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Teachers reveal why they quit their jobs: ‘Second-hand trauma from the classroom’

‘I couldn’t really afford to live the life I wanted to on a teacher’s salary,’ one former educator said on TikTok

Amber Raiken
New York
Wednesday 02 November 2022 14:55 GMT
Related: Honoring local teachers

Teachers have shared why they’re leaving their jobs behind, with many former educators describing how the career impact their mental and physical health.

On TikTok, multiple people used the hashtag #TeacherQuitTok, which has more than 87 million views, when creating videos about what led them to leave the education field.

For example, in one video posted by @jeskazeeeee, a woman shared “one of the thousand reasons” she left teaching. She began her clip by recalling an experience where an unfamiliar man “barged into her” classroom, while her students were lined up by the door to leave school for the day.

She went on to explain how the man started “pushing through” her students and coming up to her, causing the teacher to be “backed up against the wall”. The TikToker also said that he started having a “frantic” conversation with her, so she told her students to leave.

“I don’t know him and don’t have any clue what he’s talking about,” @jeskazeeeee explained in her video, which has more than 1.7 million views. “Very quickly, I realise that my students are potentially at risk. So I tell them, without trying to alarm them, to exit the building.”

She noted that she remained calm, as “that’s what teachers are told to do,” before calling the school’s office, since there was a “stranger in the classroom trying to have a random conversation” with her. While she didn’t remember what happened right after that call, she did recall what happened the next day with the school’s administrator, who told her that the stranger was a former student.

“[The administrator] told me that that was a graduate and [asked if I knew] him,” she continued. “And I said no. Now mind you, I was teaching in a junior high building, grades seven through nine. And this was apparently a graduate from a year prior. So an adult, not a student. Certainly not a seventh through ninth grader.”

She emphasised that the graduate did not have siblings in the classroom and was not someone she ever had in her class before. However, she said that nothing was done about the man’s frantic entrance into her classroom.

“This administrator tells me there’s nothing he can do, cause he’s a graduate,” she added. “And also [the former student’s] mom is really ticked at me because she thought I was being overdramatic and he agreed. And that is just one example of why I left.”

In the comments of her video, multiple viewers symptahsied with the TikTok user and questioned the school’s environment

“The fact he even got past the front office is alarming,” one wrote. “Protocols need to be tightened for sure.”

“I always thought it was weird af that graduates would come back randomly?? Very odd people,” a second person wrote.

Another former teacher, Holly, @hollyacre, also shared a video on TikTok last week about why she quit her job in the middle of the school year. She began her clip by explaining how teaching took a toll on her mental health.

“Because of the stress and the second-hand trauma from the classroom, I developed anxiety and I fell into a depression,” she said. “I had to go to the doctor and he prescribed me talk therapy and antidepressants, all to cope with my daily job.”

She went on to detail how she started dreading going to work everyday, before realising how important money was going to be for her.

“I couldn’t really afford to live the life I wanted to on a teacher’s salary,” Holly said. “So I was going to have to get into something else that would make more money.”

She also shared that she didn’t have any time for herself, as a teacher, which caused her personal life to suffer.

Holly concluded her clip by citing what drove her to officially leave teaching, adding: “The number one reason I didn’t want to do it anymore was because of the behaviour issues. I just got tired of dealing with them and so I knew it was my time to leave.”

In a TikTok video posted in June by the Teachers Off Duty podcast, a former educator named Brit described how she was “consistently getting sick” when teaching and having panic attacks at school.

Brit noted that through the help of her sister, she realised that the environment of teaching is what stressed her out, which is why she left.

She also noted that there isn’t anything wrong with walking away from the profession.

“I know a lot of teachers have their various reasons why they have stepped away from the classroom,” she explained. “And there’s nothing wrong with it, if you end up leaving and doing what’s best for you and your family, that’s OK.”

Recent data has found that multiple teachers across the country have left the profession. According to a survey conducted by the US Department of Education, more than 50 per cent of public schools in the country were understaffed at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. Sixty-nine per cent of those schools also reported that not enough teachers were applying for open positions.

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