While teachers indisputably touch lives, it is just as indisputable that the unlivable aspects of teaching are driving many teachers to exit the career (the newest statistics is that 46% of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years).
And maybe you managed to get that job right out of college, but if you teach or know a teacher who is thinking about taking the leap from the non-profit industry to the corporate world, here are a few mind-blowing tips for transitioning out of teaching:
Emotional Changes When You Leave Teaching
You are now responsible for you. Not others.
Unless you’ve taken a job that includes a lot of similar responsibilities, not-teaching is a whole new world from teaching. Your job performance and reputation is now all about what you do — not what you get others to do, as in the case of tests and national averages.
You need to protect your job, your reputation, and your performance in a new way, and it is important to get a grip on that as soon as possible. Make sure you have processes and strategies to explain your decisions, and always (always) keep a paper trail.
Plan for your feelings because they will follow you.
Since teaching is a highly stressful job, chances are you will carry the emotional year with you even after you have left the classroom. Even without summer to look forward to, you’ll feel the excitement and high of May and June, but also the possible depression and anxiety of November and January. Plan to feel a little extra stress around old “teacher transition times,” especially if you’ve been teaching for a long time.
Talk with someone about failure.
Maybe the best audience for you is a counselor, or maybe it is your mom, spouse, or teacher friend, but find someone you can talk honestly with about feelings of failure. Otherwise these feelings can linger and negatively impact your new job and quality of life.
Environmental Changes When You Leave Teaching
Your time off is now for you.
While it was great to get a week or two off at each holiday and most of the summer off, the trade off was not being free to take leave when you needed to throughout the year. Now you can, and sometimes you are encouraged to. Give yourself time to reset your “me-time” clock and plan out some breaks in the year.
People like to be at work.
If you left teaching in a huff, chances are you got pretty resentful and negative towards the end. In your new environment, the majority of people actually like their jobs and — gasp — want to be there. Check your negative attitude and try to stay aware of how you talk about your work so that you can blend in seamlessly. And while you’re at it… allow yourself to love your job!
Your workday is also yours.
With some exceptions, your new job has a lot of perks over teaching (like being able to go to the bathroom whenever you need to). If you aren’t a teacher, I bet this sounds really weird, but getting out of teaching is kind of like being freed from jail. You are now a human adult with full rights to leave a room or meeting (within reason) and not have to worry about someone stabbing someone else and being fired for it. Holla!
Resources for Change
Perhaps you’re reading this and hoping for a new career. Here are a few resources that I found very helpful when I made the transition myself: