5 Steps to Quit Teaching Special Education and Find Happiness
Updated: May 17, 2022
It is time. You have known it for a while, but you keep pushing the thoughts away. It is time to quit your teaching job in special education. We get it; to quit teaching is not an easy decision to make. A million things are running through your head- guilt, shame, fear of the unknown. But what if we told you that quitting your job can lead to happiness and fulfillment? What if you could have a work life balance that is actually balanced? This blog post will discuss five ways to help you quit your job in special education and find Happiness!
#1 Don't Fall Prey to a Guilt Based Culture
School cultures across the United States rely on an undercurrent of guilt to motivate and manipulate teachers into performing non-contracted duties and staying in positions they no longer have passion for. This guilt manifests in different ways depending on the school and its administration. Still, some common examples include feeling like you're not doing enough for your students if you don't volunteer for every activity and feeling like a bad teacher if you don't spend every waking hour lesson planning. In some cases, the guilt is more subtle, such as the unspoken expectation that you will attend all school functions, even though they are outside of your contractually-obligated work hours.
In addition to the guilt, school administrators often use emotional blackmail to fill their staffing requirements. Now that might sound harsh but keep reading and see if any of this might have an element of truth for you.
The implication is that you can't leave an unhappy position because your students need you. Need is a very strong word and it suggests that no one could replace your value to these students and they would suffer greatly without you. This type of implication is equal to emotional blackmail and is employed to make teachers feel needed and valued for the sake of children even if it's only to serve as a way to placate someone into bad decision making. It's easy to fall prey to but after a few years, the time will come when you or your family need you more than students. Save yourself three years of torture and know that it's ok to find happiness sooner.
Administrators will often tell teachers that they are irreplaceable (code words for staffing shortages or staffing crisis) and that their students won't be able to handle the change. This is simply not true. While it is important for students to have stability, they are also adaptable and will quickly adjust to a new teacher if they need to. In the end, it's important to remember that you need to do what is best for you and your family. Don't let anyone use emotional blackmail to keep you in a job that isn't right for you anymore.
Regardless of how it manifests, this culture of guilt puts undue pressure on teachers, who are already working long hours for relatively little pay. It's important to recognize this manipulation for what it is and not to let guilt control your feeling about how you view yourself as a teacher.
When possible, communicate with administrators and request that they respect your time and work-life boundaries. Remember that you are not obligated to do more than what is in your contract, although you may choose to do so from time to time. And that you are not solely responsible for the success or failure of your students - that is the job of the entire team, and the guilt or perceived responsibility cannot solely rest on your shoulders.
#2 Overcome Your Own Guilt and Shame When Deciding to Quit
Many teachers feel a great deal of guilt when they think about leaving the profession. Guilt about or worry about abandoning their students, let down their colleagues and feel like they are wasting the time and money they invested in their education.
However, this does not have to be the case. In any other career, you have the option to quit at will. Teaching is more difficult because of contracts and the doubt of what will you be able to do for work if not teach. Even with these challenges, there are options for teachers who want to leave the profession. There are many exciting career opportunities available for teachers, especially in the field of ed-tech. They can talk to their school's human resources department about finding a different position within the district. They can also look into teaching at a private school or charter school. So, if you are feeling unhappy in your current role, don't be afraid to explore other options guilt and shame-free.
#3 Find Support From Other Teachers Who have Faced the Same Challenges
Facebook and Linked In offer many groups of like-minded teachers where they share job opportunities and advice on alternate career paths. These groups can provide support and guidance for teachers who are feeling guilty or shame about leaving the profession. Additionally, online forums and chat rooms offer an anonymous space for teachers to candidly discuss their struggles and receive support from peers. These spaces can be particularly helpful for teachers who live in rural or isolated areas where it is difficult to connect with other educators. Finally, teacher associations and unions often have programs and resources in place to help members transition to new careers. These organizations can help connect teachers with potential employers, provide career counseling, and offer financial assistance. There is no need to feel alone when so many other teachers have faced the same dilemma and come out happy in the end. With a little support and guidance, any teacher can find a new career that brings them joy and fulfillment.
#4 Assess Your Skillset to Find Alternate Career Paths
When most people think of someone with a teaching degree, they typically picture a school teacher working in a public school. However, there are many other career options available for those with a teaching degree. For example, elementary teachers often develop strong curriculum development skills. These skills can be used in a variety of settings, such as developing training materials for corporate employers or creating educational programs for non-profit organizations. Secondary teachers often specialize in a particular subject area, such as English or history. This expertise can lead to careers as college professors or instructional writers for educational publishers. And finally, many teachers use their knowledge and experience to become private tutors. No matter what your interests or skills are, there is likely a career path that is a good fit for you. So if you're looking for an alternative to working in public education, be sure to explore all the options available to you.
#5 Put Yourself First!
Many teachers enter the profession with the best of intentions but eventually realize that it's not the right fit for them. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important to remember that you're not alone. Career changes are common, and there's no shame in wanting something better for yourself. Don't wait till you are at a breaking point.
The first step is to make a plan. Think about what you want to do and research the steps you'll need to take to get there. Then, reach out to your support system and let them know what you're planning. Making a career change can be daunting, but it's also an exciting opportunity. So get started and see where the wind takes you.
We hope this blog post provides some guidance and support as you decide to quit your job in special education. Remember, you are not alone! There are so many other teachers who have faced the same challenges and come out on the other side happy and fulfilled. You can do this! We believe in you!