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I think I made a big mistake!!!
Old 01-19-2020, 08:56 AM
 
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Greetings Everyone,

I need some advice! I am a first year teacher that is ready to quit. I think I made a huge mistake either with the middle school I'm currently at or going into teaching altogether. I am over the age of 40 and decided to become a teacher.

I am going to try and finish out this school year but each day brings uncertainty. I feel so unprepared to teach and I honestly don't have the support system I thought I would have. The culture is toxic with cliques, gossip, ostracizing, back biting, frenemies, etc from the adults. I don't want to begin with the behavioral issues of the students - that's another story entirely! Teacher turnover is pretty high and I considered not returning after Christmas break but I didn't want to get my license revoked. Now I'm almost ready to let the license go and move on. I just hate waking up every morning going to a place I do not like but tolerate. My family feels it's the school that is not a good fit for me and think I should give it another chance in a better district. I totally agree, however, I feel I won't be successful anywhere I teach because this first year has been pretty bad and I feel anywhere I go, I will be starting from scratch and not from a place of confidence and experience.

When administrators begin asking teachers about returning for the next school year, do I honestly say I will not be returning? I've heard that some teachers turn against you if you admit to not returning but in my case I honestly don't think it could get any worse than the way I'm feeling and treated at times. Also, not sure why anyone would take someone else's life decision as a personal attack against them. I actually feel that being honest and saying I won't be returning will be liberating to finally get it off my chest. Just by verbalizing my decision, I think my stress levels would actually go down.

Thanks.


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Old 01-19-2020, 10:16 AM
 
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The first year of teaching is hard for pretty much anyone. I cried a lot my first year because I felt like I didn't know what I was doing and my first observation wasn't that great. It did get better though. However, it does sound like you are in a very toxic school. I would suggest trying to finish out the year so your license doesn't get revoked but use any extra time you have available to search for jobs and apply to different schools.

I wouldn't give up yet because of one horrible school but I would definitely try to find a different school to work at. If you feel like you can't come back next year and don't find another job, maybe sub or work outside the school district for the next year while you search some more. You never know what will fall into your lap if you sub...I got my job now because last year a second grade teacher had to take a leave for chemo treatments and unfortunately ended up dying a few months later...I was subbing in her room and even though I still had to interview, I was able to show them what I could do outside of an interview and demo lesson. I didn't want someone to die for me to get a job but maybe if you sub, there will be a last minute retirement or a teacher who goes on maternity leave and decides not to come back.

I wish you luck and hope everything works out with whatever you decide to do!
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Old 01-19-2020, 11:04 AM
 
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I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. I wouldn't tell anyone that you are not returning because nothing is definite yet. Administrators and teachers will start treating you differently (and that could be worse than things are now) if they know you don't plan to come back. Start investigating other school options for next year as soon as you can. Not all buildings have the toxic work environment that you are experiencing now.
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I started teaching as older adult too
Old 01-19-2020, 11:09 AM
 
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Don't quit this year, but there's no need to commit to keep your current position for next year either. I started teaching in my early forties too. You are witnessing, and it's a realistic picture of what the schools I have taught in look like, a culture you may not have imagined.

However, I have been teaching 21 years and have made a large collection of good friends who I'll share time with after retirement, and a larger collection of colleagues I can count on daily. It takes time to adjust to the realities of school.

The plus side always--180 days you get to repeat again after a long summer break. This gives you a chance to reconnect with friends and family and earn a good living while you give back to your community. Not many in the workplace get to reboot at the end of 180 days. No matter how bad a year gets it always ends with summer vacation as a reward.

Instead of committing to a middle school position next year, let your administrator know you'd like to explore other opportunities that might come up in elementary, special ed, etc. Their "asking" for commitment is just so they know how to plan for September.

Best wishes.
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Old 01-19-2020, 11:09 AM
 
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I hear you! It's rough. You shouldn't tell anyone anything about your plans next year. You can just act like you're returning even up until the day before the start day again...until you don't. So it's none of their business what you're thinking, wondering, fearing, hoping, concerned about, etc.

I didn't know your license could be revoked if you stop halfway in the year. Well, I guess if the soonest you can get out is to finish the whole year, just hang in there and do your best, but don't bend over backwards and break your back too much.

So since you're a brand new teacher, you must have just finished your student teaching not that long ago, right? How did it go in that/those district(s)? Did you like it there and tried to see if you could stay on and actually permanently teach there? So I guess there wasn't all the back-stabbing, drama, etc. back at those districts?

I think most districts are about the same, but it's the levels of back-stabbing, frenemies, and all those other negative aspects you said that make it either tolerable or not based on the personality of the teacher. I don't care for the school politics either overall myself, how whether you're "in" or not is based on just ONE person...the principal and all that rigamarole BS. I'm glad I'm out of teaching!


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Old 01-19-2020, 11:24 AM
 
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You don't have to tell your administration that you plan not to come back. Usually, you don't have to give legal notice until March or April. Give yourself time to make plans for your future and keep quiet about your decision until then. Always protect yourself.

The first year of teaching is overwhelming especially when you didn't have the support first-year teachers need. It's true that a new school could very well be a better fit for you. You've invested time and money in your degree it might be worth a second chance.

Best of luck in making your decision.
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Old 01-19-2020, 11:51 AM
 
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The first year is HARD! It will get easier, eventually. If your heart’s desire is to teach, don’t let this half a year chase you out. Why do you want to be a teacher? If your answer is still resonating with you, figure out how you can make your situation better.

Would you enjoy younger kids? The positives: they are sweet, love their teacher, enthusiastic about learning, are not jaded. The negatives: have to teach basics, need repetition and modeling, can’t work independently for too long. Or perhaps high school is more to your liking.

Yes, your environment is toxic. But I’m sure you’ve discovered that schools are just like other places. Teachers are made up of people; some nice, some not. See if you can find 1 person that you can be friends with and start there. I agree with the advice you’ve been given; it’s time to try another school.

If you have questions, we’re here. We’ll try to help you!
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Old 01-19-2020, 01:55 PM
 
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Just wait, don't say anything and then get out. I taught at a great elementary school for about 15 years, but had to leave because of low student enrollment. Then I once had an incredibly rough class in elementary in a terrible area. I left. It was hell. After, I taught in another field of education, but had to leave because of budget cuts after a few years.Great job, but there was nothing I could do. I am now subbing and going back to elementary. I avoid middle,special ed, and high school. This time I might go to a private school. Retirement will come soon in a few years. Can't wait. My advice is to run far away from middle school.
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Old 01-19-2020, 02:23 PM
 
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The first year is hard! You do not have to tell admin that you don't plan to return next year. Check your contract, there should be language about what and when you need to tell them and don't say anything before you have to. Try to get through the year to keep your license. This school just isn't right for you but without a license you won't be able to find one that is. Good luck and know there are great places out there.
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My first year was awful...
Old 01-19-2020, 02:28 PM
 
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I was in a toxic team with a very negative and controlling partner. Her way or the highway...I stuck it out, had a much better experience the second year. Stayed in that school 12 years before moving to a different state.

It is noone’s place to attack you for your decision. In my school, administrators informed you of their decision to renew your contract or not by your final evaluation. That is when I would let them know.

I would not give up on teaching yet. An option would be to try to be a teaching assistant or aide in a better building. Our district has hired many certified aides for positions, and the advantage of being an aide if you could afford it is you can potentially work at different levels with different teachers.

Teaching is very hard and very stressful. I retired after 42 years because today’s expectations and demands in my district left me stressed, pressured, worried all the time and with very little personal time. I went out two years earlier than I had originally planned, but have not regretted it.

In the end, do what is right for you and your family. Life is too short to be unhappy.


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Old 01-19-2020, 08:45 PM
 
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I agree with others who suggest finishing out the year. Do not sign a contract for next year. Some districts like to ask people to sign in early spring, like March/April for the next school year, but I do not believe you have to sign at that time. In my district you have until the end of the last month of school to sign your intent to return/not return. Do NOT sign to return and then not show up in the fall. It doesn't look good and it also puts your district in a difficult situation.

One website that I find very helpful is smartclassroommanagement.com. Best wishes!
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Old 01-20-2020, 06:03 AM
 
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Don't quit teaching. You are probably not in the right place. As others said the first year is difficult. I had a reallly good student teaching experience but floundered the first 2 years as a teacher. I moved districts and found my groove. Don't give up. As for getting up everyday find something/some student that you can focus on for that day. You might not make a difference in everyone, but you can make a difference with one student. Focus on that. As for the teachers, be polite, happy ( even if you have to fake it) and try to find someone who feels the same way you do.
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My thoughts:
Old 01-20-2020, 07:52 AM
 
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I wouldn’t tell anyone at this point that you are considering leaving this school. I would search out other schools and find out as much information that you can about them. If you decide that you are leaving the school you are currently teaching in, I would wait until March or April to share this info with your P.

I wouldn’t quit teaching. I would try another school and a different age level of students to teach. You just may not have found your “lane” as far as the grade level of students and a faculty to teach with that is not so toxic.

If I were you, I would keep trying to do the best that you can to get through and complete this school year. Do whatever it takes to finish the year.

The first year is hard. Teaching is certainly not for the faint of heart, however I would hate for you to quit because I know you worked hard to earn your degree. I admire you for becoming a teacher at age 40. It is not an easy job at any age, but it has many rewards.
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People Will Say...
Old 01-21-2020, 07:29 PM
 
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that it gets easier. It never has for me. I taught 2 years, had a horrific year and quit. I did not go back until 10 years later. During that time, I got married, had my son, started a business, and then couldn't afford to not go back. I taught for another 2 years and it was worse than before so I left. I was off for a year, still not able to afford to stay home, and so I went back to private school. There were a lot of things that were better, but some things were worse. I left there because I was moving, then got a job in public school. I didn't even last a year. I'm leaving at the end of the month and I will never go back to the classroom. The system is broken and I will not be broken with it. Behaviors, expectations that are too high, micromanagement, unrealistic parents who think you're the bad guy. I can't do it anymore.

You have to do what you know is right. Life is too short to stay anywhere that doesn't make you happy!
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