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Accepting the fact that I will be leaving teaching

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by RemusLupin13, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. RemusLupin13

    RemusLupin13 New commenter

    Hi all,

    This is my first post in the TES forums after years of belonging under another name - I've had to create a pseudonym in order to speak about this and ask this question without being rumbled! Please forgive me if this is in the wrong sub-forum or if I ramble on a bit. Sharing can be very cathartic.

    A bit of background first:

    Straight out of Uni and days after getting my undergraduate degree, I became a T.A. for three years working predominantly with SEN students. I bloody loved that job. I loved the one-to-one nature of the role, earning trust and building rapport over time with my students. It made me fall in love with education and working with young people. I was very good at it too. But it wasn't allowing me to make enough money to survive on, and T.As seemed to be being cut left, right and centre from schools in the area. It made me want to be a teacher; a progression which made sense in every respect.

    In 2014 I trained to be a teacher, and found it tough but fulfilling and a very worthwhile learning experience. I had wonderful course tutors, mentors and peers to learn from. I then spent two years (NQT and second year) at another school developing my ability and becoming a better teacher. But there was a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I just wasn't made of the right stuff. I wasn't enjoying it and it was affecting my personality and state of mind. I just couldn't handle it. And the longer I taught the more it grew from a small pin-***** to a nail hammering into my head. My lessons suffered, my marking suffered and ultimately my mental health suffered. I freely admit there are other issues which also contributed to this, but I do think a large reason for this was the workload and expectations for me to be switched on 18/20 hours per day. Oversubscribed timetables, ridiculous data handling and marking deadlines just piled up and up. After years of running PSHE sessions on this exact topic and outlining 'classic' case studies containing conducive factors which could lead to this happening in teenagers, I began self-harming and contemplating doing something silly myself. Not a good period of my life. Juggling that and teaching really took it out of me.

    (I sought help and am still receiving support for this regularly and have thankfully found myself in a slightly better place of late).

    After my NQT and during my second year at this school (earlier this calendar year), I accepted a job at an International School with a small student population and a warm and friendly staff community. I had previously volunteered abroad for a short period and fallen in love with the idea that moving to work abroad would do all of the stereotypical things you hear in adverts and testimonials advocating this change of scene. So I moved here over the summer and am now establishing myself at this new school. The students on the whole are well-behaved and hardworking and I do feel like I am actually able to teach here, more-so than at any other time. It is a lovely location and a great bunch of people I am lucky enough to work with. I cannot (should not) complain. I simply have no grounds to. (I even appear to have a slightly improved work-life balance for the first time).

    However, I have come to realise in the very short time I have been here this academic year that I am going to quit this profession and change my career path. I fully accept this now. Before this dawning moment of realisation, I certainly suspected this was the case, but now I know this is going to happen. There is no doubt in my mind that I will eventually leave this role and move onto something else, and it makes me very sad indeed. I feel like I'm letting students, fellow teachers, trainees, family, and myself down should I do this. I know this is a harmful thought process, but it is how I feel.

    I just don't have the passion for this job any more. I am tired from years of constantly being in education. I went straight from school to University to working in school without any kind of period to take stock and wonder what I actually wanted to do (aside from a couple of months working for an NGO-focused charity as a volunteer). I do know that a huge number of other people have done the exact same thing (education-work-work-work), so I have no cause or desire to complain about how society is at fault for 'forcing' me down a certain career path or some such rhetoric, but I also cannot lie and say I do not feel jaded and somewhat processed. I just want some time to think and figure out what I am actually good at/capable of doing. And as you all know, teaching doesn't afford you this kind of contemplative time.

    I have been observed and consistently graded as being good at what I do during appraisal and observation processes. So I am not bad in the classroom or as a practitioner. I get the job done and maintain strong working relationships with staff and students. But this all feels surface-level. I've grown to believe that the very best teachers in the profession make that jump to consistently outstanding by having that passion and desire to continue to progress, inspire and motivate every single day. That is what keeps them striving. I have days (more and more often) where I just do not want to be anywhere near the classroom or my exercise book pile. I dream of not being there and not hearing students ask me questions or not setting a task or interacting with other staff about meetings or working groups. I fantasise about just being outdoors and thinking back to my time in the classroom with a rueful smile on my face; remembering how I once was.

    Ultimately, I want to feel alive and connected to a job I enjoy. But not many of us in any career have that privilege - this is just a wish. At the very least I need to be able to not be depressed or suffering from a depression which I believe is being fuelled by my continued existence in this role. And even more ultimately, I want to be fair to the students. They do not deserve a man who stands up in front of them every single day and attempts to teach them when he wants to be anywhere else in the world but there, trying to help them to learn. It just isn't right for them. They shouldn't have to be subjected to it.

    Part A of the problem is this: I am committed to a two year contract now, which I have no intention of breaking. I also have contracts with accommodation, transport etc. I do not do breaking contracts or backing out of commitments. I currently intend to stick with it and get through the remaining 23 months of this one day at a time. I can accept being temporarily unhappy (2 years is a long time I know, but not in comparison to the rest of my working life) if it means I can hold my chin up at the end of it and feel I've earnt the right to move away from the classroom having completed my required time. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. I am just worried that I will become swamped with the negativity in that time and turn into a horrible person. I don't want to be a horrible person.

    Part B of the problem is far more simple yet far more significant: I don't know what else I can do. I intend to spend the next couple of years researching and coming up with some viable and wholly realistic options for what to do next. I am happy to slide down any metaphorical ladder and start at the very bottom once I'm 30 years of age. But this scares me more than it excites me. I know teaching shows I can use a number of skills suited to other working environments. I know teachers are employable. I know I won't be cast out to sea without a prospect. But at the same time, I just do not know where to start. It is like I have a million pieces of a puzzle laid out before me and cannot even find any edge pieces to get cracking with.

    I don't really know what I am hoping for from posting this. I suppose it is more of an outlet really. I know and respect the community here as being knowledgeable, experienced and nurturing, and I think I just want anybody who feels able to offer whatever advice or wisdom gained from seeing people come and go or struggle with similar issues to be kind enough to contribute. I am not expecting anything in particular, and would be incredibly grateful for anything at all.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to hearing from some of you. And keep doing this amazing job if you love it; you really are the best.
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You seem to have it covered to be honest.
    You want to change careers, many people do in all walks of life, and have a couple of years to sort out what you will do next. Take your time and make plans.
    Now you've made the decision, you will start to feel better and once plans start to come together you will care less about the irritations and therefore manage your current hassles more easily.

    Good luck in whatever you decide to do next.
  3. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    You are very analytical and, at times, a little hard on yourself. It's great that you like the school you are now in as this is a good basis to start from. I would say that very few people work in an ideal job, but that doesn't mean there isn't something better out there for you.

    Read some of the other threads here. I've posted before about paying for some thorough careers guidance. I did it once years ago and although it was expensive, it was worth every penny. The company I went to still exists but you can search for others.

    In the meantime, try to be kinder to yourself, take care of yourself - get enough sleep, exercise etc - have some fun. You may find that as time goes on you become more aware of what you feel you would really enjoy.
  4. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    I know you say you don't like to break commitments, but as you say two years is a long time. I'd be surprised if there want a break clause in there. I only say that, because at some point you are going to have an idea of which direction you wish to go in, and if something comes up you really want you are going to have to go for it. In which case I want to say don't worry, if the shoe is on the other foot your employer is not going to worry too much about getting rid of you if circumstances dictated.

    As for what you do next, start by looking at what you do enjoy. If it's education there's plenty of things out there that relate to that that isn't teaching. Just look in other areas you like (history, wildlife, etc). There's plenty of ideas on these forums. And remember You have got a lot of experiences you're building on. I wouldn't worry about change. These days most people will go through a number of different careers. Life is too short to spend a large part doing something that you don't enjoy.

    Good luck in what ever you choose to do!
  5. jilly_mc

    jilly_mc New commenter

    Something for Part A: I think it's fab that you're intending to see through your contract. You will already know this but please do remember to monitor your own health in this time. No contract is worth your health.

    Part B: again, it sounds like you have a plan. However, it might just be a case of bite the metaphorical bullet and plump for a job that seems interesting/ exciting. I've always found a major problem to be that teachers and students alike just don't know how to translate curriculum study into a career unless it's a very 'traditional' job (law/ medicine/ physio/CEO of a business).

    I hope you find happiness. It certainly sounds as though you deserve it.
  6. RemusLupin13

    RemusLupin13 New commenter

    Thanks for the responses so far folks.

    I'm aware I've 'kind of' answered any questions I may have posed in this thread myself, but it is good to hear from other people in the profession - a real benefit of speaking anonymously and receiving advice. It is also good to share what I've been mulling over in my mind for quite a long time. So thank you! :)
    sharminb1 likes this.

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