Have you ever thought of quitting your teaching career? At some point in our careers, we all feel that urge of leaving, but there are alternatives, and reasons not to!

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

There was a time when I pictured my life and I saw myself as a teacher. I felt the passion and the excitement of preparing my lessons, the joy of working with students… but after a while that that dream became reality, I felt the urge for a fresh start, and many teachers feel the same.

Why is that?

1). Poor job opportunities

Finding your dream job is not an easy path. Once you become an English teacher, job opportunities will be available, yet, it’s not always easy to combine a good job with the right pay, especially when you are starting out.

This situation will not last forever: although you sometimes have to compromise, the more experience you gain, the better opportunities you will get access to.

There are many websites where you can apply for teaching jobs, and here are some:

2). Cultural differences

English Teachers are on demand. Depending on where you are looking for a job, paid jobs, and especially well-paid jobs, could be rare, and this is definitely demoralizing. Yet, there are other things that you can get from a job, outside of money. Focus on the benefits, on the positive and creative environment, on the possibility to build a strong human bond with your colleagues and students, or the possibility to travel and explore new places.

If you are the type of person that enjoys being part of different cultures, there are many volunteering opportunities where you can live your adventures: volunteering on a farm, work with disabled kids, enjoy a safari in Africa or even being part of a family in a cultural exchange.

I recommend the WorkAway app on which you will find all kinds of volunteering programs.

3). Interaction with children

Starting to work with children could be scary, especially when you don’t have much experience (and even when you have it), and you might be tempted to quit or not to proceed with a job opportunity.

Children are considered difficult students to work with. Personally, I think we can learn a lot from them and if you find the psychological strength to adapt yourself to the challenge, you might find that you will actually like to work with them.

Many schools around the World need English teachers for children, so if you are happy to work with them, that could make your job-seeking life a lot easier.

Here are some websites you could consult to start working with children:

4). Fear of starting a business

In many parts of the World, in order to start a career in teaching, you have to be self-employed, and this is scary for many of us. After all, we always wanted to teach English, and taking care of a business requires a totally different kinds of skills.

This is going to be difficult, no doubt about that, yet not doing that, you might miss opportunities.

Here you find two interesting articles on how to start your own business as a teacher:

This is an interview we produced about the mother of two children, who left her safe job at school to open an online business to teach English in Japan. That is challenging!

5). Technology changing too fast

The biggest change we faced with the Corona Virus has been an explosion in technology. On a superficial level, this is easily explainable: we have been forced to stay home, so we opened a website and started working with online agencies, and that soon opened new markets.

On a deeper level, this change has been forced by many schools closing down forever and many teachers losing their jobs, so it wasn’t just a way to make a nice extra.

In less than a year, the online market has become incredibly competitive, with new software and platforms that help us (or promise to) teaching online.

Keeping up with technology is difficult, especially for seasoned teachers who are forced to start learning again after they built a name for themselves in the teaching industry.

It is not just about getting used to teaching in front of a camera, but multitasking and juggling with a series of new websites, software and challenges that start from a poor internet connection.

This is a very sensitive topic for many and one of the key reasons for stress in a profession that was already considered on the edge for many.

My advice here is to get familiar with the new technology in a slow, but systematic way. A lot has to be done and we can’t really afford to waste time on companies that seem promising now, but will go bust in a few weeks.

Let’s start with the big players like Zoom, let’s start calling friends and family members, and when we feel good about it, we can move on to another platform, app, website or tool.

6). Challenging work conditions

Buildings that are falling apart, a lack of basic classroom materials, large class sizes, and overwhelming expectations are some of the issues you might find in a country that is far from your culture, and if you were up for an adventure, here you have it!

Often, embracing a new culture is difficult. We come with our ideas, we want to change everything and that is rarely possible, especially in the short run. Adapting takes patience and skills, but if you are able to tighten your teeth for the first period of time, you could actually find this new situation fascinating.

Overwhelming stress is another factor to consider. This is usually brought by company policies that you find unacceptable and colleagues that can become your worst nightmare. This is maybe the most difficult part to adapt to and there is not much I can tell you to make your life easier, aside from Don’t speak up your mind when you are angry.

As bad as it sounds, one of the reasons why you took this job is to be paid. no job, no pay, and if you are abroad, this might also affect your legal permission to keep staying in that country.

So sleep over it until you recoup your sanity, see if there is any way to improve your situation, or in the worst-case scenario, you find another job.

Final thoughts

You know your situation better than anyone else. The reasons you are considering quitting teaching might be in this article, or (most likely) not.

Seeking advice from people you trust is good, but you ultimately know what you feel and what is best for you. Sometimes you can’t even explain what it is, but it is unbearable. In that case, quitting is an option.

You should think about yourself and what is best for you, and that includes also your family, your colleagues and your school or the company you work for. Acting as a hero and continue to do something you deeply dislike might cause more problems than quitting, to you and to the people around you. It can bring a lot of negativity and slow down the workflow, building up resentment in an increasingly difficult situation.

Keep in mind that this decision is reversible, and it is not forever. Sometimes you need time to understand what you want in life, sometimes you just need a clean cut and a fresh start with another company, or on your own, or a change in career, for example shifting to a managerial or consulting position.

Embrace the adventure, keep the beauty of this profession alive, and if you ever change your mind after a while, you can always find a way to come back!