Why Some Teachers Aren’t Returning to the Classroom and What They’ll Do Instead


Why Some Teachers Aren't Returning to the Classroom and What They’ll Do Instead

The Covid-19 crisis put the education system into a tailspin. Most districts are still figuring how to reconcile the current school year while attempting to put plans in place for reopening schools in the fall. Teachers had to learn how to convert their instruction and classroom experience into a virtual format overnight. Most teachers have been working harder than ever from home – and that’s really saying a lot. However, despite the extra workload, some teachers are deciding not to return to the classroom.

Why are teachers leaving the field after Covid-19?

The last few months of isolation at home have provided most of us with time and space to think about our lives. Some teachers have decided returning to a classroom no longer fits into what they want for their life. Here are some of the reasons:

  • They don’t want to return to the stress. Though distance learning has brought on a whole new list of challenges, many teachers have still found working from home to be much less stressful. 
  • They are tired of being disrespected. Many teachers have long felt disrespected by the administration, parents, and students. The way distant learning was handled intensified the frustration for some. They’ve decided it’s time to look for a career in which they’ll be treated with respect and professionalism. 
  • They realize teaching is no longer good for their mental health. One in 20 teachers had a diagnosed mental health issue lasting longer than a year prior to the virus. Many others suffer quietly with symptoms of anxiety, depression, exhaustion and overwhelm. 
  • They recognize the toll to their physical health. The time at home has shown some teachers how taxing the job is on their bodies. Some teachers with chronic illness have more energy, less pain and fewer overall symptoms since schools have been closed.
  • They just don’t enjoy teaching anymore. Some teachers have realized they just don’t like being in a classroom anymore and it’s time to do something else. 
  • They’ve enjoyed the family time. Many teachers have been loving the extra time with their families since being home. Some have decided they aren’t willing to give it up to go back to the classroom.
  • They really liked virtual teaching. Some teachers loved remote teaching and have decided to pursue a fulltime virtual position.
  • They want more money. Some teachers have decided they aren’t making enough money for the challenges and requirements involved in teaching and are no longer willing to accept it. 
  • They don’t feel safe. Many teachers are worried if schools can keep everyone safe and healthy. Some aren’t willing to risk putting themselves and their families at risk. 

What careers will they pursue instead?

Teachers have lots of options when looking for a new job. After all, think of all the multi-tasking of skills teachers do all day, every day! Some popular options include:

  • Online teaching: Those who found they enjoyed remote teaching are investigating doing fulltime through online schools or even teaching English to students in other countries. 
  • Pursuing a business: Quarantine gave many an opportunity to develop business ideas or take side hustles to the next level. 
  • College: Some have decided to go back to college to pursue a whole new career. Others have decided to look into teaching at the college level instead of K-12.
  • Previous careers: Many 
  • Office Manager/executive assistant: Some are putting all of those organizational skills to use by stepping into a business position.
  • Turning hobbies into jobs: Quarantine has given some people time to really pursue their passions, even getting certified in Zuma, nutrition, life coaching, etc. which they can now use to branch out into a new career. 
  • Non-classroom jobs related to children: Most teachers still love children, even if they want to leave the classroom. Jobs that still involve working with or advocating for children are popular with many leaving teaching careers. Examples include:
    • Nonprofit organizations
    • Social services
    • Behavior therapy
    • Curriculum coaching
    • Educational consulting
  • Home childcare centers: Some teachers are leaving the field to start their own childcare centers in their home.
  • Stay-at-home parent: While not all are able, some teachers just want to stay home with their children for a while. 
  • Tech careers: Many colleges are currently offering free coursework and certificates in a variety of tech topics. Some teachers are taking advantage of this to try out a new career. 
  • Writing: A lot of teachers have strong writing skills and some have decided to pursue it professionally instead of returning to the classroom.
  • Restaurant/bartending/retail: Depending on where they live, some teachers have decided they can make close to the same annual pay with a whole lot less responsibility and stress by waiting tables, pouring drinks, working in a store or making fancy coffee drinks. 

People often evaluate their lives during times of crisis. Leaving a steady career you’ve devoted your life to is often scary without a pandemic and high unemployment rate happening. However, many have decided leaving teaching is the best decision for themselves and their families. The decision to leave the field is becoming even more appealing to those who were considering it as states announce teacher layoffs and pay cuts. We hate to see teachers leave the field, but everyone deserves to feel valued and healthy in a job they enjoy. 

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Why Some Teachers Aren't Returning to the Classroom and What They’ll Do Instead

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She’s been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga.
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