Who Am I if I'm Not a Teacher?
Updated: Sep 14
Teachers are natural innovators, entertainers and problem solvers. They dream of growing old into the profession, teaching their kids kids. But sometimes career goals shift or change. And that makes opportunities outside of the classroom seem intangible. Questioning, who am I If I'm not a teacher?
The Great Teacher Resignation
I'm excited to be here for episode one. And I'm here with my co host, JoDee Scissors. And we're going to tell you a little bit about what inspired us to start the podcast.
Yeah. So Ali, why did we do this?
So our podcast started, because of a mutual understanding of journeys that we took leaving teaching, and we both had this experience of career change. And we both also have a love and admiration for teachers. And we know how challenging it can be to leave the teaching profession. And we wanted to offer support, I think, to our listeners, and to teachers out there who might be thinking about leaving the profession, and really just to share our own stories, what it was like to decide to leave teaching, maybe how we made that transition. And then for me, personally, I dealt with a lot of grief on the other side once I'd already left teaching. And I really want to talk about that throughout the podcast as well, like what steps I took to try to help combat the things that I was feeling and who I went to for guidance or advice. Because I loved teaching and I still love teaching. And it was so hard for me to to not stay at the school, my last school and to say goodbye to teaching, but I'm not actually sure I'm going to say goodbye forever. So I'll kind of leave the door open.
We Love Teachers
Yeah. So there's a couple of things that you said. One, we love teachers. So this is not a way for us to encourage teachers to leave the classroom, we're not doing that I want great educators to impact children every single day and inspire them to be lifelong learners, teacher relationships are really important to the growth of a child. They spend most of their childhood in school. So good teachers mean a lot. So this is not something to encourage people to leave the classroom. This is us addressing the struggles that someone who has a job that serves the community in some way and has their purpose, defined in many ways by what they give to others how they give to their community. And how hard that is if you if you need to change. Other people in other careers go through transitions. We're not the only we're not unique to that it's more about, you know, how can an educator who has the degrees and the certifications to do this profession, apply that in another way. And then the other thing you said was, you know, we all have our own journeys.
Yeah. And I think one thing I would add to kind of your response is that when I left the classroom, I was leaving, because we had a health scare with one of our children, and we just were stretched really thin as a military family. It was a little bit different leaving initially. And I'll be honest with you, I didn't know that I was going to do something else yet. I just knew that I was leaving for that reason. And I had time to think about it. And I honestly felt like I was just going to be still be a teacher. I kind of fell into what I ended up doing now. And I think sometimes as teachers, we really think that that's what we're called to do. And that's what we have to do. And there might not be other options for us. Because we're so specialized. Like we're..
That's true, we are specialized.
Yeah, we're specialized.
Do People Really Know What Teachers Do?
And, and someone says like, oh, you're a teacher? Well, they kind of know exactly what that means. But do they really? Do they really know what teachers do? Every day?
Yeah. Yeah. If you think about the outside world, I I think most people who don't live the teacher experience every day, they they relate to their experience as a learner. So we everybody spent lots of time in schools as a learner. But when you are the teacher, it is a different experience. There is so much that goes into planning. There's so much emotional things that happen, you know, when you have students that need that extra attention, you have those parents that need extra attention. It's a little bit different of an experience. But your transition is very different than mine, you know, you, yours was unexpected. And I had a lot of turmoil kind of coming to the conclusion that I needed a career change. It was something that really affected my health, my mental, emotional, like, I had a lot of turmoil, because it was the only thing I identified as I being a teacher was such a part of my identity, and the way I see the world. And when I was having these feelings of something's not right, I felt lost. And so I had to explore. Who am I, if I'm not a teacher, because that was my identity, I still am that person. I still am all of those things. But when someone says, you know, what do you do for a living? Teacher was my response. I still do work closely with education. So the teacher in me is making all of those decisions.
Yeah, I mean, I think when you leave any profession, whether it's teaching or something else, it's really difficult because you've given a lot of time and energy. And honestly, for teachers, basically, your whole 24/7, you're on the clock, you're you don't have downtime, you're thinking about your lesson plan for the next true, you're realizing you forgot to buy something for that lesson, to go to Walmart at like 10 o'clock at night or something like that. So it's it is, and it's a it's a mindset shift also, because going into different jobs, it's not the same, your responsibilities are different. And that's something else we're going to talk about, you know, making those transitions, understanding that it's different outside of a school house.
Oh, I'm glad you're bringing that up. Because that, in itself is a topic that we need to cover of how like I, you know, you're in a classroom, you're managing everything, you manage your day, from start to finish, you are planning, you're making decisions, you are the, you're the person that makes every thing happen, and then going to somewhere where you don't have to be that person that's making every single decision every minute of the day is very different.
It is, yeah, it is very different. And the other thing I want our listeners to know, we left teaching before the great resignation. Now both of us did. And the job for us as teachers is something we thought we would be in for a long, long time. I personally chose this career path because I loved my subject matter, which was Spanish, I was a Spanish teacher, so passionate about that, and language learning. And also because I thought it would be a good a good job for having a family and I always wanted to have children. And I thought it would be a good job when I married my husband who's in the military, you know, to balance careers, but it was actually really challenging to do all of those things and to do them well. And so that's, you know, part of my my reasoning for leaving, but also I left before this happened. But you and I came together during the pandemic.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I left in 2019 was my last year teaching. And it took me a while to figure out the reason why I needed to leave. I was attributing it to anything I could grasp a hold of, but then when I got to the root of it, because I ended up seeing a counselor. And I ended up having to dig for many years to figure out what is the root of the problem that I am feeling. The root of why I was feeling unfulfilled was how education has become very scripted. And it was the constant assessments that we were having to give from the district. It was the refining our language in the classroom to match the assessment. I guess it was just like the of it. It made me feel like a puppet. And my, my administration gave me so much autonomy because they know, they knew how I was like, they knew I was this person that likes to build off of ideas, and I could execute it and implement it. And they let me be who I wanted to be within the framework of we still have to give these two week every two week assessments from the district. It's hard to be yourself. It's hard to feel inspired when you were stuck in the framework of standardization. That was really the root of it was like, I felt like I couldn't do all the things I wanted to do with my students that I felt were important to learning, which was learning through art, learning through music, learning through engineering, learning through doing kind of that project based learning. And districts will say, we love project based learning. But when you go to the curriculum, and you're having to accomplish XY and Z, within five days, there's no room for projects, projects take time. And I could see that they would say, We love these things. But we just need you to follow this script. I felt empty. I thought, oh, I can't I can't do this. I can't, I can't just be this person that regurgitates words that you're asking me to say to kids, you don't even know. And that was really, really kind of the root of it. So I had to find myself where I could still make an impact in children's lives. But do it through the avenue for which I believe kids love to learn.
Really well said.
I mean, I feel like that was a rant.
No, it wasn't.
It was really, I think what it touched on is that you needed to honor what you know to be true is that kids don't learn best like that. And it was hard for you to deliver your education in a way that wasn't authentic and wasn't what was best, and it was hard for you to do that. And that's why our whole podcast is unscripted. Because we don't want to feel constrained.
Yes, what, you know, my gosh, Ali, great connection there.
We Want Real Conversations
So that's why we want to have real conversations with real people about what their experiences were like, and why they chose the path that they did. Maybe they're a teacher who left the profession, and they're doing something new, they might be an entrepreneur, maybe they're an employer, they're a CEO, they are the president of their company, and they've seen the value in hiring teachers.
Mm hmm. But that's I can't wait to talk to all of those people. Because I've met so many people in our lives that say, I was a former teacher or I hire teachers, teachers are the best employees or that entrepreneur used to be a teacher, you know, it doesn't matter what profession you're in, you're, you're modeling and teaching for someone, but this specific profession where you are certified to do that, I think, brings value to other places. And I also just imagine all of these institutions of business, that could benefit from a teacher's brain, all the ways that teachers can multitask, accommodating different personalities, different needs, different ways of praise, they see people in a light that I don't think other people see, you know, not just Yes, the classroom like all these children grow up to be adults. But that child is that child made up that adult adult needs certain attention or strategies. That's part of the workplace.
Yeah, I think that there's so many things that teachers do on a daily basis that we don't even realize translate over so well into the workplace. And I think one of the challenges for teachers is that they're not sure how to communicate those skills. We want to share with our listeners, like ways that you can translate on paper or on LinkedIn, how your teacher brain can go into a new profession. I do want to circle back to one thing that I've I've been thinking about. So when you were leaving teaching, was there something that you were nervous about when you were leaving? I know you've made the decision, and you felt confident about it. But were you nervous at all?
Oh, yes. There were like three years where I was like, something's wrong. And then I went into this full blown turmoil for several months before the summer before my last teaching, I kind of made that an admission to my husband, that this is going to be my last year and then went into the school year super nervous when I told them, you know, I'm resigning I had resigned in January, but finished the year because there was no way I was going to leave my students like those were, those are my ride or die those kids every day, we had each other's back for everything. So I had to finish out the year. But when I told my principal that I was going to leave, it felt liberating. And she even was like, Well, let's find something for you. Like what do you want? I was just like, what I want is not here. So that was a point of liberation. And then when it came time to apply, I felt immense feeling of being nervous and wondering, why would anybody want to hire me. You know? I had the nervousness lead, I guess, to me being very self conscious. I would say I probably had a really low self esteem at that time. Because applying is a lot of not hearing back.
Oh that's the worst.
It is. Just reject, please reject me like, just at least I know. Yeah, that, you know, like, that was really hard. But I had a lot of feelings of nervousness applying. Because I, I had made this huge decision in my life. And now I had to prove that I could do something different. And people around me believed in me, but would anybody give me a chance? That was what was super nervous is like, Who will give me a chance? And, yeah.
hat's definitely something we're going to dive into. Because so what I learned after leaving education is that getting a job is who you know, and we're going to talk about that. So how to network in real life online, through people that you already know. Because that's really the hardest part I would say is getting your first job. And after that, it's easy. Yeah, kind of like college graduate, like you get your first job, that nobody cares about your, where you went to college, they just care about your professional life. Kind of the same thing with teaching once you have your first job outside of teaching.
And, and I also hope that, you know, if for our non teacher listeners, I hope that this broadens their perspective of, of potential people, they can hire a teacher has a million titles. They are project managers, fundraisers, they are event coordinators, counselors, they analyze data, you know, like
Yes, they could do data, all the things they do all
They have to do I love those things.
Yes, I mean, a company that I work for now, we have a data analyst who was a teacher, and she does an amazing job. And I think it's probably because she analyzed so much student data.
Yeah, her time is yours there, you always have those teachers who just have this keen eye for seeing something that you don't see. Oh, my gosh, I loved being in meetings with those teachers.
So absolutely, no, I think I mean, the list really could go on and on. And one thing I was nervous about was if I leave my job, and this actually goes back to my second year teaching, because that was when I married my spouse, and we were going to be moving for the military. And I thought, well, it's gonna be so hard for me to get another job teaching. I have moved six times, and I have been able to find teaching jobs every time even if I stepped out of the classroom for two years. And I really want people who've never have just been in their teaching job for the whole their whole career to know that right now. We are experiencing probably higher than normal shortage of teachers. And in a couple of years, if you really, really miss the classroom, that door will be wide open and you will be very qualified. Yeah, back into Yeah. So yeah, we will be putting out weekly episodes. We're trying something new we're trying to make. We are making we're making Wednesday, hump Wednesday, the new career day.
Yeah. Every Wednesday will be career day for the TGTR podcast.
Yeah. So yeah, you can find us on most platforms, most podcast platforms, Apple podcasts, Spotify,
Amazon music. We're on all of them.
Audible. Yes, yeah. And we're going to interview experts in the field. It's not just going to be us every week.
Do DM us on Instagram, if you want to be someone that is interviewed, or if you have an experience, because we want to hear from all different kinds of perspectives.
And we'll hear from teachers like you who made career transitions.
Yeah. We'll think about that question. Who am I if I'm not a teacher?
Who am I if I'm not a teacher?
If you like Teacher Shift, give us a five star rating and follow us on Instagram, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Audible.
This episode was written and recorded by me Alexandra Simon, and my co host JoDee Scissors. Produced by JoDee Scissors. Original Music Emoji by Tubebacker. Special thanks to our sponsor, PaperPlanes ED.