Mahala Kuehne says she still experiences her favorite parts of teaching in her current job at a nonprofit, just without the stress and burnout.

Mahala Kuehne taught middle school science for five years before leaving to work at a nonprofit.
She says large classes, low pay, long hours, and safety concerns during the pandemic contributed to quitting.
“It might be more succinct to say what’s not wrong with teaching than what is wrong with it,” she said.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Mahala Kuehne, a former middle school science teacher in California who now works at a nonprofit. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my biology degree, and I always loved school, so I thought I’d teach.

Teaching could be really fun. I loved working with kids and seeing them get excited about learning.

But there were also a lot of challenges in teaching. It might be more succinct to say what’s not wrong with it than what is.

One issue was large class sizes and the lack of available support in those classes. In my last year, my classes varied from 22 to 35 students. It can be very complex to prepare lessons for so many different people with different learning needs. When classrooms are packed and you don’t have an aide, it’s difficult to give each student the special attention they need.

Another issue is the lack of mental and physical health support for teachers. I burned out probably within my second month. I would come home and not have any energy. No one prepares teachers for this.

There’s also not enough time in the day for everything. There were weeks when meetings took up my prep period on four out of five days. I can’t grade 150 papers, respond to emails, make parent phone calls, and plan lessons all in one 48-minute period.

By my fifth year, I was making around $55,000, which was actually relatively high. But the work really requires like a 9- or 10-hour workday, so I often worked early, and I started feeling resentful that I wasn’t being paid for that extra work.

There’s this unspoken rule that you shouldn’t complain because it’s a passion-based job; you’re not supposed to care about the money. But ultimately, I should care about the money; this is a job. I won’t be a …read more

Source:: Business Insider


I left teaching after 5 years because the long hours, low pay, and constant stress were unsustainable. I finally feel like I have my life back again.

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