Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

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TiredTeach
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Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2024 4:09 am

Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by TiredTeach »

Hi folks,

I’m hoping for some advice from people who have taken career breaks and then returned (or tried) to full time classroom teaching.

After 11 years of working full time as a high school teacher in international schools I needed a break. I’ve been without a fixed contract for the past school year. In this time, I’ve been tutoring privately, done a few freelance gigs, and tried my hand in some jobs outside of education to explore other career options. I currently have an offer for a teaching position at a school starting in august, but I’m considering taking another year ‘off’ (still tutoring, etc) before going back to full-time. My concern is that prospective new employers/school leaders may respond badly to a two-year break. Have any of you taken breaks for several years before returning to the classroom? Did you find it a challenge when interviewing for new roles?

Grateful for any advice or insight offered! Thanks 😊
interteach
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:25 pm

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by interteach »

I've taken two breaks, but no long ones - two years due to Covid and one year for health issues. I worked part-time during both breaks in education-related work (and not for an entire year), and was able to put the experience on my resume, which helped. I've heard of other teachers taking some time off, and I would put the reason in my cover letter. For me, in both cases, I landed very high-paying jobs.

I think your field may affect your hiring chances. I work in a field that has a chronic shortage, and I'm sure that helped. Going back, if you aren't in a high-demand field, you may or may not have the choice of top schools, but if you're willing to accept a more mid-range school you may be OK. Strong references will help.
TiredTeach
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2024 4:09 am

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by TiredTeach »

Thanks for your response! May I ask what field you are in?
interteach
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:25 pm

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by interteach »

IB Math
Heliotrope
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 1:48 am

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by Heliotrope »

interteach wrote:
> IB Math

May I ask what kind of high-paying jobs you landed, and how you liked them?
interteach
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:25 pm

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by interteach »

I can't discuss actual schools, but my references were excellent and I've taken advantage of PD to improve my work, either through what the school offered or an allowance (if provided). I was pretty well set up to get interviews.

A number of schools were known for being fast-paced and expecting a fair amount of work from teachers, but I enjoy that.
Heliotrope
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 1:48 am

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by Heliotrope »

interteach wrote:
> I can't discuss actual schools, but my references were excellent and I've
> taken advantage of PD to improve my work, either through what the school
> offered or an allowance (if provided). I was pretty well set up to get
> interviews.
>
> A number of schools were known for being fast-paced and expecting a fair
> amount of work from teachers, but I enjoy that.

I actually meant the non-teaching jobs ("education-related work"), but I misread and thought those were the high-paying jobs.
interteach
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:25 pm

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by interteach »

Volunteer tutoring at high-need schools, short online courses on developments in the field, and in one case helping out a school implementing the IB. Not a huge amount of time at each one, but enough to show I was still professionally engaged.
PsyGuy
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Location: Northern Europe

Response

Post by PsyGuy »

You can do just about anything for a year outside of edu and not suffer any significant effects to either marketability.
If your doing something edu or edu adjacent you can get by with two years before you start seeing a loss in marketability.
A good deal of the variance depends on how you spin it when going through the screening and selection process.
The more in demand your instructional field and age level is the more marketable you are overall and this includes periods of absence.
kfssbjj
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:54 pm

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by kfssbjj »

Just remember, every year you are out of the US cost you in state retirement and social security income.
Hope the loss of retirement income was worth it.
PsyGuy
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Location: Northern Europe

Discussion

Post by PsyGuy »

@kfssbjj identifies a crucial point, while there are ways to cycle foreign income into SS, IE in general doesnt provide the social retirement programs youd find in even the most rudimentary aspects of DE.
mysharona
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Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:25 am

Re: Taking a career break - how hard is it to return?

Post by mysharona »

[quote=kfssbjj post_id=64335 time=1718378931 user_id=26105]
Just remember, every year you are out of the US cost you in state retirement and social security income.
Hope the loss of retirement income was worth it.
[/quote]

KFSSBJJ is assuming that an international teacher is spending every penny they earn while working overseas and coming home with nothing. That might be true in some cases but that is more an instance of financial silliness than lack of opportunity to put money into retirement accounts. Admittedly, not going international and finishing my career in Canada would have provided me with a pretty healthy pension after thirty years of teaching. However, that reservoir of money would have been beyond my reach outside of my monthly pension cheque. My wife and I managed to save a healthy nest egg and are sitting one year out from retiring with a pot of money that we control and have access to whenever we need it. In addition we have had 22 years of adventures, great colleagues, exceptional students and other experiences that money won't buy.

In the end it comes down to choices and risk and what are you willing to make and take on.

As for taking a break, we took a two year break and then went back overseas when we realized our love of teaching was still there. Our age was more a hinderance than our "break" was.
PsyGuy
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

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Post by PsyGuy »

@mysharona

Thats all your coin though, and its not something a DT couldnt do as well, but youre not getting that coin matched or guaranteed as you would in a pension or retirement scheme. Yes there are tradeoffs, choices and risks that come along with those choices, but its not untrue.
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