A public school teacher named Sarah recently opened up to us about the decaying interior of public education.
It’s a story of low salaries, high stress, obsession with measures, and lack of putting kids’ needs first.
Many teachers are ditching education altogether.
“Pretty much everyone I know is leaving education completely because they’re so burnt out. Most of them are going corporate: business, marketing, all that. They’re basically willing to do anything except teach.”
While it’s heartbreaking that the system is smothering teachers’ desire to educate, “going corporate” is not the only alternative for burnt-out teachers.
In fact, it’s never been a better time for teachers to ditch public education and pursue their passion of working with kids – outside of bureaucracy.
For teachers exiting the system, tutoring is perhaps the fastest foot-in-the-door to stay involved in kids’ education.
Private tutors make a national average of $24 an hour – and they get to work 1-on-1 with kids outside the suffocating requirements of the classroom (finally!).
Work with online courses or schools
Schools like Write of Passage and Beta Camp are popping up all over the internet – not only making high-quality, self-driven education accessible to students around the globe, but also leading a teaching revival.
When students sign up for these courses, it’s because they’re jazzed to learn. They’re not skimping on homework or disrupting class because they’re bored – instead, they’re asking for more sessions, more feedback, more knowledge.
For teachers passionate about working with kids, nothing is more invigorating than being able to foster an environment of genuine curiosity and excitement.
Start your own online course or school
If you can’t find an online course or school out there that you want to work with, it’s literally never been easier to start your own.
Platforms like Gumroad, Teachable, and Circle make it as simple as possible to build a digital course from the ground up. Teachers Pay Teachers and Outschool offer ways to monetize your hard-earned experience through live cohorts, self-paced courses, digital products, e-books, on and on.
Like tutoring, you can trade student-hours for pay, or create a stand-alone web course that pays you while you sleep. Take Sal Khan for example, who began by building free courses on Youtube and is now one of the most famous educators in the world.
Become an Acton Academy Guide
Acton Schools are defined as “one room schoolhouses for the 21st century.”
Curriculum is centered around game-based programs, Socratic discussions, hands-on projects, and apprenticeships.
Acton Schools thrive on freedom and exploration, so it’s a great option for teachers who are burnt out on the state instructing them exactly what to teach.
Look for Higher Ground Montessori school
For teachers looking for a self-driven education model, one of the best options out there is Montessori.
The objective of a Montessori teacher is to observe each child, to learn what motivates them, and to understand how they tick.
It is a highly personalized way of learning and teaching (which is why so many Montessori schools have emerged around the world).
Higher Ground Education is one of the biggest Montessori networks, and offers open roles and positions for teachers all over the globe.
Become an ed-tech consultant
Education technology incorporates innovative software, in or outside the classroom, to help facilitate learning.
Ed-tech is becoming increasingly popular, and with the rise of technological tools in the classroom, ed-tech companies are always on the hunt for the valuable expertise of teachers.
Become an instructional coach
An instructional coach is someone who works to improve the quality of a teacher’s curriculum and professional development.
This could take many forms: personal mentoring, observing classes, helping teachers seamlessly integrate new ed-tech in the classroom, and more.
Instructional coaching gives previously burnt-out teachers the opportunity to pour back into teachers who need it, thus helping prevent the feedback loop of burnout.
Becoming a mentor and role model for young teachers who desperately need it is also a great way to feed into a positive classroom environment for students.
If you’re curious about becoming an instructional coach, check out this job board.
Become a curriculum writer
For the teachers looking to work remotely but not necessarily be the face of a Zoom call everyday, good news – you can write the curriculum instead of teaching it.
Curriculum writers shape the content taught in classrooms. They create instructional units that cover various subjects and age groups. The goal: make the process of learning as collaborative, engaging, and robust as possible.
These writers can niche their focus down to a specific topic, as well – whether that’s science, history, or developing a program for English students who want to learn French.
As you can see, the job description for “curriculum writer” varies widely, ranging from freelance to full-time, from math to music, and more.
Run a homeschool/afterschool program
If you’re a teacher looking to start a program in your community, the key focus is development.
A report from Columbia University psychologists Jodie Roth, PhD, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, PhD, states that afterschool programs are:
“best characterized by their approach to youth as resources to be developed, rather than as problems to be managed.”
Psychologist Deborah Lowe Powell, PhD, found that “enrichment activities” such as art and music are vital in a kid’s holistic development. But they’ve been slowly stripped from daily curricula.
It’s often up to afterschool and alternative programs to keep these activities alive.
If starting a program interests you, here are four life skills that public school isn’t teaching kids – skills that you can potentially build into a program to add value to kids’ holistic development.
Become a community director
Becoming a community director will thrust you directly into hands-on collaboration with kids – something many teachers thought they were signing up for with public education, but rarely got to do.
For more information, you can get involved with your local communities, or check out job boards for open positions.
Get involved with an experimental education model a City-As-School teacher
Experimental models are continuously emerging in the education space.
For example, Kubrio offers “teacher led, peer driven” pods for kids to pursue what they’re curious about, in the form of “clubs, bootcamps, or nanocourses.”
City as a School helps kids sample careers, build a portfolio, and then match with an internship or employment opportunity.
City-As-School is an independent alternative education high school that was founded in 1972 and focuses on internships, portfolios, and overall autonomy for kids.
If you’re burnt out on traditional school, why not pave the way for new models of education?
Get involved with a microschool (or start your own)
Microschools are an alternative education model that “combine the value of the one-room schoolhouse with modern alternative education values like student-led learning and ed-tech innovation.”
Although often made of close-knit family communities, some microschools do choose to hire teachers or facilitators. If you’re an educator looking to work in a personalized, home-like environment, microschooling is a great option.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring success stories of a teacher leaving public education is that of Dr. Lisa Scott.
After ditching public school, Dr. Scott started her own microschool called The Art of Words Community School – a project-based learning model focused on both foundational learning and innovation.
With the deterioration of public schooling and the rise of alternative education, there’s never been a better time to start your own microschool.
Teach at a Waldorf School
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher obsessed with how humans learn and grow; therefore, he was obsessed with education.
He founded Waldorf education around 1919 when he opened the first Waldorf school in Germany. Waldorf education focuses on the whole child: moral, social, and academic, throughout all stages of their adolescence.
“The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility; these are the very nerve of education.” — Rudolf Steiner
For teachers, the emphasis is on learning each child’s individual temperament – choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, or melancholy.
Ultimately, it’s a learning model steeped heavily in philosophy, the arts, and the holistic development of kids.
Launch a company to solve a problem you ran into in the school system
If there’s a problem in education that needs fixing but has yet to be fixed, the best way around it is to fix it yourself.
There’s an impressive (and rapidly growing) list of teachers-turned-entrepreneurs, like:
- Jack Ma – Alibaba
- Sam Chaudhary – Class Dojo
- Phil Cutler – Paper
- Reed Hastings – Netflix
- Doug Petlz – MysteryScience
- John Danner – NetGravity
- Matt Gross – Newsela
- Byjus Raveendran – Byjus
- Jeff Scheur – No Red Ink
While not all of these are education companies, the point is that the path from “teacher” to “entrepreneur” may be more navigable than you think.
Someone to follow for inspiration in this space is Ana Lorena Fabrega, the Chief Evangelist at Synthesis School, who is working to break the molds of public education and unleash the full potential of kids.
Work at an Agile Learning Center
One of the best options for self-directed learning, Agile Learning Centers, treat the entire world as their classroom.
Rather than monotonously regurgitating information they’re supposed to teach, Agile Learning Center teachers are considered facilitators in charge of providing “scope and fuel for kids’ independent passions.”
For a detailed run-down of what a day-in-the-life looks like at an Agile Learning Center, check out this article.
And if you’re curious about Agile Learning Centers around the world, you can see that here.
Just because school is dead doesn’t mean your teaching career needs to be
The decaying nature of public education doesn’t mean teachers have to leave education completely.
There are a multitude of ways teachers can harness their powers as educators to do good, while bypassing the flaws of the system.
If they bring their passion for kids into the world of alternative education, they can use their talents to cultivate a healthy system that is focused on kids’ holistic development and growth. This is not just a beautiful thing – it’s crucial.
As Nelson Mandela said:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”