Teaching is one of the most important professions that a person can undertake. Teaching a skill or subject to a group of students is noble and improves our society and the future little by little. Many teachers sacrifice parts of their lives to adhere to standards, administration rules, and evolving technology. But for most teachers, there will come a time where they cannot stay in their current position. They will need to quit their job for financial or health reasons. Teachers who are seriously considering leaving their teaching job must learn how to leave their teaching job gracefully.
There is a right way to leave a teaching job so that a teacher can stay in their previous employer’s good graces. It is important to know how to write a resignation letter, when to tell the administration when you are quitting, and what to do if you have to leave during the school year. Teachers who are under contract must know how to leave a contract without severe penalties. They should also never leave without securing a job beforehand.
- How Can Teachers Leave Their Current Job Gracefully?
- Follow the district’s procedure for leaving a teaching position.
- Don’t leave your current position until you have a new job.
- Have a conversation with your higher-up face to face. Then tell coworkers.
- Write an official letter of resignation.
- Don’t badmouth the school or the administration to your students.
- When Should a Teacher Leave a Teaching Job?
- What if a Teacher Has to Leave in the Middle of the School Year?
- What if the Teaching Position Is Through a Contract?
- What if a Teacher Wants to Leave to Become a Substitute Teacher?
- Final Thoughts
- Related Articles
How Can Teachers Leave Their Current Job Gracefully?
When leaving any job, there are a few courtesies that an employee has to perform. Teachers can’t just quit in the middle class, like a Target worker in the middle of their shift and ask the principal to forward them their final check. Teachers need to preserve their reputation, wrap up any projects they are responsible for. They must also follow the district’s procedure for resigning and leave notes and plans for the substitute or teacher’s aide that will take over their class.
Here are a few of the basic tasks a teacher must fulfill when leaving their job.
Follow the district’s procedure for leaving a teaching position.
Every school and district have a policy or an official procedure for entering and leaving a teaching position. Most policies will be similar. But depending on where the teacher is employed, they will be some differences or extra steps.
Don’t leave your current position until you have a new job.
It is just good sense to never leave a job until you have another job lined up and waiting for you. Unless there is an unavoidable emergency, never leave your current job without having a backup job.
If a teacher does leave their job without another one waiting for them, then they should have 3 to 6 months of savings. Having a healthy savings account will allow them to keep up with their bills. It will also relieve some of the pressure that comes from job searching. They won’t have to scramble for a low paying position to make ends meet.
Have a conversation with your higher-up face to face. Then tell coworkers.
The departing teacher needs to tell the administration about their resignation before the school year ends. The sooner they tell them, the more time they will have to look for a teacher for the coming school year.
You must make an appointment with the person you directly report to and tell them face to face.
After informing your direct higher up, you can then tell your coworkers if you so wish.
Write an official letter of resignation.
There are plenty of letter of resignation templates online for teachers to use and even writing services that will draft the entire letter. But writing one is not complicated. Writing an official letter of resignation shouldn’t take more than two hours; one hour for writing and the other for editing.
What should be included in an educator’s letter of resignation?
- The title
- Greeting to the superintendent or other higher up
- Official statement of intent to leave, including the day the resignation will start.
- Include reasons for leaving
- Be sure to thank the school and district and any higher ups by name for the time spent at the position
- If there have been significant problems during the teacher’s period of employment, the teacher should not bring it up. The letter needs to be positive.
- A small paragraph at the end of the letter and a formal farewell.
- Include your personal contact information
After the letter is filed, it will stay on record for at least two to three years.
Don’t badmouth the school or the administration to your students.
After a teacher has informed their department and the principal about departure, filed a letter of resignation, and secured their new job, they must continue to act like a professional.
Remember that the educational workforce is closely connected. A coworker of the departing teacher could talk to a student or faculty member of the new school.
Plus, the departing teacher would not want to find out that a student in their classroom filmed their rude rant and posted it on their TikTok or Snapchat. Their current and future employers will be able to find the video. If they find the video, there may not be a new job for the departing teacher.
Obviously, most professionals know unprofessional to complain about issues to students. But you’d be surprised at how many teachers and other faculty members break this rule. One quick Google search will show teachers ranting about their own co-workers and bosses to their students.
When Should a Teacher Leave a Teaching Job?
If a teacher needs to leave their current position, you could always wait until the date their contract is fulfilled or the school year is finished. Leaving in the middle of a school year isn’t ideal but it is possible.
What if a Teacher Has to Leave in the Middle of the School Year?
A teacher leaving in the middle of the school year can be terrible for their students, colleagues, and for the school administration. If it is possible for the teacher to leave when the school year ends, they should do so then. But if they are unable to wait, then they should leave after midterm tests. It’ll be easier for the administration to find teachers’ aides, substitute teachers, and new contract teachers when the new school semester starts.
They should also leave their lesson plans for the substitute teachers. If there are no lesson plans available for the next semester, the departing teacher should leave a schedule of topics to cover. This will help all of the substitute teachers and teachers’ aides stay on track and not interrupt the students’ learning.
What if the Teaching Position Is Through a Contract?
Leaving before a teaching contract is fulfilled is a terrible idea. Doing this could seriously impact how schools consider that teacher for future contract jobs. Some districts may not even look at teachers who have breached a contract job in the last ten years. Leaving before a contract is fulfilled should only happen when every other option has been exhausted.
When a teacher leaves their contract job before the agreed upon end date, they are in breach of the contract. Not only does leaving a contract look bad, but the teacher also may face serious legal consequences. Districts can take teachers who leave their contract early to court for breaching the contract.
Depending on the severity of the contract and agreed upon terms, the teachers will pay a penalty or a fine, have a mark placed on their career record, or even have their teaching license suspended or taken away.
So, a teacher can never leave their position if they are under contract?
No, leaving a contract without being sued by the district is possible. There are teachers that still leave their teaching position before the contract is fulfilled.
When a teacher leaves before their teaching contract is fulfilled, and they leave in good graces, this is known as being formally released from a contract.
Important – Use your new job as a bargaining chip
Negotiating for a salary increase is an art at best, and a fight at worst. It seems like administrators get raises every year, but teachers and teacher aides have to search the parking lot for pennies. If a teacher wants a salary increase, then they need to create a proposal and negotiate for a higher yearly salary.
Some teachers look for a new job so they can use their departure as a bargaining chip in their raise proposal. This strategy should only be used if the teacher wants to stay.
If the teacher has no intention of staying at their current position, then there is no need to bring up the increased salary or improved perks at the new job.
What if a Teacher Wants to Leave to Become a Substitute Teacher?
While it is unusual for a teacher to downgrade their own position to substitute teacher, there could be several benefits to doing so. One benefit is the lack of responsibilities. They no longer have to spend extra hours after school planning lessons, talking to parents, and fulfilling tedious administrative duties.
Some teachers find that their quality of life goes up when they become a substitute teacher, even if they’re salary goes down. If a teacher is planning to become a substitute teacher, they should become a substitute teacher for a different school. The school they currently work at may not accept them.
However, with the current shortage of substitute teachers, the school may not be in a position to decline your help.
No matter when a teacher departs from their position, they should be professional about it and follow every policy. A teacher’s reputation will follow them throughout their career. Plus, you should always stay in your former employer’s good graces in case you need to return to the position or to a different position in the same school.