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Why I quit teaching twice.

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Are you wondering whether to leave teaching or do you stay?

I’ve been in this position, twice.

I became a teacher in 2006 and thought this was my forever job. I couldn’t believe what I got to do every day and thought I hit the jackpot.

Then I had kids and everything changed.

The stirrings began after my first child, I knew I couldn't be the teacher I wanted to be and also be the parent.

I tried everything.

I went part-time, taught at a different school, did CRT, specialists-PE, art, drama and changed from public to catholic system.

I doubted my decision to leave many times and felt overly responsible to the school, the children, the parents, the staff – how can I possibly leave them?

I was riddled with guilt because I spent all that time and effort studying, getting experience, for what?

I thought there was something wrong with me for not making it till retirement and thinking about leaving put me in the category of a quitter.

I was a good teacher and did love it once yet something deep down didn’t feel right.

Teaching wasn't aligned with my values personally and professionally.

I wasn’t using my strengths in this job or did I have the freedom to teach in the way I needed to.

I had to be honest and bravely admit teaching wasn’t for me.

The first time the decision to leave was drawn out, the second time it came as easy as ripping off a band aide.

If I wasn’t a teacher, then who was I?

I’ve explored this Career Crisis twice as well.

When you’re being shown loud and clear a job isn’t for you.

You are feeling lost, stuck and not sure what else you can be doing.

Thinking about this puts your mind in instant overwhelm.

You have been through some sort of change, you are questioning who you are and where you want to be.

After everything that has changed in the past few years, every teacher will be reassessing their connection to teaching and wondering if it is right for them now.

How can you as a teacher, know when you're truly done?

Leaving or staying in teaching is a very personal decision.

Depending on your situation, your circumstances and what's best for you as an individual will best guide this decision.

What I’ve come across in my coaching is that there are three types of teachers out there at the moment.

1. I still love teaching- They're the ones that love what they do, are connected to teaching and are riding that wave. Moving between surviving and thriving.

2. Fence sitters- They say they aren’t done with teaching but are listening to the whispers in the staff room. These teachers are the really tired ones probably looking forward a little too much to the wine on a Friday night to quieten down the stirrings within. They are disheartened with the system and are really looking for a new challenge. Whether that be inside or outside education, these teachers are beginning to think about it.

3. Done with teaching- These teachers are done, hate their job, and are the unhappiest person at work. They're usually the loudest and are not pulling their weight. These teachers are really scared to try something new, have a lot of fears blocking them and have been in the same situation for years. They've thought about quitting many times.

What teacher are you?

Have you ever had to consider your career options?

Have you put any thought and planning into your career?

We weren’t taught career development or educated on how to make career decisions.

Thankfully, students, these days are being taught this at school but what does this mean for you?

Most people haven’t spent the time thinking about their career until they find themselves in a crisis.

The first step you can take towards knowing if teaching is for you is to spend time now thinking deeply about who you are and getting really clear about your next chapter.

Most of the time we begin by looking externally for answers, yet they are within us and always have been.

If you don’t have a career coach, the next best way to connect with yourself is through journaling.

The following questions can be used as a way to be curious and look within for the clues, ah-ha’s and the inspiration you may be searching for.

You will find a series of journaling prompts based on these categories;

  • Who you are now

  • What you do have to offer

  • Alternatives | Options | Opportunities

Who are you now?

  • What got you into teaching?

  • Has this definition of being a teacher changed over time?

  • How do you feel about teaching now?

  • Has anything changed recently for you?

  • Have you ever considered leaving teaching before?

  • If you were to rate your career out of 10 (10 being amazing and 0 being not so good), what rating would you give it?

  • If you were to plot this moment in time on a graph of high or low, where would this moment sit?

What you do have to offer

Most teachers when they think about leaving are not clear about what they do have to offer.

I often hear…

- I’ve only ever been a teacher I don’t know anything else

- No one will hire an ex-teacher

- I have no experience in any other industry

- I have nothing to offer

- I’m just a teacher

- My skills aren’t valuable

- It’s too late to change professions

I really feel that we become institutionalised, and sign an invisible contract that once we get into teaching that there's no exit and you're not allowed to step away.

This very thinking gives us a sense of low self-esteem and makes us feel like we have done something wrong or there's something not right about us if we want to leave.

Without even knowing, there are so many clues within you and around you about your next chapter.

Having the awareness to notice these clues, being curious and seeing what you already have can bring a new sense of perspective to this process of becoming.

Let’s begin with your strengths, the things you naturally do well and what you do have to offer. There are two kinds of strengths.

Personal - part of who you are.

Professional - skills developed over time. You are not clear about your transferable skills,

  • Off the top of my head, 3 strengths I have are…

  • When I am at my best, I am doing… (What could be the strengths I am using?)

  • What skills have I developed over time?

  • What skills do I like using at work?

What if I told you the skills you already have are transferable and valued in other industries?

The top 10 transferable skills of a teacher are…

- Problem solving

- Management

- Time management

- Working under pressure

- Instructing and presenting

- Communication

- Organisation

- Multitasking

- Attention to detail

- Collaboration

Which skills can you tick off?

Alternatives | Options | Opportunities

There are plenty of alternatives, options and many opportunities out there. It’s about being curious and exploring what is out there.

Questions to begin with…

  • Do you want to stay in education?

  • Do you want to step right out of it?

Your Career Directional

Beginning with the logical hierarchy.

Go up the ladder and name all the roles you can think of if you were to progress in your career with education.

Do you need to challenge yourself within your role? Do you need to take that next step up?

What does that career ladder look like within your school?

Niche / Specialties

What types of specialities are there for this role?

Is there something you would rather be teaching?

What other industries are calling it. This can be done by a simple synonym search.

e.g. educator, facilitator, instructor, coach, supervisor, lecturer, learning officer, advisor, guide, mentor, and trainer.

Cross industries - If you were to step outside of your current industry what other directions can you go?

In primary teaching, you can go into kindergartens, creches, high school, universities, community centres, TAFE, private providers, fitness.

You can use Your Career Directional with options if you were to step fully out of education.


  • Sabbatical

  • Full time

  • Part-time

  • Casual/CRT

  • Hybrid - work from home and in the office

  • Work from Home

  • Job share

  • Contract

  • Temp

  • Volunteer

  • Internship

  • Work experience

  • Own business

  • Freelance

  • Portfolio

  • Gig worker

  • Side hustle

  • Dual strategy- build your business while still teaching

  • Public sector

  • Private sector

  • Not for profit

You don't have to have just one income.

Are there any options from the list above that resonate with you?


And what about all the opportunities that are out there?

  • Have you begun to talk to people to see what other jobs are out there?

  • What other industries are doing?

  • Have you tried stuff?

  • Have you researched?

  • Have you been proactive?

  • Or have you just been thinking about this?

  • Have you put yourself in the way of opportunities?

  • Are you still learning and growing?

  • Filling gaps with short courses

  • Have you spoken to recruiters in specific industries?

If you really are considering exiting, you need a strategy and a plan. On average it can take 3-6 months to find another job.

11 other jobs teachers CAN do

1. Consultant

2. Training and development

3. PA/EA or admin work

4. Content curriculum writer/editor

5. Learning and Development

6. Education program coordinator

7. Teacher recruiter

8. Delivering professional development

9. Community and youth worker

10. HR

11. Learning advisor

Are you interested to know more jobs?

Print off this PDF below with 113 alternatives.

Alternatives careers for teachers
Download PDF • 10.96MB

Some of these roles might require some study to fill a gap and that's where you will have your exit strategy to studying and look for roles while you're still teaching.

As an ex-teacher, I often get asked, what are the biggest adjustments since leaving teaching?

1. Focusing on myself

2. Knowing I can have a time off when I need it and not wait till the holidays

3. Change in general

4. All the new – routines, hours, newbie, language of the company/industry, culture

5. Finding your feet outside teaching

6. What do I do when I miss my old job, the students and the good things about teaching? Smile and know I made the right decision

Most people know within 90 days if that new job or that decision was right for them.


After reading this article and journaling, my hope is that you have gained clarity around leaving or staying in teaching by understanding…

who you are now,
what you do have to offer
and all the alternatives, options and opportunities out there.

Check out the latest teaching podcasts I've been on;

If you would like to learn more about a career change or discuss anything that has come up, please book a free discovery session where we can dive deeper together about your career.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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