Why Quitting Teaching Was the Best Thing I Ever Did

Before I share why quitting teaching was the best thing I ever did as well as the ten things I’ve learned after quitting teaching twice, I want to share my heart.

This podcast episode is not intended to knock teaching or anyone who chooses to continue teaching. I absolutely loved teaching; in fact, spoiler alert…I am working with kids this school year.

Working with children, guiding them to success, and helping them grow their self-confidence is what I used to believe God had designed me to do.

Now you might be thinking, “Wait a second…if that’s what God designed you to do, shouldn’t you be doing that?”  Well, that is a very astute point. And here’s what I’ve learned.

While I was comfortable teaching early childhood and elementary-aged children, staying in my comfort zone wasn’t what God designed me to do. It became clear that the path I had mapped out for myself was NOT the best path for my life.

Sometimes I think God has a sense of humor because those things that I always said I wouldn’t do are the exact things God seems to have waiting in the wings for me.

But looking back now, I am soooooo grateful that the Lord gave me the swift kick in the pants I needed to make some tough decisions like quitting teaching because it’s a whole lot easier to stay stuck than to muster up the courage to venture out onto an unknown path.

But if I can do it, you can too and that is what today’s episode is all about.

10 Things I Learned After Quitting Teaching Twice 

1. How to develop a growth mindset

The concept of growth mindset is fascinating, but it’s become such a common phrase in the education world that it has actually lost some of its impact.

We tend to roll our eyes every time it’s embedded in a conversation because we’ve heard it so many times. But as with anything, we have to be careful not to overlook new information assuming we already know everything there is to know.

When I began my blogging journey, I literally had no idea what I was doing. I am not exaggerating when I tell you I had NO knowledge of what I was getting myself into. I tried to quit so many times, but for some reason, I’d get back up the next morning and push through the struggle while climbing that learning curve one more time.

As I started seeing small wins and things actually working as I tried them, it lit a desire in me to do it again the next day. I realized this was the hardest thing I’d ever tried to do because I was utterly clueless.

But through the struggle, I discovered something truly amazing. For the first time, I actually grasped the concept of growth mindset. I was absolutely sure that I could learn these new skills if I had the opportunity to practice them, and I was determined to be successful. 

That determination is what took me from knowing nothing to being able to help others.

2. How to lean into my strengths

Something I’ve always thought about, but never really wanted to talk about was my strengths. For whatever reason, many of us feel as though we’re bragging if we mention our strengths. And while talking incessantly about your never-ending list of strengths is definitely a source of annoyance to anyone stuck listening, acknowledging specific strengths you possess is actually a good thing.

Each of us have the ability to do certain things really well. Maybe these are skills we learned at an early age or simply found that came naturally to us. Regardless of how they became strengths, they are an important part of our unique skill set.

Since leaving the classroom, I’ve found that learning new things has revealed hidden strengths I didn’t even know I had!

Let me give you an example.

When I was younger and heard people using the term “creative” to describe an individual, I immediately thought of artists or musicians. At that point, I didn’t realize the true scope of the term.

Fast forward a few years and I discovered a love for scrapbooking. Designing unique page layouts that featured images or text by mixing colors and patterns was a creative outlet for me and a way to express myself.

It wasn’t until someone talked about how creative I was to be able to design these scrapbooks that I realized how much of a strength this was for me. Now I use that same creativity to design websites (or online scrapbooks as I like to think of them) that are unique and customized to the person for which I am designing.

Have I always been creative? I definitely think so…I just didn’t really know it based on my initial definition of creativity.

Have I always been strong at the technical side of creating websites? Absolutely not!!

But leaning into my strengths gave me the gumption and fortitude to push through strengthening my weaknesses. And I’ve discovered a lot of skills I didn’t know I had.

Interested in a

Custom Website?

Let me create a professional, custom website for you that converts casual observers into devoted clients who pay top dollar for your products & services.

I’ll take the guesswork out of designing a fast & mobile-friendly website, so you can spend your time creating amazing content for your clients.

3. How to strengthen areas of weakness

As I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, I was blessed with a great ability to connect with young children. I don’t know if it’s because I act their age or because I have no shame when it comes to acting silly, but I seem to have a knack for connecting with them.

Put me in front of a room full of adults and I start sweating profusely. (Honestly, just talking about this is making my heart rate increase rapidly!!)  When I am in front of adults, I feel like I’m being judged by everyone and it causes me to be a total train wreck.

I’ve never had a problem talking individually (or even in a small group with other adults) thanks to my extroverted personality. But for some reason, when the environment requires me to stand while others are seated, I turn 50 shades of red and my underarms produce enough sweat to dehydrate my entire body in about 3.5 minutes.

That’s quite the mental picture! It is definitely a true representation about how I feel regarding public speaking.

Yet, I’ve recently had a startling revelation; my discomfort is directly correlated to my focus.

In other words, if I’m worried about what others think of me, then the hives commence. But if I’m focused on helping other people, it doesn’t matter if I mess up or say something incorrectly because the ultimate goal isn’t in my perfection…it’s in serving others.

This is a pretty big deal for someone who has always been a perfectionist.

Perfectionism is a tricky thing. Those of us with this tendency find ourselves always making something better and never “finishing” things whether it’s TpT resources, blog posts, or courses, etc. because we continue to tweak things.

The truth is we claim perfectionism when many times we’re just terrified of failure. We fear not measuring up, not being successful, and we allow that fear to paralyze us into never finishing.

I’ve had so many great products and blog posts created that I never released into the world because they weren’t “good enough” by my standards.

A few years ago, I heard a fellow blogger and business owner say “Done is better than perfect.”  

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, I was equal parts horrified and in awe!! I couldn’t wrap my brain around how someone could put D+ work out into the world…but in that same moment I realized the A+ work I was still working on after a year of tweaking had made no impact whatsoever.

That was a major (albeit slow) turning point for me.

I realized just how crippled I was by perfectionism and I don’t believe I would’ve ever discovered this without quitting teaching.

Leaving the classroom has forced me out of the safety of my comfort zone time and time again, and now I’ve started embracing this space because I’ve seen firsthand just how much awesomeness is waiting for me and for you.

We all have much room for growth if we’re willing to take that first step into the discomfort. The crazy thing is it’s actually more frustrating to stand at the precipice contemplating all of the “what if” scenarios than it is to just take the leap.

4. How scrappy I can be

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Where there is a will, there’s a way”? Well if I’ve learned anything since quitting teaching, it’s the truth of this statement.

The first time I left the classroom, it was tough financially.

So, I was determined to make a little bit of money. I knew it had to be something I could do at home with a baby and I ended up selling Creative Memories scrapbook supplies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very successful; but at that point in my life, I didn’t really have the time, knowledge, or capacity to be successful.

After my second son was born, I started making scrapbooks for people and found some financial success.

It wasn’t until I started selling Premier Designs jewelry that I learned what true financial success from home looked like. I was able to make money through hosting parties and also through growing a downline. In fact, I continued my Premier Designs business journey until I went back to the classroom.

Upon leaving the classroom the second time to homeschool my boys, I was more determined than ever to make money from home. So I…

With zero background knowledge in doing any of these particular endeavors, I discovered how scrappy I could be. I learned that I could do whatever I wanted if I was willing to put in the effort and climb the learning curve.

For me, this meant pinpointing strengths and weaknesses in order to achieve the growth I wanted. And boy have I seen some amazing things in my business. I can tell you for a fact…I NEVER would have pursued any of these other ventures if I hadn’t left the classroom.

5. How connected I was to why I left

One of the biggest reasons teachers don’t leave the classroom is the fact that it’s easier to stay in a position you know (even if it is killing you) than it is to take a leap of faith and dive into something unknown.

And the only thing that makes the jump possible is having a “why” that is undeniably meaningful to you; it has to be deeply connected to an emotional and heartfelt reason.

The first time I left the classroom was to be a stay at home mom to my two boys until my youngest started kindergarten. My husband and I had made this decision long before our kids ever entered the picture, and we planned accordingly.

The second time, on the other hand, was a total shock to both me and my husband! We hadn’t planned this out…we simply felt the Lord impressing on our hearts that we needed to pull our kids from the public school system to homeschool them.

There were no negative experiences or toxic culture situations. In fact, there was no other reason than a deeply heartfelt clarity that this was the right thing to do for our family.

Talk about scary!!! I was very comfortable with my paycheck and teaching kids through third grade, but I was going to be pulling my boys out starting in third grade and fifth grade.

However, because I was confident in why I was quitting teaching, that why kept me grounded even when I questioned my decision.

Whenever you make a difficult decision, you will be hit with the “what if” and the “should we” questions. That’s why your reason for leaving needs to be bigger than the pull you’ll inevitably encounter to stay in your comfort zone or go back to when things get hard.

6. How much more I could help and serve others

As I already mentioned, I’ve always felt very comfortable working with kids and helping them be confident and capable learners. But what I didn’t realize until after quitting teaching was just how many more people I could help outside the classroom.

Each year, I taught anywhere from 22-28 students. My last two years in the classroom, we went from being self-contained teachers to subject specific teachers. This allowed me to reach more students each day.

However, I serve so many more people than I ever did before. While it’s true I was able to impact up to 85 students my last year, now as a coach, TpT author, course creator, website designer, blogger, and podcaster, I’m able to reach thousands of people.

And the coolest part is the ripple effect.

  • When teachers read my blog posts or buy my TpT resources, they’re using the information and resources to help their students.
  • When a teacher purchases my TpT course, she learns how to create things to help other teachers and that teacher’s students.
  • When I design a website for a teacher, she can showcase her helpful content and TpT resources in order to help that teacher and her students.

And I repeat…none of this would have happened if I hadn’t quit teaching in the classroom because the safety of what I knew would have kept me inside of my little comfort zone box.

Interested in a

Custom Website?

Let me create a professional, custom website for you that converts casual observers into devoted clients who pay top dollar for your products & services.

I’ll take the guesswork out of designing a fast & mobile-friendly website, so you can spend your time creating amazing content for your clients.

7. How big the world of education is

I’ve made this comment on the podcast multiple times in reference to what most of us thought when we went into the field of education. If you were like me, when you got your teaching degree, you figured you would be a classroom teacher until retirement.

But the world we live in now is so different from the world the previous generation knew. And while this can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, the world of education has enlarged itself over and over again producing so many unique job opportunities for teachers.

We can do so many things outside of teaching in a traditional classroom setting! Of course, even though I will always love teaching in the classroom, it’s really nice knowing there are so many different options out there in the big wide world including…

And this is just a short listing of what all is available. The key is that you have to be willing to take a leap of faith and see what kinds of opportunities await just outside your comfort zone.

8. How to go back if I want

One thing you will ALWAYS hear me say is not to burn any bridges. There are a multitude of reasons why I say this, but here are a few of the main reasons…

  • There is ultimately no positive outcome that can result from your burning a bridge.
  • You might want to use your previous principal or admin as a reference at some point.
  • If you ever choose to return after quitting teaching, you have the ability to do so without any black marks on your record.

Like I said before, the first time I left the classroom, my husband and I had a plan. And even though we ended up moving to a different city by the time I was ready to return to the classroom, I was able to use my previous principal and superintendent as references because I hadn’t burned any bridges.

The second time I left the classroom the reasons were different, but I knew it was the right choice. I shared my heart with my principal and superintendent, thanked them for the opportunity I had to work at my school, and told them how much I would miss all of the students and the faculty.

My goal from the beginning was for them to understand that my decision was in no way related to a problem or issue I was having in my current position.

And I’m so glad that I was able to leave on good terms because since that time I’ve had the opportunity to fill in for a maternity leave and this year I’m in a grant funded consultant position with the same school system.

Knowing that the door is still open to go back into the classroom because I didn’t burn any bridges allows me to feel confident as I pursue ventures outside the classroom and now back in the classroom.

9. How expendable I am

Now before I go any farther here, I want you to hear what I am about to say. Here is the truth…to our families and friends we are irreplaceable, but as employees, we are all expendable.

As soon as you hand in your resignation, your employer will be looking through an endless supply of resumes from other teachers waiting to fill your shoes. This doesn’t mean you won’t be missed by students, other teachers and faculty members, or your principal; but if you won’t be there to do the job, you have to be replaced by someone who will.

And as hard as that is to say, I know it is harder to hear…but it’s absolutely crucial for you to grab onto and internalize.

 Maybe you are currently struggling with the thought of quitting teaching because you…

  • Feel as though everything will fall apart when you leave
  • Know teaching won’t be done the way you have done it and your students might struggle
  • Everything you have worked so hard to accomplish to be gone
  • Don’t want to lose your identity

But I want to mention a truly sobering thought.

While we are pouring our heart and soul into our students and our classrooms, we leave little for our families. But when everything is said and done, our families will stand long after our jobs have faded away.

So we need to be keenly aware of the pitfall of finding all of our life’s meaning and our sole identity in a job that we complete because if (or when) we leave that position, we will be replaced as though we were never even there.

Remember, you are vital to your family and your friends, but you are just another employee at your job.

10. How the security of my job could have kept me trapped

Job security is a funny thing especially in the teaching world. Once teachers gain tenure, they are pretty much guaranteed a job until retirement. So obviously, this seems like an ideal situation for someone who really likes security.

However, over the last couple of years, the teaching world has changed more than ever before. Teachers are expected to be accessible 24/7 by admin and parents, and they are told what to do, how to teach, where to be, when to be there, and more by everyone coming and going.

Everyone thinks they are an expert and they know best how to direct teachers. This has become glaringly obvious since the pandemic of 2020. Social media is teeming with comments about teachers and how we are failing our students.

And it is at that point that the very same job security that made us feel safe has become a prison. Maybe you feel completely trapped with no way out. The security that protected you before is now strangling the life out of you.

This is a very precarious situation because it forces you to reevaluate what you know and believe about yourself. I can tell you that I would be in this exact position if I hadn’t left the classroom when I did.

Now that I’m on the other side of my decision, I know that quitting teaching in the traditional classroom was the best thing for me. I’m 100% positive because I now have the…

  • Freedom to make my own decisions and set my own boundaries
  • Ability to do what is best for my family without compromise.
  • Capacity to lean into my strengths and strengthen my areas of weakness.
  • Strength to serve and help others on a grander scale. 
  • Awareness of how truly irreplaceable I am to my family.

The world of education is so big and it is full of amazing opportunities for you, too. You just have to find the courage to take the leap.