If you found me on social media, you most likely already know this story! If not, here’s why I’m not teaching in the classroom this year. I haven’t shared this story until now because I felt embarrassed. I realize that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and that so many other teachers have gone through this as well.
My last year teaching was in 2019
The photo above was taken in my last year teaching. I taught first grade and I loved it. The 2018-2019 year was my fourth year teaching and I finally felt confident in what I was doing. When I entered that school year, I knew it would be my last at that school. I was getting married in July 2019 and move afterward for my husband’s job. He already moved across the country for his military assignment, so our relationship was VERY long distance that year.
Obviously I felt incredibly sad to leave my school and my home, but I was also excited to start this new adventure. Moving to a new place is exciting!
I started to look for teaching jobs in the spring of 2019. I received my teaching license for our new state and was eagerly checking the local school district pages for job openings. In our area, teaching jobs are typically filled between April and June. There are some jobs still available by July, but very few because the school year starts in early August. In Washington, the school year didn’t start until after Labor Day. The military families that we knew in Washington said that I shouldn’t expect to see any teaching openings until June or July. That made me VERY nervous, but all I could do was wait and see.
The hunt for a teaching job
July 2019 comes and I only saw two job openings in the local districts by that time. I applied for everything but those positions were filled quickly before I was even asked for an interview. About two weeks before our wedding, a handful of other jobs opened up. I applied for those as well, but again they were filled quickly and I was not asked for an interview.
At this point, I assumed that I wouldn’t find a teaching job. I didn’t understand it. I cried about it. Why wouldn’t they even interview me? I had great references, a masters degree, and four years of experience. I was frustrated, but simultaneously overwhelmed by all of my other life changes at the time.
Our wedding was amazing, our honeymoon was wonderful, and then we began to move me (along with ALL of my stuff) across the country. As we settled in, I continued to look for jobs, but the year was starting in just a few weeks. I knew it was unlikely that I would find anything but I held out.
We found out after meeting a few people that the largest local district did not budget properly and had to lay off a lot of teachers in the spring of 2019. Those teachers then went to the other smaller districts to find work. An abundance of teachers with a shortage of teaching jobs.
I won’t teach this year
Labor Day arrived and I knew it was too late. I won’t teach this year. I felt devastated. I felt embarrassed. Everyone will think that I was a bad teacher because I couldn’t find a job. Everyone will think that I’m lazy because my husband works and I don’t. We don’t have any children, so I’m not staying home to take care of anyone. What do I do during the day? I knew people probably wonder what I do all day if I’m not working.
At first it was really hard. We were in a new place and don’t know many people. My husband’s job was really demanding when we got back from the honeymoon. In the first six weeks after we moved, he was gone four of those weeks. I was lonely and felt like I had no purpose. During those first few weeks, I wallowed. I laid on the couch and watched Netflix, slept in, and ate junk food. It might sound nice, but I did not feel good.
Eventually I chose to make something of this situation. I’m so glad that started my Teachers Pay Teachers store a few years ago because that gave me something to work on while I waited for substitute teaching jobs. It gave me a sense of purpose because I could still help teachers in the classroom if I couldn’t be in the classroom myself.
The perks of not being a full-time teacher
I began to sub in a few different districts. Unfortunately so many other teachers were out of work and looking for sub jobs as well, so I wasn’t able to sub every day. We are incredibly lucky that my husband’s job provided enough for us financially that I didn’t have to sub every day. This allowed me to work on TpT products and travel to visit friends and family. I went home for Thanksgiving and winter break to see my family which I really needed.
In December, my husband was deployed to Europe. It occurred to me that maybe there was a reason that I didn’t teach this year. Not teaching allowed me time to transition to our new home and time to travel. I spent a month in January 2020 visiting my husband in Spain and it was the most amazing trip! It’s hard not to be grateful for such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It wouldn’t be possible without my flexible schedule!
When I returned from this trip, I continued to substitute teach and build relationships with teachers in the schools where I subbed. I was even requested by teachers! I felt like this would be my year. In March, the pandemic hit.
Looking for a teaching job in the middle of a pandemic
So if I thought it was weird looking for a job before the pandemic, it was BEYOND strange searching for one in the middle of a pandemic. In comparison to last year, more jobs opened up! This gave me hope. Unfortunately, it was still impossible to even secure an interview.
Some school districts even had budget cuts because of the pandemic, so they eliminated positions. I can’t even count how many jobs I applied for. I changed up my resume, I revamped my cover letter, and I used different references. Still, zero interviews.
At this point, I felt a strange mix of emotions. Sometimes I apply frantically to any job I can find and wish so badly for an interview. Sometimes I think maybe this year isn’t the best time to go back to teaching.
I miss the classroom so badly but I’m also terrified. I’m embarrassed to tell people that I couldn’t find a job for the SECOND year, but I’m also so grateful that we can survive financially if I can’t teach full time. I know this is a privilege that many don’t have.
I cry when another position has been filled, but sometimes I’m glad because I know the classroom I will go back to won’t be the classroom I imagine in my head.
If you can’t find a teaching job, I feel you!
If you’re feeling any of this too, I hear you! Maybe you’re looking for a job like I am and you’re feeling really discouraged. Maybe you’re thinking about quitting because you’re scared for your safety to teach in a pandemic.
Whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay! Don’t feel embarrassed like I have. This is real life and sometimes it sucks.
So if you’re ever feeling down about a job search, or you feel like you might want to quit, pin this for later and remind yourself that it is okay!
Hi, I’m Libby!
I’m so happy you’re here! I love all things first grade – the curriculum, the content, and the sweet kiddos. I’m passionate about helping K-2 teachers save time in the classroom with fresh ideas and fun, engaging resources.