Lots of people leave the classroom all the time. Some cite unfinished business in their own education, others want to have bigger macro-level impacts, and some write an op-ed for The Atlantic about how poor and untrusted we all are and how they walked out in frustration.
Maybe I'm weird, but I like being exactly where I am. At the moment my only unfinished business relates to making my teaching a tiny bit better each year. I like playing with curriculum, I like playing with procedures, and I really like the day in and day out of running a room. I want the chance to teach 30 years' worth of students at the same school. Call it old fashioned loyalty.
But why stay? Like others I'm sure I could be of great service in an education graduate program (having never taken 1 education class, shhh....). I could become an instructional coach. I could try to solve some of the capital B Big Problems with education. I could try to yell louder about how wrong people are about edtech.
All of those prevent me from doing what I like the most, hanging out with five groups of kids in math class every day. My job is not the grind of rattling off the same slides every day, handing out the same worksheet for 10 years, or grading a test guarded under lock and key, all while muttering under my breath about how kids today are doomed. My job is watching kids be goofy, making cool things, and trying to entertain them as best as possible while teaching them a few things. It does wear on me, but usually the first five days of summer fix that problem.
Something else at work here: I already had the career crisis. Lots of people I meet who start teaching as a first job get bigger ambitions because that's what happens at first jobs. You want to make sure you chose correctly before you get too old. Job hopping is what people in their 20s do. I was in a different industry before. After three years it was evident it wasn't fulfilling and I should find something else. If you're moving from teaching to an office job and think paradise awaits or all those things you complain about are behind you, well, there are some things you should know about office jobs...
As far as growth within the education field, I just don't think it's for me. I don't need to reinvent textbooks. I don't want to become an instructional coach, leader, or administrator. I did a bit of research as an undergraduate, enough to tell me I dislike research. Like, I'm the anti-Pershan of research. All of those jobs are motivations for getting a masters. But there's just not enough teaching involved. I'm going to take on the workload and expense of a masters just to do my exact same job for a 2% raise? No thanks. Let's say I departed the classroom to get another degree, what are the odds I could have my exact same job when I return? Given the unique circumstances that got me to my schedule, they are low.
The stuff in the op-ed pieces isn't worth addressing. That angry article with a thousand retweets represents the minority of schools. There are poorly run schools. There are poorly run state systems. I landed in a good situation and it has only proven to get better. I know lots of people who enjoy their situation. Schools like this exist, I want you to find one where you're happy, it is possible.
All this to say I'm staying in the classroom. I will continue to stay in the classroom. If you're a veteran who feels the same way, props to you.