Why this teacher left the classroom

When I left the classroom, I walked away from something I never dreamed I would leave behind.

This (see below) was a shot of one of the many classrooms where I taught as a professional educator. I was a classroom teacher for a little more than a decade in both the public and private sectors.  

The end of the part of my career that was teaching, culminated when I was actually department head. My resignation and exit occurred in the middle of the school year and not because I wanted it to be that way. It occurred because of things far beyond my control and I was even told (upon exit) that I was to say "nice things" about my years as an educator there.

I honestly still cannot believe that the end of my teaching career happened like  that ^^^^.




There were a lot of students that I did not get to say goodbye to. All the same, they sought me out in their own ways after I left the school. One particular family crossed paths with me in a local Target parking lot. I heard yelling and then saw a couple of very tall young men running toward me and yelling my name to get my attention.

It had been a few months since I had officially departed from the school. When they got to me they said, "Where did you go? Where have you been? Are you OK?"

I just stood there and held my breath until I finally could say, "...I had to leave because it was best for my family."

Both students looked at me (with their mother who had caught up with them and were there). Then they smiled sadly and said, "We understand. We really miss you. We really miss your class. But we understand. We really miss you." We hugged each other good-bye and they were on their way. I got into my car and sat in the drivers seat I started to cry. And then I continued to cry for the whole drive home.




That following month, the next school year was starting.  I cried for three days straight when I knew school was back in session. I was connected (through social media) with a number of my students and I was heartbroken to see them start school and it being the first year that I wasn't meeting them in class. I felt like I let them down just like how I felt when I was pressured and intimidated to leave the classroom the year before. I knew that none of it was because of anything I could help but all the same - in my teacher's heart - I felt I had failed in the singular way I could -- by just not being there.

It's been almost three full years since my exit of any classroom. I can honestly say I have no desire and no interest to ever go back to the institute of K-12 education as an educator.

I will happily and respectfully support, encourage, and do my best to promote the efforts of other K-12 educators but for myself? It's an understatement to say that being a professional educator was something that (I feel) was metaphorically stripped from my being without me ever having a say or even a plea that it wouldn't happen the way it absolutely did happen.

In the years since I left, I found out a lot of information that has served as vindication for what I experienced when I left teaching. It turned out, I wasn't the only one who was pushed out and those that did go (as I did) were fellow educators I very much respected (and loved) and their respective exits happened in curiously similar ways as mine did. 

I have also had real confirmation from countless students that I did make a difference for them that has carried them into wonderful futures and directions. Students have found me and connected with me because of the wonder that is social media. It's been good to know that all I did with all my heart wasn't as worthless as how I was intimidated (and convinced) it really was when I was pushed out and away from teaching. 

Also, I'm finally to a point where I am in a new industry and a part of a new company.  In this new industry, I am respected and recognized regularly with things as simple as just being thanked on the daily.

The work I do still even affords me opportunities to do things like corporate training/education, mentoring, and professional development - all things that I was doing for so long as professional educator. I have been welcomed and supported in a new and much more forward thinking environment.

Anyway, I wanted to share how being a teacher didn't but then did work out for me to maybe help someone else who might be contemplating leaving the classroom.

With my work and life and career, I have proof that there is plenty of life to have (for a teacher) after the classroom. No matter if it's the institution of education, or individuals within the educational systems or if it's the pay and the thanklessness of the profession of teaching. It's OK and it's possible to walk out of the classroom and not just move on but even still find a way to move up.

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