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New Teacher Tips: Don't Quit or Change Careers Just Yet!

A teacher reads to an engaged classroom of students.

These new teacher tips can help you re-energize your passion for teaching.

Teaching can be extremely rewarding, but no one ever said it's easy.

That may explain why such a large number of teachers—54 percent, according to EdWeek—say they are considering leaving education in the next two years. That's up from 34 percent of teachers who were surveyed in 2019.

Further Reading: 3 Actions That Advance Professional Development for Teachers

If you're a new teacher and you're debating whether to leave the profession, these new teacher tips can help you come up with a new game plan to revitalize your classroom and spirit and keep you making a difference to the next generation.

Transform Your Lesson Plans

Any veteran teacher will tell you that crafting fun, fresh lesson plans is one key to making your job more enjoyable—and it rubs off on your students. They can recognize when their teachers are bored or going through the motions, and they might follow the example.

Try shaking up your lesson plans and experimenting with new approaches, no matter how bonkers they might seem. Test out integrating new technology, new source material, or new methodologies.

You could also try:

  • Group projects
  • Competitions and events
  • Open-ended assignments
  • Having students teach each other

Your colleagues are great resources, too; ask them about their favorite strategies and activities. Attending developmental workshops and conferences could also reveal ways to revitalize your teaching experience.

The key is to get creative. A little variety could help you reconnect with the job and soothe your burnout.

Seek Out New Roles and Responsibilities

It might seem counterintuitive, but taking on a new responsibility or role could help you stick with teaching, particularly in your early years.

Coaching a sports team, spearheading an afterschool program, or taking on a new role as a test administrator, data coach, or school leader could help you scratch the creative or leadership "itch" that isn't being scratched in class, especially during remote learning.

If a club, event, or group doesn't exist at your school, create it. Being the change you want to see at your school could make your job more fun and sustainable, and it could inspire the people around you, too. It doesn't hurt that you'll also likely be paid for your time.

Sometimes, the job or responsibility you really want requires more classroom experience or an advanced teaching degree. If that's the case, chart a path to reach that goal to motivate you to go for it.

If your current situation is less than ideal, remind yourself it won't be a reality forever, and that the post-pandemic teaching world is riper than ever for change.

Set Aside Time and Money for Self-Care

Of all the new teacher tips you'll hear, one of the most common is to practice self-care. But self-care can fall to the wayside when the school year gets going. If you're experiencing new teacher burnout, though, you need to invest in your health and wellness.

Apply the popular budgeting practice of paying yourself first. Devote a small percentage of your paycheck to taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health as needed. You might:

  • Get a massage every month or every other week
  • Book a spa day
  • Pay for a drop-in class at a fancy gym
  • Buy a nice dinner at a restaurant
  • Finance a hobby

Don't sleep on getting more sleep, either. Not getting between seven and nine hours of shut-eye each night directly affects work performance, fatigue, and professional burnout, the National Sleep Foundation says.

Don't Be Afraid of Tough Conversations

Anxiety and depression are common side effects for new teachers, especially ones tempted to change careers.

If your mental health is struggling, you need to take control of the situation. So much of what fuels anxiety and depression is fear of the unknown.

Maybe it's time to have that tough conversation about your future with your supervisor or colleague. Best case, they listen to your concerns and help you come up with a plan. Worst case, they say that your goals don't align with what they can offer you. Either way, you'll have valuable information to guide your decisions.

Reaching out to a mentor, a former teacher, or coach can also provide perspectives and insights you hadn't thought of. At the very least, expressing your frustrations out loud might make them easier to grasp and overcome.

Consider Other Schools or Districts

Before you change careers or quit teaching, ask yourself honestly: Is it the job? Or is it just this job? Maybe the solution isn't to quit teaching but to find a better teaching situation.

As a thought experiment, write down the top three qualities you're looking for in a teaching position or school district. Then research other schools and districts around you. Find out how much they pay their teachers, their mission statement, and their employee approval ratings or reviews. Then narrow down your options and keep an eye out for job openings.

You could also look at relocation opportunities through Teach for America and similar organizations. Moving to a new state, city, or country (if you join the Peace Corps) could reignite your passion for education.

Further Reading: Teacher Burnout: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Stress, anxiety, and burnout are all real things that new teachers face. But the job is easier—and much more enjoyable—when you invest in relationships and forge bonds with the people around you. Before you change schools or quit teaching entirely, tap into the incredible resources around you. Sometimes, that's enough to help you find your why again.

Remember that the work you do matters. We're grateful for you. Hang in there!