I recently made a major life change. Last fall, I decided the 2020-2021 school year would be my last year in the classroom. After kindergarten through senior year of high school, undergrad, graduate school, and twelve years as an art teacher, on May 21, 2021, I reached my last day of school.
I taught for 12 years, at two schools, in four different classrooms. I taught everything from Introduction to Art to Ceramics & Sculpture to AP Art and so many things in between. I had classes packed in at 35 kids per class and classes with 5. I taught with zero budget and with a dream budget. I may not have loved every minute of it, but I loved most of it. Coming to the decision to quit was not easy and it weighed heavily on me, but looking back I know it was the right choice.
After teaching virtually for the second half of the 2020 semester, moving to another classroom over the summer, and adjusting to teaching in a hybrid model, exhausted was an understatement. Last year was the second hardest year of my career (check out my post here on teaching tips for hybrid mode and for a letter to first-year teachers, my hardest year as a teacher). Although I had considered it for a couple of years, a few weeks into the school year, the voice saying it was time for a break had grown to an exigent level.
In September 2020, just six weeks into the school year, I began talking with my close coworkers and department chair about the possibility of me leaving. By October I had officially put in my resignation for the end of the school year. By December my job was posted, by January art teacher candidates were coming in for interviews. By February they had my replacement, an amazing artist and art teacher who I know will take care of my babies.
I cried in 3/4 of my sit-down meetings about my resignation. I loved my job. I loved my school. I loved my coworkers. I loved my students. I loved my classroom. I loved being an art teacher. So why was I choosing to leave it all behind?
For me, what it came down to was an imbalance in my life. For eight years I had been building a small business creating lesson plans, curriculums, handouts, and more for teachers and art teachers. I sold products through Teachers Pay Teachers and my blog. I began spending more evenings developing my products, which lead to working on weekends. I had babies, grew my family, and never faltered from building my business. I never dreamed it could become a full-time gig, but starting a few years ago it had the potential.
Although I could have stopped teaching earlier, I never felt the desire like I did last year. Teaching in a pandemic crushed my teacher’s soul. It sucked the life out of me until I could no longer put in the hours I needed to for my business outside of school. I no longer had the energy to be the best mom or wife I could be. I felt like I was drowning and something had to give. But what would give?
Do I choose the career I worked so hard for, the career I studied for and loved, or do I choose the business I made from the ground up, that was so successful and rewarding?
When it came down to it, the decision was easy, I chose to bet on me.
BEING SELFISH IS OKAY
I felt incredibly selfish and guilty quitting my job. I hate quitting. I felt like I owed them so much for all that my job had given me over the years, but the truth was, I didn’t owe them anything. I don’t owe anyone anything. When I imagined my ideal day it involved dropping my kids off at school, drinking coffee on my front porch, quality time with my husband, making art when I wanted to, creating the products I have come to love creating for other art teachers.
So I chose me.
I moved out of my massive art classroom and into my tiny dormer window art nook. I make demo videos shoved in a corner and it’s a hot mess, but I love it. I type lesson plans sitting in my bed, next to my puppies, with Harry Potter and The Office on loop in the background. I have lunch dates with my work-from-home husband. I get to respond to questions and requests from art teachers in a timely manner.
I am fairly sure I have the best job ever. I have graduated to being a support for art teachers and all teachers. I can now help the ones in the job I still love and respect. I can still be an educator from a distance by supporting those still in the trenches. Those who are doing the most important work, inspiring, educating, and connecting with kids.
THIS IS 35
This month I turned 35. I have never felt better. I have a happy family, a successful business, a recently renovated home. I get to chose what I want to do every day. I am a better parent, wife, and animal mama because I am also taking care of me. I think this year is destined to be one of my happiest, and I can’t wait to see what new opportunities may come in my new career path. I’m all in on myself, and I am confident this is a gamble I will win.
Thanks for coming along on this wild ride with me! If you want to keep up with my day-to-day life, check me out on Instagram. Check out my TPT shop to see the products that have allowed me to quit my day job (and check out my blog shop, which I hope to polish up and add to this year). Thanks for stopping by!