I feel like I am going through a bad break up. I have been teaching elementary school for five years. I taught for four years in a small school in Central Maine. The first two years I felt like I was trying to keep my head above water. My third year, I loved it. My fourth year…not so much. I thought it was because I had a tough class, and I had spent most of the summer looking for a new teaching job in Southern Maine. I was also living with my parents and commuting one hour each way. I placed my job unhappiness on those things. Sure, I wondered what it would be like to have a job where I didn’t come home smelling like glue, expo marker, and first grader. I wondered what it would be like to have a job where you could grab coffee if needed, or even use the bathroom. I never actually stopped and thought that maybe teaching just wasn’t for me anymore.
Things started to change at year five. I found a new job in a location I liked, and even a grade level I thought I would love. However, I still unhappy. I didn’t want to go to work in the morning. It was beyond the usual I-don’t-want-to-get-up-before-the sun.There was something else.
March rolled around and I was still pretending that everything was okay, this was a transition year, and I would be fine next year. I would be happier. I would be a better teacher. I soon found out that I would not be returning to my second grade position the next school year. I was shocked. I was angry. I was sad. In my head I started filling out applications (again). I took some time and thought about what I was going to do. I decided it was now or never. If I didn’t leave the teaching field now, I never would. I thought about everything else I could do. I also thought about all the things I love about teaching. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy reading with my students. But a teacher is much more than a teacher. The curriculum goes far beyond what is given to teachers. It’s much more than reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Teachers have to teach their students how to be people. How to behave. Teach them what is socially acceptable and what is not. If I could close my classroom door and have time to be creative and do hands-on learning with my students, I think I would be much happier, and I think I would be looking for another teaching job.
My final decision is to leave teaching. It’s been a rough few months working through that decision. I have days where I am saddened by my situation, I have moments in my classroom where I am having fun and I know my students are engaged. I even have times when I think “when I do this next year…” I stop there because for me there is no “next year.” A lot of the time I am fine with that. I have been told by colleagues that they are kind of jealous of me. I have an opportunity to do something else. I can almost do anything I want.
I know it’s going to be hard at first. I know I am going to only think of the good times and wonder if I have made the right choice. But I have to remind myself that this is for the better. This is the best decision for me. I will cherish the good times I’ve had over the last five years, but I know it’s time to move on.