I’m Taking Time off From Teaching — Here Are my Options

Leaving the classroom: here are my options
I'm Taking Time off From Teaching; Here Are my Options

I took a year off from teaching. 

It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. After a tough year of teaching and coaching, while expecting my second child, I knew I couldn’t keep my momentum going any longer. It didn’t even feel like a choice of whether to cut back financially and plan to take a year off—it felt like a necessity. I have a feeling that there are others like me.

At the end of this particular school year, eating ramen noodles for dinner every night sounded pretty blissful compared to returning to the struggle of work/life balance. I gave up my job and its security and in that moment, I had experienced such heavy teacher burnout that I couldn’t seem to miss it. I took time off from teaching while believing that my family would have to heavily cut back on expenses while I became a stay-at-home parent for a short time period. However, I had not realized the options I would have for part-time work during my “break” from the classroom. 

Here are a few popular options for teachers looking for work during their time-off outside of the classroom:

1. Tutoring

This one may seem obvious. This one may be viewed as similar to teaching. However, focusing on one student instead of thirty at a time can be a breath of fresh air. It can be a way to fall in love with your subject all over again without pressure to meet so many kids’ needs or enter so many grades. Tutoring is a popular option for former teachers because it typically involves the part of our teaching careers we actually love: the teaching part. Witnessing a child learn will always be a gift to us.

2. Writing

Freelance writing can be an attractive option for former teachers because of the flexibility it allows. There are many websites on subjects that can align with teachers’ interests. Local newspapers often employ freelance writers to cover regional stories. Writing is a broad option that can serve a creative person well in their respective niche.

3. ESL Online Teaching

There is a need in recent years for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers through online platforms. Online companies from around the world employ teachers in the United States to tutor students in the English language. These companies typically use a platform similar to Skype within an immersion program, which does not require teachers to know multiple languages but instead use body language to teach. Possibly the largest company in this arena is VIPKid, where U.S. teachers tutor Chinese students in English.

4. Event Planner

Those skills we acquired while planning field trips and fundraisers could be put to good use outside the classroom, too. Community events and charities often hire an event planner to coordinate functions. This one may require some creativity and odd hours but it could be a fun part-time job for some with already-superb planning skills (and thriving-in-chaos skills). 

5. Coach

Maybe this was one of your jobs as a teacher. Maybe not. Either way, it’s an amazing way to be involved in children’s lives without the immense pressure that’s inevitably wrapped up in school sports. Maybe it’s your own child’s team. This option may not pay well, but coaching for the love of it can be good for the soul; yours and your players’.

In other words, there are options. Leaving the classroom for any period of time is a giant leap of faith. Will I be able to find a job again? Will I regret it? Will I be able to make ends meet? Will I be able to support my family? Am I giving up everything I’ve worked for?

However, there are other questions we should also consider.

How is my mental health? How is my burnout affecting me? How is it affecting my family?

Along with the practical options I’ve shared, I’d like to share some personal advice:

Take care of you.

It just might bring back the desire to care for others again.

I'm Taking Time off From Teaching; Here Are my Options

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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