How to Write the Best Teacher Resignation Letter

Leaving the classroom seems like it should be easy! You just hand in your teacher resignation letter and that’s that…but unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple.

The truth is, finding the right words to say in your letter of resignation and figuring out how you want to actually tell your administration that you’re quitting your teaching job is complex at best.

So in today’s podcast episode, I’m going to help you prepare the perfect teacher resignation letter to your principal (following my “BE” formula), help you compose a script of what to say when you turn in your letter of resignation, and give you two different letters you can use.

The Formula for Your Teacher Resignation Letter & Conversation

1| Be kind

Always start with the good. Any conversation, written or spoken, should begin with a positive comment. This allows the person you are communicating with to be more amenable to hearing what you have to say.

This is even more important when what you have to say is considered confrontational or difficult for the other person to hear. Think about it… 

If your spouse, friend or co-worker, comes up to you and starts a conversation by telling you everything you’ve ever done wrong, it’s extremely likely that you’re now highly defensive and in your mind the conversation is over.

You will hear NOTHING else that’s said because you are absolutely filled with a seething anger that grows every time those words replay in your mind.

These same feelings apply when you or I approach another person. If we choose to start a conversation with negativity, the recipient of those words is not going to be in a generous mood.

So let’s apply this logic to your teacher resignation meeting.

Let’s say you go into the meeting with scathing words and a harsh letter, your admin will immediately jump into defensive mode. And you do not want one of your last interactions with your principal or admin to be negative because you’ll end up burning a bridge your future self may need intact!!

That is why it is so important to do your very best to start the conversation on a positive note.

If you’re serious about leaving the classroom & you want a roadmap to guide you from start to finish, you need to grab the Classroom Exit Strategies Planner

With more than 45 pages of worksheets, instructional activities, & tips, you’ll find everything you need to plan your classroom exit…including the two teacher resignation letter examples mentioned in this episode!

2| Be specific

Once you’ve started with something good, be honest and be specific. Being honest is essential, but think about how you can tell the truth in a loving way. Like I always tell my kids, many times our words hurt less than the tone in which we say them.

You may have to discuss some tough topics when you hand in your teacher resignation letter, but there are ways to say hard things with grace. Just remember to focus on the issues and don’t turn the conversation into an attack on the other person’s character or integrity.

This is absolutely essential!!

Then think about what things NEED to be said and what things can be left out of the conversation. If you plan to leave regardless of the way your resignation is received, ask yourself these questions…

  • Is there any need to bring up this specific incident?
  • Will sharing this information help anyone in the long run?
  • Am I going to put a black mark on my integrity by bringing this up?

Maybe your principal handled a situation poorly, maybe your superintendent said something about your classroom management that hurt your feelings, or maybe a different teacher’s class got chosen for something that should have been your class’ award.

Bringing these up during your resignation conversation will only be viewed as whining or complaining to your admin. So that’s why you want to keep your resignation letter and conversation as specific as possible to get your point across.

3| Be succinct

The less you say, the better. If you are anything like me, this might be difficult. Because I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I always feel like I have to give a 20 minute epistle and include 3 bullet points to justify each decision I make.

But trust me when I tell you…you don’t have to justify your decision. You’re an adult with the capacity to make sound decisions, and you can draw out the conversation until you feel like you’ve said everything you need to say or you can just make it quick and as painless as possible.

Think about it like a bandaid. You have two options for removing it; you can slowly pull it off a little bit at a time or you can just give a big tug and rip it off as fast as possible.

Either way, it’s going to hurt. But you get to decide whether you want to prolong the agony or just suck it up and rip away. Your resignation conversation is no different.

Just say what needs to be said in the kindest and most gracious way possible and then walk away knowing you did what you needed to do.

4| Be prepared

By now you probably know that I’m 100% a glass half-full kinda gal. I always want to see the positive in every situation, but I also have to be realistic. And in the case of turning in your teacher resignation, it’s very possible you’re going to face some backlash.

So prepare yourself for the worst while still hoping for the best. Remember, when people are caught off-guard, they don’t always do a very good job of covering their feelings. Therefore, you may find yourself the recipient of an outpouring of negative emotions (ie. anger, frustration, unkindness).

You also may find that your admin tries to put a guilt-trip on you. This is especially painful if you are already struggling with feeling like you’re failing your students. So anything in that vein coming from another person’s mouth feels like salt in the wound.

But remember, while you can’t choose to unhear any unkind things someone else says, you can choose whether or NOT their words affect your mental state and mindset. Now trust me when I tell you this is so much easier for me to advise you to do than to actually apply in my own life.

And although it may not feel like it, the power is yours. So be prepared BEFORE you step foot into the office for what types of emotions you may encounter from your admin. 

The last thing I want to mention here is this…if you are a Christian, bathe your letter and your meeting in prayer.

Before I approached my principal, I prayed the Lord would give me the courage and strength to say what I needed to say. As someone who hates confrontation and avoids it as much as possible, I needed the courage to tell my principal something that could have been met with a lot of negativity.

But then I took my prayer one step further by asking the Lord to prepare the heart of my principal to hear what I was saying and to truly understand my heart. It was not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I had to be honest and let her know that I was not returning to the classroom.

This act centered my heart and my mind and helped me stay focused on saying those things that needed to be said and kept me from saying anything unnecessary.

So let’s recap the “BE” formula…

  • Be kind
    • complimentary when possible – love the kids, wonderful opportunity & learning experience
    • avoid blaming
  • Be specific
    • how you’ve grown, what you have learned, why you are thankful, etc.
    • say ONLY what needs to be said
    • stick to the issues & never focus on the individual
  • Be succinct
    • make your conversation as short and sweet as possible
    • then leave
  • Be prepared
    • for backlash and guilt (as well as other negative emotions)
    • by praying before you meet (for your courage & strength, your admin-understanding)

The 5 Essential Components of Your Teacher Resignation Letter

While your teacher resignation letter can be as long or short as you want it to be, you need to be sure a few specific items are included within the text. There are five specific components you want to include.

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Editable Teacher Resignation Letter Templates

The date

You need to be sure that you include “today’s date” whatever that date may be so that the principal or administrator has documentation that is dated. It may seem strange, but this is just an important piece of the teacher resignation letter puzzle!

Official resignation text

You need to include some variation of the words “official resignation letter.” It can be phrased a variety of ways including…

  • this is my official resignation
  • this letter serves as my letter of resignation
  • consider this letter my formal resignation

The point is that it needs to be your “official” statement of your resignation

Your last day

You need to include the specific date that will be your last day of teaching. It may be two days, two weeks, or two months from handing in your notice. You just need to be informed of the minimum amount of notice that your specific district requires and what your contract states.

Your reason for leaving

This is an important part of your resignation letter…especially if you are leaving mid year. Some districts only allow teachers to leave without penalties in the event of a “toxic work environment” or something similar.

So do your homework, and if you are thinking of leaving the classroom before the year is over, determine if you need to cite a specific reason for your choice to resign.

Your signature

This may seem ridiculous, but just like you have to sign for credit card purchases, you want to make sure this letter is as official as it gets. So be sure to include your signature above your typed name.

This way you have covered all of your bases and you know that your official teacher resignation letter is actually official.

Choosing to turn in your teacher resignation letter is not an easy task. I know the idea is still causing you much discomfort as you wrestle with whether or not to find a new career path. But I’m here to support you and encourage you either way.

Then, be sure to shoot me a DM on IG @classroom_exit_strategies and share any breakthroughs you had after listening to this episode! I’d love to cheer you on!!