The Anti-Climax of Handing In Your Notice

You’ve handed in your notice to leave teaching and perhaps you're experiencing some mixed feelings about it all. Let's explore those in this blog ...

You finally did it. You’ve handed in your notice, and you’re getting ready to exit the classroom and start your next adventure.

Perhaps it’s taken you weeks, months or even years to reach this point of making a firm decision and taking action. You might have expected to feel a huge excitement, great relief or intense jubilation.

And maybe you do feel that way.

But, you might also be finding yourself feeling a little sad, angry, resentful, anxious or even … flat.

Of course you do! You’ve taken a leap - a monumental step in your career journey - and huge decisions are, more often than not, accompanied by a flood of emotions. Some of which we might have been expecting, and some which might take you by surprise.

For many burnt out and exhausted teachers, the decision to hand in their notice is a bittersweet one, marked by a mix of relief, uncertainty, and even grief. If you've recently taken this leap, you're not alone in experiencing what can sometimes be an anti-climactic aftermath.

Let’s explore some of what you might be going through right now …

1. Conflicting Emotions

The decision to leave teaching is rarely straightforward. While some may expect to feel an overwhelming sense of comfort or excitement at the prospect of a new chapter, the reality can be far more nuanced. Instead of happiness, it's not uncommon to be met with a swirl of conflicting emotions. The relief may be there, but so too could be feelings of doubt, anxiety, and perhaps even a sense of loss.

You might hear your well-meaning colleagues say things like …

"Wow, you're so brave!"

"I wish I was leaving too."

"I bet you're looking forward to something new."

... and maybe those words don't seem to be matching up with how you're actually feeling right now.

Perhaps you feel like this choice was taken away from you; that burnout and exhaustion left you with no option to stay. Perhaps your anticipation of what’s to come next is twinged with nerves more than excitement. Perhaps a little bit of self-doubt and questioning yourself is starting to creep in.

This mixture of feelings can be confusing and scary to navigate. You might also be feeling not much at all - those low, flat feelings can be just as unsettling. I hope it helps to know that this is a completely normal part of riding that decision-making wave and that there are many other teachers out there (or who’ve gone before you) feeling exactly the same way that you do. This will pass.

2. Identity Struggles

One of the most daunting aspects of leaving teaching is the potential identity crisis that accompanies it. For many teachers, their profession isn't just a job—it's a core part of who they are. Walking away from the classroom can leave a void, prompting questions like, "If I'm not a teacher, then who am I?"

Here’s the thing:

You are still a teacher.

You will always be a teacher; a trainer; a facilitator; a nurturer - and all the other things that come with it.

That part of you isn’t going anywhere. It isn’t lost forever.

But it does have the chance to be re-imagined. While the transition out of teaching may feel daunting, this is your opportunity to rediscover and redefine yourself beyond your current job title. The next stage is going to be all about taking those important aspects of your identity (the bits that really mean a lot to you), along with your own personal values and the things that you love doing, and starting to re-frame the picture of who you are.

I know that this can be really tough at the start, but I promise it gets easier as you start to recognise that you aren’t losing any part of yourself here … instead, get ready to gain something new!

3. Low Energy and Confidence

If you were planning to hand your notice in and throw yourself head-first into job hunting or business building, but now you just can’t seem to muster up the energy or enthusiasm for any of it … THAT IS OKAY. Even more than being okay, those struggles are normal, expected and felt by many who have gone through or are going through the same as you.

Whilst you are still within the school environment (or even if you are off-sick and remain in your notice period), it can be very difficult to get that clarity around what you are capable of, what might be possible and what you want to do. Don't put too much pressure on yourself! One of the most valuable parts of this journey will be in gaining a sense of space away from the classroom.

Space to recover and decompress.

Space to think about who you are, and who you want to be, outside of school.

Space to explore your options and think about your own future.

You’re likely exhausted and burnt out. And making the decision to leave and handing in your notice will have taken even more out of you.

So before you have the chance to gain that space, it's time for compassion. Do what you can and no more than that. Aim for positive and gentle self-talk. Take care of yourself as best you can. Rather than pressuring yourself to have all the answers immediately, extend yourself a little kindness and remember that clarity often emerges with time and distance from the classroom.

4. Feelings of Grief

Leaving teaching can conjure up a sense of grief—a mourning for the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Feelings of resentment, anger, or sadness are not uncommon during this process. This might show up for you immediately after making the decision to move on, or it might take a few weeks for these feelings to develop.

The most important thing when it comes to navigating this part of your journey, is to acknowledge and process these emotions in a healthy way, whether through conversations with trusted confidants or through introspective practices like journaling.

By allowing yourself to confront these feelings (now, or when you have greater capacity to confront them) you can pave the way for a smoother transition into the next phase of your career journey.

The time following your decision to leave teaching, marked with the finality of handing in your notice, is often characterised by a huge range of emotions.

Guess what?

It’s normal to feel up and down.

It’s normal to question your identity.

It’s normal to feel happy and excited.

It’s normal to experience self-doubt and anxiety.

It’s normal to feel flat.

It’s normal to battle a sense of grief and loss.

It’s also normal if you’re not going through any of these things at all!

You’re heading into a time of transition and transformation, marked by self-discovery and the opportunity to redefine your identity outside the classroom. By practicing self-compassion, acknowledging and processing complex emotions, and seeking support when needed, you can successfully navigate through these challenges.

If you need it, the Adventures After Teaching Academy can help you with practical career advice, burnout recovery and a wonderfully supportive community of like-minded career-changing individuals.

You're not alone in this journey—remember, the best is yet to come.