Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Teacher's Summertime Dilemma

Abra Gist
July 3, 2024

Believe it or not, this might be one of the most difficult times of the year for teachers. That's right, the beginning of summer might be filled with catching up on Zzz's, time with family and friends, and vacations to beautiful far away places...but it can also be a time for deep reflection for teachers.

As the final school bell rings and students eagerly dash out, teachers are left in their now-quiet classrooms, contemplating the past academic year. The tranquility of summer provides a stark contrast to the bustling months of lesson planning, grading, and classroom management. This pause in the routine is an opportunity for teachers to evaluate their professional journey and ponder their future in education. Should I stay and teach another year? Or am I too burnt out to go on? Should I make a career change or stay with my original passion?

Does it spark joy or ignite more challenge? 

Teaching is often described as a calling, a profession that demands passion, dedication, and resilience. The rewards are numerous: witnessing students' "aha" moments, fostering a love for learning, and making a lasting impact on young lives. However, these rewards come with significant challenges. Teachers face increasing demands, including standardized testing pressures, closing post-pandemic learning gaps, supporting social and emotional learning, large class sizes, and the ever-changing educational policies that rarely reward their profound impact on society. Teachers are highly self-reflective individuals who need to feel valued and seen – especially after another arduous year in teaching. 

During the summer break, many teachers find themselves weighing these joys and challenges. The satisfaction of making a difference can be overshadowed by the stress and burnout accumulated over the year. This internal conflict leads to a pivotal question: Should I stay in the classroom or explore new opportunities?

How does reflection impact growth and development? 

Summer is an ideal time for teachers to engage in professional growth and development. Many educators use this period to attend workshops, enroll in courses, or pursue advanced degrees. These activities not only enhance their teaching skills but also reignite their passion for the profession. For some, professional development serves as a reaffirmation of their commitment to education.

On the other hand, summer also offers the chance to explore different career paths. Teachers may consider roles in educational administration, curriculum development, or educational consulting. The skills acquired in the classroom—such as communication, organization, and problem-solving—are highly transferable to these positions. Reflecting on their career trajectory, some teachers might decide that a change is necessary to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Balancing Personal and Professional Life

Teaching is a demanding profession that often extends beyond the classroom. Lesson planning, grading, and parent-teacher conferences can encroach on personal time, leading to a challenging work-life balance. The summer break provides a much-needed respite and an opportunity to focus on personal well-being.

For many teachers, summer is a time to reconnect with family and friends, pursue hobbies, and engage in self-care. This break can offer clarity and perspective, helping teachers evaluate whether their current role aligns with their desired lifestyle. Some may conclude that a different career path or a change within the educational field could better support their personal well-being.

Is there ever an easy option for teachers? 

Deciding whether to stay in the classroom or explore new opportunities is deeply personal and complex. Teachers must consider their passion for teaching, career aspirations, personal well-being, and the impact of their decision on their students and colleagues. It’s essential to seek advice from trusted mentors, colleagues, and family members during this decision-making process.

Ultimately, whether a teacher decides to stay or go, the decision should be guided by a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It’s completely understandable for teachers to contemplate these questions. Summer provides a valuable opportunity for reflection, allowing educators to recharge, reassess, and make informed choices about their future.

As summer begins, teachers face the annual dilemma of whether to continue in their current role or explore new horizons. This period of reflection is crucial for personal and professional growth. Regardless of the path chosen, the dedication and passion that teachers bring to their work will continue to shape the future of education and inspire the next generation of learners.

Are you a teacher looking to transition to teaching online? Learn more here.

about the author
Abra Gist

Abra Gist is a writer and educator in Austin, Texas with over a decade of experience in the education sector. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in English at The University of Texas. She is currently an MFA Creative Writing Candidate at Texas State University. She loves exploring nature, practicing and teaching yoga, and sharing her industry knowledge for Proximity Learning.

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