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Leaving teaching - advice needed

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by MilesEdgeworth, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I've had to set up a pseudonym to protect my identity, hence it looks like I've never been a member here before.

    The title says it all: after 8 years in Inner London schools I am considering leaving teaching altogether. This is after pleas from my new partner, my friends and now my parents. I've spent the 8 years across two schools, the first one incredibly toxic, the second one very supportive.

    The fact is, however, that my mental health has been utterly ravaged, and the greatest culprits of all are marking and assessment and work scrutiny. Most of my career has been spent with anxiety.

    I got into teaching to support and nurture children and improve their lives - not have a red pen welded to my fingers. My loved ones are fed up of my moods, my inability to switch off and the fact that I devote almost all of my energy to the job whilst leaving little for them. They've already asked me how many exam papers I will be bringing home at Christmas and the fact they're already dreading that on my behalf because they know they'll hardly see me breaks my heart.

    The problem is, I have no idea what my next step is beyond the fact that if I don't see another red pen or exercise book again it will be too soon. I want to leave education entirely.

    I'm in my 30s and my studies, from GCSE through to postgraduate, were all geared around teaching English, so in real-world terms the best thing I have to my name is an English degree. While I did teach some Media Studies in years gone by, I am not formally qualified in it.

    Any advice would be very gratefully received.
  2. SCAW12

    SCAW12 Occasional commenter

    Will your family and partner support you financially if you leave teaching? An English specialist colleague resigned recently and is doing supply and tutoring instead, but had to take a financial hit to do so. If your family and partner will support you financially, I would just resign and leave. Or reduce hours?
  3. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    You are young and well qualified, with a degree that lends itself to many areas.

    Obviously, the civil service springs to mind, but just start looking, keep an open mind, and see what there is.

    In many job websites, you do not have to say what wort of job you are looking for, just search by post code, and distance you are willing to travel,

    you will be swamped by thousands of job vacancies, mostly of no interest to you.

    You may be able to use the search facility on some sites to screen out certain jobs, like "care" or "driving"

    You will still most likely be swamped!

    stat looking and start applying. Only apply for jobs you are genuinely interested in,

    Something will happen
  4. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    Communication Strategy
  5. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Having seen many colleagues and ex-colleagues (not to mention my Dad) come to the same conclusion my advice to you is that you start to look for something else while you are still teaching.

    Anxiety is a killer - I used to work in a school where I genuinely believe the management thought that having staff in a state of permanent anxiety kept everyone on their toes (actually all it did was to promote a high staff turnover).

    I'm coming towards the end now and will probably survive a few more years until I can wind down a bit but I've seen many young staff leave because the pressure was too much. It's not worth it in the long run. It eats you away and one day you will mentally or physically (or both) break down.

    I saw this at first hand when I Dad packed teaching in some years ago after a long career.was the best thing he ever did and I'm sure he wouldn't be alive today had he kept going.

    Best of luck - life is too short to keep doing something you hate.
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    A company offering careers advice which I’ve heard of is called Morrisby. They may be able to give some guidance?
  7. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Firstly, you've realised the effect that teaching is having on you and your family and you've come to the conclusion that continuing to teach is unsustainable. Many teachers just struggle on with devastating consequences for their health and their families but you know you have to change your career and perhaps much of the anxiety you have lived with throughout your teaching career may finally abate.

    Secondly, you must be more positive than your post implies. You say: '....the best thing I have to my name is an English degree.' The degree is certainly useful but what about all the other skills you have acquired as a teacher? Organising, managing the learning of others, presenting, reviewing, inter-personal skills and so on. I repeatedly say on these forums that ex-teachers are probably the best workforce an employer can get so believe in yourself and your ability.

    So what can you do? There are a myriad of jobs that you could do and by trawling through these forums you will find accounts by many ex-teachers of areas they have moved into. Perhaps a good place to start may be to follow up jobs in sectors that particularly in interest you. Post your CV online and put it around amongst your friends and social media that you're looking for a new job. Many openings appear this way.

    You'll never move on if you don't apply for other jobs and get yourself in front of an interview panel. Even a basic job can soon lead to advancement and better opportunities once you show how committed and adaptable you are. You've got to get your foot in the door in a job outside of teaching and at the very least that will give you some non-teaching experience that you can build on for a step up to something a little grander.

    You may have your setbacks but as I said earlier you must remain POSITIVE and take things on the chin if they don't work out. After all, remember what is at stake for you, you have recounted your mental health issues and how fed up your family are with losing you to your work. Family time is very precious and in years to come, if not now, your partner and children may be very resentful that the time you could all have shared as a family, sharing love and fun, was squandered and set aside because of your work. You say in your OP that your heart breaks by not having the time to spend with your family, their hearts are probably breaking too, your mind is breaking and maybe your body too. Things must change.

    Here's a mantra:
    What I must do is for the benefit of me and my family.
    What I will do will make our lives better.
    What I will have done I will never regret.
  8. kellyvallham

    kellyvallham New commenter

    I completely understand- I don't want to get back into teaching either. I have spent months looking for other kinds of jobs which will utilise my 'transferable skills', and though at times it looks like no one wants me without specific extra qualifications in library studies or archival studies, or years of experience in higher education or marketing or fundraising, I know there *must* be something!
    The trick to staying positive is to think or make a list of all the positive and encouraging things people have said about you in the past- you know you have skills and talents! And like others here have said- imagine the places you would love to work and try those - you never know!
    I have had to apply to call centres, but that doesn't bother me- I am reading lots and have time for new hobbies or even watching lots of travel documentaries- you realise there is a life outside teaching and the rat race too.
    It is amazing how good a rest feels, and when you have the time to rediscover interests and passions you will definitely feel the benefit!
    Shedman likes this.
  9. BTBAM85

    BTBAM85 New commenter

    I agree, but the outside world doesn't see it like that!

    'Teacher huh? Yeah loads of jobs for you! 18k, answer that phone, 8.30 - 5.30 Monday to Friday you get three days off a year, what do you mean that isn't great?'
  10. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    If you work out your hourly rate for teaching it probably isn't much more and may well be less than you get for the call centre job plus when you go home the time is yours, you don't get abused by obnoxious students, there's no marking and you've not got to sit through all the ar *e-achingly tedious meetings. If you got an evening or weekend part time job in addition or did some tutoring you could be quids in.
    agathamorse and (deleted member) like this.
  11. bertiesresources

    bertiesresources New commenter

    I took a break from teaching 2 years ago - I was really lacking in confidence and worn down after 11 years teaching. However I managed to get an admin job in the School of Education at my local uni and although the pay isn’t brilliant it isn’t too much less, considering I never have to bring work home. There are opportunities if I want to move up. I was surprised just how many ex-teachers there were at the uni doing admin roles of varying responsibility. If you’ve got a uni local to you with a School of Ed it might be worth keeping an eye on their vacancies. There is stuff out there- don’t be put off by people who think it’s not possible to change because it is. Find some time to rest and you’ll begin to think more creatively about where to look.
    Shedman, sjeeva2194 and agathamorse like this.
  12. nanniedeb

    nanniedeb New commenter

    I m currently working on supply... well trying to. The main problems I am facing are;
    1) The agencies say the schools don't want to pay the daily rate the agency promised to pay, so I'm earning up to £10 per day less.
    2) There isn't much work available as schools (mainly academies) cover internally by using their TA's

    I have days of despair as to how I am going to afford my bills. I am constantly applying for any teaching vacancy I see but as I am on UPS1 my applications are overlooked, my 20 years experience is overlooked and probably my age (56) is bypassed too.

    I have approached non teaching agencies (afterall I do have a 1st class degree in English, transferrable you may think!!!) to be told "We don't take on teachers because, when we try to place them in work, offices say teachers have no experience." 39 years ago I worked in a building society! I've applied for non-teaching jobs... to no avail.

    I personally don't know which way to turn but I shall try one piece of advise I have read on here... I'm going to see if I get any joy with a careers advisor, if I can find one.
    agathamorse and minacharm like this.
  13. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    A good suggestion for others seeking an alternative career. Thanks for posting.
    minceandquince likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Being really practical about it, start by working out how much money you need to bring in to pay the bills. Then work out how you could survive on less than that. I don't mean comfortably, I mean roof over your head and food on the table.

    You may look at that and go 'we couldn't live like that' but from what you're describing, two more years and you'll be in a rubber room, divorced or dead. So eating beans on toast for a while is not the worst outcome.

    You are very beaten down at the moment and clearly undervalue your education and abilities. But teachers have a huge number of transferable skills - presentation, literacy, communication etc etc.

    Take a few days off with WRS. Go around agencies and see what they can come up with.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Totally agree.

    Plus also, when you get home, you can boost your take home by tutoring 1to1, marking during the exam season and maybe even selling resources through the TES! All of which use your existing skills and can help make up the difference in salary. I know, you're leaving teaching to avoid such things, but this way you have more control of when you do them.
    Shedman and agathamorse like this.
  16. sjeeva2194

    sjeeva2194 New commenter

    Hi, I am looking to quit teaching as well and was actually looking into admin jobs. If you dont mind, would you be able to share your experience of the interview process etc? The prospect of starting all over again is really scary and off puting.
  17. mrbaxtersbeard

    mrbaxtersbeard New commenter

    You can do this. You may have conditioned yourself to think you can't, or mood hoovers around you might have told you reasons why you can't, but you can.

    When you feel at your worst, how much would you pay at that moment for it all to go away?

    Write a CV, then get someone who knows about CVs to look over it. You need to sell your skills and behaviours. You're right to think no-one knows what phrases you have used for years actually mean, so you need to to repackage that experience in a different box. 'I differentiate resources' actually means 'I write and deliver content for different audiences.'

    Look online for STAR competency questions. You'll soon develop some confidence in what you have done, and be able to adapt your CV again.

    Looking at it from the view of what you want to do will help. There are loads of job websites you can sign up to. And apply for jobs- don't decide you can't do a job. That's for HR to decide. You show them why you can do it. And good luck.
    Shedman likes this.

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