Classroom to Copy #10: How Teachers Can Break Free from Burnout and Build Thriving Careers as Copywriters
8:36AM May 21, 2023
Hi everyone how's it going? Welcome back to another episode of classroom to copy. And this episode is dedicated to this really great post that I saw on copy chief because you know there are tonnes of us out there are teachers who want to become copywriters and whoever's listening is not alone. And I think this particular post broadens the discussion around why we leave teaching and all of the guilt associated with it. And I want to take some time to respond to the post. So this person, you know, was a teacher for 18 years, and she was talking about why it's so hard for teachers to realise they can stop being teachers. She talks about tunnel vision, you know, a lot of teachers going to think going into teaching thinking that there will always be teachers and whether or not you like it, it becomes a part of your identity. So I can definitely relate to that because even though I knew from the start of my six year contract that I was never going to stay or get too comfortable in this job. And I really mostly just saw it as a job. The truth about teaching is that it's a very emotional commitment. You cannot get through the six years without forming deep relationships with your students and like caring deeply about them. So whether we like it or not, our relationships with the people around us definitely play a huge part in shaping our identities. And I think it's that huge emotional commitment that start to take hold and shape who you think you are before you even realise it. Even someone like me, who knew that I wasn't going to stay forever. But I'm noticing that what happens as this person has shared is that you know, a lot of teachers realise it's not working out anymore. They face burnout, they're neglecting their loved ones. And this very interesting phrase that I saw was the impossible demands of being a teacher. I cannot even begin to describe this. I am not even from America. I'm from Singapore, but it seems like teachers around the world faced they all face similar demands. I mean, I just interviewed someone who taught in New Zealand. You know, and I don't think many people outside of teaching realise that we serve. We are balancing the interests of many different to US corporate speak, stakeholders. At the same time. You know, we're balancing what, you know, if you're in a government school, what the government has, what they want you to teach the curriculum that they hand down even though it might be very out of touch with reality and what students need. You're balancing the interest of parents. And you know, I learned from the teacher who taught in New Zealand, Charlotte, that you know, even that preschool parents are very involved in the day to day even at such an early stage. In their children's education. I think parents are understandably facing a lot more pressure these days. And they're a lot more involved. That's also another set of demands that teachers juggle. you're juggling the demands of management, what they want you to do. You're juggling the needs, the emotional needs, the educational needs of your students. And then you know, where does that leave what you want, right from your army. And to talk about impossible demands, I worked seven days a weeks, you know, I couldn't get my grading done in time most days. So that would spill over to the weekends and also as an art teacher. And here's a really unusual thing that I observed about art teachers, you know, science laboratories in schools, they get like technicians and Abba's assistants to set up the beakers and the equipment but I have never seen a school in Singapore where there was someone who was a teacher, you know, someone else who could help out with the art teachers to set up paint for like 40 Students paint paper, drawing paper canvases. And to put aside all of that after the lesson, you know, and clear the room for the next group of like 40 kids. I've never seen that for for an art teacher. So most days, I was getting up at five to set up the art room so yeah, the demands were impossible if you do not exist in a school system that recognises everything that a teacher might be juggling, and, you know, a school system that has its own agenda that's not really in the interests of the people who are there on the ground in the classroom. It would be the students and the teachers. And so, you know, then this going back to this post, you know, feeling of failure when you you can't meet all these impossible demands. I just remember comparing myself to, you know, teachers who taught other subjects and maybe they're less labour intensive. I don't want to say that it's less work, but physical labour, you know, in terms of like, all the things I said, No. Some days I could be like hauling 10 canvases out of the storeroom and that's physically intense. And now think about it teachers who had kids, you know, who were juggling kids, especially during the pandemic and we would have online lessons and then you'd see your colleagues kids pop out in the background. And I definitely felt like a failure because you know, it's like, Why can't Can't I juggle all of this? You know, when someone else who is a parent is juggling their kids and teaching them um, I was very ready to leave. I was I actually spent the six years counting down. I had a countdown calendar at my desk, and that kept me going. Ah, but I was also very uncertain about what was going to happen on the other end of that final day. So as this person says, we are afraid to explore the unknown. I think to someone on the outside it would look pretty crazy to leave job security financial security, and the familiarity of teaching and then to opt for the unknown instead, but I think that also shows the extent of the desperation and burnout we feel when we're at the end. of our journeys. I think I spent I left July 2021, we spent the rest of the year I threw myself into my art. I was drawing every day and painting every day. I knew I wasn't going to make a career out of that. I wasn't interested in, you know, going from a career where I was underpaid, and where the subjects I thought were not appreciated. To another career where I would face the exact same thing. You know, I was doing love digital art, and I explored the careers of other other digital artists. And their journeys. And I knew her personally, I'm not fit to go down that path. I'm like, I just have no interest in doing that. My art is too precious to me. And I didn't want to go through another you know six years 10 years of questioning the value of art and creativity and creative labour. Nah, man. No, thank you. So and then the next thing that this person talks about was like getting sick. And, and you know, they had COVID But now even though they have yet to, you know, move into copywriting full time, they're happier, they're healthier, and I could say the exact same thing.
Um I definitely struggled a lot with mental health in the six years that I was a teacher and you know, I feel ready to say that now because I feel like that's such an important thing to talk about.
I think that the environment that you're in influences your mental health a lot. And no, now I get to work from home and I get to be compensated well, for work that I do well has made a huge difference to my mental health. But my physical health and the things that, you know, teaching has taken away, I can never recover those things. So to be perfectly frank with you when you're young and stupid and you wear heels to work because that's what you think you're supposed to wear. Yeah, I have no fat at the bottom of my feet anymore. Like the heel pad of my feet is completely gone. I thought I had other like problems, plantar fasciitis or Achilles and then night is none of that there is no fat at the bottom or feed and from all the standards. You know, as a teacher, there's a whole other list. I'm not here to whine but like I don't think anyone recognises the physical toll that teaching really takes on the person the physical and mental toll. And yet we feel guilty about it, you know, and that guilt can really interfere with our self belief, our confidence, our ability to take on another job, or move into a new profession, because you know, if the profession that we were in previously has, you know, taken such a toll, a toll on our bodies. You know, I remember thinking like, look at how I handle these six years. How could I possibly be fit to do any other job? Like that's how low it got for me. And that's why I distract myself with my art. So I'm really glad that this person has found copywriting although originally they found like an extremely overpriced course. And I think you know, there's something to to be said for the patience and persistence that this person has showed. You know, instead of just Charlotte talks about it in her interview, too, which is that you don't have to dive all in and then just throw a whole bunch of cash, right, like you can start small you start somewhere, test it out, dip your toes in the water and see if it's for you. Because the person in this post did a lot of research. And after a while got a sense of you know, who were the reputable names in the industry. And now they're a part of escape velocity and copy chief. And I'm really happy for them. In fact, their family sponsor their sponsor there. Escape Velocity course. And even their post is really compellingly written it's emotionally compelling to read. I'm sure this person is going to succeed as a copywriter in leveraging all of the skills of empathy, of you know, being able to write very emotionally compelling way and this person is so deeply engaged in the community. I am constantly reaching out to people so I think they found the right place. They're in the right programme to make that transition. You know, into copywriting. And house is so sweet. Escape Velocity was Mother's Day gift for them. So yeah, this has just been, you know, a short little post about this ever evolving. conversation that I'm having with other teachers turned the copywriters slash teachers who want to become copywriters. As the conversation grows, and we go deeper into the issues I don't want to hold back I don't want to you know, avoid talking about the very sticky and kind of, you know, kind of upsetting aspects of leaving teaching and why we leave. So to go back to the whole idea of, of guilt. There's guilt about leaving your students because you've built that relationship with them and you feel like you owe them the entire journey of their development. But you know what, after going through you know, there are some of my students whom I have worked with, from, you know, between the ages of 13 to 16. And I've gone through that cycle several times. Sometimes I don't get to follow them for all four years. Sometimes they you know, they turn out great. Sometimes they face obstacles, they get lost. They're struggling sometimes I don't even recognise them anymore. And even though their kids and their teenagers I also had to recognise that they're human beings on journeys of their own. And we each have our own limited spheres of influence, and control. And I am not responsible. In fact, I'm not the sole person responsible for each child's development. And I think Charlotte brought this up in the last episode as well. And it's really great point. We're not doing our students any favours by staying if we're not in our best state. If we no longer feel passionate about the job, if we're not provided the resources to adequately support those students. Not doing them any favours either when we're stretched thin, when we're burnt out, and we're unhappy. So I mean, I just gonna leave it at that, like, I don't think I've just spin this into like a positive, positive ending like this. is just what it is. There is an entire system responsible for the development of these students. And the fact that most of us leave when we're burnt out, like we have given more than our best, and we do owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves and to move on into something that might be more emotionally and financially fulfilling. So that's my two cents about the whole thing. and I'm really grateful to this person who inspired this post. If you wondering why I'm not mentioning their name, it's because I wanted to record this immediately and I'm going to get their permission to share with everyone. Alright, that's all for me, and I'll see you next week. While you're here for me next week on classroom to copy.