Last week, blog reader Jenn asked what’s on a lot of teachers’ minds:
“Could we maybe address the elephant in the room and that being why so many incredibly amazing teachers are leaving or looking to leave the profession?“
Yup. This is my longest video ever because it turns out I have a l-o-t to say about this one.
Comment below! What’s breaking your spirit? How can we, as a country, fix this? Are you looking to leave or determined to stick around for the long haul? What are the factors leading you to that decision?
Let me know what’s on your mind and we can talk, vent, problem-solve together.
School bus image credit: Mackenzie Ryder, Pexels, Public domain
47 thoughts on “Why I Quit Teaching”
For me, it’s the constant squeeze from parents and admin to not hold students accountable for doing the work—and at the same time, have high standards and rigor.
It’s never being good enough. It’s everything is my fault. It’s being responsible for everything from academics to college acceptance to mental health to socialization.
It’s that everyone, no matter his/her level of education, feeling entitled to say “What you should do…”. Or “What I would do…”. as if the answers are easy and teachers are just too dumb to get it. It’s the lack of respect for my profession. That’s it.
Educators leave the profession because sometimes (not all) they are trying to be micromanaged by someone who is an administrator who has never been a teacher! The new administrator thinks it would be better to micromanage teachers who have been educators longer than he’s been alive! Then where is the support? You have other teachers who are complaining, but how do they support one another when no one feels safe to even say anything?
If we met in real life, we would be great friends. I so appreciated your YouTube post. I hope you and your husband enjoy this time in your life. Good for you for making this choice. I love teaching, but this job is not worth all the sacrifices we make on the daily. It sounds like you will still be creating materials, so I am thankful for this! You do matter! Because of you, I am a better teacher! Enjoy your time in this new chapter. Teachers need mentors like you! I am inspired! Thank you again.
Yes, dbarbre. And that’s a lot. I’d love to see those “experts” and critics come volunteer to lead a class for a day. Just one day.
For sure, Tara. And I feel ready to say these things only because I don’t have to go to a campus tomorrow. Tired of biting my tongue and pretending things are great when they clearly are not. How do we fix this? I wish I knew.
Thank you, Caroline. You are very kind. It’s scary to open up like this, but I knew my teacher peeps would get it. Comments today here and the ones stacking up in the YouTube thread make me see so clearly that we NEED each other – no matter where we are in our teaching careers. I’m glad you’re here with me. 🙂
Laura – You are divine. I have been a follower and a customer since the beginning. I was at the point you are in your career now, looking for inspiration to keep on doing it. You were one of the few resources I found that helped me keep going, reassured that my passion for my kids and my subject area was truly what was most important. For that, I thank you. I took early retirement just before the pandemic hit, and the transition has been difficult, but the decision was correct. I miss the kids and I miss being needed, but I have never felt better physically or emotionally. The reduction in stress is truly life changing. I continue to mentor teachers in my department from afar, providing materials and advice, and that is rewarding. Sadly, though, their troubles become my troubles, even at a distance, and I am constantly reminded of why I left. Change needs to happen, but in the meantime, today’s teachers need support, and I hope the ones that need you are lucky enough to find you. I have sent many your way and am so relieved I will still be able to do so. Enjoy your next chapter.
Thank you for your honesty. As a 50 year old with 22 years, I have thought a lot about this question.
After my last child graduated from the small private school where I teach, I went part-time and finally had my dream schedule and dream classes. Seven months into this dream schedule, Covid hit. At the end of 2020, my husband was laid off and we had to leave the home we’d made in Kentucky for the last 25 years and move 900 miles away to Pennsylvania. Because there was no one available to take my place and because I was truly concerned for my students—especially my AP and AP prep classes—I agreed to continue teaching virtually through the end of the school year. Although I love that I have this opportunity to finish the year with my kids, I can’t wait for it to be over. I hate virtual teaching—it’s twice the work and none of the fun! I have zero enthusiasm for jumping through all the hoops to teach here, even in a private school, but at the same time I am grieved over this unexpected retirement. I love teaching, and it makes me so sad that I won’t get to share the excitement of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet and Jay Gatsby with students next year. However, I’m planning to spend my summer working on the teaching materials that I’ve developed for my classes over the past several years so I can open my own online store (I’m ready for “Randazzo’s Guide to Creating Awesome Stuff” as soon as you can get it out there!) Your materials have been a huge blessing to me and my students. Thank you for sharing your talents and your story— you continue to inspire!
You and everyone else, Jenn. We are not alone.
I hate it, too, Sandy. I intentionally took that 6th grade gig to avoid remote/hybrid, but I still failed. As for TpT tutorials, I’m sure there are other teacher-authors better equipped than me to guide you. Still…I do have my husband’s health insurance to cover…so, maybe? 🙂
I love this so much, Marti. The transition has been unexpectedly rocky, but I’m on the upside these days. Change can be good, but it’s also hard. Fun that we’re on the same path at the same time.
Dear Laura . . . I am sorry you have been struggling. Teaching is hard. I love the job and you have helped me. Take your time. Enjoy your family. Life is too short not to. I have been teaching for 27 years and this year has been the worst. COVID sucks. Even teaching from home was exhausting. Now we are doing this hybrid module and I feel like I am not doing anything good for anyone. I feel torn. Tears are healthy and cleansing. It does not mean you are weak. 9th and 11th grade were my favorites to teach. I am now teaching 6th graders and they are precious. I hate state testing. I want students to be curious and creative and enjoy learning. My heart goes out to you.
Laura, you are a heavenly gift! On numerous occasions, your products and resources have been huge blessings and time/sanity savers! You have constantly been a source of inspiration and hope throughout all of our demands in the school year. You truly have succeeded in your mission of preventing English teacher burnout!
Thank you for sharing your raw and difficult journey. I hope that you will find joy and satisfaction in your decision. Most importantly, I hope that you have your own Laura Randazzo in your life who constantly makes your life easier and provides a source of joy and inspiration! Best wishes in your new endeavors!
Laura! I am so happy to have caught this video. THANK YOU for letting us see behind the curtain. Such courage❤ I worked in education for 30 years- secondary and post secondary. The last 8 were teaching HS Family & Consumer Science. I have bought several of your resources, referred you countless times and absolutely loved your posts. Thank you for keeping it real and sharing your heart. I’m now retired (2 yrs) & my fear was if I would still be “relevant” & could I still “make a difference” outside of teaching?? The answer is a resounding yes, because relevance is found within & that legacy of our lives burns within as well. The context may change but the spirit shines bright! So rock on sister, keep on keeping on and your star is shining so bright I can see it from here!!
Thanks, Kendall. It’s gratifying to know I’m not alone in all of this.
You are much too kind, Michelle. Thanks for being here with me, listening and supporting. Can my blog readers be my inspiration? Yes, yes they can. 🙂
This is fuel for my heart, Marina! It’s a weird transition, but I’m starting to feel more like “Laura” and less like “Ms. Randazzo.” Thanks for walking the path ahead of me. 🙂
Hi Laura! After listening to your video, I had to send a quick message to express my appreciation to you for the hard work and enthusiasm you put towards providing resources for teachers. So much of your materials have been clutch for me in the classroom and, even more so, have inspired me to grow and be a better teacher always and in all ways. I am an international teacher, actually, currently teaching at a school in Switzerland and soon to move to another school in Spain. All this to say that while I understand all of your feelings, concerns, thoughts, brain dump surrounding your choice to leave teaching, know that in all of it you have touched people around the world, including me. Thanks for that and I do look forward to continuing to use your work to help me keep growing as an educator! – Andrea
Thank YOU, Andrea, for taking a minute to send along this note. I am absolutely floored, humbled by the love that’s come my way these past 24 hours and now here you are writing to me from Switzerland! Wow!!! I’m so glad you found my blog and that my work’s been a good match for your needs. I still here whenever you need me. Maybe just a little more rested. 🙂 Enjoy your adventures in Spain. Sounds exciting!
Thank you for sharing with us yesterday. Please know that you have inspired and motivated me to be a better teacher. I’ve used your resources, and they have saved me time and helped me to engage with my students. I hope that this next venture will prove fun and meaningful for you. Thanks again for all that you do for English teachers!
Thanks, Cara, for this note. It means a lot. I’m so glad you’ve been on this journey with me.
I am in tears. Legacy and the love of kids. And, yes it’s been hard. I love teaching. But all the issues you brought up are true here in my little corner of the pacific ocean too.
Thank you for giving voice to what many of us experience and struggle with.
Thanks so much for being here with me, IHF. One of the biggest takeaways from the past few days and the outpouring of comments here and on the YouTube thread is that so many of us are facing the exact same problems. It’s shocking, really. Something has to change. Please know that you and I are far from alone.
Hi Laura. I just watched your video about why you quit. This is my first year as a high school English teacher and it has been quite a year. There are so many variables to doing this job. I have been told that next year should be easier. First, because it will no longer be my first year, and second because covid will be nearly over.
Hopefully the next chapter in your life will bring you peace and joy.
Oh, Rossana, I can’t even imagine the stressors of Covid-year being your first year. I always used to tell new teachers to give the profession three years before making any major decisions about whether to stay or go because that’s how long it takes to find your groove. For the Covid-generation, I honestly have no idea about the relevancy of the advice. I am thinking, though, that everyone’s 21-22 is going to be a whole lot better than 20-21. You are in my heart!
Oh, Laura!! It made me so sad to read this, but after listening to your video, I was like, “OH, MY GOD. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH EVERYTHING SHE IS SAYING.” You really explained all of the struggles that teachers face today, and I GET IT. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your thoughts and making us feel like we are not so alone.
I wish you all the best in your next chapter, and I look forward to the resources you’re going to work on because I have so many from you already that I just LOVE. In fact, I often search my computer for “Randazzo” to find the ones I have!! 🙂
Sending hugs to you!!
Omg. I thought (selfishly) when you started talking “she’s done! No more freaking amazing resources! Whaaaa!!” Then I watched all the way through. Felt the same feels on so many levels and now I’m (selfishly) celebrating that you are not totally leaving the educational world. Your perspective and experience are VALUED by your fellow professionals. And you’re 100% right – you can always go back to the classroom. I did that after my first two years (with a 9-year break in between). It’s a different challenge but between that, the advice that my power as a teacher is finite, and the perspective that I’m replaceable in my job has helped me keep my priorities straight. I still get mom guilt but I’m straight up honest with my kids about who is most important – and it ain’t them!! I love them but they all are abandoning me after a year and they aren’t paying for my nursing home!
Thank you for all you do and the courage to be honest. Thank you!!!!
Oh no, Mrs. Schulte, I think I love education too much to ever just completely walk away. I am, though, learning to set better boundaries. Even today, I had to decide between filming my next video and helping my young-adult daughter with a work/puppy/life conflict. Guess which one I chose? (Yes, I’m enveloped in dog hair and happiness tonight after a full day of puppy-sitting. It was great.) Sadly, we are entirely replaceable at work, as you said. We are not to our families. Thanks for sharing this. It’s good.
I stumbled upon your blog and youtube channel this year while studying for my education courses. I even wrote a paper about your work! I just wanted to jump in and comment on how much I appreciate you and your honesty. As a college student studying English Education, your posts are what provide me with the rawest reality of what education actually looks like. I couldn’t be more appreciative of your content. I’m learning from your posts just as much (or more) as I’m learning in school right now. You have contributed so much to the community and will always be someone cherished by so many educators. You have truly created an incredible legacy. Your content will be shared for years to come, creating a positive long-lasting effect on so many people. I have so much respect for you and your decision. I wish you and your family the best in your journey. Again, I cannot thank you enough.
Thank you for this, Alexis, and congratulations on your decision to join this wild, exhausting, important profession! Glad you’re here. As far as “the rawest reality,” there’s actually a lot more I could say but my heart’s not ready to put all t-h-a-t on display. We’ll see what the future holds. Sidenote: It’s hilarious and a little frightening to think my work was the subject of a paper. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have no master’s degree or fancy initials next to my name. I’m really just making all of this up as I go along, keeping what works and trashing the rest. This is supposed to be fun, right? 🙂
Oh, Laura, your video popped up on my youtube feed and I watched in tears as you articulated my thoughts and feelings from my 35 year teaching career. I used so many of your resources because they helped me stay out of a rut that was threatening to destroy my joy. I , too, taught so many different classes and levels through the years and I saw, especially, in the last 15 years, the imbalance of the load: because I could ” handle” the kids, was super reliable and eager to help, I would have 150 kids to another English teacher’s 70! How the heck they thought one person could teach that many kids how to write and give them the feedback they needed is beyond me. I showed the principal the time needed to read and give feedback on just one set of papers with 10 minutes for each: 17 hours! So many of my principals have been math or band or science people and they just didn’t or didn’t want to understand that the (literally) hundreds of learning standards outlined by the state dept. Of education could not be measured like a math standard such as being able to solve a quadratic equation.You either can or can’t. English goals are not as easy to quantify. The lack of respect that some administrators and the inequitable favoritism shown by them is something that those outside the profession can’t understand. I learned how to use their laziness and sometimes just plain o!d dumbness to get past them for things like evaluations by using the pre- conferences and the written plans to show them how to evaluate me. I never had one principal who was actually able to understand the learning goals and how my lesson achieved that: not one in 35 years! Their poorly written and misspelled messages were further proof that they didn’t get it. I passionately agree with you about testing and grades. I finally had to assure my high flyers that their grades were guaranteed if they just came to class and engaged in the work, each other, and me. What kept me going all the years was seeing the growth in them through the course of the year. I am so glad you were able to make the changes you did. Just a little over a year ago I went from full time, big loads, heading into the last quarter and excited with my kids for the “choice” units I had for them (using many of your materials to facilitate so many different groups reading and doing so many different things) to everything online but none of it “counting” as it was decided that students could use their 3rd quarter grades as the 4th quarter grades if they chose without doing the online work. You can imagine how brilliantly that worked. I hated it! I retired. From what I have heard from former colleagues, this year has been a nightmare and so hard. I have spent the year reading,resting, and finding out a balance to my days. My husband and I are enjoying our time together instead of me working evenings and weekends on schoolwork. We’ve been godsends to our family through this rough year, and have spent so much more time with the grandkids. I miss the kiddos at school and the light bulb moments, but I sure don’t miss teaching 100 sophomores every day! (I totally agree witb loving 9th and 11th graders.) Your plan to help teachers with your work is very important and I hope all goes well for you and your family. Your materials and passion helped me tremendously, and I led other teachers to your TPT page and your blog. You have been a blessing and an inspiration to more than you know!
I’m so glad this post spoke to you, RLM! I can relate with a LOT of what you’re saying. I mean, “150 kids to another English teacher’s 70” is a major problem. It’s just wrong. I’m so glad to hear you’ve walked this path ahead of me. I, too, look forward to balance and (someday soon?) grandkids. Hope you’re well. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement! 🙂
I really love you, Laura! I don’t know you, but your video meant a lot to me! I agree with so much of what you said. It has been an exhausting year, teaching-wise and personally! I’m still reeling. I’m hoping this summer will heal and rejuvenate me. I hope you continue these types of videos as well as teaching ones. You will find your joy, don’t worry. You are so on the right path — your life will matter because you are striving to make it so. And I truly believe you have impacted so many already. Know you’ve already changed the lives of so many. Please do what makes you happy. On a side note — your curriculum is wonderful; I’ve used a lot of it. Hugs!
Love the love, Wendy! Thanks for being with me all these years. 🙂
Laura, thank you for sharing with us. I have relied heavily on you, your resources, and your videos. God bless you. HUGS!! You are so worth it. I am fortunate to teach in a small rural school that has been able to be face-to-face all year. Last spring was awful, so I can’t imagine teaching virtually (I mean, we still have a few online kids occasionally, but overall we are face-to-face) for a long amount of time. Enjoy your today. Every day!! Thank you for all that you do and you are certainly building a positive legacy for many classrooms!!!
Thanks so much, Amy, for your kind note. Hugs right back at you! 🙂
Laura (may I?),
*Forewarning: I began typing then looked back over it all and realized, umm, this became a lot longer than I had intended. 😬 But I feel safe and a bit relieved in getting it out with you.
I add my name to the list of those who thank you for stepping out and posting your “I Quit Teaching” video. From what I have seen as well as a glimpse at the comments, we are a such a wide field of aching and hurting hearts looking for a light.
Unpopular opinion: I feel that because education has been a predominantly female dominated field, the ongoing martyrdom has been self-inflicted. Men do not typically have a problem saying no. Women are made to feel guilty for saying no because everything we do is “for the children.”
One of my most hated sayings is “not in it for the income, in it for the outcome.” No…not true at all. The outcome doesn’t pay my bills. I am earning a paycheck in exchange for the talents, education, and experience I have in educating the minds of adolescents. Full stop.
I learned to say no many years ago. Most people don’t give me much push back now when I explain and refuse to bow to the toxic positivity and never ending demand to martyr ourselves.
As far as thoughts on fixing the education system, I am very interested in discovering a no grade policy where authentic learning can begin and flourish.
“Let yourself dream again” That is exactly where I (we…hubby and I) are at this exact moment. We have multiple ideas we were sitting on but then decided to start putting them in to place just to see where they take us. Hubby is a risk taker and a doer. I’m the overanalyzing over thinker.
You stated for us to fold in what you think matters in the classroom and curriculum. At times, I have been seen as a rebel and/or someone who doesn’t follow the rules (read: scripted curriculum) because I do it my way. I absolutely DO cover the standards. I just do it in a way that gets buy in from students. What are *they* interested in?
Recently, I had to cover a Springboard synthesis unit this year. Boring! So I took all the pieces that would have culminated in a full blown essay and turned it completely around so that it culminated in each student creating a podcast on what interested them most. They still had to conduct thorough research, write an annotated bibliography (including citations), synthesize their research into a planning document, complete several pacing graphic organizers (outlined), and create a podcast. They put in the work and created incredible podcasts. Why? Because THEY got to choose their topics!
It’s a no brainer for us. Why can’t admin, local boards, state, and federal “leaders” understand it?
You had graciously requested I include a link to my TPT store. I have hesitated because you are my teacher idol, but if you scrolled through and wished to provide feedback, I would be honored.
And hey…maybe that’s something you could monetize for yourself as well: become a TPT creator consultant.
Link to my store: https://Teacherspayteachers.com/store/Longs-Learners
Take care of you, ~Jenn Long https://www.thelongswayhome.com
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks, Laura, for making this video and for being so honest about where you are. I have always appreciated your forthright voice and honest perspective (and, it goes without saying, your clear-eyed perspective and smart ideas about teaching).
You’ve left a legacy already with me (and MANY other teachers I know). Thanks for all your work and especially for making things easier for so many of us. And thanks for being willing to continue the fight for true learning for our students.
Thank you for sharing all this with me, Jenn. “We are a such a wide field of aching and hurting hearts looking for a light.” This has been one of my biggest takeaways since posting that video. There’s so much pain and frustration with our current system – I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t overwhelming. I don’t know the answer. I do know, though, that there’s value in reaching out to others and saying what is true. Again, thank you for being brave. I’m proud of us both. I also know that we all should listen to that inner-voice. If you and your husband are aligned (and it seems you are) and you have a way to cover your bills, then build the life you want in the extra hours in your day! As for TpT products and/or hosting a blog, my best advice is to give, give, give! I want my teacher-peeps to receive so much value (free stuff, advice, commiseration) that they feel almost compelled to buy a $1.50 item once in a while just as an attagirl/thank you. And if they don’t ever give me a penny, that’s okay, too. So, yeah, give without any expectation of receiving. Even if you don’t make money, it’ll make your heart feel good. 🙂
Thanks, Nicole, for your kind words and heart. After reading hundreds of comments on this video, I appreciate your note, especially the part about making things easier for my fellow teachers. I think that’s the root of where my heart is right now. I can’t fix everything – don’t even know where to start. I can, though, make things to help give you a bit of breathing room. That’s what I’m about. Thanks for this. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this. You said all the things I have been feeling. I also teach in Idaho, and, honey, be glad you left. This state is doing some crazy (bleep). I fully expect to the be poster child for our Lt. Gov.’s new “Indoctrination Task Force”…if I go back next year. In my more than 20 years of teaching, I’ve never felt less like a teacher that I have in the last two.
Thank you so much. You verbalized exactly how I am feeling.
Oh, Paige, you’re making me feel relieved I didn’t renew. Yikes.
Glad you’re here with me. 🙂
I happened upon your vlog on YouTube. Needless to say, the waterworks came pouring out. I have been teaching over 20 years myself and I’m ready to pack it in. I’m an elementary teacher. Absolutely everything you said about teaching especially the administration are my current struggles. I moved from my home town to teach in Las Vegas and I have only been beat to hell by the principals here. I so want to do something else, but it’s hard when one is 58 nearly 59 years old. I’m my own supporter, no husband or trust to fall into. What does one do? You speech was incredibly moving and motivating. I can no longer teach and I need to find another job even if it does mean way less money.
Oh, Theresa, I hear you and feel all of this in my bones. We are in different situations, so I can’t advise you to leave without having a solid landing spot. Is transferring to a different school in your district a possibility? As we both know, a school’s leadership team can make a HUGE difference in a teacher’s daily happiness. I’m afraid I have more commiseration to offer than anything else, really. Free free to email me directly via the “Contact” link/form here on the blog if you want to chat more privately. You’re in my heart! ❤️ Laura
Laura, I found your video while looking for some ice-breakers for one of my teacher friends. I actually quit teaching at the end of this past year (after 28 years in middle school – mostly 6th graders, lol) because of the frustration, pain, over-whelming demands, etc. I have spent my entire career getting vested in the students, building relationships, and meeting standards using my students’ interests. Unfortunately, many of the demands were that I conform to the “all math classrooms have to be on the same page and the exact standard at the same time”. I have always thought teaching was the the absolute best job in the world, but I found I simply couldn’t do it anymore. I appreciate your perspective and your honesty about education challenges in the world. My new project is building an online presence to celebrate, motivate, inspire, and integrate self-care for teachers that are still in classrooms across the world. As you pointed out – if my endeavor doesn’t work, there’s always a need for teachers! Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂
Congratulations, Jeanne, on finding a way to use your experience to pivot your career. I, too, just took on a new role as a library assistant, where I’m still helping students but finding more peace. I suspect that teachers of all disciplines will always teach, even if we decide to trade our classrooms for new environments. Much love to you as you make this transition! ❤️