Getting Fired, Moving On – Why I’m not a teacher anymore

Here’s a snapshot: Adult me, in crumpled khakis and a cotton sweater, tearstained face, slinking out of a yellow brick school building. If I had known how important this day was going to be, I would have worn something cuter so that when I replayed the scene over and over – which I did, obsessively, for years – I wouldn’t have to say, “Geez…no wonder they fired me. I looked really dumpy.” The focus on unfortunate trouser choice was my way of avoiding the uncomfortable crackle of an old dream sloughing away, one I’d been clinging to that had worn out its usefulness.

In 2004, I was working on my master of arts in teaching with a secondary English focus. Unable to teach in a public school until I had received full certification, a private school position was perfect since I could work and student teach at the same time. I had been offered a job at a posh  girls’ school. They had a list of qualifications, I met all of them. I got the job over two alums and was thrilled to start my dream career – teaching English.

I charged into the classroom, full of excited energy but I hit a wall quickly. I struggled to read hundreds of pages in books I hadn’t read in years (or at all) and pages of student writing. There were lesson plans, a computerized grading system, lunchroom duty. I soldiered on, bolstered by the refrain, “The first year is the hardest.”

Flash forward to April: a note in my mailbox. “Sara, can you drop by during your planning period? Thanks!” It was signed by the principal of the school. Even at twenty-nine, you don’t want to get called to the principal’s office. Other teachers tried to reassure me, saying she probably wanted to talk about what classes I was teaching next year. That didn’t unwind the knot in my stomach telling me something was wrong.

The knot was right.

I had just pushed the door close to her sunny office but hadn’t settled in a chair when from her monolithic cherry desk the principal said, “Well, there’s no easy way to say this. We will not be renewing your contract for next year.” My breath fled.

I’d never been fired. Actually, they don’t call it that in the school system. They call it “not renewing your contract” but who are we kidding? I was sacked. As a kid, when I heard of people who got fired I imagined them in suits and ties, their mouths round O’s and eyes full of panic as their heads suddenly became engulfed in flames like giant matchsticks. It wasn’t far from the truth that day. My head was on fire with embarrassment and anger as I sat in that former nun’s office while she calmly explained that I was expected to finish out the school year but I would not be invited back next year. Like it was a party and I was one guest too many.

A writhing knot of panic worked its way from my stomach to my chest. My class observation sessions by other teachers and the head of the department had provided no clue that this was coming. The rest of my conversation with the principal included her refusing to tell me why they were letting me go. Sure I’d made pretty much all the classic first-year teacher mistakes, but it wasn’t like I’d lit up a cigarette in class or hit anybody with a ruler. When I asked what I was supposed to tell people now, she said primly, “You can just tell them you’ve decided not to come back next year.”

“But that would be a lie,” I blurted. In my head I was screaming, “Of course I want to come back! I wanted this job! I’m perfect for this job! This is my dream job!” At that moment, I so desperately wanted them to want me to be here, for this not to be happening. The idea of telling people I didn’t want to be there any more was an insult and felt like betraying myself since I’d wanted this job so badly.

I left her office. I ran to my classroom without being seen by a single student, choking on thick sobs then closed the door and hyperventilated while I called my husband. By sidling along deserted corridors with my head down, I was able to skulk out of the school to my car and haven’t been back since.

This day set off an avalanche of revelation, soul-searching, rebuilding and path-finding. For the year following, I felt as if I was rolling down a very steep hill, snagging on boulders here and there, but the clarity I feel now is worth more than my bruised ego then.

I had gotten a big huge cosmic smack – it said YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER. There was lightning, I think. Possibly thunder. Clearly, I had ignored the other signs. For instance, I thought it was normal to wake from a dead sleep at three a.m., shake your new husband into a half-alert stupor, and earnestly cry to him that you hadn’t taught chivalric love properly and your students will now go through life with an inadequate understanding of this concept. I thought it was normal to have a panic attack every morning before work.

The biggest and most painful rock I hit on the way down the mountain: I had spent five years devoted to becoming a teacher – the masters degrees dedicated to teaching English, reading all the books, calling myself a teacher. Even a throw blanket that read “TEACHERS TOUCH LIVES.” God, the Universe, and Everything had other plans. For a long time, I kept shaking my fists and blaming everything on “that vile school,” on the head of the English department who I never quite clicked with, on the administration. It was difficult to understand that perhaps they were all human billboards saying THIS IS NOT YOUR PATH.

Being fired from this job was only made more humiliating because I’d never failed so spectacularly before. Grudgingly, it has only been recently that I will admit this was the best thing that could have happened to me.

It wasn’t just professional change I found. When I told Husband I’d just walked out of the school and I was not going back, he didn’t get angry, he didn’t tell me I was wrong and to march my tail  back there because we needed the money and the health insurance. He went to the school the next day with a biology teacher from the next classroom to clear out my classroom. Later, every time we drove by the school – which was often since we lived close – he would lead the way in an elaborate ritual of flipping off the school as we passed, complete with laser beam sound effects.

We had gotten married in the middle of my first year of teaching, at Christmas. The first year of our marriage was rough, made worse by my difficulty with teaching. I was stressed all the time. Getting fired didn’t help, nor did my impetuous exit and subsequent loss of income. We also lost a pet, endured financial problems and health issues – the usual stuff, granted, but all mixed together. The first year of marriage was frontloaded with the “bad times” mentioned in the vows. I had lost my dream job but that year of struggle and his loving support in the face of my professional failure simply strengthened the threads that bound us together, building a thick rope.

In six weeks I had a new job. The pay was about the same, and it was in a new field – advertising copywriting. In college, I felt a strong pull to be a writer and I have always been a reader. I thought the way to merge the two was to become a teacher. It didn’t even cross my mind that I could get paid to write this way. The new job stayed at work when I left – no more  bringing home essays to read when I could have been doing something I really loved. I was learning the ways of a new career and the great weight of molding young minds, a weight I don’t believe I was meant to carry, fizzled away.

Leaving the school and starting on a path to copywriting brought me a step closer to what I think God, the Universe and Everything is pushing me toward – becoming a full time writer. I needed to be at this school, with these people, to understand that I was not meant to be at any school. This forced me to look at why I wanted this and if I really wanted it at all. I understand now that bad jobs happen to good people and getting fired does not involve actual flame.


  1. You know its funny you write this, because I got fired twice from teaching. I realized i wasn’t meant to be a teacher, but since i got my masters in it, i figured id try again. Ive always been drawn to art, and i thought with teaching i could paint in the summer. this makes me want to find another career, however, i have yet to check that option. now im just subbing. oh well!

    • I was so very drawn to teaching and was such a ‘teaching’ geek, but I finally discovered that you can teach without Being A Teacher, you know? Maybe your teaching path looks like teaching kids at an art camp or working for a design house and giving private lessons on the side? Teaching at a high school made me so unhappy. I’m glad that bit is over. Anyway, thanks for reading and for commenting. : )

  2. Hi!An unbelieveable sense of calm has come over me since reading this. I recently returned to teaching after a year long break (returning to college to undertake a masters in English). Today, all of my old insecurities and doubts about my teaching capabilities came flooding back.I took it fairly badly. I’m two weeks into my new job, I’m stressed, losing sleep and have a constant sick feeling in my stomach. I don’t think that this is normal. I’ve known since my post-grad qualification in teaching that this career was not for me. I’m quite shy and often self-conscious, especially when I am at the top of the classroom. I feel like I have wasted the past three-four years of my life but I’m not sure what other career would suit me. I feel like I have to settle down, buy a house, get married but I don’t think I can do any of these until I find a career that i more suited to me. Thank you so much for writing this. I now know that I am not the only one out there.

  3. Wow. Does this speak to me. Thank you. I’ve been wondering for a while if I need to make a change but feeling badly about the idea of “failing” at teaching. I don’t know where I am headed yet, but I do know that this has helped me feel more comfortable with changing streams.

  4. I am in my second term of student teaching and am having these thoughts already. I know that student teaching is not at all like real teaching, and that the pressures are multiplied when you don’t have your own classroom and are constantly worrying about how you’re being evaluated. In any case, I’m starting to wonder if it really is for me. I’m losing sleep, waking up at odd hours worrying about lesson plans. I have never had a problem sleeping until I started student teaching. I feel nervous every morning. I come home and all I can think about is what I have to do next. I miss the days when I’d come home from work and could leave my job behind. I’m not at all the type of person that gets stressed out easily, but student teaching has gotten to me. I have 8 weeks left and am hoping I can at least make it through in order to get my Masters degree. I’m feeling lost and unmotivated, and that is so no like me!

  5. Thank you so much for this. I just went through something similar. It was humiliating, but I walked out feeling like I was finally able to breathe after 2 yrs of teaching! I know it’s not the place for me and it took someone else to show me. I wish I had seen it before it took a whack at my resume. Thank God for the husband who is supporting my decision to change fields at age 43!

  6. I absolutely related to this. It was as if you were reading my mind. I just got fired last week due to budget cuts. To make matters worse, I finished my Masters two weeks ago…now I have no job. Im not sure what Im going to do, but Im thinking Id like to try a new career path where Im doing something I truly LOVE..not just something I have a degree in.

  7. You are a beautiful writer and I am thrilled to see that you have found a niche. So much of what you wrote speaks to me. Thank you for giving credence to my thoughts and feelings about leaving teaching. I am 44 & did a M.Ed in Elem. Ed. as a second career choice. My student teaching experience was terrible and then my inner city teaching experience was even worse. I left after one and a half years (at the end of the term). Having been away from my first career for so long now (to raise kids) I’m feeling very lost although I have a very supportive husband. I’m looking forward to see what others here move on to doing. I need some inspiration! Thank you all for writing.

  8. Another well-written post!

    I thought I wanted to teach high school English and while I was getting my Masters at night, I was working at a publishing company during the day. There were some men in my classes who were already teaching; they advised me not to do it saying, “They’ll eat you alive.” Luckily for me, I got promoted to an associate editor at my day job and never got around to teaching, other than to be a literacy volunteer. The comments on this post make me glad I never went through it.

    I do understand the feelings you so vividly described in this post. I would recommend you read Joan Didion’s essay, “On Self-Respect” in her book, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I applaud the attitude you show in this post; you are getting closer to what you really love and your real purpose–writing and sharing your experiences!

  9. I too am 29 years old and am finishing my Masters in May. This is my fifth year teaching and also my last. I can’t quite put a finger on it but I cannot continue in this field. Your post has given me strength to leave my health benefits and somewhat financial security behind.

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  11. I am someone who would normally just come on here and read the article and posts, and then leave…not respond. But your post is so vivid for so many people (including myself) that I felt as though I had to respond. I am a male who is in his mid-twenties who has since FOREVER wanted to be a schoolteacher. I was one and a half years away from completing my Student Teaching cohort when I decided to leave it altogether. I’ve had several experiences working with children (from volunteer work to tutoring to mentoring to Assistant Teaching). I know that these roles don’t add up to the real experience that the main teacher undergoes, but they were suitable for me until I received my certifications and such. Leaving my cohort was especially a difficult decision because on top of not having another “dream job” in mind that I wanted to pursue, several of my professors were constantly giving me a hard time about how men could make a difference in Education, and the lives of so many students, especially since there are so few of us in the classrooms (compared to female teachers). I found myself constantly contemplating the idea of staying in it and finishing out the rest of the experience, or leaving and pursuing something else. What helped me draw my decision to leave was an honest look into what teaching, or learning, in this regard has become in today’s time. Teaching is not natural anymore. Teachers use to be able to teach where students could have freedom, or at least free range to learn. Today, everything is so “test-based”, and pre-pared. While I think that tests are important, they should not be the measuring stick that determines if a child has learned, or grasped a concept or not. Furthermore, they should not be the deciding factor that confirms how well you (the educator) is doing your job. I simply have a difficult time accepting that “stipulation”, and for that reason have decided that teaching (at this time) would not be the best career option for me to pursue. I would’ve made a wonderful teacher (in a previous decade, or generation) but today, it doesn’t seem as though teachers are as effective as they once were. So here I am left to contemplate what would suit me best now. Thanks for the post.

    • Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment! I agree – test-based education and the current environment aren’t conducive to my idea of education…. Perhaps I would have been better in a montessori situation? The world may never know. Best of luck to you. This is just the universe telling you to seek your dream elsewhere.

    • King_24’s comment almost matches my situation. I have been teaching for 7 years and have been fired from two teaching jobs. I taught mostly in private school so I don’t exactly count the firings since private school can fire at will. I have to say that I have been questioning teaching, I mean I love the kids, love planning the lessons but I did most of my teaching in private school and they still let you teach. I want to move into public but this is where the doubt moves in and I question do I really want to teach to a test. I felt the same you (the author)felt about being fired but I keep thinking it’s a sign that I need to move on and do something else. Thanks for posting this wonderful blog.

  12. I was fired from my first teaching job also. I thought I
    was the only one. It started off by my acceptance in career
    transition program for teachers. I guess like most readers of your
    page, I was stressed out and always thinking of ways to help the
    students. My weekends ended Saturday night, I had a 2 hour commute
    each day and I was in grad school. I was ill equipped to deal with
    the behaviors of those students, I was working in an urban school
    district. I had not seen anything like it before in my life. The
    irony was I was teaching in the same district that educated me. I
    had never been fired from any job previously. I thought, I wanted
    to teach. The only thing I consistently thought about was what is
    really going here. My every thought had something to do with that
    school. It was consuming me. Every morning I would go into the
    school building, the atmsophere seemed negatively charged and
    dreary to me. Anyway, I received my notice in March or April. I was
    told my classroom management was the issue. I finished the year, I
    am glad I stayed til the end of the year (This was for the
    students). I have not worked since June, my husband does not
    mention anything about the school or the district, which is good. I
    will continue to look for another job, I am not sure if I will go
    back to teaching. I am also interested in healthcare administration
    and am looking in that direction also. It has taken until December
    for me to start feeling better.

    • “Consuming.” I agree. The experience was consuming in a very unhappy way. I envy my teacher friends who can manage it all and are able to love the hard work but still have a life. Maybe you and your husband should institute the same ritual my husband and I have – every time we passed the school for about 2 years after my tenure there, we had this elaborate ritual of flipping off the building, complete with laser gun sound effects. Childish? Yes. But it made me feel better. ; ) Best to you.

  13. I needed to read this today. I am six months into my first year teaching at a middle school and am having serious doubts about continuing my teaching career. Like you, I keep living by the mantra that fellow teachers keep telling me, “Your first year is always the hardest”. Am I really supposed to be this unhappy? At least now I know I’m not alone!

  14. I can’t tell you how much reading this means to me right now. I’m in my fourth year of teaching, and it didn’t take long for me to question if this is what I wanted to do with my life. I don’t even really have a life, I work after school 3 days a week, and I do the Saturday Test Prep program, and then today my principal asked me to come in early twice a week to do a reading program!
    I never envisioned teaching to literally drain the life out of me. I have my good days and bad, and the good days make me forget that I don’t know if this is my calling. I know that nothing will be perfect, but I’m sick of putting so much effort and work into the day, and see kids drawing and scribbling in their notebooks during the lesson, and my principal saying “fifth grade scores are not good enough”, and I wanna say because they don’t care! I don’t want to become bitter this early in the game, do you have any advice for me?

    • Hey girl –
      You lasted FOUR YEARS!! That’s awesome. I didn’t last four semesters lol. Fifth grade is TOUGH for anybody, from what I’ve heard. Fifth grade was my worst year in school as a kid, and I can’t imagine what it was like for the teachers.
      Two things: first, I’ve passed your info to my dear friend who taught in NYC for a while and now teaches here in KY. I think she might be able to share some of her insights with you. Second, have you read “Not Much, Just Chillin’: The Secret Lives of Middle Schoolers” by by Linda Perlstein? I recommend it to people who teach middle school and junior high. Fabulous book.
      Keep us posted on what you’re doing. Lots of people are in the same boat.

  15. Dear thewriting spider,
    Loved your saga.
    Let me see…
    1. 3 years at a middle school–not given tenure; union proceeded with gathering paperwork and had support of high school colleagues who taught students I had taught; got tenure; resigned to go to grad school; a school board member’s wife got my old job
    2. 17 years at a high school–mostly good; moved due to spouse’s job
    3. 1 year at another high school in another state–cautioned I may not make it through a second year; moved again due to spouse’s job
    4. 3 years at high school #3–not “renewed” after principal’s evaluation said “in other words, is on track for receiving tenure;” tenured fellow department members said nothing
    5. 5 years at a community college–not “renewed” after repeatedly being told that only 2 instructors had ever not advanced, no such situation had existed with me, and should a situation exist, I would be immediately informed so it could be addresssed; no one said anything

    Should I have taken the hint?
    Is there another profession where expecting honesty, effort, forthrightness from colleagues and supervisors actually exists?
    Is there a place where, if there is a problem with me, someone would actually come to me, tell me, and see if I can remedy it?
    Is there a place where value is attached when my students are successful in subsequent classes?
    If there is, then, yes, I think I should have been there all along.

    • I had the same problem at my one school. I was not told of things that were brought up in my final eval, which mind you, had to with the district office. My principal was a joke and claimed she told me things, I won’t deny I can voice my opinion but if I’m stepping a bound just say something. I will be amazed if I can make it 10 let alone 17.

      Thanks for sharing it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

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  17. TWS,

    I am so discouraged and disenfranchised from the profession of education. My parents and siblings are all teachers and I fell in line. I feel like I am a really good teacher in so many ways that aren’t measured. I really get to know the students and they know I care about them. That can’t be measured by any test. I am in my 9th year now and am out of gas. The kids’ behavior steadily declines as the responsibility and mindless paperwork and meetings inflate. Your blog read so fluidly and made me breathe easier as I am about to call out a sick day to recharge the batteries (Personal Health Day). A relationship of mine has actually ended because that person thought I had the easiest job in the world with millions of weeks off. She just doesn’t understand what education is today in the blame no child, world we live in. Thank you so much for the calming read and the ability to vent. Just what the “Dr.” ordered! Thank You!

    • I’m all for Mental Health Days! I’ll even write you a prescription. : )

      Sounds to me that at the heart of things, you really find joy in teaching. I think the things that can’t be measured are so much more important than the things that are. Stay focused on that, and on those moments of brilliance, to get you through.

  18. Love this post!
    I’ve been looking for the support needed to make a career change from teaching. My mother is a teacher and constantly told me when I was growing up that I would be a teacher too. Because of the constant nagging and teenage rebellion, I did everything in my power to do the opposite. In college I tried many majors without having any real direction. After graduating I watched my teacher friends enjoy their careers and wondered if I did make a mistake. I figured that I did know the profession of teaching as I had basically lived it when I was growing up. I also know and love children. I can easily connect with kids, understand them, and find them enjoyable (most days). Teaching also comes very natural to me. So after doing everything in my power not to end up as a teacher, I went back to school to get my teaching certificate and Masters. I ended up finding a job in a private school (after a year of not finding a teaching job)- and I SWORE I would never teach in a private school, but at this point was desperate. At first I enjoyed teaching. It was extremely exhausting and completely took over my life, but it was rewarding. However, after that first year the “newlywed bliss” wore off and the little things started eating at me. The endless paperwork, meetings, and basic ridiculous rules and politics, and did I mention meetings took precedence over the actual teaching I wanted to do. I realized this was a big part of teaching and I do NOT enjoy one single part of it. Most teachers I know don’t really like the politics either, but they handle it because they love teaching that much. I don’t. Plus – and I’m surprised no one has touched on this – the MONEY in teaching really is slap in the face on a daily basis! There would be days when I would get to school at 7:00 for meetings, leave at 4:00 to go babysit to earn extra money to supplement my income, and then not get home until after 6:00. I would then sit on the couch to grade papers and return emails until close to 10:00. My husband would joke that I was probably only earning $4.00 / hr. for all of the work I was doing. Sadly, my student loans are a huge burden and one that will not be paid off way into my 60s thanks to my joke of a salary!!!!! That is soooooooooooooooooooo disheartening to me!
    So now – I’m back in the same boat I was in during my Undergraduate. I am not sure what I want to do. I just know I want to find something I truly enjoy and find rewarding, that pays me what I am worth with potential to earn more. I want to do something I am passionate and enthusiastic about, not just going through the motions then coming home physically and mentally exhausted after “teaching” 8 year olds all day! I really enjoyed your post and it gave me hope that something else is out there. I feel my gut is telling me to end my teaching profession now while I’m still ahead of the game, and not when I am completely burned out and not caring. Thank you for your honest and inspiring insight! Best of luck to your new career!

  19. I am SO glad that I found this blog. Reading this, I felt like I was reading a page out of my own diary. I found out TODAY that “I won’t be invited back” to teach at my school next year. I too got that awful, strangely ominous yet vague note from my principal to meet him in his office. I too am to finish out the year, and I too ran out of my principal’s office in a fit of tears. I also chalked up my panic attacks and fits of freak out to “first year growing pains”. I am realizing that this first year was more than just a rough first year of teaching, I don’t think this is for me. I really hope I am able to find a new job soon, but I just wanted to thank you for this blog. During my time as a teacher, I was always told this was the most noble profession (which made me feel worse for not being 100 percent successful at it). I have felt like quite the failure today, and this helped me feel a little less crummy🙂
    Thanks again! I’m glad you found what makes you happy (hope I will too).

  20. Thank you so much for this blog! I read it, and immediately felt some of my anxiety ease. I had just hung up from a conversation with my father trying to explain that “yes, I STILL don’t think teaching is for me even after six years and four schools”. I really thought I could push through it. After all, “no pain, no gain”. I realized today when I came home during my planning period, fell down on my knees, and literally cried, praying that God give me the patience and strength to make it through the day that this is most definitely not what I am supposed to be doing with my life. We are meant to enjoy life after all, right? In any case I was so happy to read your words. Good luck with your new career!

  21. Hi there!
    Your post speaks directly to me! I *was* a middle school English teacher (wanted high school but took what I could get) and I quit at the end of January for many reasons. Perhaps if the school weren’t so bad, I might have stayed but with the combination of the students and the area, oh, and the lack of rules, it was just a nightmare! Anyway, I’ve been job hunting in a completely different field and am just wondering how you transitioned so quickly into something new. I’m looking into marketing, advertising, writing, media, etc and I’m trying to use my transferrable skills to apply to the types of positions I’m looking into. I have previous experience in similar fields but just wondering how you went about obtaining something in such a different field so quickly.

    • Good question… Well, here’s the shortest version of the answer I can muster. I had been interested in advertising/marketing AND teaching. The teaching job came up first so I took it. When that was over, I sought ad jobs. My first ad job was for a job posting agency that works for I stayed there 2 years to learn more about agency life, then moved on to a more prestigious agency…which promptly tanked. So by then, I had been freelance writing on the side and had a tiny bit of ad agency experience so that’s how I started pitching myself via resumes and cover letters. By the time I got to my big corporate job, I learned about graphic recording and that’s where I am today. : )

  22. I could really relate to your story. I was going to school and working at the same time. I really liked my job because I always wanted to work in that school district. The first year was fantastic with a very supporting principal. My nightmare began when I was transferred to a different school in the same school district. I didn’t get any help since I was an intern teacher. If I had many mistakes…How come I never knew them? Nobody told me how to improve or what to do…I was alone trying to teach my students. The principal only observed me once, and she never returned to my classroom. I had a bad evaluation, but I did not get any help at all. She even told me to work with my master teacher, but I felt left out. She lied about me. She started rumors about me, and she made nasty comments about my culture. Obviously, I didn’t have any written proof, and the teachers were afraid to say something. I know how it feels to be fired without any explanation. I was so desperately seeking for someone to tell to stay for the next school year. Now, I was considering to change my career since I think teachers are not getting any respect from nobody (principals, parents, or students). Perhaps, being fired is a blessing!!!!!

  23. A year ago I was given the choice to resign or be terminated in a district where I’d been teaching high school for six years in three different schools. In every teaching position I’d had the conditions were maddening and grueling. I was ALWAYS assigned the lower-performing students where there were students in every class who had made it their mission to disrupt and destroy. I taught biology, but never had classroom of my own actually set up for teaching science. I had two years sharing classrooms with three other teachers, having to move every period, and never having the supplies I needed. I had a “portable” in another school that gave be beat up furnishings that had been slated for a trip to the dump, again, absolutely no storage, supplies of my own, or enough room. I had been told over and over that I should be teaching upper level, even college-level science, but I never was given the opportunity. I know I can teach when I have students who want to be in the class and classroom management isn’t the primary duty for the job. I’ve had the opportunity to do lessons and training for adults and upper level students and it was like another world. Instead, I was ending each day depressed, anxious, angry, and burned out. I looked for help and advice wherever I could find it. Colleagues came to my defense and challenged the administrators directly, but to little avail. I think the district knew I had legitimate complaints (others even more complicated than what I’ve described here) and I got them to agree to pay me a full-year’s wages and benefits when I resigned (and I worked in one of the highest-paying counties in the US, so it was a sizable chunk with my degrees and years put in). At 57, though, it’s hard to start over and even worse if you need an income at least close to what you had before. I’m almost done with an MBA (with a 4.0 average) and have high aspirations for eventually doing foundation and non-profit management, but it’s a tough job market. Thinking I should at least apply for some teaching positions for the coming year “just in case,” I’ve concentrated on high-performing charter school organizations and submitted about two dozen applications (in addition to my job searches in the private sector) but my confidence has been so destroyed, I’m in tears nearly the entire time. Maybe if I was younger and felt like I had more time to rebuild, but I’m only eight years from retirement age. I have so much to offer, I’m ridiculously intelligent and creative, very outgoing, great communicator, etc., so I keep telling myself there must be SOMETHING, and I still have to find it. But today I felt especially worn down by it all and I found your story and the stories of everyone who’s shared here. It’s helped, no one else here sounds like a total failure, just people who really wanted to teach and found out it isn’t what we thought it would be. I’m not a believer in fate, that things happen for a reason, etc. Maybe that would give me some comfort if I did, but, oh well…Thank you all, I needed to feel less alone in this experience.

    • What a nightmare! But it sounds like you’re really moving into something cool – MBAs are all the rage. I really enjoyed teaching college classes and I think in a year or so I’d like to pick up a couple of intro to English comp classes to teach. Keep on trucking and remember, illegitimis non carborundum.

    • Hi there,

      I worked in a few different schools in different states for the beginning five years of my teaching career. The first yea sucked I moved on, second year was awesome but got laid off, third year was okay, fourth and fifth years were good until an unforeseen made-up story reared it’s ugly head. So after my fifth year I moved back to my home state of PA and managed after 2 months to secure a part-time position at a district. I thought oh this will be great and maybe I’ll luck out and find something full-time but that did not happen because I got the principal from hell. She would question everything I was doing in my classroom, tell me that she didn’t feel the students were learning, would constantly bring up the same problems from the first observation into the second and third one. She made the other teachers in the building do some of the most ridiculious paper work and to top it off she was the only principal who treated her teachers like they had no real clue how to do anything; bottom line she was a over-powering control freak. I had no respect for her and I don’t really believe any of the teachers had any either, they just pretend to have it. I remember one day sitting with the principal having a meeting about conferences, mind you I’ve been doing them for 5 years before I came to this school, and I was discussing with her about some of my past situations and how I handled them. Well, they weren’t handled good enough for her and she started to critic my 2, 3 and 4 year old conferenes that I had with parents; what a nut case! So the end of the year comes, I’ve tried my best to change the way I think and act just to get through the year, thinking that I’ve done better and will be allowed to stay to find out, thanks to that “thing” I am not invited back. So I resigned and kept my mouth closed because I knew the district won’t listen to what I have to say that freak principal is still there. So you aren’t alone in the way you feel but I had a suggestion for maybe a way for you to at least get some work, have you ever considered applying to colleges, communitiy colleges or even Business or Technical Schools that teach general education courses? I’m only 29 but I managed to get a job teaching general education classes at a Business and Technology school, part-time but it’s some money coming in and it’s a start to get hired and looked at once again.

      I hope this makes you feel a little better. Hang in there!

    • Thank you all for your posts! After my own children were in school, I went back to college to earn my teaching degree. I was hired by the middle school where I student taught and loved the principal, but after she was sacked, the school environment just took a nosedive. I then worked for 4 years at another middle school. One year shy of tenure, I was sacked. Teaching had overtaken my life. The humiliation of having to be at the school to finish out my contract, knowing I wasn’t going to be back, was hard to swallow. I am 55 years old. What do I do now? I had planned on working until I was 70. Now I’m not sure I ever want to work as a teacher again. Is it too late for me?

      • Thanks for stopping by! You don’t mention anything about how you liked teaching, but I say, keep going. You’ve got life and classroom experience that is desperately needed in the classroom right now. Find another school you can thrive in. Try a different type of school – don’t like public schools? How about Montessori? How about charter schools? Find other environments you can use your teaching experience in – tutoring? Other edcuational settings? I bailed before I really got much experience and things would be different if I hadn’t, but you’ve got so much experience under your belt, I would say pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on that horse. Best luck and keep us posted!

      • Thanks for your response. I like teaching, I just don’t like what was happening at my old school. The students were catered to at the teacher’s expense and parents were in the habit of running straight to the superintendent. It was a constant balancing act. I’m going to try subbing to see if I still want to teach. I need some perspective, but I also have two kids in college and I really need a job! As long as I have unemployment benefits this year, I’m okay. Next year is when I’ll really need full time employment. Wish m luck!

    • I feel your pain, lack of supplies, classrooms not fit for science, nothing working mechanically. In fact, there have been many occasions when I thought there was some demonic or other supernatural force in my classroom that made things malfunction, then I would turn to God and make the sign of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with the intention to ward off all evil. Oh yeah, I hate when those dry erase markers go out too.

  24. She was the only principal I have ever worked with who acted like she was the queen bee of education. The woman taught for about 8 years as a librarian, nothing against them but it’s not the same as if you had 3rd grade all day. She then subbed and then was an IST Teacher which gives her about maybe 10 years of actual classroom experience if you count what she has done as experience. The rest of the administrators at the school are brilliant respectable people. Guess there is one bad one in every school. lol

  25. This was a great article. I see it was written some time ago….but do you have any tips on becoming a copywriter after being a teacher for 12 years? Teaching: love the work, hate the job! Like you, writing is my major passion, and I feel very strongly that I could be happy and successful as a copywriter. But is this possible???!!! Can I shake this teaching label and move on? I’m 39.

    • The short answer is: get the word out and help the work find you. The longer answer is: I made business cards and I started giving them to people, posting them on bulletin boards. Find Meetups or groups of freelancers. Learn how to pitch a story to a magazine editor – start local. Volunteer copywriting for the nonprofit of your choice. Look online at job boards for freelancer jobs in your community. Work it into every conversation – “I’m a freelance writer. Does your company ever outsource your marketing need?” Make friends with graphic designers who often have clients who need writing. Find local freelancers, take them out for coffee, and pick their brains. While you build your client list, get a full time job. Teach college classes which will let you do the teaching without the stupid parts, and have time for freelancing. READ books about freelancing and consider it your free education on freelancing. Go to freelance blogs and read the archives. You’ve been a teacher – email textbook publishers and ask they’re hiring editors or writers or proofers from your specialty.

      • donewithteaching: I usually completely agree with thewritingspider. However, I do disagree with “Teach college classes which will let you do the teaching without the stupid parts.” Politics, hierarchies, undermining, etc. are all there, too. And, every student can make/break your position by simply not liking how you answered a question or graded an assignment or weren’t able to meet when he/she wanted to etc. The internet takes private misunderstandings and makes them public fodder. The economy hasn’t helped the situation either. The heartbreak I have seen and felt at the college level is no different from that of K-12.

        If you do need the position, I recommend being an adjunct instead of full time. It may mean no benefits, but there will be fewer “stupid parts” and a great many adjunct colleagues. Good luck to you!

        p.s. to all posters: How refreshing it is to read messages with proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation! You don’t see much of that at the college level either!

  26. Iam a teacher. 17 years Secondary English and am absolutely disgusted by your story. NO teacher NO employee in ANY field should be fired without warning and due cause. There were many legal issues here. I know the general public does not support teachers’ unions, but let me tell you our union saved our lives in dealing with a school board out to slam the average classroom teacher. The board was so bad that our state finally took over the school district. Thank goodness. People in high places can and have made horrible choices…..illegal choices. And it certainly seems to me that your administration broke the law….big time.

    • I was under the impression that since Kentucky (where I live) is an at-will state, and the school is a private school, employers and employees have the right to terminate employment at any time for any reason. (I mean, they asked my religious affiliation in the first interview, for Pete’s sake.) I could, theoretically, be fired for wearing ugly shoes if my admin didn’t like them. Does that make a difference? And, it’s been almost seven years since – I wonder if there’s some kind of statute of limitations in order….

      • Teachers have no legal rights, even if they have unions. I know from where I speak.

        I am 57 years old, and I do not have any way that I can retrain for any other career; teaching was supposed to be my second career when a moron principal fired me for no reason at all except to cover her and the HR chief officers’ behinds when they both violated FMLA. It has been four years, and I am finding it nearly impossible to get back on track. It’s easy to sit there if you have some other means of support, but when you are sole support, it is virtually impossible to ever get hired again. I refuse to go back to college again after I spent 15 years getting my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

      • It isn’t being “bitter”–it is being honest. This kind of behavior is rampant in public schools around the country.

        Try being written up for refusing to cheat for an insane principal who later got demoted for sexual misconduct with a subordinate, and then, demanding to be moved out of that school, get dumped in an even worse situation where the moronic principal–and most of them these days are or else they are mentally unstable or power mongers–fired me over nothing. It was a clerical error, for Pete’s sake, yet she violated the negotiated agreement, state law, and federal FMLA and other civil rights laws when she fired me. The district backed her to the hilt, mostly to protect the head of human resources, who put her up to doing his dirty work but not knowing of all of her violations. Try being my age and have everything stolen, and then try and claim that I am “bitter.” Teaching isn’t what people think it is.

        I have to earn a living. I have applied for tutoring, but that will NOT pay the bills. I was forced to move out of state, and it is killing me financially to even buy reading materials to get a teacher’s license in Oregon (although I am getting financial help from a local Job Council to pay the licensing fees). I am not intending to substitute teach for five or six years because I don’t HAVE that many years left in my working career. It is more suitable if and when I can retire. Age discrimination is rampant in the field. I know one thing: If I ever do go back to working in a public school district, I will make sure I am lawyered up. That’s what they don’t teach you in ed school, that you NEED to have a lawyer. It is not because of parent lawsuits, for school district insurance companies pay for those. It is because of administrator harassment and violations of federal laws. Administrators are NOT your friends, and they are backed to the hilt by the school districts no matter how bad or inept they are. The unions are totally ineffective in protecting individual teachers from workplace harassment and wrongful dismissals. I had to learn the hard way the importance of having a lawyer on retainer.

  27. This just sounds suspect to me. Wonder if there was discrimination here? At any rate, could this person not draw unemployment? Probably too late for that. I just know that our administrators cannot just call us in and fire us without due process. This would include written notification of problems, time to correct them, and a written agenda of what will happen if one does or doesn’t abide. I feel sorry for anyone who works under these conditions. Not knowing if by the end of the day he or she will have a job. Our union protects us from this kind of harrassment.

    • Depends on your contract wording. I was just informed I will be recommended for non-renewal next year at my school. In the contract, when it’s your 1st year, they can non-renew you and not even give you an explanation as to why. All my evaluations were good, all my students made progress, & I had great relationships with all parents! Only person I didn’t get along with was the principal. I guess that’s where I went wrong, not being a push-over!

  28. Thank you for posting your story. It is nice to know that others out there not only feel the way I do, but have also have similar stories. Unlike you however, I only made it to the the day before my last day of student teaching. I already had my diploma in hand for my BFA (I majored in English, with sec. ed. as a support.) All I needed to do was to finish out the last two days and I was done (we were required to finish out the quarter although our official last day of semester was several weeks before.) My student teaching supervisor had come in the day before to evaluate my teaching one last time, and my CT even mentioned that I was doing well, praising the unit I had created to both the supervisor and curriculum coordinator.

    The unit, which I had spent hours creating and planning, was a week long “adjective” unit that had the students working in cooperative groups to complete activities that would help them aquire new adjectives for writing, practice using them, and had them exploring how adjectives are used in advertisements, menus, commercials. etc. Although my cooperating teacher had wanted me to teach a week long adjective unit using worksheets for the students to underline and reading the grammar book, she seemed open to the unit I was creating because I had incorporated suggestions from the curriculum coordinator.

    Fast forward to day 3 of the adjective unit. I was walking around from group to group to ensure that they stayed on task and a student makes the comment that “she looks like a teacher.” I answer back ” because I am a teacher.” Because she knows we have joked around before the student felt comfortable saying back to me “not for two more days. Then you’ll be a real teacher.” I jokingly said to her, “You know, I’m better than some real teachers. I’m not bitter.” ( I had talked to this same student before about how different teachers behave at other schools I had been at…one had a nervous breakdown and left me with her students during a lockdown; another hadn’t even created an outline for what she wanted to teach by the time I left in late October.)

    While I will be the first one to admit that it wasn’t the best thing to say to a student and immediately regretted it, my cooperating teacher didn’t do anything but say “hey” to me. Jokingly to her I said ” not you. Your a good teacher.” Fifteen minutes later she went down to the lunchroom for lunchroom duty and I stayed in the classroom to eat my lunch and grade papers.

    5 minutes to the end of lunch, she walks in and tells me that at a certain time the principal wanted to see my. I asked why and she just yells at me that she “welcomed me into her classroom.”

    I started teaching the next class, without her in the room. At the meeting time, she came back in and started to teach, telling me to leave and go the meeting. At the meeting, I had to meet alone with the principal and VP (both men, one over 6 feet tall, the other over 200 pounds…can you say intimidating) who informed me that I was being immediately escorted from the school and was not welcome back for my last day, due to my comment that I made to students.

    In tears, I was escorted to an empty classroom where I had to stand and wait for 20 minutes until the bell rang for next period. Then I was escorted to my cooperating teachers classroom by the principal where I was allowed to gather only my jacket and keys ( I was forced to leave all materials for the unit and was told I could collect them at a later date; I ended up having to email the CT twice and finally the principal before I was allowed to pick them up in the office) I tried to talk calmly to my cooperating teacher who was standing outside the door to ask her why she didn’t just talk to me. (I was quite confused and hurt, because she hadn’t even bothered to mention to me the farther reaching consequences of my comment or why she went to the principal instead of just speaking with me. I would have left if she had asked me to. I didn’t see why as a student teacher she needed to get the principal involved.)

    I was then taken by the arm by the principal and told I needed to leave immediately.My last memory at that school is being walked down to the door to the parking lot, where he stood until I left in my car.

    I have never been so humilated, angry, confused, and hurt by anything before. I feel like I was treated like a criminal and I feel like I was just completely backhanded, since, to my knowledge, they never had any other problems with me. To get my teaching license, my college wanted me to do another 9 weeks of student teaching, but I feel that I was there the entire 9 weeks, and refused, even though it meant no teaching license. And to make things worse, I was going through a divorce at the time (no, the CT did not even bother to ask me about my personal life, so had no idea this was going on.) Now, several months later, I still have no idea what to do for a job. I’m left feeling lost and very unmotivated. Suggestions? I don’t want to go back to being a cashier…I went to school for four years so that I wouldn’t have to work at a gas station or in food service. It’s just so crushing.

    • I’m very nearly speechless here… I’ve never ever heard anything like this. I hope some of the seasoned teachers who’ve read and will read this post will please please chime in – this is well beyond my expertise. But here’s my 2 cents:

      My first thought is to, for a while, just let yourself be angry, be pissed off, be upset. To your best friends, and over a large bottle of wine, call your principal, your CT, whoever, every name in the book. Line the litter box with your lesson plans. Flip the school the bird when you drive by. Laser sound effects are optional but they help.

      Then, when you can see straight again… I’d look into finding out if you can negotiate with your college about your student teaching. Will *anybody* at the school you taught in go to bat for you? Could you get someone to write a letter? Is there a paper trail that notes that you did, in fact, complete 99.9% of your obligations and therefore should be allowed to move forward without another 9 weeks? Apologies can go far as can olive branches – but that’s entirely your call, of course. Seems like your college education mentor should help you out here.

      Jobwise, it sounds like you got supremely, entirely and totally unlucky. Was your comment in poor taste? Maybe, but I wasn’t there so I don’t know really. Did that comment warrant immediate dismissal? Even though I wasn’t there, I feel its safe to say no, no, and no. Sounds like you struck a wrong chord at the wrong time, not that you’ve chosen the wrong profession altogether. Once you’ve sorted out weather you have to go do another 9 weeks of student teaching, you might have a better perspective on weather you want to jump through the hoops.

    • In response to absolutelycrushed: Had a similar experience. Thrown out like a dog (only who even treats an animal like that). At first, I was “exactly who the principal was looking for”. But from day one, I received no support from anyone. It was my first year of teaching after a career transition, going back to college for a second bachelor degree in education & a masters, while all the while working very full-time running an educaiton program. The honeymoon endeed sooner than I imagined. By my first evaluation, one student had decked another in my classroom with no warning that there was any sort of problem. Later I found out there was a very long trail with this student and I was not filled-in about such behavior. Students in this district were allowed (and even encouraged) to just stand up and walk out of the classroom. It was so wierd that I thought perhaps these students had some sort of behavior plan that allowed such behavior. One student finally told me that their principal has a pact with the students. She had an open-door policy that encouraged students to rule the roost. I was the sixth high school English teacher in as many years. There was nothing in place when I arrived. No one in the building even knew what books I was to use. I had to prepare and plan and put into place the entire English program. It was a living nightmare. I could handle the book work though. I had planned and implemented programs before. But the students running the school with the principal cheering them on was just too strange. Add to that my mentor teacher who was running to the principal with half-truths. And no, I am not bitter. I was just very mistreated there. Ironically, most of the students loved me. They told me I was the best teacher they had ever had in any class in high school. They respected me. I saw their growth both in ther academics and as young people. They went from teens who sat perched with their feet on the desk in front of them to young men and women who respected their peers and me. One one day in particular, one young lady refused to stand when we said the flag salute. Don’t get me wrong, I was not going to force her to say the pledge, but I was hoping for some respect that she might show toward her peers who wanted to say it. I handled this by sharing a story the next day about how my husband was spit on upon getting off the bus after returning from Vietnam. I shared how in his military career that followed for many more years, he had seen true poverty overseas where children would forage through piles of human waste and would eat undigested corn kernels. I shared how he chipped off pieces from the Berlin Wall. I shared the stories my mother had told me while I was growing up about her brother’s sounds of crying from upstairs filtered downstairs after he returned home from the war. I shared how my family car was spit upon by bystanders as I attempted to re-enter the base one day with my four children while my husband was off on an overseas mission and how the people in the crowd held signs calling us monsters. I shared how my husband only spoke love and support for those protesters as that is what our country is all about – how it was their right to protest and that was what his career was all about. The next day, that young lady stood up during the flag salute. She worked hard the rest of the year on her lessons. She became a wonderful writer as she shared stories about life challenges she had faced and overcome. I could tell she respected me and she showed this by becoming one of my best students. She gave me a note that said I was the only teacher in all of her school career who had ever taken the time to be real with her and who respected her and who made her want to do her best. I honestly believe my principal was some sort of jealous that the students respected and like me so much! There was still her little gang of students who ran to her. I was very uncomfortable that she would use children that way. It seemed very wrong. I had no one to complain to or to go to for guidance. It was a very strange district. The other teachers ate lunch with me and we all had a good laugh over lunch. But after I was called into the principal’s office, the teachers literally sat apart from me. It hurt! I would never treat anyone like that no matter what. But they had their careers to consider. Some contacted me after I left. They wrote letters to me. But it was too late then. I never got to say goodbye to my students or even finish out the year. My grades were changed by my mentor teacher. My last infraction was that the secretary’s daughter who was slated to be the Validictorian was a few points below an “A”. Ample time was left for her to raise her grade. But that (grading) was taken away from me. The principal threw me out of the building the day after I resigned. I resigned on a Friday with three weeks of school left. She threw me out on a Monday, only allowing me to get my keys and purse. I left a lot of personal things behind. It was so unreal and humiliating to be escorted out of the building and the door locked behind me the moment my feet stepped outside. I walked straight for the Admin office across a walkway. I was sobbing beyond belief. I talked to the “nice” Admin district secretary. She had no idea (or so she said). I talked to the receptionist whose daughter had been a roommate in college with my daughter who was killed in a wreck. She would not even look at me. She seemed strangely cold. But I understood. She needed her job like all the rest. I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. I could hardly breathe. Of course the Supt. was out of the building. So I left. I could hardly make the 50-mile drive home. I’ve seen some of my students since then. They hug me and tell me they miss me. This means so much to me. I tell them to study and treat their new teacher with respect and to go far in life! I tell them how smart they are. It hurts, but I chose to be the bigger person in this matter. I receive no unemployment. I didn’t know you could. It was my first year of teaching. Now it’s a year later. I volunteer full-time for a nonprofit I started with a mission on literacy. I’d love to teach again. This is my hope/prayer. Blessings to all.

  29. Thank you for your story. I did something different for my undergraduate degree and later got my multiple teaching credential. I was a sub for about 6 years, and now I am an instructional assistant. I applied many times to the districts I have been employed in and other districts too. I feel that I am stuck in a job that doesn’t pay enough for me to pay my student loans and I feel that I am not getting the opportunity to teach at all. I’ve been thinking that perhaps I am slow and just feeling really bad about myself. Yet, your story is very enlightening. Perhaps I am not meant to be a teacher. My credential is going to expire in about a year and my undergrad degree is pointless at this time. But what to do now? All my work experience have been in schools!

  30. Thanks for writing this! It’s so hard for overachievers to fail at the most important thing we’ve ever done! I crashed and burned as a teacher…many times and many ways over 7 years. Finally I took the opportunity to quit, when I was trying to get pregnant. I am grateful to a crappy economy that will hopefully save me from ever getting another teaching job. It is not meant to be!

  31. I have been teaching for nearly ten years with a variety of teachers and principals I have enjoyed working with and for…until now. I was away from education for a year after my husband and I relocated, but I thought the “right” position will come about eventually – then a JOB did.

    I was hired to scurry between two school districts within a larger school district that set me up for failure. When I was hired I was told one thing while an entirely different thing was to come into play. Not only would I not have a prep period anywhere, but another prep would be added to an already absurd situation. Now with the semester’s end six weeks away, I am getting a vibe from the principal that she may fire me in a few weeks.

    In fairness, I did miss two days of class due to the cold that ALL the students and teachers were sharing daily. I was not the only teacher who was gone for two days, but I realize new teachers are under tremendous pressure to please the principal – and this principal is an alpha female who is incredibly odd. I have taught for three other female principals (and even more female VPs) without any issues of any sort. I even came home from the group interview telling my husband that I did not get a good vibe from her…lesson learned…always trust your gut! Anyway, I was wanted by two districts, so they combined the job into one full-time position. I am so miserable and disenchanted about education for the first time in my career.
    Emotionally and physically I am exhausted, but have never been fired from a teaching job, nor have I quit in the middle of the year.

    Should I have a resignation in hand when I go in for my evaluation? Or should I let whatever is going to happen, happen?

    • It sounds like you have enjoyed teaching until two districts have you stretched to your breaking point. If it was me: I’d get a meeting with the principal before your evaluation. And I’d be prepared with a plan. I would say something along the lines of, “I appreciate what we’ve tried to do here by creating this dual position but I’ve really bitten off more than I can chew. I’d like to . How can we make this work?” You can certainly walk in with a resignation, but I wonder if that wouldn’t ruffle more feathers than are necessary. Let me know what happens.

      • Here is what happened. Prior to the evaluation, I had the typical meeting with the principal where we discussed what I was working on for the year. Oddly enough, this crazy woman asked me this question with a scoff, ” Are you a liberal?” I was shocked out of mind. Who is this Nazi? It doesn’t matter what my political persuasion may be or may not be, I teach English! Anyway, after this odd, inappropriate, and illegal harassment, the writing was on the wall for all involved. She did come in to “evaluate me” but didn’t even stay five minutes, said she smelled pot in the hall. Not only was the other school supposed to evaluate me, but she didn’t do her job (more writing on the wall). During the evaluation review, I gave her my notice. IT WAS THE BEST THING I COULD HAVE DONE. I quit in the middle of year at the end of the first semester. I told her I would sue her and get the union involved if she placed her unfinished, unprofessional review in my file. I was literally hired by another school within about five days after the semester was out. Moral of the story: Trust your gut reaction to a BITCH! Don’t put up with NAZIS!

  32. Ive grown to hate the educational system. Teaching is my second career and after 14 years I’ve had it! I used to be a performing artist in New York and taught with various Arts-in-Education agencies on the side in addition to working as an “extra” whenever a movie would hit town. I relocated to Florida with my then husband and children because of our parents (long story). Even though we both had creative arts degrees we were able to land Middle School positions and take the necessary courses in order to receive alternative certification. Yes, the first year was hell but not only because of the Middle School experience. Mentioning that I was a Buddhist was a huge mistake. I didn’t know that the principal was also the church pastor and that most of the staff and students were patrons. So on top of kids pushing doors into my face and manditory hall-monitoring between classes (because at least 5 fights would break out) we had to endure discrimination by staff members who treated my husband and I as if we both had the plague. With all of the creative arts I had incorporated into my Language Arts lessons the majority of the children were still unappreciative and closeminded.I’m Puerto Rican from Harlem and it didn’t make any sense to me at all when I’d hear kids saying that I was a racist! Helloooo. 99.9% of the school population was Black! So there was the “mindset”. Until it became newsworthy, this middle school was the most violent in the county. No surprise. Luckily, we were able to relocate to South Florida where my family lived and still felt that perhaps we’d give teaching a second chance in a different environment. We were able to secure teaching positions but in Miami which made the 45 minute commute to and from work unbearable. The first opportunity available in my county was to teach at a low performing high school just 15 minutes from my house and I grabbed it. It was very difficult from the start. These kids were 14 going on 30. It was overwhelming to see how many were already parents with jobs after school or how many had family members in jail and were being raised by an older sibling. They were basically unsupervised. My heart went out to these kids who were angry, bitter, resentful and disrespectful towards me. During my 3rd year the school received an F in the state standardized test scores and my teaching position was threatened because according to the superintendant, the school failed because we failed as teachers. This, after countless days of our giving up our planning period in order to tutor or give writing workshops for the weaker performing students. We were observed 4 times a week after that. What an insult! I went back to teaching Middle School for about 8 years and I must say that as expectations get higher for students and teachers, the student interest in education gets lower and lower. The bottom line is, they’re bored with curriculums that specifically teach to the test. It’s not surprising to see how the media has taken over propagating dilusions of grandeur. To make things worse it’s now legal for students to use cell phones and Ipods on school grounds and in between classes! All this priveleged technology has gotten in the way of education. I would never want a position as a puppet administrator either. They all sound the same giving the same message, “Do what we say or you’ll be fired,” I felt that Middle School also involved too much babysitting over the years and switched back to High School. Now, I’m 56, my mother’s caretaker and a divorced single parent. Did this new “A” graded high school make any difference in my career as a teacher who, by the way, still struggles to incorporate artistic and interesting lessons? NOT! Now I have the pleasure of being bossed around by a micro-manager principal with a department chairperson who reminds me of Joe Peshie in Goodfellows! I’m done! I honestly want to open a laudramat! What’s to do? This profession is too exhausting. Years ago I taught dance on the side but am not getting any younger nor do I have the funds to go back to school to perhaps be a massage or physical therapist which was another aspiration of mine. I envy all of you young folks out there who made an early choice to ditch this career path before it was too late. HELP!

    • What an amazing story! I read some of the replies here and I’m floored – my piddly year teaching is nothing compared to what some of you have experienced. I have a good friend who grew up here in rural Kentucky, moved to NYC after we graduated from college, then moved to Louisville (where I live) 2 years ago. She did the teaching program in New York and now works with rural students in a neighboring county. She’s an artistic soul, too, and also Jewish (converted from Southern Baptist). She fights every day to educate her students on everything from language arts to cultural sensitivity (not many Jews at Bullitt Lick Middle School, as you can imagine). This is to say – it’s hard to be who you are and be a teacher, too, sometimes. I agree with so many of your frustrations about teaching to the test, technology, and more. Now that you know the system, how about changing it? Maybe you don’t have the energy for that now, which is understandable. Artistic folk like you can have such a positive effect and have so much to contribute in so many situations so I’m hopeful for you. You are clearly a smart lady with a wealth of personal experiences to draw from. I’d start looking for new ways to apply your skills and in the meantime, practice detaching. Look into educational opportunities. Look into opening small businesses. Start talking to people. Teach dance. Teach acting. Things will start happening to point you in the direction you need to go in.

    • Since you live near Miami, have you ever heard of a man by the name of Jeffery Hernandez.? He supposedly turned around a school down there after he was hired as chief academic advisor to the tune of $200,000. Unfortunately my first student teaching position was during the first semester they hired this man and his team to “transform” the school I was teaching at.

  33. Wanderer…bless you for all you have tried to share with children. What you have said you were doing is what parents and the community and nation want…until the first real (or imagined) slight and is exactly the opposite of what administrators want. As far as I can tell, administrators simply do not want anything that results in a student or parent complaint. My right arm for an administrator who will support her/his teachers in the valiant attempt to teach today.

    Don’t you find it interesting we never hear from teachers who are traversing the profession smoothly?

  34. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading this. I just got notice of a termination hearing for me on January 20, 2012. All the “evidence” against me came from one girl and most of what is written down is lies. I admit to some stuff but when one is diabetic and has low blood sugar, anger just spews and that’s what happened a month ago. My district is ignoring my medical condition completely and saying that I acted inappropriately and unprofessionally when I got angry at my students and said a few swear words. Yes, that’s what happens to some people when their blood sugar is in the 60 – 70 range. I am an NEA member and there is a lawyer working on my case right now and he says that what they are trying to fire me for is not a terminating offense. I haven’t been in my classroom for a month. I miss my students and they miss me (my co-teacher keeps in touch with me). I am bored to death sitting around waiting for an answer and I’m clinically depressed (for years) so nothing interests me anyway. I don’t plan on going back to teaching unless it is to ESL and/or GED adults. Thanks for your post.

    • Lots of luck getting anywhere with that school district. I couldn’t even get an attorney in Nevada to take my case–actually, I had three I could have taken the school district to federal court over–and that is usual for teachers. These principals are given way too much power, and they have utterly no accountability for their actions.

      • Now my pre-termination hearing is January 24th (tomorrow). Last time I talked to my NEA rep, she said that I might consider leaving the profession. Okay, I knew that, but I thought maybe the lawyer would be able to pull something out of the hat. I am considering not going to the hearing. I am dealing with this the best I can, by journaling. I just want it to be over. My principal will continue to go on her merry way, abusing her power. A fellow diabetic is afraid to ask for accomodations now, due to what is happening with me. I want to fight but I don’t think I have it in me anymore.

  35. I just wanted to express that for me, there are two horror-inspiring facts about an upcoming termination. 1). Teachers who are terminated will likely never work in education again….and 2). It’s just MY sense of shame and sadness but the senses of my 200+ high school students. Being seen as a role model, putting 15 years in, and then being terminated for having filtering issues (bantering, subject material of conversations, etc) is an awful, awe-inspiring blow. It has been awful.

    I had never, not once, considered simply changing careers. I have defined my entire existence since high school by being an educator. Sure, I’ve put retail work, housekeeping, and office work in as asides to my “actual work”, but I never saw that I can try something else.

    While I am terrified of the future, and worried about my state-mandated teacher retirement money being forever lost to me now, this posting of yours and its responses have helped me to stop sobbing in shame and terror, and to start considering reinventing myself. This is so hard, scary, and overwhelming. However, it is endlessly comforting that others have gone through it, and that I will not drop dead of shame.

    thanks so much for writing this.

  36. There’s a Portuguese saying, Jason, that goes “It will all turn out OK in the end, and if it isn’t OK, then it isn’t over yet.” I never believed it before “not being renewed.” Now I know it’s true. Best wishes, Jason.

  37. the same thing happened to me, i have been a special edu teacher for a long time and through soul searching and career counseling that im not cut out for it anymore….another website that i think would help anyone looking for a new career/alternative to teaching: google search “a kaleidoscope of alternatives career choices for teachers: what can i do if i can’t find a teaching job?” by sharon k. moss, cleveland state university……or click on the following link:
    hope this helps….

  38. just an update……im working as a medical debt collector and i love it! no take home work, or having to deal with lesson plans, annual reviews, testing, meetings or after school activities! its so relieving to come home and leave my work at work! my nights and weekends are MINE! I have also learned that what we choose as a career in our early twenties doesnt always mean its a good choice for us in our forties…..i also realize i have less patience for a lot of things i was able to handle/deal with when i was younger.

  39. Thank you. My story is much the same as yours. First of all several of these stories posted here seem to be geared more toward complaints about the administrations that ruined teaching experiences and not toward intuitive feelings that this is not for you. My experience is a tale of both failure and great successes, but no matter what the circumstance, always having that feeling of being in the wrong profession. The rewarding feeling came mostly after the final bell each day. The ride home was such a relief.
    I was 50 years old when I started the career change to being a teacher. I had a degree, subbed several times, and went the alternate route to certification. I started out in the roughest school district in NJ at an alternate school teaching science ( I now have 5 teaching licenses, including special ed.) I lasted a few months in this school and was let out of my contract easily as the assistant superintendent stated that a first year teacher had no business in that job. Yet, the principal practically begged me to come back. The stress was immense. Not giving up, I subbed out the year at that district. Between lesson plans and night and weekend school for provisional teachers, my time was really budgeted, so it was a RELATIVE relief to just sub.
    I applied to a private K-12 school and got the job teaching biology, advanced biology, chemistry, and 8th grade science. My evaluations were great. I finished my provisional training. I was granted a standard license(s). I was cheered by the students on awards night, and I was approached several times by a representative of the administration about my next years contract. I refused all offers, and told them I was not going to teach anymore. That was several years ago now.
    I have not been in a classroom since, but for lack of income I do home instruction for a school district, which I plan on leaving as soon as I get another income opportunity. In the interest of brevity I have left out several nightmare experiences I have had in a couple temporary assignments since I started this education career.
    I have to stop myself when things get rough from applying to school districts for jobs. I have found out through much stress and unhappiness over several years, that teaching for me is not healthy, even though I have had successes along with the failures. This is how my story is a lot like yours- i.e. spiritual in its reasoning. Not to mention the ego-feeding proposition teaching can be, including false pride inherent in expectations of super duper lesson plans and just intellectual pride in general. I find these work against serenity, especially when our expectations get squashed, as they usually do. So my beef is not with the administration, or the state of education in general. My slant is that some are not meant to be in this profession at all, but still can do the job. Unfortunately at the cost of their piece of mind. I do not like going to school in the mornings, in fact I dreaded it. I was not as enthusiastic or accepting as most of the other teachers. I took guff from other jealous teachers ( yeah, I finally said it) and didn’t fire back (wish I did now). I no longer have stressful nightmares and then have to get up for class in the morning. Thanks again for the post.

  40. I am currently a first year teacher and I feel like I am a state of constant failure. I just got a very negative evaluation from my vice principal in my school. Basically stating that I have no classroom management.

    I want to go to her office and ask if I will be at the school next year. I’m not afraid of the failure, just more frustrated that I won’t have another year to do things different and try out things that I learned. I am so tired of working til late everyday coming in every weekend and only to get a negative review. I do not know what I could not get very specific answers until Feb. Considering I will find out in late March if I will have a job next year, I feel like my chances are very slim at getting a job next year.

    If I apply for another job will I even get one? How do I explain my one year of failure. I know I can be a great teacher but I feel so defeated. I’m tired of being frustrated and feeling defeated.

    • I was not-rehired my first year of teaching then got another teaching job. I taught successfully (evaluation wise) for 3.5 more years and on February 7th, was terminated after having been put on probation for a month. I’m not going to go into what happened but suffice to say, I told off the principal and HR director after alleged “events” and I probably would still have a job had I not done that. I have no intention of teaching for awhile. My psychologist says that way back in my mind, I know I’m a good teacher, but the vast majority of mind says, “You failed again”. Loved the kids, loved the actual teaching part, but I don’t EVER want to be the one in control of a classroom again. I hated the 70+ hour weeks, the 50 mile drive to get a decent salary, etc… If you REALLY love teaching, try again somewhere else. Don’t let yourself get beaten down in a district that doesn’t appreciate you – that’s why I’m moving on.
      Good luck!

      • Hey Kirsten,
        If you do love teaching and you want to stay, then perhaps you might think about turning it back on them a bit. Who is mentoring you? What are their plans for giving you the training you need to develop effective classroom management? Are they willing to pay for some training (Responsive Classroom stuff is great and many summer courses)? They too have an obligation to mentor and educate new teachers. What have they done for you lately girl? I don’t mean that you walk in with attitude . . . it can just be a mental shift for you. Talk to them about ways to improve and how they can help you to get there. All new teachers are an investment. They should want to help you to be successful. If not, then perhaps you should interview elsewhere and then ask those kinds of questions during your interviews! Very best of luck to you. Hang in there if it feels right.

      • Hi all!

        So I left this comment almost three years ago now and felt that I should update it! I got a teaching job after being non renewed and have taught at my school… Semi successfully for 3 years. I actually went to a district that did train and mentor me and I have learned so much. However after this school year I have decided to quit! I am still working in a urban district with severe behavior problems and very little admin support. The difference between three years ago and now is that I know I have a strong background in education and with all my heart believe I am in a sinking ship of a school. But overall, I am am very tired of the stress that these last couple of years have brought me. So…. Here is my question! How do I go about finding another career! Can anyone help point me in a good direction?!

  41. Thank you for writing this. Long story short but this is exactly what I needed to read after a day long appeal for the reversal of my “U” rating I was given at the end of last year which was my first year teaching. I enjoyed your story and it hit home very much, especially the nightmares. I’m so happy for you and I hope to find light at the end of this tunnel. Thank you!

  42. Add me to the list, another first year teacher (well, back after a many year hiatus) and in a very difficult school that has not offered me any support, no mentor and no discipline for problem students. In fact, the students who swore at me and called me an “f’n b” were children of administrative people, including the principal’s neice. How sad is that. I have spoken up asking for help and been told it was not their job to help me. Yesterday I was told I would not be renewed for next year.

    I had no idea that the ‘non-renewal’ would be an issue and have asked my union lawyer about it. It has been a long year and I have actually come to like the young students very much. Thanks for such a great blog, really excellent comments. I will think over all that I have read.

  43. I am a first-year special education teacher and on an improvement plan in a charter school. I came out of undergrad with my initial certification and wanted to make this my career…but the long hours, lesson planning, and classroom management along with teaching with co-teachers who are not helpful or don’t take the ownership to help me differentiate has made me very tired, overwhelmed, and just a bad educator in general. I also moved to a new city to try a new start, and now I’m just full of regrets. My principal has told me that she won’t renew me for next year unless things change, and I don’t think they will…I think sometimes I am meant for something else but I have no clue what. Thank you for this honest blog- I know my life isn’t over if my contract is not renewed but I am so worried about what will happen next.

  44. Had to post a comment on this blog! It is so refreshing to find some people that I can understand and visa versa! I am not a first year teacher, I survived I was asked back the second year but decided to leave and sub for a bit to figure things out. Then realized I needed to go back to school for my masters and teach in new surroundings. I did get my masters and taught four more years (though all of my teaching, I had sub experience, part time and full time. I was able to be in every type classroom, for every subject including specials, for every grade level pre-k though 12) I felt that I was well rounded and could understand everyone’s postion. I was even a student teacher mentor. My students have won several awards.

    Then I got engaged and packed up my belongings and moved to a new state miles away from the job I dearly loved, a state I also loved to live in, and it was all far from family and friends.

    I came here in the middle of a school year, but found what they called an open ended job to finish out a year for a girl who was pregnant. I was told I did a great job, They moved me to another building to finish out another open ended. I didn’t care for the school as much but I think I did alright. That’s when I got a full time offer from a prinicpal who I felt would be a great fit. I would start in her building and end in another under a different principal (one that I interviewed with as well and felt it was a great fit) I got that job and things went pretty well but…in the middle of the year when I was moved to another school, that school got new principal. (She was not the one I had met with)

    This lady called me into her office on day 4 and told me in so many unkind words how horrible of a teacher I was. She called me names and I was going to fire me. (mind you …she never saw me teach once) I was in tears because I had never in all my years of teaching ever been treated like this. She decided to let me finish out the year and “see how it goes.” She had people come into my room to watch me (teachers by the way not district or vp) and had them ask me all kinds of questions. I knew it wasn’t right but like I said I didn’t know how to handle it at all. The counselor was the union rep and when I asked her what I should do if I was uncomfortable about something, she was in on it and basically said there was nothing to do. (I’m guessing because she wanted to keep HER job) The VP had it written all over her face that is was wrong but did nothing either.

    When it came time for the end of the year evaluations, I was forced to sign a paper saying that I was terminated at the last day of the school year and that I was not being renewed. The reason was typed as “other”

    I asked why and was never given a reason. All of my evaluations from everyone was good except I never could get my last one from the lady who watched. I kept asking and she said “she lost it”

    My problem is this: I don’t know what to say if I were to go to an interview in another county or private school. Or what I put on an application when they ask if you have ever been terminated. The school said I was not being renewed but my paperwork says terminated for other reasons. (I don’t know what the reasons are …since they wont tell me)

    Any ideas on what to do? What to say? I obviously don’t want to dog the lady because that wont get me a job (even though I do believe she was a dog hehe) I believe they tried to find something on me and couldn’t so they had to put other down. Bottom line is she just didn’t like/want me there from the get go. She also warned me that her son was a lawyer. lol

    I don’t want this to sound like I just sucked that year. I did everything I could think of to do what I could. The kids loved me and the lessons and so did the parents. Many of the teachers gave compliments as well. I was only in that school for about 3 months.

    • I am so sorry. I have a feeling the administration put “other” for legal reasons. I too know the wrath of crazy administrators.
      I am feeling the same conflict regarding appllications for new employment. The standard verbage says something like “Have you ever been asked to leave, resigned instead of leaving, or deemed non-renewal of contract?”
      I asked my attorney how to answer this. I could put yes and state in the reason box: determination has not been made, unknown causes. Or I can say no until the end of my contract (June) and then say yes after June.
      In some districts, there is always funding issues and RIF situations. I honestly don’t have a reason either. You can legally ask for reasons if that makes you feel any better.

      • Thank you for your kind words. I agree I think it was for legal reasons as well. I didn’t teach this school year and just couldn’t bring myself to even try to apply, I was THAT shook up! I want to try to find a job for next Fall, so that is why I asked about what to say. I do think maybe I could say the budget may have taken place in the decision since they are letting go a great deal. If I could find something, I would not expect the same to happen and would hope to retire in my new school. Otherwise, I’m going to kick it in the butt and open my own! hehe.I really know this was not poor treatment and I wish she didn’t come along because I know I would have been there still today. I can’t change that now, and need to look forward but it really stinks that someone who doesn’t know you at all can try to ruin your career and hard work, expecially when you felt so good about what you did for kids and it was your life. Thanks again.:)

  45. Teaching is so anti-Zen, you easily find yourself not appreciating the present because of a myriad of factors. In addition, your locus of control is virtually non-existant.
    In addition, as I get older, the generation gap gets farther and wider. Granted I am several biological years over 29, but I find that I am unable to feign appreciating music that appeals to middle and hs students ( yes there are those very few that may appreciate some older genres like Hendrix, Marley, or the Beatles, which I desire). Regarding sports, I lost interest as soon as I was apprised of all the corruption. As a matter of fact, I find it extemely juvenile, when I see “poser jocklike” male teachers obssessed with a professional sports team and they make it known to their students. Even outside the classroom, I feel the same way with society at large. In sum, if someone were to confront me about a sports topic, my responses would be brief at best. BTW “poser jock teachers” I cannot fathom supporting an athlete who is corrupt or a team, like the 2011 New Orleans, Saints who make more in a play than you make in year, plus your extra duties.
    As far as television in 2012, what’s that? No conversation there, nor can I feign knowing anything, or care to do so, to win admiration. More than likely when a kid brings up an off-task topic, it is for their ulterior motives, like dilatory tactics.
    As a 44 year old male, still physically active and mentally active, I am finding it harder and harder to “step outside myself” and play the “wear many hats game” Also what I am doing as a secondary math and science teacher, is something other than teaching, and at times it is hard to put a label on what it really is. In other words teaching as we know it seems to be a thing of the distant past.
    At present, I am tired of the following; Taking prescription drugs due to job stress, not wanting to get up in the morning, and always feeling as though I have work to pay and pay to work. ( i.e. falling short of paying the bills and always having to pay for something relating to being current with teaching credentials).
    So thank you 29 year old teacher (not trying to be disrespectful in anyway) for posting this because I think I am on the verge of getting fired, whether it will be this year or next. Maybe I will fire myself and resort to playing guitar in the street with an open case (will not be much poorer). The health care field has “crossed my mind”, I have CNA ed it last summer and feeding people and bathing them was actually more pleasant than teaching, because I felt like I accomplished something and there was no roundabout instructions on how to give one a shower, unlike telling a teacher how to teach.
    Maybe I will teach in China, where kids value education more and are poised to be our bosses, but at the same time, I will not be told to %^&* off, at least in the languages I can understand. Oh yeah, teaching sucks, maybe not, I think I want to quit.

  46. Thank you, thank you, thank you! As I sit here, with tears streaming down my face, I am wrestling with the same decision. Is teaching really right for me?
    I was a paraprofessional for three years, a substitute teacher for six years, and a full time teacher for one. I just got my non renewal notice in the mail. I am mourning the loss; not of the contract or my students, but the “dream” that I had set forth. I-the 4.0 graduate- failed! This is what I have wanted since 1978.

    After searching for years, I finally found a full time teaching job- in an urban district. Like many of the others, I was plagued with limited help and resources. Teacher education classes do not teach you how to handle students who only know how to fight and curse. I was the ” F***ing White Bi***”, I was pushed around, threatened, and bullied by students. But I was the one who was pushed out.

    I keep on thinking of that exact moment when I knew it was over. Was it when I was trying to separate two 200 pound students from a fist fight? Was it when I would wake up at 3:00 am from night terrors? Was it when I had to fight a tooth and nail legal battle against racism and violent acts int the building? Was it when my students threatened to come to my house to hurt me and my children? Was it when I saw the students failing test scores even thought I created textbook perfect differentiated lessons? Was it when I realized I was more a police or corrections officer instead of a literacy teacher?

    I was told by my supervisors that I was “too nice” and that “black kids don’t understand nice”. I treated the students how I would like to be treated and I was repremanded. I was told by administration white people don’t belong in urban schools.

    I love the idea of teaching. I love learning. I love writing. I love seeing students learn something and apply it later. I just can not justify the long work hours,the lack of respect,the parents who don’t care, and the never ending litany of test score data.

    I am considering moving on to other fields that can utilize my wriitng skills. I am also looking into the health care industry.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am grateful that I am not alone.

    • I was in urban most of my teaching. Never did I run into a white issue with administration or children. I was able to connect to the parents once they got to know me and see that I was on their side. I did that by calling them in to talk to them…on good things and if something happened. I didn’t try to “teach them” the right thing, I listened first and then when they saw I listened, I suggested a couple of things and see which they gravitated to. I was told I was too nice too, but after my first year I realized they didn’t mean be a be a nasty B, they mean the kids are not growing up in lala land, so don’t paint a fairytale picture but teach them for the real world…and that real world needs to be the real world they live in. They want their kids to learn just as much as you do but they know it’s not realistic that everyone is going to hold hands,hug eachother and sing the smurf tune. I think that’s the key, allow the parents to get to know you and who you are so they can see you are there for the kids and care. You will be surprised to see what happens. When I left, I got a lot of tears and sincere words from the heart.

  47. Wow! after reading this I feel so much better! I know this post was made a long time ago but I feel led to comment. I am 45 years old and between being a single mother for a thousand years, I have also been a student. I am an English major and have had a desire for years to become a teacher.

    Several years back when I went back to school, I was an aide at a very small school. I walked in and found a teacher (coach) abusing a student. I did the right thing, turned him in and I was fired for it. They found it easier to sweep the aide under the rug, instead of firing a teacher who had gone to school there his entire life and then taught there for years. There were great loyalties within the entire school district for him also in that his entire family taught at one of the schools in the district. I have allowed that to haunt me for years. I figured you could never be hired with having a termination on your record from a school. I have been torn now that I am near graduation of teaching or doing something else. This post has shown me that teaching is a very fickle field to be in. I don’t want to spend my days stressed out. I have done enough of that. I have an 8 year old and will have to work whatever position I work around him. But I think maybe teaching is not it. I don’t want to go in every day and worry if I will have a job tomorrow because my kids didn’t score high enough.

    Thank you for posting this. I needed this more than you know. I majored in journalism for many years prior to changing my major and always wanted to be a copy editor. I’m not sure how hard it will be to find a job, but I think I will pursue that avenue.
    It is a shame that one can want to enter a field to make a difference in a child’s life. To mentor and help that child see their potential, and because of the system not allowing you to do that, we choose to take other career paths.

  48. I realized that I just left a response, but after reading “absolutely_crushed,” I want to add something. I pray they get to read it. I didn’t go into detail about my incident, but will say that I had the exact response from the school I was at. As I said, I turned in the coach, CPS got involved, and the entire thing went to the grand jury. Needless to say, nothing became of it. Let me explain:
    The day of the incident, the coach and I found ouselves in the VP’s office. This man was the coach’s best friend and hunting buddy since childhood. That should have been my first clue. The coach even admitted in the man’s office that he abused the child and in his own words, ” his mama wouldn’t care.” To make matters worse, the VP was a police officer prior to teaching. He knew the law. The pricipal was out of town and the VP begged me not to quit. Over and over during the day he begged me not to quit. I thought, Ok, justice is about to be served. I am in the right, the child had marks on him and it was going to all be ok.

    Wrong, they let me word the next day 3/4 of the day and I was called into the principal’s office. She fired me on the spot and I was not allowed to take one item out of my classroom. I was an aide, but I had my own classroom and I had bought a couple hundred dollars of my own teaching materials and decorations for my classroom. I was literally escorted out like this: principle on on elbow, vice principal on the other, holding my shirt, and the counselor on my back like I was a criminal. I was also escorted to my car and told to never come back to the campus. I was shocked. I have never been so humiliated, nor cried so much in my life.

    That has been 3 years ago and it still haunts me. The teacher still teaches there. About going to court, well as I said, it was a small town. The man’s mother was a principal in one school, his sister taught at another, and his father was a teacher in another. When I got to the grand jury, the child in question’s parents did not want his name being brought out in the public limelight. And to make matters worse, the foreman of the jury was the teacher’s friend. I didn’t stand a chance. Then I found out that the superintendent of the school called a special meeting with all the teachers and told them that if they were ever caught talking to me again, they would be fired on the spot. To this very day, 3 years later, not one will even look in my direction. These are people I went to church with as well. I am at the end of my college career and can not wait to finish so I can leave this area for good. I plan to leave, and neve look back. I never want to live in a small town as long as I live again.

    I never though any of this was possible, but it is. It happened to me. I don’t know even today what to say when the justice system fails our children. How can that be possible?

    • That is sometimes the problem with these small towns, they think they can get away with anything. I mean look at State College, PA, but at least the cat was finally left out othe bag. I am so sorry that happened to you, I had a similiar situation but I was at least allowed to come back for my stuff. I’m not sure how they could make you leave without your stuff. Strange system. Good luck in the future and keep us posted on what you decide to do.

  49. Hello. I just came across your blog just now and I am so glad that there is life after losing a teaching position. I have been in the educational system for about 5 years off and on, and I think this is the last year for me (The writing is on the wall). Funny thing is, I did not want to get into education when I was in undergrad, I was a pre-med major. What got me into education was teaching preschool children at Head Start in another school district and began to seriously consider education as a career choice and began classes to get a M.S. in Science Education.
    After a few years with Head Start, I came back to my hometown and started work as a high school science teacher at a drop out recovery program, where I was very successful. I worked there for a year and half, until the school district revoked the school’s contract and all the staff and faculty were laid off. After being laid off, I went on countless interviews to find a permanent or temporary teaching position, but to no avail. I began to do some substitute teaching for the interim.
    This past February, I was hired as a temporary science teacher at a K-8 school to replace a teacher who was going to be on medical leave for the rest of the year. However, that wasn’t to be as the teacher came back. When I was informed of this, my principal and my AP informed me that they did not want to see me go, and wanted to know if I wanted to take over a 5th grade class. I told them that I have misgivings about taking over elementary, being that I was certified in Biology grades 6-12, not elementary, but they needed someone to fill in the position quickly. I don’t know what possessed me to take the position, maybe I was trying so hard to get a permanent position at the school and please the principals, and now I am regretting it. I feel like I am the most incompetent teacher ever, despite the fact that I constantly ask for help. I am having problems managing my classroom, getting my students engaged with their work, I can’t teach because of the fact that I have to deal with behavioral issues constantly. Since April, I hadn’t been able to sleep, I have been eating poorly, I have nightmares, overwhelmed, and come home around 6pm every night exhausted only to stay up and do more work which I am trying desperately to be caught up on. I am on the verge of being burned out. I felt I should have stood my ground and now I feel that my career is on the way out. What to do? I am on the verge of tears.

  50. It’s so amazing to me how much we blame ourselves for difficult situations. This last post really shows me that it is not always “us” but maybe the situation was not right. Honestly, how can you expect a HS biology teacher to teach fifth grade? I just cannot understand that. I am certified for HS science and math and there is no way that I could comprehend how to teach fifth graders. I might do ok for a substitute situation but not as their real teacher. I am just not trained to do that!!

    Please, please do not beat yourself up over the failings of a school environment that asked you to do something you were not prepared for or equipped to do. Please step back and be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that it was the need to please your bosses, and your desire to have full-time work that made you make that decision. You have stayed and done a good job, all things considered and you did not quit. So count yourself as a success and not a failure – and remind yourself that you tried to do a job you were not trained to do and you have done a good job of it. The school needs to take some responsibility for the situation as well.

    Keep your faith and remember what it is that YOU want to do, and then focus on that going forward. Make your decisions based on what is right for you and let go of the others. Believe in yourself, and remember you are a good teacher and you are waiting for the right position where you can really shine and be your best. You will know that fit when you see it. Keep looking for it and don’t give up – learn from all your experiences and keep moving forward. You will be a better teacher for all of your myriad experiences, believe it.

  51. Update: Did my evaluation on Friday. Today was the review. Basically, they said that being that I am a temporary teacher, my position ends on next Friday. Also, they could not offer me a permanent position because I was not a good fit for the school. Though, I know that I should be bummed about this, I feel strangely relieved by this. I have eight more days of school and I just plan to keep trucking-teach, put in grades, try to keep order, and just be there for my students. This summer I plan to just reflect, heal, and rest! Reading this blog has really helped me a lot to get through.

    • Josie: Realize you aren’t alone. It is a good time to reflect and heal. For me it is just so much easier knowing there is an end. Am I sad? Of course. But at the risk of sounding trite- it all happens for a reason. I have some pretty serious health issues (think the Big C) so for me, yes my “leaving” teaching has enabled me to kick some cancer ass! Really- when you think it can’t get worse- it does- suprise you have cancer! I can’t imagine even trying to work in my very hostile teaching environment with my issues now.. I would not ever be able to heal-physically or mentally. So I can say my district did me a favor- gave me healing time, the appointments alone are insane. I am going on teaching and non teaching interviews and I know that best place will pick me. It is hard to believe- but I do believe it.

  52. I too never wanted to make career out of teaching. After college I went through the motions and received certification to teach art k-12 in Massachusetts. Over the years I agonized while making lesson plans to teach while never feeling comfortable being in the classroom. After I was certified I taught art for 3 years. When I wasn’t rehired I was actually relieved. When my children attended a small private school I taught art there once a week for 6 classes. After 12 years there I got a full-time job as a paraeducator in a special needs classroom. I loved being a teacher’s aid as opposed to being a regular teacher because thare was no work to take home. I also found that I loved working with children who had developmental and physical disabilities. In my last year I was paid $22,000 for a job that expended every ounce of my energy. I stayed because I loved the kids.This was my sixth year and the most stressful working in a very challenging situation. I was assigned to two girls ages 13 and 14 in the contained classroom and in inclusion after lunch. The 13 year old had extremely challenging behaviors. There was not a behavoral plan in her IEP so along with the other aids (with no help from the lead teacher) we tried different measures. By May of this year, I snapped and lost my bearings involving this child and another aid. It was a terribly embarassing situation occuring in another teacher’s class. I spoke to the school para union rep who is a sweetheart but gave me very detrimental advice which she is unaware of that caused me to jeopardize my job. This resulted in the superintendent requesting the principal to lead 2 different ‘investigations’ involving me and the other aid I spoke of. The investigations led to a non-renewal of my contract in July. I am now seeking legal advise because the administration had a lawyer and I feel I should have legal representation as well. I truly appreciate the chance to vent with teachers who know how our job security is threatened when we don’t know our legal rights because our union reps are not qualified to give us sound advise. I also learned to never say anything on an email until I have calmed down and say it briefly so that I don’t give unnecessary details that lead to turmoil. I had one more year to work in order to qualify for retirement benefits. I don’t expect to find another job in a public school any time soon. Also I will be 59 next month and wonder who the heck is going to hire me???

  53. It’s so great to hear that others have gone through a similiar experience. I got a job after subbing for a really long time. I was so excited to obtain my first teaching job. I was very over whelmed by classroom management, report cards, meeting with parents and adminstration. I had a very difficult class and had trouble developing a good classroom management. The principal had me do different things to improve my management such as observe other teachers, and having people observe me. I was extemely stressed out and can relate with others that I was consumed by the profession staying very late and arriving early. I knew from the very beginning the my job was in jeopardy because I always received negative comments. My final evaluation was horrible. The evaluation shatterted me completely and I was left trying to picking up the pieces. He was reading the evaluation which I had read two or three times in my head already. I cried in his office as he said I’m sorry. I think that a second opportunity would have determined if I could do it.

  54. Oh, Applepie! that sounds really terrible. But – maybe they didn’t ‘like’ you and felt it was a bad fit and so they allowed you to fail. Or something like that. I definitely think you can have a good fit and a poor one. I really do. In something like teaching, it can be just amazing and wonderful when you feel good and welcome and the students are decently behaved and administration makes the kids tow the line. It isn’t you, at least it doesn’t sound like you.

    Sometimes, when they keep observing you and making you observe others and they keep focusing on ‘how you are not doing a good job,’ then they are really magnifying your deficits and not encouraging your strengths. They are undermining you and weakening your confidence. This is a good way to get rid of a teacher that they don’t want by making it your fault, you are just not a good teacher. But they have a part to play in this as well – that’s for sure. You said it yourself, you always received negative comments, they constantly focused on your ‘faults’ and the evaluation was humiliating and he READ IT ALOUD. Please, that is just cruel.

    Be strong, take back your faith and your courage and let them go. They were cruel –


    • I swear that happened to me! It was my first year teaching and I told I wasn’t being renewed. I kinda made me laugh because of how I was treated the whole year!!!! At one point I went for a post eval conference which really turned into my principal telling me all these cruel things people were saying about me & then she had the audacity to tell me maybe I need to see a doctor to get on meds for stress and anxiety, & that most teachers are on something, there’s no shame in it! I was horrified she says this especially because my husband suffers from his own mental health issues! It just got worse from there. Never once was I reprimanded or had any disciplinary action taken, nor was there ever any type of action plan set up to help me be a better teacher. I feel the principal set me up for failure on purpose to get me out of there.

  55. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I have been forcing myself to become a teacher, because I felt like it was a wonderful profession that people felt fondly of. I was also always told that I would be a wonderful teacher, so I decided to stick with it and make it work with hopes in time it would be what I wanted too. Going through college I knew I was not going to be great, because there are certain key factors that I don’t enjoy about it. I was a terrible student as a kid and school was always a source for extreme anxiety for me. I used to say that is why I wanted to teach, becasue I could reach the kids like me. I know now I was wrong. I like connecting with people, acting silly and being full of energy, and I always act somewhat “teachery.” But the actual teaching doesn’t interest me. Making sure students are getting the information, planning, and teaching the content is all too much. How terrible is that! College classes and my student teaching made me so competitive that I did amazing. I like being the best and I am a great actress and was able to make EVERYONE believe that this is what I wanted. Granted I was decent at it, but overall the drive wasn’t there. I was always thinking of things that were not related to content to discuss. I was upset all the time and I just made it work to graduate. Once I was out of school finding a job was even more of a joke. I realized I wasn’t applying well, because I knew this was not meant for me. I am great at doing what is expected of me, but when I was actually given the chance I knew my lie had taken me in too deep. I had to back out of the job I was given, because I knew that me doing the job was wrong for the kids and myself. My heart was not in it, even though I had convinced everyone it was. I felt like I was back in 3rd grade again I needed to get out. Why would I want to endure this torture for years? My family is stunned, but I am now seeing all the red flags loud and clear as I think back to the numerous years I have dropped chasing this fantasy. It always felt really far off, but I am in it now. My mom and aunt are really supportive and they know this is the best choice for me. Everyone else I know has been blind sided due to my lies and the show I put on for years. I just know there was something in this life I am meant to do and teaching isn’t it. Specific components yes… but not the whole thing. I am lost on what that is at the moment and will be figuring that out soon. I feel like a failure in some ways, but I am just glad I realized this mess now before I got in too deep!

  56. Wow, thank you so much for writing this. I finished a Masters in Teaching. I did a year of work and found myself in a very similar situation to yourself. I have found solace that I am not the only person in this position. I am taking time out now to soul search and see how I can apply my skills to other fields. Thank you again.

    • I am a first year special ed teacher and I am really glad to read this blog. I normally do not respond or leave comments on blogs but I really understand your emotions and sufferings in an education field. I am also going through this rollercoaster ride like many new teachers. Teaching has always been my passion but I am really reconsidering my decision to continue my profession as an educator due to the lack of support and ‘real’ teaching for my students.
      With this new common core state standard alignment, I am pressured to teach skills that I know my students are not ready for. Obviously, the administration does not have a choice but to keep pushing for teachers to push work to our students that is not possible. And not to mention, I am teaching a 6:1:1 class size with students of autism. Many of my students are not able to use the toilet and the admin is already pushing me to teach the common core standards.
      I also got an unsatisfactory rating as a teacher for my formal observation a month ago so I understand everyone’s doubt about teaching.
      I am glad that I am not alone in this profession. Teachers are always under a lot of pressures. I wish people outside of this profession understand how difficult teaching can be. Often times, we hear people say that we have many vacation days but the amount of work that I take home after work cannot be compared!!! I think my after hours make up for all of those vacation days!
      Anyway, thank you for posting this up for teachers like me. I think there are many opportunities out there. I am really thinking about changing careers.

  57. I was fired (and or “non renewed”) at every school I worked at in a 10 year time span. Troubling enough if we are working in the realm of education we should be told why we are being let go to learn from mistakes or correct issues? Teachers need to learn too right? With this in mind I was never told why I was being let go from the 4 schools that employed me during this decade. Some of it deals with school district policy not to inform non tenured teacher reasons of the dismissal, or it goes to a lengthy and costly review board. So schools instead fire or non renew really with no cause to avoid the hassel. So a reader of my story must say well I was not a good teacher, well this is not the case when at every school I worked at shocked teachers came to see me after hearing of my dismissal, and were dismayed at the circumstance (just wondering why). Now if these teachers came to me and said “Eric you struggled and probably need a change of career” then I know I was not meant to be in a classroom with 30+ kids.

    I never hated kids or despised them, like some teachers I worked with really did not like kids but wanted the paycheck (they still have their jobs don’t they). But I harbor keen resentment towards administrators not doing their jobs or actually acting professional in the school workplace. I never worked for a quality principal in 10 years, for they gained their position through political networking or being related to someone. Ultimately through conversations with teachers I actually learned that my cross section of employing principals were; not good teachers, were not great students in school, actually had teaching/admin degrees mismatched for their grade level ( a principal with a k-5 in charge of a high school), or another principal I worked for never taught in the classroom!

    Ultimately I take responsibility for not investigating my future employers during my interviews or asking the right questions. Interviewing is a two way street, they ask questions, the applicant asks questions. All the jobs I applied for (jumped for) were positions not really wanted by other candidate teachers and I ignored those warning signs just to keep my work history (paycheck) intact. I paid the price, but still did the best I could in some hazardous situation without taking shortcuts. I am human and been through enough and feel I cannot live the rest of my mortality being treated like a jerk until the day I retire.

    So I figured to be proactive two years ago and start another Ed.S degree still education related but not working in the classroom incase of another firing occured to me (which it happened last year). So I graduated basically right after being non renewed. So I am still unemployed and hopeful.

    Recently I was on a website and saw an image of a student quizzically looking up at the camera (as if to ask a question) while creating something in a classroom, I said to myself (and the photo)…”Sorry, I cannot help you”

  58. I was into my third year teaching when I was forced to resign because the school camera in my room caught a child going to the bathroom without me knowing it. Sounds silly, but this school has a policy that a child can never be out of a teachers sight. I have never been written up or in any trouble at the school. I was the number one requested teacher at my school by my third year. I loved my students and tried my best to be a great teacher. I was so sad and shocked to loose my job over this. I have become so dissappointed in teaching. I understand we have to follow policies and rules, but sometimes it is too extreme. Nothing bad happened to the student. He didn’t wander off or get lost or hurt.
    If I ever go back into teaching I’m going to feel like I’m walking on eggshells because anything could go wrong. I don’t like that kind of pressure.

  59. I just got fired yesterday; my students loved me a lot and I know I was a good teacher, based on the evaluations of parents, students, and the aps who observed me. I have a Bachelors in Chemistry, spent 2 years teaching college students, and then became a high school chemistry teacher. The reason was really stupid…I taught a lesson, and then said the students could work together to complete their worksheets. Generally the students like to go to the back lab benches and work in groups of 4-5. Anyway, I was doing problems on the board with some students at the front…I let them complete the problems while I went around the classroom to check everyone’s progress. As I walked towards the back, I noticed two students in a group with their shirt off. I literally screamed and said “OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?” they all started laughing and said it was just a joke and to chill out.

    I noticed a kid with his phone out and he said my reaction made great video. I was really upset then; i implored him to delete it and even the other students told him to delete it as well. He deleted it and then the bell rung and I taught my next class. I will remember that class forever because it was the last class I ever taught. When the bell rang, the assistant principal told me to come with her and collect all my belongings. I told her I needed to leave a note for my students who were coming for tutoring after school. She did not say anything. I then went with her into a big conference room and a few minutes later, the principal and a police officer appeared. The student had posted a video on “Vine” (six second video made up of pic clips) and it showed the students with their shirt off, me reacting in the background, and a random picture of me smiling with a student. The student had put the caption as “strip poker”. A student in another class thought it was funny and showed the other chemistry teacher, who reported it to the principal. I had to write a witness statement of harassment. They said we are expecting everything to hit the fan on Monday; this thing will probably go viral today. So based on that, from today, you are relieved from your duites. I just said okay..very flat. Then he said some more things to the effect of that I was a good teacher but they could not have me there and on Monday they would have a lawyer advising them.

    At the end he asked me if I had any qs…I asked if this would have negative effects on my future in teaching…he said he could not guarantee whether or not this would have me blacklisted from a career in education. In that moment, I began silently sobbing…to know that I was almost 30, single, and marked for life was really painful. I didn’t think I deserved that. I felt so rejected by the world and society.

    I acknowledge that i made two mistakes-first I should have been more attentive to the students in the back; they should not have been allowed to get to that point. And secondly, I should have immediately paged the office to get them suspended for their behavior. I wanted to protect them by not getting them suspended for a minute’s dumb behavior…but it was a misguided attempt…because they did not show the same regard for me…and just because of that one minute, I lost my job. Thinking of this the tears just fell and fell…I felt so betrayed and hurt…the principal brought me a kleenex box while the ap smirked in a corner…I went to the bathroom and called my friend sobbing to pick me up. I did not have a car to put all my stuff in. I went back to the classroom with the ap and carried out five bags of stuff (food, dental supplies, a giant pillow, etc)…I was walked out and left by the office…a few kids were left waiting for their parents…I dripped tears and tears…I did not have my keys anymore so the other students assumed I was a student…I walked far away from them…one girl recognized me as her teacher and she walked up to me….I told her I wouldn’t see her anymore. Her mother came out of the car and was very distraught too. She said her daughter finally liked chemistry because of me (I am the students’ third teacher this year.) In the evening, a student called me. I told him I was fired and I could not advise his club anymore. His voice started to break and said “Ms. A, we just did it as a joke..we did not know it would go so far”..”omg, i’m so sorry”…he was just really shocked. He said he would tell all his friends to delete anything that remotely mentioned me. He told me I was the best teacher he ever had and it was his favorite class of the day…I felt my tears coming so I said “Ok David, I have to go, thanks, goodbye.” I feel bad for the rest of my students. They only have 11 more classes left because of block schedule and I think their learning will be really disrupted. And I am Sorry I made that one mistake that cost me my job and messed up their whole schedule. Wow it’s 2am and I feel like crying again. I miss them a lot. I really loved them.

    • This sounds absolutely horrible and I am so sorry. I don’t know the laws in your state but I wonder if your teachers’ union can help you? I can’t get over them firing you on the spot like that… I mean, from what you describe, it isn’t like you used foul language or struck a student. I also can’t get over the other chemistry teacher turning you in. At any rate, I believe this will die down and go away. This isn’t going to haunt you forever. It’s still really fresh so take some time to cool off, get some emotional distance and get perspective. You’ll be ok.

      • I am afraid the Spider may have been away from the classroom too long. Teachers have become at-will employees. The union no longer stands for due process. You will need letters of recommendation in order to continue in the profession, so unless you have supervisors you can turn to, this does follow you. However, it does NOT define you. Perspective on who you really are and what you really want and how you really want to devote your time to the one go-round we get on this planet will be the best thing for you. Then you will know what you need to do.

    • Sidra, get your own lawyer !!!! for gosh sakes, what they did was criminal and the stupid principal not even supporting you or asking you what happened? No – you have nothing to apologize for, what you did and your expectations were normal. What the students did, and the principal and your fellow teacher did was wrong. Not supporting their teacher? The principal was wrong.

      Get your own lawyer !! that’s what the union is for. Fight to protect your good name, it is a legal liability and there are laws that protect against the defamation of a person’s professional reputation – because it prevents the ability to make a living. Fight back my friend, it will make you feel better to take care of yourself and to do the right thing not only for yourself but for the students, their parents and the community. The principal be darned.

      • I just finished my first, & possibly last, year of teaching. I am a special education teacher that was teaching in an urban school. My evaluations were your typical first year teaching evals, nothing extreme one way or the other. My classroom was for students with intellectual disabilities, my dream classroom. It quickly went to a nightmare when one of my students began displaying very violent behavior. I tried rewards, a behavior plan, speaking with other teachers that were part of his iep team and the mother, to try to help the student. Nothing worked, and the aggression was becoming worse and directed towards me. My admin tried to help come up with ways to help, & it resulted in him trying to hit her with a metal garbage can. I became pregnant (was not planned), and became very worried how this would effect my child. When I went to my ob for my initial visit I had massive knots on my arm from his attacks. My doctor told me that I could not continue to work in that type of environment & ensure the safety of my baby. I requested a transfer & was denied, although they had just transferred a teacher due to problems with a parent, & there were over 20 positions open. My doctor then put me on maternity leave in December, at 4 months pregnant, and I had to finish the year on unpaid medical leave. I don’t know if I can go back to teaching, what will be said of me during what time I was able to be there. I feel so sickened that teachers have no value to where their safety is considered. I feel as though I have a useless degree if I don’t go back to teaching, and have no clue what to do next. I have worked in education for most of my adult life and have no real other experience. Any suggestions on what I can use this $50,000 degree towards would be wonderfully appreciated.

  60. There is some horrible factor infiltrating the education system…conservatives who apply their personal religious and/or political beliefs to the public school system. We all need to start filing harassment charges and take further actions to rid our schools systems of these kinds of administrators and/or school districts. Soon we will have books being burned by certain administrators and teachers. We are losing too many really good teachers who really reach ALL the children they teach.

  61. I was also a victim of the system, I was working as a teacher assistant for many years and I decided was time to become a teacher. My previous school did not give me the opportunity so I accept to teach middle school VE class, What happened next was just a terror story, I was supposed to co teach with another veteran teacher. She made my life hell on earth. Did not teach me anything and when I asked question she just stated “is not my job to teach you that”. I was really under pressure to perform. But I have not idea how. The last drop in the bucket happened a few month ago. I let the door where I was testing unlocked. The door was closed but not locked. Somebody check the door and told the AP. “We had a breach of security” . So everybody had to signed a paper statement of breach of security. Funny that the only one in the class in that moment was my “co worker”. I was so upset with the situation that I could not sleep that night.
    I took a leave of absence for a year, going back to grad school in occupational therapy. Leaving a career that I enjoy due to lack of support. I pretty sure I will not regret my decision.

  62. This sounds fairly similar to my situation this past year. I completed a master’s degree in my field of study (not education), and I felt very fortunate to find a job at a small private school, teaching mostly high school freshmen and sophomores. I had already taught for a few years at the university level, but jobs in colleges were very difficult to come by, and I really wanted to get to know my students better, be part of a community, and have more freedom in teaching. While we still had to take a standardized test (the only subject in the high school to do so), I had a great deal of freedom in my classes.

    The move to high school was well thought out, and it met my expectations almost 100%.

    The school year started off well enough, but as time went on, I had some expected issues with classroom management and did not connect well with a handful of kids. These few students began spreading their distaste for me around the school, but it took me a while to figure this out. Also, I found out later that several powerful parents did not like me, though this was never brought to my attention until July.

    I was offered a contract renewal in April, which I signed, and then in May, the school asked me to resign. No one except the principal made this decision, as far as I am aware. Several students and other teachers were disappointed that I was not sticking with it another year, as they said I was one of the better teachers at the school, especially for a first year teacher. Numerous times, I was commended for my lesson plans, enthusiasm, and love for my students.

    I wish that there had been some warning that this was going to happen. My principal and other teachers (including a very famous consultant in my field) observed me a number of times, and they never brought anything serious to my attention. I really think my student evaluations (from early March) did me in. At least I was allowed to finish out the year with some dignity, though it was a fairly painful last 3 weeks.

    A few months have gone by, and I am still trying to figure out where to go from here. Despite several interviews, I did not get another teaching job for this year. (My principal told me that she would not hire me again if given the chance, and does not want me ever teaching in a high school again. She also had it stuck in her head that I did not want to be there, which was not the case at all.)

    At this point, I am still young and have time to find a new path, but the experience was a serious blow to my confidence as a teacher.

    • Same surprise happened to me. At the fourth school of my teaching career, I was asked to resign. There was no warning. As a matter of fact, the union leader said there would not be any lay-offs and the principal just signed to be my mentor for an internship I needed for an admin certificate. He also approved me receiving a student teacher for the next year. Previous teaching evaluations yielded proficient and one excellent. I had been a student teacher mentor twice. This was my first year teaching a new subject and one student challenged my knowledge and ridiculed me to his peers. One time I accidentally said feet instead of meters and he blurted out, “and she is supposed to be teaching!” His dad was a board member. After that it seemed like the principal was looking for me to make mistakes. I think the board pressured him to release me. I haven’t found a teaching job since, although I was a top 2 candidate according to my last interviewer. Seemed sincere, but hard to know for certain. I’m not ready to give up teaching or becoming an administrator. My husband thinks I should get out of education because of all the changes. I hear constantly how I need to get a full time job with benefits NOW, but education jobs cycle in August. It’s very frustrating. I’m 46 with 2 masters in education and teaching was my second career. Not sure about a third career change at my age, and I still love teaching and did well until this last experience.

    • There is hope if you are passionate about teaching and have a gift for it! After my experience mentioned here, I was a bit traumatized and leery of administrators. I was hired at a state university’s education department but missed being in the classroom. Two years later, my favorite historical site seemed interested in me as a manager of education programs and a school principal’s glowing compliments about what a great asset I would be to the school had me overwhelmed after feeling doubtful and deflated for so long. It has been really hard to accept all of the compliments and support I get from my current principal; however, when my contract was renewed for next year some of my cynicism and “I’ll believe it when I see it. ” doubts have diminished. It is so great to be in a place where your talents are valued, appreciated, and encouraged and your opinion is sought after. Yes, these places DO exist!

  63. I have been a special education teacher for 24 years. I have always done what was in the best interest of my students. This occasionally has gotten me in the hot seat with administration. Advocating for the legal rights of the students/families is not always popular with the school district. I have also been asked to do illegal things as my job. Again, I then ask for it in writing and it never comes.
    Last year I was assigned a NEW aide for a couple of hours each morning. She was not happy or shy about being placed in my classroom. She had her eyes on a full time office position.
    Before school started, I was assigned bus duty (I was the only staff assigned this duty). My new aide would be in charge of providing my students with breakfast. I attempted to get this organized for the first week of school, until she could figure things out. I told her that she needed to determine what students were allowed (by parents) to eat breakfast, make a list and keep it updated. I reminded her on several occasions that first week. Over the next couple of months I also asked her if breakfast was going smoothly. She continued to tell me that everything was fine. By December I had some serious concerns. On three occasions I asked to speak with the principal concerned about her lack of following my directions. He blew me off and finally told me that if I wanted, he would pull her out of my room. In February, while I was meeting with parents, the principal asked to talk with me. I thought he finally had come to talk to me about my aide. Was I wrong! I found out later that the aide never changed the breakfast list. The same kids were being charged everyday (whether they were at school or sick). She told administration that I TOLD her to do it.
    At first I thought it was just a HUGE misunderstanding. However, I had repeatedly asked her how things were going, and I HAD tried to talk to the principal. Another office lady wrote that she witnessed my exchange with the aide (however it would be pretty easy to prove that this lady was actually on vacation that week).
    I was told I could resign or would be immediately terminated. I was shocked and hurt. Reviewing my file, there wasn’t anything that I would not do again!. Ethics is a high priority with me. I reflected on my relationship with the school board and decided that going to them would be pointless. They would believe whatever the principal told them.
    So, I resigned. I have had no less than 30 interviews and have not gotten any offers. In the past 8 years this district has had 5 different principals.
    I didn’t think I needed letters of recommendations so now I can not even find a few of them. There is another new principal this year!
    The TRUTH really is that I resigned because I did not want to fight for a job where I was not wanted, and they were making the position 1/2 time.
    I have thought about leaving the profession, but I really do want to teach. The only thing that has burned me out is the political side of education (which does seem to get bigger everyday).
    A couple of years ago, I would have fought with union protection, however our governor, has changed the laws and we no longer have protections. The board can pick and choose their teachers and we no longer have seniority. As a teacher with a masters +36 and 24 years experience, I have a suspicion that there is more to the story.

    • Mitch, where ever you are, thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for your years serving the children. I’ve been teaching special education for three years and keep questioning if I’m not doing enough or if it’s just admin/ politics or if it’s both or maybe I wasn’t meant to be a teacher. Knowing that even a teacher with as many years of experience as you do runs into the same problems tells me a lot. Thank you.

  64. It’s nice to know that there are so many other people in the same boat as I am in. I used to think that if you cared and were willing to work hard enough that anyone could learn to teach…after giving in my all this first year and still getting “nonrenewal” it’s clear that this is not true. Now I have to decide if I want to fight for a 2nd chance at another school or if I should take this as a sign to find better paths as you did in the blog…

  65. Thank you for your article. 2 hours ago, I was told I would not be renewed. A few days ago I had my performance evaluation and the VP told me I was exactly on track to where a new teacher should be (PS he’s a little backstabber, and I swear, I’m not just bitter!) I was told SEVERAL times, by SEVERAL people I was set up to fail in my position. I’m in an extremely insulated little town where kids’ GOAL is not NOT leave.

    While I had already decided weeks (months) ago that I did not WANT to return, it was still a kick to the gut to be told they didn’t want me – I had struggled of course, but I also feel I had improved. I don’t really want to continue teaching, but I just don’t know where else a career can be had, especially in this economy (and in such a rural state – South Dakota).

    I’m still in a numb phases – I bawled for an hour straight in my room. Now…alcohol!

  66. I worked as a school psychologist for nearly 10 years (most terrible, took a toll on my mental and physical health, didn’t make enough money anyway) and was canned for next year. Talk about degrading. I KNOW I’m not cut out for it, but I have been doing it for so long that I don’t know what I want either. I don’t want to go back tomorrow to finish out the next 7 weeks.

    • To T Foley and mommakin44…hold your head up as you complete the school year. Do not feel guilty turning down tedious things you felt were required when you still had the possibility of staying. Do, however, continue to be the professional you are. Trust me…having been there…it will matter to YOU that you leave with grace no matter where you end up.

    • I know your feeling. I taught 4 years in a district and had wonderful evaluations and was sad to leave. This school year I moved, got married and started in a new district. I was just called in today and told my contract wouldn’t be renewed. None of my evaluations indicated there was a problem. The only thing my principal will say is it is the best interest of district that we not renew. (I think it is test scores) I don’t want to finish out the next 7 weeks but really don’t have a choice. I keep telling myself it is a blessing in disguise but deep down there is still embarrassment.

      • It makes me angry to read these comments, and I feel like the problem is not always the teacher but the process and the district. To be let go with no reason why? not to be told why you were fired? “In the best interest of the district?” That’s insulting, and demeaning.

        Ala, I would not take on the embarrassment that the school should be feeling. Clearly, this is their loss and your gain. Honestly, what is the point if you don’t even know what you did ‘wrong.’ These must be miserable people to humiliate a good teacher, and then hide behind the notion that we don’t have to tell you why we don’t want you back.

        Hold you head up, walk with pride in yourself and trust your Maker that He is looking out for your interests, for sure. Trust that!

      • I wrote this comment almost a year ago. I still have moments of frustration for not having my contract renewed but in the end it was a good thing! I am now using my masters as a children’s librarian in a public library. I am able to still interact with children with different story times but have no stress from teaching. So, for all those out there that are upset in the end it will get better!

  67. I can’t thank you enough for writing this. I basically reacted the same way you did.

    I am a Reading Specialist with 15 years of experience and they are replacing me with a 23 year old guy straight out of Harvard who will cost them half my pay.

    In our district, it is all Teach for America. They are bargain basement teachers. The union is not strong where I am.

    I was basically told that they are reallocating Title 1 funds for a Behavior Intervention teacher and not a Reading Specialist. Despite having a counselor and a discipline dean, the behavior problems at my urban school warrant another resource – a behavior intervention teacher. Basically, instead of a Reading Specialist, they are reallocating Title 1 funds to pay someone to babysit disruptive students that they pull from classes.

  68. Oh the horror of it all. I held it together for about 30 stoic seconds. Then I put my head down on the conference table and cried.

    My principal is a young, new principal. When I heard his voice shaking, I remember saying to him, “Are you ok? I don’t want to make this awkward for you.” Then he said he’d give me all the time I needed alone in his office and he left for the bathroom. There were only 30 minutes left of school and he said I could leave for the day.

    I need the salary and health insurance, so I have to stay for the remainder of the yer with the rest of the handful that got cut from the team. I have to continue participating in these staff team building activities. Urgh, it feels so dehumanizing.

    Talk about weird.

    All day the staff was wondering why he was dressed in a dark charcoal gray silver pinstriped suit, reminiscent of the Gomez on the Addams family. It seems like he got dressed up to fire a group of us.😐

    Truth really is stranger than fiction.

  69. Thank you for sharing your painful yet humorous account of your experience. You have given me a perspective that has managed to breathe a little life into my broken hearted ego… I have been in constant analysis of my ability and purpose since this same thing happened to me. I absolutely loved being in the classroom. So when you find out that this thing that you love, that you put your heart and soul and time and money into, that your best effort, commitment, time away from your kids, your “moment you’ve finally arrived”, is not good enough and not wanted… Stopping the zombie apocalypse would be easier then this meltdown! But I’ll try and scrape myself off the pavement. I’ll endeavor to sort out just what my seemingly miscalculated purpose actually is. Lord help me!
    Again, thank you…

    • My boss wrote me a recommendation, after he asked me what skills I have. The guy doesn’t even know what I do!

      Anyway, he wrote a recommendation saying I was a skilled teacher and that my job was cut due to find reallocation.

      It got me thinking I was entitled to a transfer.

      I called the union. They said I was entitled to a transfer. They also said an HR rep and union rep should have been in that meeting.

      The union called HR, and HR said nobody ever told me I wasn’t renewed for next year. The union called my principal and he said he never met with me.

      The union asked me if I had any prof for happened. I showed them the letter.

      Then my principal emailed the union, “I didn’t know I couldn’t have informal talks with my staff about possible contract nonrenewal”

      Turns out a bunch of shady things were occurring at my school, including this 66 day cycle review that was on violation of the union contract.

      In short, the principal was reprimanded by the superintended and I am awaiting transfer.

      It’s so annoying.

  70. It is amazing how true and crazy your story mirrors my life all the way down to your husbands reaction. Before deciding to walk away I became soooo “num” to everything now linked to education and the mere discussion of lesson plans and evaluations made my stomach turn. The career I so loved has become the virus that makes me literary sick. I love kids and I love it when they have aha moments but it clearly isn’t enough for me. What’s next I don’t know but what I do know is I will not jeopardize my own kids happiness or my personal mental health for a job that does not support me!

  71. Hi, I just quit teaching as an English teacher in Mexico. I had absolutely no support from the school director, who is an American by the way, nor from the school principal. They would come into my classes whenever they felt like it, and rant in Spanish to the students. They made no effort to speak English to the students outside class, and the director would randomly take 3/4’s of my students on two day “field trips” to outlying communities without so much as a text to tell me. I would show up to my classes to have the remaining few students tell me the director had taken them on a 2 day trip with him. They supplied me no curriculum, so I was constantly feeling stressed over lesson plans and continuity. If a student didn’t show up for class for a few days, I would talk to the director about speaking to the parents about the importance of being in class every day. The director would tell me, “You don’t understand, it is a cultural thing”, but made no effort to change that thinking. Nothing I said to the principal or director ever got through to them. I truly feel I have no value in their eyes, so why waste my time. A few days ago the director asked me to teach an additional two classes come September. After much thought, I decided to let him know I would not be coming back in September. His only response in a facebook message to me was, “Thanks for your time.” How sad is that?

  72. Wow, this article was exactly what I needed. I googled “teaching contract non renewed”. Thinking I could get advice on getting hired after my contract was non-renewed. Last year when I was applying for jobs, I applied to 3 schools, and got three interviews. This year I have applied to about 20 schools and haven’t gotten a single call or email. Not even ones telling me the position is filled or anything.

    I think reading this article and the comments has made me realize that I kind of forced a teaching career on myself. I went to school to be a biologist and got my teaching certification so that I could get a job. Now I realize this… I don’t think I wanted to tell myself that. So I do feel sad, because I’m unemployed and feel screwed right now, and freaking out. But at the same time, I feel free. So now I have to figure out what to do until I can go to grad school.

  73. So glad I came across this article. I’m not in the position of being fired but just have the same feelings a lot of you have mentioned in the comments. So I would like to tell my story.

    I am a 25 yo first year male teacher in Australia, teaching in a remote country location. I finished my studies last year and was offered a one year contract late last year. In Australia to be offered a 1 year contract straight out of Uni is extremely rare, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity without thinking.

    It is now week 2 of term 3 here and I am over it in every way! Physically, mentally and emotionally! I am already counting down the weeks and days until the end of the school year!

    For me a hit a wall at the end of term 1 and it has just got bigger. I thought it was the fact that I was living in the country, alone and away from my family, friends and girlfriend. Additionally I also have no lifestyle or life outside of work as most of my interest and likes are heavily related to city living. But I am starting to think differently. My thoughts are that if I really loved what I was doing then the life outside of work wouldn’t matter so much. The reality is I am not enjoying any aspect of the job, even spending time with and teaching the students, which was the part I thought I would love the most (most of my students are good kids but have not had basic behaviour or respect instilled into them and many have no future academic plans). I dread planning and have no desire to spend any time of put creativity into it. I dread the marking. I hate all the paper work. I am just going through the motions!

    I think if I continue to feel this way then I shouldn’t continue in this field as it is not fair on the students! I feel like I would disappoint many people if I decided to throw in the towel. My parents supported me so much throughout my studies and my Dad was a teacher for over 30 years. My mentor teacher on my last prac put so much work into me and was a huge part in getting me employed. Many colleagues at my school have said I’m doing a good job (but maybe they are just saying that as they have never watched me teach or looked at much of my work). In general I think I would be disappointing the industry as they are crying out for male primary teachers!

    I see all my uni friends say how much they love teaching and I see so many passionate teachers out there who love it. I am just not one of them! To be a truly good teacher you need to be!

    I think the University course in Australia needs a complete overhaul! It nowhere near prepares graduates to teach (even though it pumps out more graduates for the jobs available).

    My plan is to go back to the city and do relief work and see if more experiences change my perspective. The overall feeling is that it is not for me. I have no idea what other career path I could choose though, but if the stress, lack of sleep and lack of life outside of work continue then I definitely don’t want to do it!

    • I think the first year is hard for everybody. Period. And I wonder if maybe being far from your comfort zone is the big factor in your unhappiness? I don’t think anything really prepares you for being in the classroom, except BEING in the classroom, you know? I often think that if I hadn’t had the crappy experience I had to begin with, I’d still be teaching.

      • I think living somewhere I don’t like is contributing. But I went into it knowing that was a possibility. I thought that I would at least be enjoying work though. Just the feeling of never being able to switch off and counting down to the end of the year, that is not the sort of life I want to lead. I am not making any hasty decisions though because I think that if I was just judging off one year I could be giving up too quickly!

    • I have been in some difficult schools and some excellent schools. I have had to live away from my husband for one job because of the over saturation of applicants and economic downsizing of teaching staff, and it was tough. I’ve had to take other jobs to stay near my husband, and I missed teaching so much. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Regardless, I love helping kids and I’m interested in the field of education. It is my passion. If it is not your passion then maybe you can discover a related field and tell everyone you have to work in a job you love. But don’t let one experience define the rest of your life’s career. If you have no interest in planning lessons and finding ways to help kids learn at the level they’re at, then take some time to find something you enjoy.

      • Yeah i think the problem here in Australia is it is extremely hard to get a permanent position so that contributes to a lot of instability. I think I am still young enough to change me direction, but with studying debts to pay off I may need to wait 2-3 years. I really enjoy working with kids in most capacity, but always having to plan and mark is so time consuming. I don’t want work to over take my life as it has been since the start of the year. I think next year I will scale back and do relief teaching to see if I can reignite my desire to teach.

    • Wow, you sound so much like what I was going through! Don’t worry about who you will disappoint, you need to do the right thing for you. You don’t really know how you will feel about teaching until you have a classroom of your own, and then the reality hits home! Life is short, find your joy and move on. God bless!

      • Good to hear I am not alone! Part of me think it is first year blues and living somewhere I don’t enjoy. But lifestyle aside I think for me to already have these thoughts about the profession is worrying. If I gets too much for me I will walk away. I would rather be unemployed and have no direction as opposed to being constantly stressed, irritable and tired.

  74. I just came across this article…it’s happened to me twice and I am currently looking for employment. I can’t put into words how disgusted I am with the current educational system. In my case it was complete politics. In one instance I did not “suck up” to the principal (something that I will never do), in my last position I raised the bar and expected students to have a sense of self responsibility. I’m an art teacher and the work my students were doing was far beyond what they should have been doing developmentally. I teach REAL art education…not just making paper kites and chains. I do all the things I was taught to do during my Master’s program: tie my units into my students’ backgrounds, community, create cross curricular connections, work with teachers in other subjects, bring in outside artists, CONNECT with my students. The behavior was atrocious in this school. The district is actually know nationally and internationally because of this (pregnancy pact). I had a male student simulating sex acts with a beam in the middle of my room (that’s what EVERY 13 year old girl’s parents want in their art class, right ;-/? ), I had a boy overtly sexually harass a girl in my class. Nothing was done in these cases as well as the case of a student stabbing another student in the other art classroom with an exacto knife. (Those are just SOME of the examples of behaviors in this school). Also, because I would not play “bowling games” in the hallway and other non-art related activities-I got complaints…and when the other art teacher realized I was connecting with my students, he did what ever he could to sabotage my position…it was beyond horrible. Regardless of this, I connected with my students, inspired a love of art and confidence in my students that they were, in fact, creative beings with the ability to make art, knowledge of other cultures around the world, how to see the world in a new light… Regardless of this…I was still let go. I am currently looking into starting a business working with home schooled children. A large majority of those students are not in the public school for the same reasons that I don’t think want to teach in the public school system. This has been a humiliating, soul searching experience. However I still want to teach. I feel my teaching is passing on the gift of art education and the life skills art education teaches (many do not realize what these life skills are: problem solving, higher order thinking, how to preserver, how to think outside the box…and above all, knowledge of self. It’s not all about making pretty pictures.). Teaching isn’t the issue, the issue is our current educational climate that revels in mediocrity, teaches to standardized tests, and lowers the bar for student achievement.

    • I would have rocked in your class if I’d been your student! I have to say, I continue to be surprised about how many comments I continue to get on this post. I was thinking about my story this morning, actually, and I really believe that, while I don’t think the people I worked with/for intentionally set me up to fail, I absolutely believe they didn’t set me up to succeed. A first year teacher…teaching both ends of the academic spectrum…including an international educational protocol… And somehow I didn’t do a perfect job?? They let me run myself right off that cliff.

    • Just awful. Really, in districts where behavior is this poor, it would be well worth the investment in classroom aides, so that no teacher is alone in a classroom with students who will not (or cannot) self-regulate. I like to think that maybe I was able to help a few students see that they can learn better than they were led to believe they could. I hope they all know that I loved them, and want them to do well, and believe that they can. Your students surely stood to gain much more from you than they were allowed to keep because of the way you were treated by your colleagues.

  75. Resonance. That is what this blog has in abundance. I was googling terms “how to cope with being fired” “teacher woes” “how to deal with being a first year teacher and being fired”… Well, this is one of the items that came up and it was just what I needed. I am, obviously, a first year teacher and facing my termination- tomorrow. I have spent the last FIVE years of my life (I’m 27) working towards this. I put myself through school while caring for a dying mother. I was the first in my family to graduate. I let go of childish dreams of making ends meet as a performing and settled myself on a career as a teacher. I love kids. I love reading and writing. I love helping people push themselves to get good grades in subjects they don’t have as much confidence in- which then builds their confidence. I have tutored for years, and have taught in a community center. But the goal was to be a teacher in a real school. Well, this past October I got my wish. The first red flag should have been when I was hired. How could anyone walk away from such an awesome position a month and a half after the beginning of the school year? Well, with 3.5 months left, I see now why she left. This place is miserable. A charter school in the middle of a rough ghetto in Boston with goals of turning both students and teachers into unfeeling robots that are not allowed to have emotions. This place is an institution- much like a prison. It gets in your head and either you fall in line or you are considered defiant. This is for students AND teachers. Because I cared so deeply about my students (one who is taking care of a dying mother, one whose mother works three jobs and has to care for 5 younger siblings, one who came out to her parents and got disowned, and a whole host of other students with equal problems) I am being let go. Because this school feels that the students need more of a :”disciplinarian than someone who is more inclined to follow their more humane instincts.” Yes, this is what was said to me in my meeting, where I was told I was being let go. I have been sleepless for months, worried about writing lessons and my place here. I knew instinctively I didn’t fit in. I have been ostracized, lied on, ignored, denied credit, pushed, pulled, and stretched to my thinnest. And all the while, helping my students who are feeling the same. And I am getting fired. I couldn’t even cry in the meeting because I have cried so much. I was a teacher for 6 months. And in half a year I have come to question every thought, decision, and step that brought me here. This blog feels like the only comfort I have received during that time. Thank you for sharing your story. It is so appreciated.

    • Oh, dear Novice Teacher. Join the club of others who have been fired. But – you are a new teacher and may very be extremely successful in a healthier environment. Please don’t give up on what you love to do and are good at – being a genuine person and actually helping young students who really value what you have to offer.

      Just because this school did not value you does not mean that others will not as well. Easily, you could be somewhere else and it would be fantastic.

      I was so traumatized after being fired (“non-renewed”) from an abusive school environment that I went and taught at a college for two years. It has taken me now almost three years to realize and remember – that I am a very good teacher and have alot to offer. My students value what I teach them and no one is abusive or cruel to me. I substitute sometimes in a nearby school and I really like that environment, they students have come to know and like me very much. Sometimes, I think I could go back to teaching in a school like this.

      So, take care of yourself and don’t ever allow anyone to define who you are, that’s between you and your divine creator. No one else.

      Where I live (AZ) there are many very dysfunctional charter schools and it is heartbreaking. Take some time for yourself, think about who you are and spend time with children, dogs and in a sunny garden. As you regain your strength you will regain your ability to choose wisely your next step. Be true to yourself and say, ‘eh! that’s their loss.’

    • Charter schools are the worst! My absurd experience was with a charter school, previously I worked in the public school system and loved it. Try elsewhere, as you sound like the kind of gal who will do well in a better environment.

      Oddly, I cared for my mother in the same way as you before I worked at the horrible charter with horrible principal and staff members. They didn’t have shred of compassion. They had a political agenda to brainwash the kids (it was neo-con)..I don’t believe in favoring any political side when it comes to teaching. No one knows what will be needed in the future, so we need all the political perspectives to coexist.

  76. I was told an hour ago that my contract will not renewed at a first charter school. I am the bread winner of my family, with husband at home with a brain injury (he is unable to keep a steady job, but is getting better)
    We moved down to this school from utah, after being hired at a job fair. It is an amazing school, but I have no place there now.
    I feel that my team lead had pull in what happened and in my termination… oh well.
    I’m just frustrated aND my pride is a hard thing to beat. It took me 7 years in college to figure out something I was remotely good at….but now I’ve been let go. I’m not sure what path god has for me…but I’m so glad it’s spring break so I can process what just happened and make a plan for the next year.
    Thank you this post being written years before, it has really helped me be at ease with my outcome for my first of teaching. I hope for the best and hope I find where I belong, like you did.
    Thank you again.

  77. I had been very successful working as a substitute teacher for almost three years with no complaints. The last two weeks of school there were three complaints made against me. Whether the complaints are true or false you are automatically let go. First complaint was made by a third party about a confrontation with a Para, we always got along fine, and she never complained to me about anything. The second complaint was made by a principal that might have had a different teaching style. I was following all the lesson plans and notes left by the teacher. The principal never had a conversation with me about any problems in the classroom. The third complaint that was made stating that I used unprofessional words with a student. There is no way I would have talked that way to a student under any circumstances. I nicely asked the student to change to another reading group because of her continued chattiness with her girlfriends. All three complaints were unverified. If you rotate among all the many schools in the district as I did, you rarely get to know anyone in any length of time. The complaint happens and the teacher and principal have never seen your face so they don’t know your personality very well. My heart is in teaching and working with children and look forward to bringing my skills and enthusiasm to the classroom. This is why I have decided to apply to teach in a smaller school situation where everybody will know your name.

    I need your advice. I am filling out a job application and when they ask if you have ever been terminated, I don’t know exactly how to explain. They say don’t go into details and make it short by telling the truth and handle it well? How can you not blame them when it is a lot of their fault? I just want to get back to teaching.

    • On my resume I lisr my teaching job and just put the beginning and ending dates. Nobody has ever asked if I was terminated from that job. In other jobs I’ve been asked why I left and I say something like, “It really wasn’t a good fit for me.” If you are asked specifically if you’ve been terminated and there’s no way to get past answering, this is what I’d do – say yes. And explain that the situation wasn’t a good fit for you and you realized you prefer a situition where…you have more autonomy or freedom or whatever fits the bill for you in the situation. Or if you have to fill out an application put on there “I’d like to talk more about this in person” or something. And go back to, it wasn’t a good fit for either party.

  78. Hi, your post was of great help cause i got fired from my teaching job two days back. this was my first teaching experience and it turned out this way though i feel i had worked pretty hard for this job and just needed one more chance to prove my self but your post gives me hope that may be something is better out there for me in the future.

  79. this is my experience exactly, i was non-renewed from a teaching position four years ago. subbed here in fla,, worked 4 months as a para and got e from that this spring,, Its not for me, I will do sub work and go back to school for my real passion,, it is so glad to read this from someone with the same experience, at least you were lucky to find out so young, I put 12 years into my life only to have it end this way and my main regrets is NOT reading those signs years ago and stayed in the trades.. by the way i am 56 and am just realizing education isn’t my path either.

  80. Writingspider, you certainly wrote a post for the ages! Not many online discussions continue for six years. My situation sounds similar to many here: education was a second career, the one I “believed in,” and I was probably the oldest “new hire” ever in my district. I was doomed even before school started — nothing was in place to help me succeed, and supports I was promised were quickly ripped out from under me. My schedule was changed three times during the first four months, and it was never clear what I was supposed to be teaching or how. I did the best I could with planning lessons based on Common Core and vague directives from the top. Worse, at least one powerful teacher actively undermined me, even in front of my students, and almost always with a smile. The harder I worked, the farther behind I fell. I am very clear that I made mistakes, as would any first-year teacher; but in fact, the harder I worked to do one thing “correctly,” the more mistakes I would make in other areas! There simply was no time to plan to do it all well.

    Since being asked to resign, I am fighting feelings of deep humiliation. I got straight A’s in grad school, and everyone who observed me said I was going to be a great teacher, the kind who “makes a difference.” Most of my student teaching and substitute teaching experiences had been really rewarding, and my students loved me. Colleagues in previous schools liked me and treated me with respect. But when the principal offered me the chance to resign, she said I was just “not a good fit,” whatever that meant. This has caused some real cracks in my identity.

    The person who help my job before me had been run out after a long career. I met him unexpectedly after starting the job, and discovered that he was far from the “a******” the Powerful Underminer described, and was instead a really wonderful man. Still, if I’d had a chance to consult with him before taking the job, I might have taken the job anyway, because I was convinced that I could do as well at this school as I had at any other.

    But new teachers need support, and I got virtually none of any kind. Everyone knew that my students needed special behavioral help, but the principal would just say, “work on your classroom management skills.” Well, I tried every trick in the book — ignoring bad behavior, rewarding good behavior, time outs, sending kids to the principal; just when we’d get most kids going in a good direction, the other ones would act up. But that, of course, was “my fault,” too. Also, there was no consistent communication system. Some information was sent by email, others in memos, others over the intercom, some you could find only if you knew “where to look,” like a handwritten calendar in the teacher’s lounge that nobody mentioned to me. People sent emails at 6 AM and expected me to have read them and made far-reaching changes to my plans by the time I arrived at school at 8:15 (time which included my commute). Sometimes there was no notice at all, and I would be told what to do as students were coming into my classroom.

    I was far from the only unhappy teacher at that school. As I was dragging the last of my boxes to my car, one teacher told me quietly that I was “one of the lucky ones” to be leaving. But I’m not — now I have to explain why I left my first teaching job before the end of the year. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to get another teaching job.

    When I am feeling sad and stupid as I go forward, I will mentally repeat something from the last line of your original post: “I understand now that bad jobs happen to good people.”

  81. I am an NQT (Newly qualified teacher) and today after nearly three terms teaching at a school in a new country with a new curriculum I was told I may get my contract terminated. I wake up feeling tired and hopelessly lost (new specifications this year including new material for which there are no resources) I get heart sick and nervous. I also feel stupid as I have to read through poetry, novels, articles the others have been teaching for years……my students are not the best behaved ( four of them are feared by the whole school) I feel my dept is looking down on me…… this normal?

  82. I know this was written in 2009, but I needed this. I’m going through a terrible time at my high school as a first year teacher. No one in the department wants me there and I’ve been told it’s gotten so bad that they dont want me back next year…and it’s only February. They’ve told me to stay, of course, but the idea of finishing out the year until June makes me want to die. I’m 36 (37 in two weeks) and I’ve realized now that I have no buisness in a high school, and I’m looking at starting over AGAIN this next year. I pray that my career path is as rose colored as yours!

    • Anonymous, when I read your comment today what jumped out at me was the line, “no one in the department wants me there.” That doesn’t mean you are a ‘bad’ teacher, it means they don’t want you there. That can happen in any job, any profession. There is no reason why you couldn’t be a great teacher somewhere else, somewhere where they do want you and you can tell. Who can thrive in an environment where they openly let you know they don’t want you? No one.

      So before you completely walk away from teaching, consider that you may do well somewhere else, and not let other’s opinion of you define you. You define yourself, you know if you are good at it or not. Hopefully, in the right environment you will be appreciated.

  83. I thought I had posted something last night but maybe it didn’t get through.

    For anonymous, I just wanted to say that the main thing that jumped out at me in your post is that they said: “no one in the department wants me there.” Ok, so that is the most important thing, and really – that could happen in any job in any profession. Unfortunately. But the truth is that maybe you are a good teacher and just are not a good fit for that school.

    Search your own heart and make your own decisions based on what you find in yourself and don’t make decisions based on what others say about you. Other people don’t define us, we define ourselves. Their not liking you is more significant than that you are a “bad” teacher, and the fact that you want to die says something about the hurt. Consider what you know about yourself and then make your decisions, but again – their opinion of you does not define you.

  84. Thank you for posting this. Last week I was notified by a mentor that I was in danger of not being renewed. Pretty much that I will never ever be able to teach again. Hearing that took my breath away and had me in tears. What was I going to do if I didn’t teach? For Pete’s sake I got a degree in English Literature, what in the hell can I do with that?? I cursed at the sun, the school, the snotty nosed children that made my life a living hell!! Then I googled something, and I came upon your post. A few weeks ago I was telling myself that I must be teaching for a reason. I didn’t know what reason, maybe it was to help a child in need or impact someone’s life? Whatever it was I did not know. But having you say that you were there to show you that you weren’t meant to teach makes all the sense in the world. I feel better after reading this post. Like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. After this school year, renewal or no renewal, I will be finding a new job. Because frankly, I don’t think this $#!+ is for me.

  85. Today I got the same punch in the gut many of us here have felt. I wasn’t told that I wouldn’t be renewed affirmatively, but that “they are thinking about it.” This basically means, I will not be renewed. She hugged me as I left, I think to make herself feel better. My husband will be home soon, and I can feel the tears welling at the thought of telling him. I wish I knew the words to make them want to keep me (I was slated to start in a more conducive position next year). It isn’t the first time I have been non-renewed. I have been non-renewed 4 times over 16 years. I have never been good at managing/bonding with some of my teaching assistants, and they have talked badly about me (others treat me like family). I also rub some other teachers/staff the wrong way. These non-likers then recruit others to badmouth me. It doesn’t matter how many people at work love me, the ones that don’t have the ear of admin and that’s it. I have grown so many of my skills, but relationship skill deficits keep cropping up. This is the concern of admin, that relationship problems will crop up again. But this hasn’t been a problem for some time now, so perhaps they are just searching for a reason? There are 2 admin involved in the decision. Should I plead my case to the one who doesn’t know me as well? Part of me is beginning to accept the inevitable, and part of me is clinging to the hope that I won’t lose my livelihood. What I do know, is that should I not be renewed in June, I will not fall into a well of despair. I will use the time to my advantage, and will find work in a less competitive and more encouraging environment.

  86. Teaching is no longer a good profession, too many good teachers go through this depression and worry and rejection caused by their so-called “evaluators” and often fail because the principal wants to hire someone who will give her family free raft trips in the summer or some such thing. The administrators know the devastation of firing a dedicated teacher but they don’t care, they are too lazy to actually help the teacher, so they “evaluate”- every day, never with any positive feedback, setting up the firing squad, causing mental illness to the teacher who is spending her own money and working all weekends
    . Don’t allow your children to go into education, they can have their lives ruined in an instant and never overcome the failure.

  87. Thank you for this. I never was a teacher, but I was a dance team coach. I was thrown in with 25 girls from a variety of backgrounds and no assistant coach (which is more or less unheard of for a group that size). I did my best, but evidently was not enough of a hardass. My feared contract nonrenewal but hoped for the best. It was a humiliating moment and to make matter worse, I accidentally texted the head coach “No more coaching, I suck” — a message intended for my husband. This happened a few months ago and I still get really angry sometimes but I know there’s nothing I can do about it. Thankfully, it was a side job. Copywriting is my bread and butter, and now, without coaching in the way, I’m able to bring in a much better income with far less stress. But that doesn’t fully ease the pain.

  88. I had a very similar experience last April. I worked my butt off for 5 years to finish my Bachelors degree and start my teaching career….at the young age of 39. I substituted for a year after the job I had as a loan processor died thanks to computer automation (I swear Skynet was involved), and got my first classroom when I was 40. I loved it. I was a rockstar, and my kids loved me….most of them . You always have some who don’t.

    But I was set up for failure by my principal despite him hiring me personally on the spot after sneaking into the school during summer and asking if they had any openings. He was sold on my passion for what I wanted to do and gave me a classroom. But that was it. I was not given a mentor, master teacher to follow, or anything….just the keys and a “there you go.” So my entire first year I was a babe in the woods with no clue HOW to actually teach. I basically went from corporate to the classroom with nothing in the middle….so when he did my evaluation, it was no surprise to him that I had no idea about teaching strategies, and thus was put on a growth plan. He told me to go do observations of two teachings in my school and attend a training seminar he thought would be useful. Well, I didn’t. I did FIVE observations of different teachers, all of whom were highly thought of in the school (my department head, head of the biology department, and the IB coordinator who also happened to be the on site teacher union rep.) I also went to THREE other training seminars above what he recommended, did my observation reviews and training summaries and heard nothing back until the end of the year that he signed off on it. But even then when he spoke to me at the end of the year, he literally told me despite jumping through all his hoops that he was still considering not renewing me despite telling all first year teachers he would renew everyone to give them time to develop and grow. Ok…I saw how he was, so I was going to beat him at his own game.

    During the summer I read a LOT about strategies. Watched Youtube videos, TED talks (love Rita Pearson), everything I could find on how to run the best classroom I could, and came back my second year with a purpose. And it worked! Everyone who knew me in the school commented constantly how much better I was from my previous year. How I had improved in almost every way, and had some of the highest test scores in my group. I was nominated for teacher of the month several times, nominated as one of the most improved teachers on campus, as having one of the best student centered and focused classrooms in a building of 200+ teachers….and then I get the call to come to the Principals office on April 6, 2015.

    My union rep was there with me, and the principal simply said he didn’t want to renew my contract as he felt I hadn’t grown as a teacher. Seriously!? Then he says he threw out my nominations for teacher of the month and improved teacher because “he didn’t agree with them”, and then says OUT LOUD that he didn’t even bother to read my performance appraisal from my evaluator. I was shocked…I asked him how he could make that decision without reading it and he told me he didn’t have to, and that all the data he needed was in my file. My appraisal had me marked as overwhelmingly “proficient” with numerous areas of “exceeds”….yeah, not improved my @$$. He simply used probationary teacher status to his own benefit because he wanted to get rid of me personally. I know this because someone else on my team had an appraisal so abysmally BAD that she requested a second one from the district….which he never bothered to schedule, yet REWARDED her by renewing her and giving her EVERY section of the schools new AP and on-level Human Geography classes. Yet I was unimproved and needed to be let go. And he got away with it because he is best friends with the school district superintendent.

    He said he would give me good referrals for other positions I applied for and that he wasn’t there to ruin my career….that was a lie as well. I almost got hired on the spot in another district 2 weeks before school began and they called me the next day and said they went with someone else. They knew what he pulled on me when I interviewed with them and when I asked if it was because he gave me a negative reference, their hesitation was all the confirmation I needed.

    Now I am going into my second year of exile as a teacher and in a pretty bad situation. I am competing with the kids coming out of college looking for their first classroom yet having no experience, and competing with other teachers with years of experience more than me. I currently have over 200+ applications out for a classroom, some in districts over 1 1/2 hours away from where I live….yet I am not getting called by any of them. Three districts near me have filled the classroom for everyone one I applied for, yet I never got called to even be considered.

    And the same is playing out for non-teaching jobs….it’s all thanks to an unethical, immoral, and unprofessional administrator and a state board of education that allows this kind of action to happen with no recourse for those affected by it.

    Wit’s end…I arrived here long ago, and have no idea how to escape it.

  89. Like others, I can’t believe most of the stories I have read. Finding this website feels like both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing to know I’m not alone and have my feelings validated and a curse to know I’m not alone and feel angry that so many teachers are experiencing what I’m going through. I don’t even know if that makes sense. I was just let go for the second time in my short career as a licensed teacher yesterday. I was hired to teach Latin as a seasonal employee at a recreational club and was let go four days after camp started. I was told I was “not a good fit” and that I was losing time retrieving teaching supplies and not interacting with the students enough as reasons for being let go. (I was teaching three groups of students back to back and had no time for transitions in between. So of course, I’m scurrying to get things ready for each group. I also can’t just leave my supplies out because students would play with them and the space I’m using is not mine. Most importantly, I didn’t mistreat any of the students and was *always* thinking of how I could engage them better and even sought their input about games we could play to have fun, learn and build community.) Apparently, most, if not all, of the staff knew I was being let go before I knew, which added injury to insult. I was either totally ignored or greeted with smirks and side glances. For some odd reason, staff who usually didn’t engage me were re-introducing themselves to me and offering to opening doors for me as I went about my morning unaware that it would be my last. To make matters even worse, campers were being shuttled by staff in and out of the classroom while I was teaching to be interviewed about me. Both staff and students then returned to the classroom laughing (the children were more awkward, understandably). One staff even made a remark about “being fired” which was followed by laughter and another yelled at one of the students in a mock tone that she was here “to learn Latin!” when she asked about field trip dates (the question had come up when she asked me about field trips). Evidently, the person who dismissed me really wanted to make a case against me. She even chose to watch me on surveillance rather than observe me in person and/or take me aside and tell me what she wanted from me. She never made me aware that my work performance was deemed less than satisfactory until my swift dismissal. I have never been treated with contempt or total disregard so seamlessly by so many people as I was in this environment.

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