Quitting Teaching Mid-Year: Can You Really Do It?

Devlin Peck
. Updated on 
March 29, 2024
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Ever wondered whether you can quit a teaching position midway through the year?

Changing roles can be intimidating. And you’re probably curious as to whether there could be any impact on your finances or future roles.

In this article, we cover:

Let’s dive in!

Can you quit teaching mid-year?

Teacher burnout is on the rise. And if you’re one of the thousands desperate to restore work-life balance then you might be considering leaving too.

In fact, according to one survey by Rand, teachers are more than twice as likely to be stressed than other working adults. This burnout is attributed to several factors, including short staffing and overwork, poor well-being, and low salaries.

A NEA study also shows that there are 500,000 fewer educators across America post-pandemic and more than half of all teachers are leaving the profession sooner than originally planned. These stats make it appear as if these problems are only going to get worse.

For this reason, many people are wondering whether they can leave their jobs midway through the year.

If you’re one of them, know that there are some circumstances in which you can quit your role immediately (which we will explore in the next section).

That said, it’s generally easier to see out the academic year as this means you avoid any potential legal repercussions. (However, don’t let that scare you – contracts vary and you may not face any legal repercussions.)

It should also be noted that we recommend you speak to your lawyer or union rep for advice before taking action – and this article is not intended as legal guidance.

When can you quit teaching mid-year?

To understand when you can leave your teaching role, you should always start by thoroughly reading your contract.

While regulations vary significantly from state to state, wherever you’re located, it’s highly unlikely that there will be no consequences for quitting mid-year unless it’s due to a specific set of circumstances. We outline these below.  

You’ll also have to make sure you follow the proper procedures for leaving your role… but more on that later.

When you can quit teaching mid-year

Common circumstances where your contract may allow you to quit teaching mid-year include:

When you can’t quit teaching mid-year:

Needless to say, nobody can force you to go to work. That said, some reasons might make it impractical or inadvisable to resign mid-year. These include:

What happens if you quit your teaching job mid-year?

Repercussions of quitting teaching mid-year can include:

If you aren’t sure your reasons for quitting will enable you to avoid these pitfalls, it’s a good idea to talk to your union representative or seek other professional legal advice before you quit.

There might be other ways you can work through your situation such as an authorized leave of absence, sabbatical, or unpaid job-protected leave as stipulated in the FMLA.

How do you quit teaching?

You’ve done your research, been over your contract, sought the proper legal advice, and decided that you’re going to quit. Now it’s important to do it the right way.

Following the right procedure will minimize hassle, help protect you from any nasty surprises, and help you maintain a good relationship with your employer when moving on.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Statement of resignation: State your intention to resign from your role.
  2. Effective date: Specify the last day of your employment.
  3. Reason for resignation: You don’t have to do this, but providing a brief explanation of why you want to resign can be helpful.
  4. Thank you note: Again, this is optional and depending on why you’re leaving might not be appropriate. If you are leaving on good terms though it’s polite to thank the school for the opportunity.

What can you do next?

Once you're ready to take the next step in your career, you can take stock of your available options.

Experience in teaching will have given you an invaluable range of skills that you can apply to many professions and it’s good to do some research and see what other roles you might enjoy.

For a deeper look at this, take a look at our guides:

One option that’s ideal if you’re looking for a better work-life balance but still want to use transferable skills from teaching is Instructional Design.

As an Instructional Designer, you develop and create learning experiences for professionals at companies, organizations, and nonprofits.You’ll still have the gratification of developing learning materials but with the added bonus of being able to work remotely and flexibly. You could also earn more —  average salaries for IDs in corporate roles in the US are $85,452and 94% of instructional designers are happy with their work-life balance according to our survey.

In other words, a career in Instructional Design might be your ticket to earn more, stress less, and put your talents to good use.

If you’re wondering how to transition from teacher to instructional designer, check out our Instructional Design Bootcamp. You’ll learn how to build a strong portfolio that helps you stand out from others in the industry and get personalized feedback and step-by-step guidance on your work.  

Next steps

We hope this guide has been useful in helping you understand the complexities of quitting teaching mid-year.

While it’s often not possible to leave your job early, as long as you pay attention to your contract and follow the right steps, you should be able to.

That only leaves you with the question of what to do next…

Your time as a teacher will have helped you hone a unique skill set that you can bring to a huge range of new roles. You could find a role (such as instructional design) that gives you more flexibility and time off, less stress, and more money.

If instructional design sounds like an interesting next step in your career, sign up for my free checklist to learn more.

This covers how you can become an instructional designer, including the most important models and theories of instructional design as well as the technology that will help you get a great start in this field.

Devlin Peck
Devlin Peck
Devlin Peck is the founder of DevlinPeck.com, where he helps people build instructional design skills and break into the industry. He previously worked as a freelance instructional designer and graduated from Florida State University.
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