My husband is a pastor, and I am a teacher. Well… a teacher at heart. I decided to take the year off teaching in the classroom to work part-time and focus on my family. In short, I realized that TEACHING IS SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF ME and is actually taking away from all the things I love. It isn’t easy to describe the rollercoaster of feelings that go with this decision. Failure, guilt, relief, joy, panic, excitement. The list goes on. Ultimately though, the strongest emotion at this moment is peace. Once I quit teaching, I could finally breathe again.
I worked my butt off to become a teacher
Five years ago, I decided to go back to school to accomplish my lifelong dream of becoming an educator. The opportunity came about when my mother-in-law offered to help pay for it. The timing seemed providential because both of my boys were in school full days, and I could do my program while they were there. It worked out perfectly! What a blessing! I cruised through my teaching program and loved it.
It had been 20 years since my last college class, and I was terrified! As a stay at home mom for nine years, I had started to doubt that I was smart enough to do this. It surprised me how quickly I was able to get back into the swing of things.
Life experience matters
Life experience is legit. I should say life experience is legitimate. After all, I am an educator now. I started to gain confidence in myself and realized that I am, in fact, an intelligent person. My brain knows lots of information. No, really. I’m seriously smart! Not only do I know stuff, but I also know how to find the answers to things that I don’t know. Super duper smart!
I loved student teaching
Student teaching was the greatest. I grew to love my host teacher like family. To this day, I still consider her a close friend. She taught both my kids before she taught me and had a significant impact on their education. Her inspiration was one reason I wanted to go back and get my teaching license in the first place.
Seeing the effect she had on my kids made me want to do that for others. She was making a difference in the world, and more specifically, our world. I will forever be grateful for that role that she played and continues to play in my life.
I got the job!
After completing student teaching, The principal hired me at the school my kids attended, teaching the same grade level that I student taught. Everything seemed to be falling into place perfectly. I was on the 2nd-grade team with my mentor teacher, whom I adore and work well with, another rock star teacher who always makes me laugh, and I am teaching the grade level that I have already taught the curriculum for the second semester. The excitement was difficult to contain as I was ready to start my first year. Everything was lining up.
Teaching was WAY harder than I imagined
Then reality hit. THE FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING IS SO STINKING HARD! The work was constant. When I wasn’t working, I was worrying about work. There was so much to do, and I had approximately zero minutes left for my kids or husband. At the same time, our church was doing a building project, and my husband was just as busy as I was. I thought that if we could make it through the first year, it would get easier.
Teaching didn’t get easier
Nope! The next year was worse. The workload was worse. I had a fun group of kids, but they were extremely high maintenance and took every ounce of energy I had. By the time I got home from school, there was nothing left of me emotionally, mentally, or physically.
It is a weird feeling to love the students and people I work with so much but to resent the job. I joined Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club that year. That group helped to change my mindset and I got to a place where I didn’t take work home. I became extremely organized and efficient at school and used every minute I had to get things done to bring anything home. Even still, I was going to work around 6:15 a.m. and getting home around 5:30 p.m. ready to fall asleep.
Maybe if I am closer to home, it will be better.
I reasoned that if I were closer to home and didn’t have the drive, it would be better. After talking to several people, I decided to teach at a private school near my house. I only had 15 students and was told that I would have more family time. Boy, was that not true.
This year was the most difficult of them all. All of the sound, time-saving habits I had formed the year before didn’t work. There was no kid-free lunch break to work through, and I had kids in my class after school for homework room. I wound up working even longer hours than before… working around 60 hours a week and continually thinking about school when I was at home. Again, I was in the position that I absolutely loved my students and the people I worked with, but I HATED the job.
Can I even say that?
Somehow it feels wrong to say that. I am not sure that I can even say it out loud. I was supposed to love teaching. Both of my principals were supportive and encouraging. Both said the kindest things to me, inferring that education is my calling. Both told me that if I give it time, it will get better. But I don’t feel like this is the time. I gave it everything in the classroom, and that was my problem. It wouldn’t turn it off when I got home. Work was constantly on my mind.
There are things that I love about teaching, but I am not willing to sacrifice my family for them.
So I did it. I quit teaching. The difficult decision was made to take a break from the classroom and work part-time. I still get to work at a school, but I will be in the office. Hopefully, I will have an opportunity to encourage those teachers that I love so much and be there for the students, but I need to be there for my kids more.
I’m starting this blog because there are some things that I learned about myself and my family during these tough years, and I want to be intentional about change.
What I learned
I love being with my family
I learned that I love being with my family, and I have missed them terribly. My husband and my boys make me laugh with their hilarious personalities and their kind hearts. They are all ridiculously brilliant, and they are the people with whom I want to spend the most time. I want to learn what makes them tick and have fun experiences with them, even if I have to force family fun!
I need to go on vacation with my family
I learned that our family needs to take real vacations. Before I started teaching, our vacations consisted of visiting family or going with my husband to whatever church he was speaking at and finding something fun to do nearby. If I hadn’t started teaching, I don’t think that I would have realized how important this is for us as a family. It is my opinion that all teacher families and pastor families (and social workers and nurses and moms, all the other jobs where you are pouring into other people all day long.) should find a way to make it happen. We need to go to a place where we can unplug and be together. I always thought we couldn’t afford it, but now I will find a way no matter what!
I need to teach my kids life skills
I learned that if I want my kids to do things, I need explicitly to teach them how to do the jobs I want them to do. Survival mode was the state I was in for the past ten years. Looking back, I recognize that my parents were also in survival mode as they were raising me. I don’t blame them. Parenting is so freaking hard, and I know that they loved me. But when I got married, I had to start figuring things out on my own. Since I still have time, I want to change that for my kids.
My husband is amazing
I learned that I am married to the most gracious, selfless, caring, stable man alive. This was always true, but now I appreciate it more than ever. Ensuring that our relationship doesn’t get lost in all the other responsibilities we both have is a priority. We are better as a team, and I adore him.
***Bonus: Before I quit teaching, I learned that eyebrows are significant. Below are a video and photos that prove it. I made the video while remote teaching during quarantine and the images were taken one year apart in the same outfit. This is the joy of having school pictures to send to my dad every year. How did I not realize this until now???
Considering quitting teaching?
If you are considering quitting teaching, I understand what a difficult decision it is. It is important to examine your priorities and see if it is really worth it. The situation might have been different if I had a few years under my belt before I had children. As it was, I was not willing to commit the time to get to a place where teaching is sustainable.
If you are a struggling teacher, know that you’re not alone. I felt guilty about not loving teaching. I’m happy to listen if you need some support. Please leave a message in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have been there.