Why I Decided to Quit Teaching Art

Some of you at this moment are in a teaching position you absolutely hate. Some of you at this moment are in a job of any kind that you absolutely hate. Or maybe a major in college that you absolutely hate. Have you stopped and asked yourself or really examined 'why'? I was in that position in August, stuck in a teaching position that didn't suit me at all, and I think leaving that job was the best decision I have made for myself in a very long time, so let me give you the low down with a time line on how what lead me to quit my job as an art teacher.

August of 2016:

I began my student teaching in Algood, TN. I had grades 5-8 and it was challenging. Let me tell you, I left some students behind that still have a piece of my heart, there were some really wonderful kids there. And my mentor teacher was absolutely an angel and we will forever have a friendship thanks to that student teaching experience for that whole school year. I learned so much from it, and I know God made no mistake when He sent me there. But it was a day by day journey. I had challenging kids who pushed my buttons and sent me home crying on a regular basis. I had so much work to do that I felt, well, overwhelmed is an understatement. EdTPA (for those who don't know is a massive teacher evaluation that is recorded and submitted over the course of multiple months and entails LOADS of paper work) nearly wrecked me on top of having 20 or so classes of students a week on a rotation with me being a special area teacher and seeing practically the whole school in a week. I was also being observed by professors on a regular basis while I taught and being evaluated very harshly while all of this was happening. I don't mean to complain I promise, this is just the reality of what being a teacher is in our country today. And if its what I really wanted to do, then it would have been worth it. But...I had an ache in my heart that I just wasn't called for this.

May of 2017:

I graduated! And this was a huge thing for me, I am the first in my family to graduate college and it took me 5 years to get my degree, but I was so proud of myself. No matter what the degree was in, no matter how much debt I had put myself in, it was worth it because I had learned so much about myself and life and proved to myself that I could work hard and stick to something and see it through. Now it was time to find a teaching job that I might enjoy a little more. This is what I told myself anyway, "Maybe it was just that particular school that I was in, and maybe a new environment will give me that fire that I once had to be a teacher."

July 2017:

I was hired by a new school. A completely different culture and a completely different outlook on how to run a school was brought with this opportunity and I initially thought that I was going to love it. I couldn't wait to get to know the other teachers and decorate my classroom and meet the kids. But teaching is SO MUCH MORE than decorating your classroom and building relationships with kids. I immediately made friends with so many of the teachers at my new school, and that helped. But I still found myself thinking, "what else is out there?" I was running myself ragged trying to keep up with having so many students, having so much curriculum to try and understand and tie into my art lessons, decoding and accommodating IEPs, writing lessons and grading lessons, behavior problems that were overwhelming to me, ordering art supplies within the budget, dealing with working more hours because our school day was an hour longer everyday than a typical school, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, and on top of all of that--trying to keep my relationships with my boyfriend, my best friends, my parents, and God from dying out. It was a rat race that just wasn't worth it to me. I didn't love the job, so why would I do that to myself and to my students? And don't get me wrong, I didn't leave this school on bad terms. This wasn't unique to only my school, this is the reality of teaching in any school now.

August 2017:

We had only been in school a few weeks when I knew I had to quit before I got in too deep. I would look out the window of my classroom and know that God didn't want me to stay there and I wanted to be anywhere but there. I would cry on my lunch break while I poked at bites of my food that I couldn't eat because I was too stressed out. I would come home and still have hours of work to do and feel sick with stress and anxiety. I know I sound dramatic, but people, I was MISERABLE. So I quit.

September 2017-Now:

I bounced around a few random jobs that didn't suit me, and I did some soul searching while I was unemployed. But most importantly I felt free. When I first quit my job I felt so much guilt. Guilt for leaving the students hanging, and the school hanging, and guilt for going to school for all that time and then giving up so quickly. But I had to let all that go, because I know God was pulling me in a different direction. I haven't ever been more sure of anything. Flash forward and now I am working at Knox Area Rescue Ministries as a donation processor and I am loving it! I love the people that I get to meet, and the people that I work with every day. I know it isn't a permanent job but I am happy to be making money in a place where I feel joy everyday and spread Christ's love! I don't have to dread getting up and going everyday, and that's a great feeling. I don't know what the long term future holds for me but that is okay! People always seem to ask 'what do you want to do with your life'...and that is SUCH a loaded question. I don't know how long I am going to live, and don't know what the future holds no matter how hard I try to plan it. God tells us to live day by day, minute by minute, and do not worry about tomorrow, so that's what I am doing. God has a plan that I won't be able to figure out anyway, so I am listening closely and treading calmly through life while God lays out clearly what He has planned for me. I want to love God, I want to love people, I want to work hard at something I enjoy, I want to get married and have a family, I want to be happy, and that's what I want to do with my life and thats okay too. So if quitting my teaching job lead me to discover all of this then it was worth it for me to keep my sanity.

Moral of the story: life is too short to be miserable over a job to the point of breaking yourself down. Burnout is real and it can happen so quickly. Take care of yourself, and listen to God when He calls you in a new direction.

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