Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How To Not Quit Teaching

Thinking of leaving teaching? Here are some posts to get you started:
Read them all, and you'll find yourself with many arguments for leaving classroom teaching. But what if you want to settle your doubts and stay? What's helpful for getting past this sort of angst, besides leaving?

These days, I'm feeling pretty good about classroom teaching as a long-term gig. Personally, I found it helpful to interrogate some of the assumptions behind my earlier angst about teaching. Here are a few disorganized, stray thoughts that came out of my reflection:
  • All my angst was premised on the attractiveness of classroom teaching. I wanted to teach. 
  • I realized that, right now, I have enough money. If I was careful, I could probably continue to have enough money. My angst wasn't premised on concern for material well-being.
  • Mansions are cool, but drafty in the winter and I can hardly keep track of my keys as is.
  • The amount that a profession gets paid is confusing. What does it mean to say that a certain job is overpaid or underpaid? Do I deserve to make more than a nurse? Than a secretary? As much as a doctor? 
  • Teaching is a profession that is currently and historically dominated by women. A lot of the teacher-administrator relationship is premised on the idea that women should be accountable to men.
  • Eventually, I concluded that the way I felt about teaching was the way women often felt at work.
  • Fundamentally, I like learning and challenges. No one is stopping me from figuring out how to keep learning about teaching. I can direct my own learning and set my own challenges. 
  • The problems that I have in teaching, then, are the problems that I would have in any profession. If I were a doctor, I'd need to figure out how to keep learning in the face of comfort. If I were an educational researcher, I would need to figure out how to direct my own learning.
  • In that case, I had better figure out how to direct my own learning.
I propose that, from the standpoint of current classroom teachers, it's more productive to think of how to guide one's own learning than to worry about the state of the profession.*

This isn't to say that it's illegitimate to worry about the state of the profession. Activism is cool. So is being informed. All I'm saying is that "OMG THE SKY IS FALLING AND TEACHING HAS NEVER BEEN WORSE" isn't a particularly helpful perspective for me to dwell on, because I have/want to be a classroom teacher.

Update: More "I quit!" posts.


  1. Sigh. I wrote a long comment and somehow it got eaten.

    Anyway... the link to "The Trap of the 2nd Year" seems busted (though it is easy enough to Google it, so I did read it).

    1. Booo blogger.

      Any chance we can get the short version of your thoughts?

      (Also: Link fixed!)