My teacher burn-out story

In April I released an episode sharing my teacher burn-out story. For those who want to listen to the audio click here.

For those who prefer to read it, you’ll find the transcript below. I hope my story resonates with you in some way or another. We are never fully alone in our big feelings. 

If you would like to play the audio while reading please note the time stamps to the left of each paragraph. Here is the full transcription of the episode.

**I do recommend listening to the audio instead of reading it, but that’s just my personal opinion 😉

0:00 Hey, everyone, it’s Andie, your host. And I just wanted to come to you guys because I was looking at the calendar and Sprouting Minds launched in October, the trailer was released September 16. And September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May, nine months. Oh snap, I missed our half anniversary. And now it’s like a weird time. Well, we’re already frickin recording. So we’re just gonna keep going. And let’s see what happens because I wanted to chat with you guys and tell you a little bit more about how I got to where I am today. Because if I had talked to you, in the middle of August, last year, this past August, I don’t think I would have seen all the things that I have going on in my life, and how much have a rich fulfilling life I’m living. I definitely was living in a shell of a person before. And I wanted to touch on me being a teacher who burned out because I think that there’s a stigma around it. And I think that it’s not really talked about, or people aren’t able to really share their stories. And I want to share my story about why I left teaching. 

1:26 If you had asked me if I loved it, I would have said yes, I did absolutely love it. If you ask me now, I’ll tell you this. It’s a half and half situation. I loved it and I hated it. But the reason I hated it, you wouldn’t think so I want to explain it to you. Teacher burnout is a serious thing. It’s a real topic. And I think that sometimes it’s looked down on and that’s not fair. I want to explain why I chose to leave because I do think that it’s important to hear these stories. Because the reason I left, I don’t think people would assume that’s why. And I want to share because I think that it’s important, not only for people to listen to, but at the people that I worked with or for, happen to listen, I think that this is an important thing for them to hear. 

2:22 I worked at a play based preschool on the Upper West Side. I started there as an assistant. And I went from an assistant to a lead teacher, and then from a lead teacher to a teacher and curriculum coordinator while also teaching. So I did, I kept moving up until there was nowhere else for me to go. And I did love it. I loved it up until my last year. And the reason that I loved it up until my last year was because the last year that I was there, I finally was able to look at myself and let myself understand my mental health more. The first three years that I was there, things were different, you know, COVID didn’t exist. And my first year there, it was very free. I was an assistant, I had responsibilities, but not the same as a lead teacher. I loved who I was working with. I had, you know, built connections with someone who was very high up. And it just felt so good to be there, like it was my home. And it became that it really became a place where I didn’t mind staying late. I didn’t want to get there early, just because I am not a morning person. But I I came to feel so connected even like certain sounds, you know. When you’re in your home, and you hear a sound and someone’s there, and they’re like “what is that sound?” and you’re like, oh, what sound because it’s so normal to you. That was the case like things that would happen right? Some cabinets had to be shoved up a little bit more to fit in. And it was just like a natural habit for me by the end was just like, oh that thing. But my point being is that I loved it there. I loved these children. I loved them. The students become your own. Right. Every time a child walked into my room, even if it was from a different class, they became mine. They became someone that I was responsible for, someone that I wanted to succeed, someone that I wanted to help in some way or another. So as teachers, you kind of become a parent, you know, to these children on some level, you’re their other caregiver. And I took it very seriously. 

4:42 What I noticed after I left the school and this is reflecting on how I was feeling the first three years were very lighthearted. There wasn’t any COVID everyone was getting into their groove, right. There’s always kinks that need to be worked out but it felt good. COVID hit, we went virtual. Now, I’m a person that has a lot of anxiety; generalized anxiety. Being home changed the way teaching was for me. And again, now that I’m reflecting on it, right? When we went back this past year, in the 2020-2021 school year, my anxiety shot up. Every day I walked into that building, not knowing if we would have to leave because of COVID. Not knowing if we were going to, you know, get shut down again. And that anxiety every day, scared me.

5:40 On top of that, I also came to realize that I was holding so much anxiety about teaching in itself. The children, I was so worried for their well being, I knew that I was educating them to the ability that they needed, right, they left my classroom learning what they needed for the next year. They were learning how to be kind people, how to be confident people and how to face challenges and obstacles. All the things that I should have been teaching myself. But I was so nervous about their well-being. “Oh my gosh, what if I get COVID and I pass it on to them? and then they pass it on to their parents, and then they pass it on to the kids?” That was one. 

6:22 Another one was just their overall well being, you can ask my assistant teachers, I hated the playground. I still hate jungle gyms. I’m sorry. But those things are a safety hazard. SAFETY HAZARD. High up. So many slits, fingers getting caught. Hated it. Worst nightmare. I didn’t know where to stand because I wanted to literally take my body and shield every kid. So that was another anxiety during the day. 

6:50 Eating. Eating your food, don’t choke, Don’t talk, don’t laugh while you’re eating because then you’ll choke. We went to the gym, oh my gosh, they’re gonna jump on the trampoline, they’re gonna fly off the trampoline. By the end of the day, I was depleted. I got home, I was out, I would come home and I would literally take my dog out and just sit in darkness sometimes. The anxiety was just piling piling up. And it didn’t hit me until December break.

7:21 Now, on the first day of December break, my grandmother who lived in Israel passed away. Well, now I have two weeks off of work where I just get to sit and feel my feelings. And boy, did I feel my feelings. My grandma was always that person who was like, “What are you doing? Are you happy?” I could tell her like, I don’t know. I can’t even think of a job. That’s not worthy. Right? She would be like, okay, as long as you’re happy. As long as you are happy, she’s happy. And so for those two weeks, I was like, Oh, my gosh, is my grandma happy with me. And I realized, well, the better question is, are you happy with you. And I was not, I was really not happy. 

8:04 Coming back from December break. And having my eyes open to that made the rest of the year nearly impossible. Reflecting, I think that 99% of the time I was there for my children. When they walked into my room I was there. And then when they left, I was done for the day, mentally done. But I loved my kids, I love everything about them. I loved when I would see them using one of my mannerisms. I would love when one of them wore their hat a little crooked, like there was just like these little things that I love. And I love the connections that I was making.

8:58 It got to a point where I kept coming to certain people in the school with these ideas that I had, that were finally giving me excitement again. Something to look forward to to kind of take away some of that anxiety, some exciting things. I felt like it was more of a personal thing that I wasn’t allowed or they didn’t believe in me to make these things come to life. But now thinking about it, like maybe those things just weren’t important for that school. Right? Like maybe the things that I wanted to do weren’t what was on their list of things. Maybe it was on that side list that it’s like, hey, if we get through everything here, yeah sure you could do it. But this is our priority list and that thing that you want to do sounds cool. But it’s not on the list. Now I’m able to see that, but that being said, it came to a point I was like, well that thing excites me a lot more than this thing that’s causing me so much anxiety. And it took so much for me to say I’m not coming back. Because I kept thinking about the children. And I’d be lying if I said that I don’t go on that Instagram page and look at some of them. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, look at that kid, I know that smile.” Because they’re a part of me, they always will be. I mean, if you think about it there’s always some teacher that you think about, some school friend that you think about and those were my friends. You know all this being said, it came down to a point where I was like, well, this other thing that I’m also really passionate about is less stressful and excites me. And the possibilities are kind of endless. So I can keep growing versus teaching, which I love but causes me so much anxiety. If I’m thinking about it, I can’t be as present as I want to be. Because I’m always thinking about, “oh, my gosh, is this kid gonna get hurt, if the kid gets hurt, I have to call the parents, if the parents aren’t fine about it, great. But if they’re not, oh, my gosh, what if when they get home they have this going on…” and then they have to go to the spirals. That’s how my brain would work, it would spiral. And I realized, the best thing that you can do for your students, is knowing when it’s time, and for me, it was four years, I had a great three and a half years. Let’s be real, I had a great three years. And then it was time, it was time for me to move on. And if I didn’t, I don’t know where I would be. I think it would be so miserable. I honestly don’t even think I would have made it through probably the first few months of this school year.

11:56 Now, I get to look at Sprouting Minds, which I’ve had for nine months. And say, you’re sitting at home at night, talking to essentially yourself until you put this out there, and you are enjoying it. Like you’re literally staring at your face, which you don’t like to do. And you’re okay with it. You know, I think that the point of this little section that I guess, I went on a tangent about is just that, you know, before we judge anyone’s story, we need to hear it, we need to understand it. And I think that I was extremely scared to let the school in that piece of me go. I think I was terrified to leave. Because leaving means growing on some level and believing in myself. I think that it’s important to think about these things and to reflect on situations that we’ve been in. And reflecting on how that last year went. It was really hard for a multitude of reasons. But I wouldn’t go back because everything that I did, did make me who I am right now, to be able to do this and build Sprouting Minds. I think that once my mind clicked and realized that I hadn’t been thinking about myself at all. I was like, oh you need to do something different. You need to make a change, you need to pivot, pivot away. And that was really scary. And things happen, things happen. And we learn from them, and we grow from them. And we sprout up and we learn how to keep moving forward. And it’s scary. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And yeah, I just wanted to kind of share how I got here. I don’t think that I’ve told anyone besides my parents and my brother about this part of it. Like the anxiety that I had every day, well and my therapist will include her too. By divulging this to you guys in tears sharing who I am and saying like, look, I do have a lot of anxiety. And I’ve learned a lot of tools as too how to work through them. I have come a long way in vocalizing how I’m feeling daring when I’m feeling anxious and why I’m feeling anxious in learning to talk to my therapist and talk to my family and share now with you guys that I’m just like you. I’m human and I have anxiety and I’m finally learning the tools to help myself through those times. I didn’t know how to do that beforehand. Yeah, there were other reasons that I left my teaching job that I’m not going to share on here but a big takeaway that I noticed was that my mental health was not improving in any way while I was teaching and that I needed to step away from that to also benefit those children and those parents, because I wasn’t gonna be able to be 100% for those children. Eventually, it would have caught up to me. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, if I became the teacher that started to bring a child’s education experience down. I don’t want to do that. I always want to bring it up, because I didn’t have the best educational experience in the beginning and that really affected me. 

15:40 All this being said, I think I might do a bonus episode occasionally. Just to help you guys learn more about me, because I do try when I interview my guests to give them the platform. And so although I have guiding questions, I try to let them have as much space and freedom to talk about things that I’m interested in and they’re interested in. And this way, I’m talking. Right now I’m talking to myself. But I will hopefully be sharing this with you guys. And I hope you know, if you listen to this, you’ll give me feedback. Tell me if there are things that you want me to talk about that I’ve experienced. I’m kind of enjoying just saying my thoughts out here. If you do want more of them, let me know I need feedback, guys. I need you guys to start talking to me telling me what you like, what you don’t like. But I hope that this episode has helped you understand a little bit more about how I got into podcasting. And you know, I’m not going anywhere. I have a lot of guests that I’ve interviewed in the past month, and I’m slowly getting them out there for you guys to listen to. But it’s exciting. And I’m just always happy to connect with people and learn more about how we can make this place that we live in. Kinder. So be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Keep sprouting upwards and I’ll talk to you guys later.


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