Q: Who are you? How long did you teach?
My name is Sarah Greesonbach. I taught 9th grade English for two and a half years before it became very clear that despite a Masters in Arts in Teaching, I was not cut to be a lifelong teacher like I had thought I was. It was a very difficult thing to realize and it took me a while to regain my professional footing.
Q: Why did you leave teaching?
A complicated question means a complicated answer… the short summary is that it just wasn’t worth it. The stress, the pressure, the odds against me, the responsibilities. And all of that before I even got to plan a lesson around my favorite subject and share it with students!
Q: What do you miss most about teaching?
I loved lesson planning so, so much. Taking a concept I was familiar with (which, as an English teacher, meant a lot of books, authors, vocabulary, and themes) and breaking them down into tiny pieces and nuances was the highlight of my day or weekend. But when I went to share my passion with the students… that was a whole other story.
Q: How long did it take you to get a job once you decided to leave?
After realizing in my fifth semester of teaching (AKA my third year) that it just was not going to get better, I began networking and applying to jobs in my content field. It took about one month to secure a new job after realizing that being a teacher was not an option for my mental or physical health.
Q: What kind of jobs have people you known gone on to get after teaching?
Right out of the classroom, I secured a job as a technical editor. That position morphed into technical writing, and now something close to an account executive (communications mixed with relationship management).
I have known other teachers who have found a good balance by just switching their level of teaching (moving abroad, a Department of Defense school, or community college or University level teaching) and other teachers who escaped entirely into fields like Instructional Design and Program Management. There is a world of opportunity out there!
Q: Will I be able to find a job with the same schedule or amount of vacation and time off as teaching?
To be honest, probably not. But here’s the trick: it was my experience that when your job doesn’t drain you to your depths, you don’t need a week off every few months to recover from it.
In the business world, so long as I stay on top of my responsibilities (which as a former teacher is a given!), I can take long weekends or take time off whenever I need to (think doctor’s appointments, vacations, or just to catch up on errands). And when I’m off, I am not planning lessons, recovering mentally or physically, or job hunting!