that I have been teaching, I have been threatened with rape, torture, and murder multiple times. These threats all came from students who had done (or currently were doing) time for violent crimes (including assault, kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder). I withstood these all, without batting an eye because 1) I knew these kids were not really angry at ME; and 2) I knew (without a doubt) that the other students would defend me if someone ever tried to lay hands on me. 3) At the Young offender center, I could push a button and have haelp within 30 to 60 seconds…although this is not the case at the treatment center where even our telephones go on the fritz pretty regularly. I could go on and on about the threats and violence; but it sounds like many of the teachers, here, know all about it; so I will refrain.

    The important detail of my experience is the fact that, inspite of it all, I felt like those students were getting something positive from their experience at the school I taught within. I felt like it was worth it because, in some small way, I was TEACHING these kids and having a positive influence on them. I was learning from them, as well.

    Then, it all changed. Eleven years ago, we got a new principle. Within 6 months of working for this man, I was put on anti-depressants. At first, I was optimistic about a leadership change. I loved my old principle; but looked forward to a change (I use to say I thrived on change). Since I was often an early bird, I had the misfortune, on numerous occassions, to be within ear-shot of my Principal when he would enter the office or staff room. His conversations were always demeaning toward our students and often insulting toward the staff. Listening to him, I came to learn that my new principal was deceitful, passive aggressive, mysoginistic, homophobic and racist. He was also very adept at handing much of a principal’s typical “in-school” responsibilities over to his VP and office manager. This was especially true when it came to staff performance reviews, consequences for student behaviour, mediating between conflicted staff. As a result, he appeared to have little to do when he was not in his meetings; so, he micro-managed his teachers. Through phone calls and lunch hours, he would call impromptu meetings to give us new directives about various “make-work” tasks ( for example: weekly comment updates on our comments for student reports; academic IPP goals for students who would be discharged in 3 weeks, and pointless subject-specific goals for students who displayed behavioral issues rather than learning challenges, in class). Within his first 6 months, this man removed several of the safety strategies and security strategies that had been effective, and in place, for the past 5 years. As well, he gradually eliminated student “incentives” (such as honors lunches, science olympics, and other fun ways for students to showcase their achievements) on the basis of lack of funds, until there were none remaining. His “lack of funds” rationale, however, was contradicted by the fact that the staff luncheons, and meeting sites became more and more extravagant (for example: country clubs/golf clubs with banquets). Don’t even get me started on the fact that he will not let teachers who work 12 month years choose their own supply teachers for absences longer than 2 weeks (instead, he brings in his teacher friends even if they are not skilled in the subject-area of the absentee teacher).

    This principal would, and still does, tell his teachers to approach assessment and the awarding of credits in ways that I find to be ethically questionable. When asked to commit these directives to paper he would be evasive; citing that teachers who did not wish to follow their principal’s directives should start looking for a job. To this, I say “Yah, right”! It is important to note that this man was (and is) very good friends with our district’s superintendant (they were even room mates in university), as well as good friends with the superintendants of the nearest two other district’s superintendants AND with the last minister of education. In my district, getting a job hinges a great deal on who you know, not what you know. Despite these qualities, I have striven to show this man that I am an employee that can be counted on to adapt, as well as to be an active team player. I have always believed that if we work together, teaching and administrative staff can overcome all challenges that students may bring.

    Now, I am on stronger ant-depressants as well as on anti-anxiety meds, I seem to have developed an incredibly weakened immune system, and I am seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist who have all said that I am on the verge of burning out. I feel like the system that I work in is working against me because the system protects, nurtures and rewards people like my current principal.

    I feel trapped.

    I have a child and a husband who complain about my long work hours and worry about my constant state of emotional upheaval. Yet, despite getting numerous interviews during which I am told how impressive I am and how I was one of two top choices, I never get the job. When I ask why, responses are vague. The rumour mill says my principal promotes me at first, and then says just enough to cast doubt on me when I get second interviews (call backs). I do not know what to do because my family depends on my salary and my health benefits. also, I came to teaching quite late in life, and am still a decade away from retirement, even though I am already in my late 40s.

    I know that this was long. I hope that it, at least, helps someone realize that they are not alone.

  169. I did not read all of the previous comments because there were so many, but I am encouraged that I am not the only person who struggled with whether or not I should keep teaching. I live in a highly competitive state/area. It is difficult to get a teaching job unless you know the right people (I don’t seem to have those connections), and it is even more difficult to be hired back the next year. I spent a total of six years in the teaching profession. During those six years, I taught in three different school systems within the state, and one year was spent substitute teaching for minimum wage pay. I went back to school for my master’s degree as a Reading Specialist and completed my degree before my last year teaching. I thought if I had my master’s degree, I would not get cut when the school lost teaching units or whatever. I gave teaching my all, but I still got cut. My last year teaching, I was bullied by two teachers in my grade level. If I asked them a question, they talked to me in a demeaning way. I once complained to one of the teachers because she did not share a district required math test with all of the grade level until the day of the test (yet she had the test and could spend her time prepping her students). She ran to administration and threw me under the bus. We had to have a grade level meeting on collaboration. (She was also buddies with the administration.) Towards the end of the school year, she and her buddy teacher would take their class outside for lunch and not tell me about it beforehand, so I was left in the lunchroom by myself. (I had lunch with the two bully teachers and no one else. We had first lunch. It was absolutely terrible.) After my contract was non-renewed at the end of that school year (even though I had a great relationship with my students and parents as well as having good test scores that the district pushed so hard), I decided I wanted to do something else. I was tired of moving to new areas for teaching jobs and giving it my all only to get cut at the end of the year for reasons that were not based on my teaching ability. (The principal told me the school lost a teaching unit, but I suspect the two bully teachers did not want me there. I had no problems with the other grade level teachers, and I did not have problems with teachers bullying me at the previous schools where I had taught.) I got an office job with regular hours (8 to 5). I love not taking working home with me, and I’ve worked there almost five years. (If I were teaching, I would have the tenure I longed for. In my state, you have to be hired back in the same school district for three years in a row, and they give tenure the following school year.) My high blood pressure that I had all of my teaching years is now perfect. My on-the-job stress is significantly lower. The fact that I was bullied by other teachers and lost my job (at least in part) because of them still bugs me. Sometimes I feel my knowledge and experience is being wasted, but when I have kids someday, Lord willing, I will be able to teach them and possibly home school. Has anyone else had problems with teacher cuts or bullying from colleagues? I am thankful I found this article.

  170. Wow! This is EXACTLY how I feel!! I can’t believe you put into words what is going on in my head. I feel so guilty for thinking about quitting. I’m not in the safest place and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. I teach in PA and it took me 3 years to find a public school job. I quit a private school half way through the year because one of my students sent me to the ER. And my boss was confused as to why I put in my two weeks notice…so I feel like it’s just me if I quit again. But really, it’s not. I want to teach my kids and see them e joy learning and find meaning to the things I try to teach, but it just hasn’t happened yet. I have the same students from 7-graduation (sometimes it’s until they’re 21) so trying to keep things fresh and new and not get tired of each other is really hard. Thanks for this article. It’s really brought an awareness that I hadn’t thought of.

  171. First of all, thank you so much for this article! It really helped me. I recently resigned from my 5th grade teaching position this February. It was a rough year. It was my first year teaching and all of my experience so far was in younger grades and I love the younger ones. I am trying to get back into the classroom this year in a lower grade and so far have not received a job. I want to know what I should say when the application asks the reason for leaving your job. The truth is I left because I couldn’t handle the stress that I was under. It was taking a toll mentally and physically. What I’ve put so far is “not compatible with fifth grade”. I want to know a better way to say this. Also, I’m wondering if I should do subbing for a year in order to get some more experience, and get my name out there. Thank you for any help you can give me!

  172. This post brought me to tears because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I’m currently working at an inner city high school, but no teaching is getting done. My classroom sounds just like yours. I’ve had many breakdowns before, after, and during school. I’ve felt sick to my stomach at the thought of leaving the house in the morning. I’ll have days that are fantastic, followed by days (like today) where I spend my planning period crying and debating whether I can make it to May.

    A huge part of me wants to quit, but I’m so fearful. I am two years out of college and this is my first full-time position in a traditional classroom. In your opinion, do you think quitting this early into my career would hurt my chances of securing a different/better teaching position in the future?


  173. I can identify with most all of the things you mentioned. I worked for 3 years in a private prep school and was so well loved and respected – I just despised the sexism and racism. However, I cannot tolerate the physical toll this inner city public school is taking on my body. Nine weeks in and cannot destress. I was offered another job in a previous suburban district (I had been laid off so didn’t elect to go), gave my notice, but now am told I cannot break my contract. I can abandon it but then I face possible sanctions with the state DOE. Advice?

  174. I’m 34 years old and I’m in my 8th year teaching elementary. For the last year and half I’ve had a new principal and AP who have continually refused to work together and who micromanage everything. In addition, one is very hands off with children and one is there best buddy (you know they get candy from the AP when they cuss at the teacher), cause we are “building relationships”…
    Anyways, I’ve always loved teaching but for the last two years it’s been so tedious for me. I’ve been made to change positions in the middle or part way through the year for 3 years in a row to help out another teacher who wasn’t fulfilling the job requirements. I am a worker, I always put in the time to make sure all my lessons and materials are top notch.
    Well all this changed, Sept 28th while I rushed from dismissal to another campus for a meeting, sat down and then it hit me. I had a massive stress induced heart attack, right there in a room full of teachers.
    After getting EMS care and I was admitted to the hospital for 3 days and told my heart had been damaged and I needed time off to heal. I was also told it was directly connected to stress and duress.
    I attamepted to go back to work with my 5th graders after 4 weeks but made it a grand total of two days before exhaustion got me.
    So here I am, in my 6th week off on Medical leave. I have some offers for part time work with homebound students and my husband is ready for me to resign. My parents and friends feel I should as well.
    I found all of these stories so helpful but I’m still wondering if I’ll regret it, I think I’ve got so much time and effort logged at that school, I feel like I failed if I quit.
    My husband says no job is worth my health or my life.
    Any advice?

    1. Audra, you are 34 and had a heart attack. I side with your family and friends. You can always return to teaching later if you end up regretful or thinking it was a mistake, but your health should come second to nothing. Imagine how much you’ll regret staying if you have another heart attack because of it. Teaching will always be there, and there are many ways to be involved in education without being a classroom teacher. Take care of yourself. Fully heal. If you still want to be in the classroom after that, there will be one waiting for you.

  175. The reason I looked up this topic was because I was a long-term sub in a middle school classroom. I was trying to decided whether it would be okay to end the assignment because I had only ended a long-term assignment before due to desiring a more stable income and regular hours, not because of the students I was working with, nor the staff or administration. At the middle school I was at, I wasn’t even subbing for a lead teacher, I was a collab teacher. Even though it was a suburban school, it was run more like an urban school.

    Though I dearly loved the principal and probably was the only person in the school that actually listened to her morning announcements, I didn’t like that the teachers didn’t get the support they needed for discipline issues. You can only call parents so much, give out so many referrals, have so many detentions, or give the students so many in and out of school suspensions before you realize that if you’re doing that with the same group of students, then there’s a problem.

    I think what encouraged me to leave the assignment is the level of disrespect they had with me which then trickled down to their regular teacher. I have to admire the regular teachers. They worked well with the students, dealt swiftly and effectively with discipline problems and still managed to get some academics in. But introducing me into the classroom was like oil and water and like explosives. So I told both teachers I was working with that I needed to end my assignment. One teacher was apathetic; the other begged me not to leave. The second one even had critiqued my performance as a co-teacher just a few days before (which I actually did appreciate), so I assumed SHE would be the one to be apathetic and think, “Good riddance.” I think she had her own frustrations with the students over their apathy, disrespect, and failure to take school seriously. She had been with them from the beginning of school, where I just was with them since that March. I’m sure she saw more than I did. But, despite her begging, I told her, “I don’t think my presence here is contributing to their learning.”

    So, guess what? I took what was supposed to be a one week assignment at a school for EBD students which turned into an assignment that lasted until the end of the school year. Once the assistant principal over the middle school realized I actually WANTED to be in that environment, he hurried up and asked me to stay. And I loved it! What was the difference? Strong administrative and behavioral support to help kids manage their emotions and be able to focus on academics. The other difference was knowing off the bat these kids may have been coming from troubled homes or dealing with serious learning disabilities. At the other middle school, where based (maybe unfairly) on their attire and electronic devices, it probably wasn’t as dire as the other kids’ situation. I just hated to see kids waste their educations on playing their way through school when I know kids around the world have to pay for school or little girls beg to go to school like their brothers.

    So since then, I saw what I was doing wrong in the previous middle school. I was trying to bring my mental health background into the classroom and counseling too much and engaging too much when trying to apply discipline. I’ve learned since, discipline has to be swift and fair. Not having a hint of sarcasm which could be misinterpreted. Having a little fun when kids meet your expectations, being a warden when they don’t. Giving frequent praise, but not so much it’s meaningless.

    The beauty of things was, that after being in the EBD school as a sub, I got lots of job offers because I guess principals felt like if I survived that school, I could handle ANY kids. (Not quite so true because I actually handled a K-2 EBD classroom much less effectively than the middle school ones. Had to be taken out that assignment after 3 days!) But I did learn so much about classroom management and organization from the wonderful teachers I have worked with. I did take one of the permanent jobs, but, because I was a part-year hire, I got laid off. So I returned to subbing and I love it! I’ve gotten offers from schools this year too, but I like the flexibility that I have. I always leave detailed notes for the regular teacher and what I’ve been saying for the past few times is, “God bless you for the job you do 5 days a week, 180 days a year.” I’m only with some classrooms just a day and find that challenging. Teachers have to be there all school year.

    So all that to say, don’t beat yourself up if you have to choose health or sanity over a job. It just may not be the environment where you can best use your skills. Maybe see if there are suitable positions in the district office or see about being a collab, resource, reading or math specialist, etc. so you don’t have your own classroom to run. Or step out of the classroom altogether and maybe run for the school board or work in educational reform. Education needs more dedicated professionals- especially in school with large poor and/or minority populations. We are failing all of our students if we fail to provide them with positive learning environments and positive educational experiences. But refuse to feel bad if you are not in a positive environment. The human body can only take so much stress.

  176. This is exactly me right now. I felt bad for wanting to quit but now I know it’s ok. I want to go to another school before I hate my job.

  177. What I would like to know from seasoned teachers here is the reason you gave for leaving a teaching job to take another one. My son, a first year teacher, was bullied by his principal and vice principal at an urban school (as were all the other teachers). After 7 months on the job – he emotionally couldn’t take it anymore. The kids were tough, but that wasn’t the issue. He couldn’t sleep and was tormented every day.

    He has an interview at another school….what does one tell the principal/interviewer about his previous situation? Is that a red flag?

    1. This is my situation and it’s sucks because as a first year teacher you now only have one bad experience in your resume , I have zero positive things to say about my first year

  178. I quit last January (gave one month notice) and still feel guilty/angry/happy/relieved!. Catholic school, loved the students and parents but the culture was TOXIC! Principal raging at student with anxiety disorder – telling him “do you want a piece of me.” Then in early December group of students tell me same principal hits a student in the head with a notebook for talking in hall (I asked, they said it was a significant hit). I could no longer stand principal’s temper and reported it to headmaster only to be told I cannot question a member of his administration! Most teachers were great but some yelled/swore at students. Some would ignore you exist and refuse to work with you. Had to listen to rumors from others of teacher affairs, an admin who told students he would abuse them, an admin who washed a student’s mouth out with soap…..not kidding and it was a 20K/year private school! Why do people tolerate this behavior from adults in education??? Got a job in another school but now hubby is transferred and I am leaving that great new school. Don’t know what to say in interviews on why I left mid year – would “raging principal” be appropriate 🙂 🙂 Praying for an interviewer who went through same thing and understands.

  179. Hi Angela, I am wondering.. is it against the law, or is there something written in the code of practice for teaching that a teacher is not allowed to tell the students that another teacher is leaving?

    I was scolded by a senior teacher for telling the students that their Science teacher is leaving in a month’s time. She told me the teacher’s resignation is private and confidential.

    1. Never heard that before! I’d imagine these rules are made at at the district level. I’d check with the union or district to be sure–but I’m guessing this is less a “law” and more about the other teacher worrying that you’d make things harder for the teacher who’s leaving if her students know too early.

      1. Thank you very much for your reply, Angela.

        I was really upset after being scolded by her. (I am actually quite new to this Church school). Apparently, the school had two teachers left in the past 3 months, so they do not want the children to know too much in advanced of another teacher is leaving.

        Thank you very much for your post and reply.

        Have a good day 🙂

  180. WOW! Angela. Moving and insightful. Thank you for sharing the humanity of a teacher. Thank you for not letting go of your dream to teach and finding a place where it could flourish. I am a parent who had to yank my kids and homeschool out of a responsibility to my kids. Mine were the ones who found the page in the social studies book.

  181. I didn’t quit mid-year but I am leaving the current county I am for another one. I’m hoping they will be better, and if not I am leaving teaching permanently. I was injured multiple times through out the school year amounting in at least 16 days out of school due to multiple injuries on different body parts on separate occasions. Some of the injuries sustained and impacting me and still are like my shoulder injury. The injury that bothers me the most is my concussion, I was struck on the head at work and had post concussion syndrome with most of the side effects including memory loss, dizziness, blurred vision, and I could barely stand up and walk for days on end. The ER doctor said I should not return to work for 6 business work days, which amounted to 8 days counting the weekend. Even when I went back to work I was really messed up. I was supposed to have a modified work environment which was impossible to sustain with how short staffed we were and lack of management. The reason I am upset is because I worked summer school this summer in their county, and without telling me before hand, the county took over half of my summer school paycheck because the days I was out injured during the regular school year even with a doctors note was considered useless. I was only covered after the 7th days of injury through the insurance company. The county without telling me before hand that they were taking almost my whole paycheck just gave me a call saying they were taking my money after I had finished summer school and didn’t let me know prior so I could plan to find another job to supplement the losses. I can’t even afford rent next month. How inconsiderate. They did a lousy job because they just thought they would deduct it from next years fall paycheck but didn’t do their homework to realize I was leaving the county so they docked and obliterated my summer school pay which I was counting on greatly. It would have far more considerate for them to let me know end of June or beginning of July. I don’t understand how it is the teachers fault for being injured at work, not only do we have to deal with all the psychological damage from working with student with self injurious behavior and aggression towards staff members but we also get our paychecks taken from us when injured. I have lost thousands and thousands of dollars this year due to injuries. The sad thing is I was told I was one of the best teachers there and yet I am rewarded with this injustice. I really want to raise awareness for special ed teachers that are mistreated by school systems and not given credit for the amazing work they do. I love my students, and the families. I greatly dislike the school system and lack of support towards special ed teachers. Even though the county I worked in did me a disservice, they made me incredible strong individual who won’t ever put up with their nonsense again and will go on to do amazing things in life without them.

  182. I’m in this boat right now and I feel awful because I’ve only been there about 3 weeks. I was hired after school had already begun so I came into a bunch of chaos. I spend every day yelling and screaming at 6th graders who don’t want to be in school and who are extremely disrespectful towards me and towards one another. Almost every day I come home in tears, exhausted, and unable to do anything I used to enjoy doing. I dread going to work every single day and feel guilty about even thinking of leaving because these kids have had so many people leave their lives. But, I have no idea how I’m going to make it until June…

  183. This is my first year teaching and I understand why so many teachers quit right off the bat. I teach preschool in a daycare setting and there is a student that is physically abusive to other students and to the teachers. I was told not to tell him he’s doing anything wrong, not to tell him what he’s doing is wrong, and basically to just deal with it. I regretted signing the contract here a week into the school year. Trying to decide if I’m just a horrible teacher and overreacting or what I should do.

  184. When I was a student in the 1970’s I knew there were consequences for my behavior at school AND at home. ESPECIALLY at home. My folks made sure of that. That’s where discipline has to be taught…at home. Teachers are there to teach. But if a kid isn’t being held responsible for his or her actions at home then there’s no way they’re going to behave at school. Can’t expect a kid who gets away with acting like a fool at home to not act like a fool in school.

  185. I have been a teacher for 17 years now on my 18th and I am trying to decide if I am going to go back after the New Year. It is not that I want to quit teaching but I moved up from Middle School to 9th grade and the students are awful and their parents are not much better. My doctor told me that I need to quit my job for my health, I agree, but I have the mindset of the obligation to my students. Now with that said, this year I have only a few out of 172 students that I actually like and personally I feel that I am not doing myself or them any favors staying.

  186. I am ready to leave today! These stories have amazed me and given me more courage. But, I am still left with 5-7 years until I would get a pension. 21 years in HS and I desperately want out. I have no administrative support and feeling like sharks are attacking nearly everyday. I am through being treated like a child. Does anyone know what other places would count for years of service in Michigan? Or, where I would find that information? Thank you for any help you might give me. I found this but would like more specifics if possible.

  187. I just started my job last June, and I was shocked of the culture of the school that I am currently in right now. It was like all of my co-teachers are so into staying in the school late at night finishing the never ending task that the school directress keeps on giving. Simple mistakes would lead on to being called out by the directress which can be overheard by the faculty and students alike. I makes me feel like I do not know what I was doing, when I know that I can handle it well inside the room. I dread going to school and see my coteachers who thinks that I want an easy life because I don’t want to conform to their culture of staying late in school, with no overtime pay. The situation affects my family and I just want to quit, even my family says so. I’ll miss the kids yet I have to take care of my well being amd my family.

  188. And here is how I am doing it !!!

    1-Going to make sure my debts are done.
    2-I’m not going to stress about goals this year since is my last.
    3-Going to teach my way until the end. Enough about the million and one things on the board, walls , AR weekly points and teacher binder I need to keep up.
    4-Going to Keep it simple and put only 40 hours no more 60+ hour weeks.
    5-Going to stop stressing about stressing.
    6-Searching for alternatives on indeed and monster.
    7- Make it happen. My health and my family deserves a better me or more years out of me. I cant tell you how many teachers (friends and ex-coworkers) have died or got sick after or just a year shy of retirement. You are surviving on adrenaline for so long that the body just breaks down at the end. It’s not going to happen to me. My kids need a dad after I retire .

  189. Hi. Thank u for posting this. A month ago, I decided to quit my job and I politely asked them, send them my resignation letter, and begging to leave, but they wouldn’t approve. I am willing pay my liabilities, but still, they’re consistent. I don’t get it.
    An company/school has the right to fire their employee/s, but the employee/s have to attend sessions/counselling why is this and that, trying their best to make u stay. Why is it so hard to quit? Its so depressing. I think anytime, I can burst out. Help.

    Please kindly pm or reply me in my email. Thank u.

  190. This forum has been such a support for me. I am 39 years old, mother of 3, married to a great man and have been a teacher for 16 years.

    I quit 3 weeks ago! One Sunday night, after months of not sleeping or eating properly the thought of the following day made me shake all over and I began to cry and cry!! I wanted to get through the school year or at least until Christmas, but my body, mind and soul said no more. I feel like a huge boulder has been lifted from my shoulders and the back of my head! I am rediscovering that kind, happy, fun person i was many years ago. I am scared about money, my mortgage, finding a new job, but all these worries are nothing compared to being at that job in that school for one more day.

    My situation seems similar to many of yours across the pond. Data collecting, online portfolios, spread sheets, perpetual asessments, lesson observations ,differentiated lessons and homework, 5 computer systems to maintain, 5 children with special needs, a violent student, 20 other children, no extra support, lack of leadership help, planning time taken by mindless meetings and parents angry as not enough photos being sent home each day!! Pheww and that list continues!!

    My first 12 years of teaching were mostly enjoyable, but as the years have continued the moments of fun, creativity and laughter have sadly faded! I don’t know what I will do now!! Since I was s little girl my dream was to become a teacher, but I do know I will be healthy and happy and will never let myself spiral into such despair again.
    Good luck to all your wonderful teachers, you are not alone x

  191. Hi, thank you for sharing. I never expected when I accepted my current position that I would experience the kinds of things I have. From before I even started in this tiny community the other newly hired co-teacher had scoped it out and became the answer to everyone’s prayers, except for mine. Besides that nightmare. When I first moved here I was asked to deal with a personal house owner to rent their house. This house owner told me they were gifting the school district the house but they hadn’t heard anything on the school district’s part that they were wanting it. I said just on a whim but that I would buy it for a certain amount of money. They said we will check with family. This was in August. Every-time we had inservice it was stated the lawyers were working on the addition of the house, so I just let it go. In November I was asked how I felt about coming back for the next year, I said I’m ready to stay. In late November the home owner messaged me and asked if I still wanted the house. I said sure. So I purchased the house. Then all kinds of things happened. All of a sudden I was the worst teacher, the parents didn’t want me. I didn’t know how to teach, etc. Well needless to say, I received one evaluation, a formal one via googlechat. During that evaluation I realized it was just a formality the decision had been made to get rid of me. With the co-teacher’s help everything went downhill. I’ve only had one total evaluation and they said they would not renew my contract. They said I could resign and then they would give me a letter of recommendation. I had gotten all kinds of awards, etc. at my previous position so this was hard. I just resigned today February the 8th. It is a mixed feeling because I have a wonderful relationship with my students, but I am a resident here so they will continue to see me. I do have to move somewhere else to teach but I will retire here.

    1. Confused…. I don’t see how the House situation affected your teaching and a poor evaluation. Please update. Were you able to get a new position mid-year. What district were you in?

  192. My previous job sounded just like yours except it culminated with my getting slammed in the head with an iPad and losing part of my vision. I took off of work to get other medical problems repaired and then did not return voluntarily for the next year. I was scared to just quit mid term. Thank you for all of your stories, I don’t feel so alone.

  193. Hi Angela. I read your story, and I don’t blame you for leaving. You had to think of your mental and physical health. If had stayed for the rest of the school year, you probably would have had a nervous breakdown!

    You’re not the only teacher to ever quit during the school year. When I was a special education student back in the early 70’s, there was a teacher who left in the middle of the school year, and another teacher took her place for the rest of the year. One day, she had to leave early because her daughter, who was in fourth grade at the time, got sick. Otherwise, I never even asked why she left altogether. It was none of my business.

    Also, at this same school, two other teachers left during the school year because they were both pregnant, and they never came back. Two new teachers replaced them. The Family Leave Act wasn’t around back in the 70’s. However, these two teachers were not pregnant during the same school year.

    When my brother was a student at that same school back early 1980’s, his teacher was also pregnant. She left during the school year and she never came back. Another teacher her place. The Family Leave Act wasn’t around back in the 80’s either.

    I’m glad that you found something where you can now actually teach. Ask the Holy Family to help to help you and to guide you. Good luck to you.

  194. I just quit my job mid-year and am reading this at 2:00 in the morning, because guilt is keeping me awake at night! I’m SO glad I ran across this article. Angela’s words, and everyone’s comments have made me feel so much better. Angela has practically described my situation and feelings perfectly. I feel so much better knowing that many others feel this way. I was feeling like a failure because quitting isn’t in my nature and I still cannot believe it has come…to…this. In my head I know 100% that I’m doing the right thing, and that the students will be fine. (There may be a party in the streets. They can go back to doing whatever they like with no accountability!) But I worry so much about those few that were so excited and dedicated to their learning,despite any chaos around them each day. Well, I guess it’s in the Lord’s hands now. I’m so grateful for you all and will keep you in prayer, as I hope you will me.

  195. I just quit a job 2 months in. It was at a private school for kids with a myriad of problems that make it impossible for them to attend PS. Autistics, emotional problems, and behavioral issues abound. The philosophy of the school is “Democratic”, which means that ALL school issues are brought to the Judicial Committee, no matter what the infraction. The Judicial Committee is comprised of mostly the students, and this creates problems. The 3rd week of school, one boy threatened to shoot up the school twice. The Director did not think it was a viable threat, did not call the police, and was planning to send this boy through the JC as per school policy. Thank God a parent made an anonymous call to the Police, and the boys parents chose to keep him home since then…otherwise who knows what his “consequence” would have been. While I thought the whole process was alarming, I did not leave at that time. However, this past Monday, a 17 year old boy (who has already attempted to take his own life) threatened that I “would die” if I told him what to do again. As per school policy, the boy and I were sent to the Judicial Committee where I was forced to endure questions from his friends like, “Well didn’t you know he was already mad before you asked him to do something?”, and “Is there anything you could have done to prevent this?”…the verdict was the this boy and I BOTH were to attend meditation together, and the boy gets to go running if he’s mad. No authorities were called. The boy was barely rebuked, and he and his friends seemed vindicated by the fact that I was sentenced to meditation as well. The kicker- the job pays $1800/month with zero benefits for full-time. Well, I do believe in Democracy, and my fiends and family voted unanimously that I leave effective immediately. I too felt somehow guilty for bailing, like maybe I was making too much of a big deal. That’s how I found this blog. I love teaching, but I love me more.

  196. So you’re story perfectly describes my situation right now just minus the kid behavior. I’ve pretty much made up my mind I won’t be returning after winter break, however, I’m not sure how to go about it. Reading back through my contract has me worried my certificate could be affected or I’ll have to pay some type of penalty. Thoughts or advice on where to go from here?

    1. Just do what is absolutely necessary to keep your job, document the abusive working conditions in case admin retaliates, find a new position before the end of the school year, and resign when your contract expires at the end of the school year. Good luck!


  197. Wow, comments off the chain. The system is designed in such a way to make it hard to teach the most needy: same expectations without the needed supports to teach these special needs populations.
    I’m a sub and we are CONSTANTLY recruited to ‘stay longer’ at schools. I know I can’t. One teacher had 7, yes 7 subjects, two combined in three of the four periods. It is crazy out there. Subbing is nice for me.

    I did a long-term sub and couldn’t believe the SHEER amount of paperwork required. Teachers in special needs schools can’t be expected to do the same things as wealthier, less challenging schools. This is where education reform really needs to take place.

    I came here because I was wondering what repercussions these teachers were facing by leaving mid-year. It’s not worth the stress, though, I see, from your comments.

  198. What do you say to colleagues once you’ve left ? What is the proper way say you Weren’t happy with admin, without seeming like a bad teacher just tired of the Bs we are out through.

  199. If I could find another job that pays the same or better, I’d quit in AN INSTANT. Every single day I’m thinking, “Don’t make me go back theeeerrreeeee!” but I have to pay my bills. I have to have a job. I have a child to support. And so I stay…

  200. When you applied for the other job after quitting, how did you explain the reason behind leaving the previous one?

  201. Thanks for sharing valuable information with us. When you went after the other position in the wake of stopping, how could you clarify the explanation for leaving the past one?

  202. Thank you for sharing your insights on quitting in the middle of the year! I know I appreciate it, especially right now during this time of the Covid Pandemic. I think the best advice tip I got out of this, is to keep teaching if you are unsure. My mother always said you will know how much your body mind and spirit can take. Once you can’t take no more, that’s when you know to walk away. Thank you again and feeling a little more confident knowing that I am not a failure from walking away versus quitting and giving up.

  203. To Angela and others:

    How do you explain that you quit mid-year during interviews with other districts or on applications?

  204. I quit in a year when there were far more teaching positions then qualified teachers. I quit in a year when there were far more teaching positions ‘than’ qualified teachers.

  205. Hi Angela,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am going through something very similar (I’m actually an SLP). I submitted my resignation about 3-weeks ago as my family anticipated relocating but some unfortunate things happened and we had to pause. However, I wanted to resign regardless as the toll my work environment and job have taken on my mental health. My anxiety is in really bad shape because of my job. So the HR director signed off and approved my resignation because I was relocating and that’s good reason supposedly (in CA) to resign mid-year. Well once I found we had to pause on moving, I started to panic because I also cannot afford to be without -a job as I have to support my family. So I got a job in another district in the same county. Well the district sent over a verification of employment form and now my HR director is threatening me and telling me he’s going after my state credential. He took it upon himself to contact the receiving district telling them he now won’t release me mid-year and now they have paused my hiring and reposted the positions. I am devastated and sick to my stomach as I cannot return to my work place, it was bad before my resignation and now it’s much worse given how hostile he has become. Do you have any advice on what to do? As I’m not sure because I’m have written documentation that he approved my Trisha room. He’s now saying it was under false pretenses or else he wouldn’t have signed. This was 4 weeks ago and he just pulled this on me the day before my anticipated last day. 🙁

  206. Dear Angela,
    This article came in a great time of need. I just submitted my letter of resignation during the middle of the school year and am feeling incredibly anxious, especially about how the next two weeks will go. My husband has been so encouraging and we read this together and it has helped me feel better & not like a total failure as a teacher and a human. God bless.

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