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49. When It's Time to Move On: Understanding Teacher Burnout and Transitioning Out of the Classroom with Daphne Gomez
Episode 4925th April 2023 • The Resilient Teacher Podcast • Brittany Blackwell, Teacher Burnout Tips
00:00:00 00:34:42

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Are you a burned out teacher wondering if it's time to move on and transition out of the classroom? You're definitely not alone. In the last couple of years, the number of teachers leaving the profession has sky-rocketed and while I'm here to help you navigate teacher burnout, I truly believe that you should have all the resources you need to make the best decision for you. I never want a teacher to feel like there are not options available because you should never feel stuck or feel like you have to choose your health or your career. That's why in today's episode, we are chatting with Daphne Gomez, who you might know as the Teacher Career Coach, about her journey in education, how to gain clarity around if and when you should leave the classroom, types of career options available, and the transferrable skills that every teacher has (and you should totally add to your resume).

After navigating her own career transition from teaching in 2017, Daphne Gomez founded Teacher Career Coach to support other teachers thinking of making a change. She launched the first complete coaching program of its kind, the Teacher Career Coach Course in 2019 and also hosts the popular Teacher Career Coach Podcast each week. Daphne has created a judgement-free community dedicated to helping educators find happiness in their careers - inside or outside the classroom.


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[0:00] Hey, hey, welcome back to episode 49 of the Resilient Teacher Podcast.

An article in USA Today from last month stated that more teachers have left the profession in the last couple years than ever before.

That probably doesn't surprise you, does it? And burnout is the number one cause of teachers leaving.

You could say it's safety, you could say it's workload, you could say it's behavior, but they all lead to the same thing, extreme burnout, extreme nervous system dysregulation that's leading teachers to choose their health or their jobs.

And many teachers are choosing themselves.

I don't blame them.

I don't feel like self-care is the answer to all burnout. It isn't the cure.

Yeah, we can work towards making our jobs sustainable, but at the base level.

[0:47] There are systemic issues that we can't self-care our way out of.

And so I know it seems counterintuitive for me to discuss with you transitioning out of the classroom, But I never want another teacher to put their needs or their wants for their life on the back burner all for a job.

[1:04] That's another silly and unrealistic expectation. And I would rather give you the resources that will help support you in making your decision. So if you're at this place where you're having to choose, should I stay? Should I go?

I want you to know I've got your back. And above all else, I wanna help you through your burnout, whether you stay or whether you go.

Last week, we talked with Amber Harper from The Burned In Teacher to discuss how she left the classroom, not once, but twice, and she came back. So if you missed that one, you should probably go check it out.

But in today's episode, I'm turning to my friend Daphne Gomez, who is the teacher career coach, to help you in determining how you can gain clarity on if leaving the classroom is right for you, what your options are, what types of jobs could you do if you left and still make an impact in education, and the transferable skills every teacher has that you can add to your resume.

r transition from teaching in:

She launched the first complete coaching program of its kind, the Teacher Career Coach Course in 2019, and she also hosts the popular Teacher Career Coach Podcast each week.

[2:18] Daphne has created a judgment-free community dedicated to helping educators find happiness their careers inside or outside of the classroom.

[2:27] Even if you're not considering leaving teaching, but you're really burned out and you need a change, I definitely think that this episode has something for you inside of it.

So let's not waste any time and let's go meet Daphne.

Hi Daphne. I am so excited to have someone on the podcast with such a wealth of knowledge on the show.

Thank you for being on the show with me.

Thank you for having me, Brittany. I'm just really excited to be able to support people who are struggling with this. Yes, yes. So when I have people on the show, I always ask the same question, start it out, because the listeners of the podcast are those overwhelmed teachers, they're burned out. Tell us a little bit about your experience and education.

ink, gosh, it would have been:

And this is one of those situations where I almost wish that I would have listened to my mom's advice because the first two years of teaching.

[3:39] I just didn't feel like myself. Like I could not describe what I was feeling, but it was just constant burnout, constant overwhelm.

And I had other careers, or not careers, I wouldn't say. Teaching was my first career, but I had other jobs in the past that were high stress and teaching just somehow took more out of me. Absolutely.

But I realized I wanted to give it a change of environment, see if a different administrator or a different demographic of students, if that was gonna help alleviate some of the discomfort that I was feeling.

And so I ended up moving to a new school district, moving down to Los Angeles to be with my now husband.

And during that transition period, I realized that it wasn't necessarily just the environment that I was in, just something wasn't clicking with me.

[4:37] I had hit this roadblock that last year at the new school district was the worst year that I had ever had, and I started breaking down mentally and physically.

I was going to the doctor for stress-related illnesses. I was really young.

And they just kept saying over and over again, these are like extreme stress signs that we're seeing.

Weird things with my brain, weird things with my tummy, really bad grinding my teeth.

And then also just bawling on the way to work on a day-to-day basis, not feeling like I could do things on the weekend besides work.

And overall, I just knew at the very end of that school year, based on.

[5:17] My mental, my physical health, the toxic work environment that I was at at that school district.

I did not want to go into the classroom, even in a new school or district the next year.

I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew I had to remove myself from that situation and heal and become happy and healthy again. And so that's when I ultimately made the decision to leave teaching.

[5:44] Teaching. Yeah, yeah, so I heard you say a lot of things that I have felt, I know that so many teachers have felt, and I come on to the podcast and I talk about ways to overcome teacher burnout, all of these things, we talk about resilience, but I never want anyone who doesn't want to teach anymore to think, I'm telling them, you know, stay into teaching, you got to stay into teaching, or you've got to do this, or you've got to do that. And that was one of the reasons why I was like, You know who needs to come on the podcast? Daphne Gomez. She needs to come on and she needs to talk. And she needs to tell her story, because I know that so many listeners can feel those same feelings that you felt, can, can really empathize with that. And so, you know, what led you to creating the Teacher Career Coach? What was that like?

Well, so it was coupled with my own personal experience leaving the classroom and then what I saw on the other side after I left the classroom.

First, you know, those last few months I started being a little bit more transparent with the very close colleagues that I had and just saying.

[7:01] I want to leave, do you guys know what else I could do?

I can't do this anymore.

Like this, I just can't do this. And everybody's first reaction was, you can't leave teaching, you're such a good teacher.

Try a different school because they, I can say with confidence now, everyone who was close to me also left that school. They either went to a completely different school because of the toxic work environment that we were in together as a team.

[7:30] But they were just saying, no, you can't leave teaching. But because of my past experience, just knowing I had changed environments a couple of times, I was really adamant, this isn't the answer.

Continuing to put myself through this, I have to try something else.

So I was going all over the internet and I was just trying to find top jobs for former teachers or any sort of resource to help me understand my career trajectory at that stage not waste my master's in education. Right. And feel like I was starting over from scratch and I could not find anything. And I ultimately just did a ton of research, upskilled, did my resume, really figured out how I wanted to kind of.

[8:17] Pursue new roles outside the classroom, but it wasn't a wonderful approach.

It was a little haphazard and probably took a little bit longer than it needed to.

But I found this really amazing role with a Fortune 500 company.

I was working at Microsoft at the time in their education program.

And when I was doing that work, I was able to get the job because I had K through 12 experience.

That was a prerequisite for the actual job that I was doing at the time.

But then on top of that, I started meeting project managers that were former teachers, or product managers that were former teachers.

I met people at the top of the training and development space, creating these insane programs that were being shared amongst all these teachers, and the people who were developing those programs were former teachers.

Then I started to do like national conferences, so speaking at national conferences on behalf of my employer, and also working at school districts, just being free professional development support for people who are implementing this program.

Just saying, hey, you wanna learn how to do the program? Actually, why don't I create a couple lesson plans, make it easier for you, and then bring it over there.

So my role was very cool, and it was still really tied into education.

And during that time, constantly people were chasing me out to the parking lots and whispering.

[9:47] Hey, you're a former teacher, how did you get this job?

[9:50] Or meeting me up at the podium at national conferences and they're there as tech coaches or on behalf of their school district.

And they're saying, hey, you said that you're a former teacher, how do we get jobs like this?

And it sparked something in me, like nobody was talking about it back then.

This is:

And then I also worked at this other tech company, a really well-known tech, ed tech company as the instructional designer.

So that is the role that a lot of teachers end up finding themselves looking into these like training and development spaces, but I was the instructional designer. So I created.


Because it's not something that has, I like to say, a tweet-sized answer. There's a lot of nuances.

ch was launched originally in:

Yeah. And I think one of the biggest things that teachers struggle with are, you know, there are some extreme circumstances that are happening right now in the education space.

There's a widespread issue of burnout. I think more and more teachers are leaving or thinking about leaving.

I tell, you know, members of my programs that sometimes we think that leaving, you know, is the answer. It's going to solve all of our problems. And really, that's just not the case. You know, that, that it's more about aligning our values, knowing our personality types, really getting into them, looking at how they're overworking, how they're overcommitting, really got, what got them into burnout, right?

So before we get into really helping the listeners, if they need to gain clarity, I have to ask the question, is it greener on the other side?


I will say, unfortunately, probably not what all teachers want to hear because you want to put that disqualifier out there.

Like, oh, well, some people are gonna be unhappy, so I don't wanna do it because then it's a risk and then it makes you feel more comfortable staying put where you are.

But unfortunately.


You're the low pay, the extreme work hours, not feeling physically safe in your own classroom or feeling like you are being backed up by your admin, and being put in a safe classroom or being kept safe.

Those things aren't gonna happen in other careers, but what will happen, you will still probably put other people's needs first and have trouble setting boundaries.

You're gonna be a tiny bit of a workaholic, you may struggle with prioritizing your own time and different types of things are still gonna pop up.


So getting to, I think your question was, how can people kind of tell whether or not it's a good fit to leave teaching?

Yeah, can you give us some clarity? Like, there are a lot of teachers who are leaving, who are thinking of leaving the profession, but they just aren't sure if that's the next step for them, you know?

They wanna gain that clarity. So how can they gain clarity in taking that plunge out of the classroom and into something different?

Yeah, the first thing I always recommend people do is evaluate if you love everyone that you work with.

If your admin is super supportive and you're like, it's so hard for me to leave this supportive work environment, They have my back when it comes to parent complaints and they're really supportive and they help me in my personal development and I love all of the colleagues that I work with.


If you teach fifth grade, it's a completely different beast than teaching first grade.

And if you've never made small tweaks like that, that's gonna be easier.

Yeah. But the second one would be change of school or change of district. If you can tell that there is one person who is driving you bananas or a group of people or the demographic that you work with. I worked in two completely different school demographics and I worked with.




But a lot of times people, once they get to that phase, they start to tell themselves, no, I can't leave because of this. And it's like, well, calculate it. If you are unhappy, is it worth it for you to figure out how to roll over your retirement funds into a 401k plan?

If you're going to stay in this career for 15 more years, like what weighing out which path makes sense. And when you're going through that process, if for some reason at the end of the day you go through all the like cons of leaving and it's heavier than the pros of leaving, if it's you know what, there's so many cons it's not worth me going, but your gut is still saying That's not the answer.

You're making the answer. The unfortunate reality is that you're never going to feel 100% ready because it's a big, scary risk. It's just like uprooting yourself and going to a brand new.


And you think you would feel bad about it?



You have always thought about being a teacher probably, and maybe your only first career, you may have gotten into it at a young age, straight from college, And it's every time people ask you what you do and you say you're a teacher, you get these like, you know, aha, like everyone claps and applauds.

Now, you know, on social media, people are a little bit more salty.

Throw in tomatoes. Yeah, throw in tomatoes a little bit more.



And so when you start to look for new careers, you're going to immediately go to the things that feel the most aligned and in sync with that.

It's everyone wants to be a curriculum writer. Everybody wants to be an instructional designer because they've learned that that's where some teachers go.

But what's really important to realize is whatever job you go into, you're still going to use your teaching skills, and you're still going to have that personality.

So if you are an office manager, eww, boring, what a boring title, but you're working at a really cool office with people that you love, and you're helping support them by organizing their resources for them and saying, hey, it looks like you have these things coming up in the next few weeks.

I actually have some materials to help you get better prepared for that.


There are so many different ways that this is going to translate, and it's important for you to start doing some research on what types of roles are going to be the best fit for you, because even going to that, like, curriculum writing example, there are so many teachers that want to be curriculum writers, and then they start to sit at a desk and they're well, actually, I realized that I don't like looking at a screen for six hours out of the day or sitting down. And I feel a little isolated in this work where I wanted to do something that's a little bit more with people. I realized that I actually get lit up by those moments of talking to colleagues or even being involved with students and I need more face-to-face time.





You're still going to be able to use those. Yeah. So you just, you answered my next question, which was about transferable skills, because I hear so many, you know, teachers will say, well, I'm just a teacher, you know, I'm just a teacher. How, what kind of transferable skills do I have?

How do I write this resume? How do I, you know, all those things? I know you have a quiz, but go into like, what kind of resources you have other than just the teacher career coach course.

So, for transferable skills, we do, I think we have at least one article specific to it, but you're going to have a lot.

Let's just talk about like the surface level, but highest ones that I see people always having.

So, you're able to take complex information, learn it, you're probably excited to learn it because that's just who you are naturally, and then you really like to break it down into bite-sized pieces and then give that to other people.

Whether that means it is a customer who might have a hard time processing that complex information or your colleagues.


You are most likely an effective communicator. Now, whether or not you wanna be like a public speaker of some sort, that is a completely different story, but you are able to articulate your thoughts in written and oral form at a higher level than most other people who had not had this as a profession.

So that's something that's gonna come in handy in a variety of situations, and especially those hard situations inside like a company, if you're trying to have these discussions, that is something that people really do value in their employee.

There's also a part of us that loves to create ways to track data.

Maybe I'm a freak and that's just me. But companies want you to be able to track your projects.


And that's something that teachers do naturally pretty well.

And there's this level of project management that we have with assigning 30 mini assignments or 150, depending how many students you have, to all of these different caseloads and being able to check in at different times.

All of this is something that hiring managers will see the value in it, but not if you're just sending them a resume that just says.

I was a teacher. Now can I have this role as an XYZ? You have to be the one to strongly articulate how it's going to translate. And that's, I think, where there's just so many challenges.

Yeah. Oh my gosh. There are so many good, just little nuggets in this. Some really good.


Platforms that you have. Yeah, so you can find us on instagram at teacher career coach. It's not just me It is a group of former teachers and other career experts that run that page but we always are happy to answer questions in our DMS or Just sharing resources and tons of stories of former teachers in a variety of roles So if you're just wanting to be a fly on the wall of what other opportunities other people are landing, that Instagram page at Teacher Career Coach is the best way to find us.

But I want to even comment a second about something that you just said.

And I think that people.


And I think you've used the term like despair or like people who are just really feeling like they're stagnant.

Yeah. This is honestly, it may sound counterintuitive, but this is the way that I hope many people can find happiness one way or the other, because I think what was missing from the equation was choice.

Yeah. About five years ago, the reason why we had so many people who were quote unquote like miserable in their teaching profession is because they truly did not think that they had any other choice.

They had signed an invisible contract and they were going to be in a forever career and there was nothing else that they could do.

And so right now it is a weird transition period where everybody's seeing other people doing it and they're trying to evaluate, oh shoot, do I wanna do that too?

Yeah. Is that what I'm doing? And that's hard. Those are big feelings and those are very valid.

But I think what you should take from this is, this is not impossible for any teacher at any stage.


And so you don't have to feel resentment that you're stuck backed into a corner and forced into this career.

And I hope that that can help bring people happiness wherever they really decide to stay, because ultimately, this is your life and your choice, but we just want you to be happy with whatever decision you make.


I'm gonna put some stuff in there from your blog, because I really think that's gonna help A lot of teachers determine, do they want to stay?

Or is it time for them to go? Because like you said, we want people to be happy in their choices and not feel so burned out.

So thank you so much, Daphne, for coming on the show. I really appreciate your wealth of knowledge, your expertise.

Thank you so much, Brittany. It's been a pleasure. Yes.