How to Quit a Teaching Job

Quit your teaching job in a way that underscores your natural professionalism.

Quit your teaching job in a way that underscores your natural professionalism.

As a teacher, you’re accustomed to acting like a consummate professional at all times. Don’t let this terrific, spot-on instinct fail you if you’ve found another teaching position and must quit your current one. Ask to speak with your direct supervisor at a convenient time and walk into the session with your signed resignation letter in a folder. A verbal notification is common courtesy and a written letter is necessary for your personnel file. Even if you’re leaving behind a difficult or contentious workplace, rise to the occasion and quit your teaching job on a positive and gracious note. A career path can take unexpected turns, and you never know when you might need a positive reference.

Verbal Notice

Consult your employee handbook so that you follow your school’s resignation procedures, especially with regard to the notice required.

Ask to speak with your principal or direct supervisor at a convenient time. Be sure that the time and location affords you privacy and minimal distractions. You may pique her curiosity, but if she asks for the topic of conversation, say that it’s “personal” and that you wish to discuss the matter later and in private.

Take a deep breath and adopt a calm and low-key demeanor. Open the conversation by thanking your principal or supervisor for making time for you. Then get right to the point, perhaps by saying, “I hope you know that I’ve really enjoyed teaching here. But I have found another teaching position that will afford me a better professional fit.” Even in the best professional climates, referring to a better “fit” elsewhere should steer you clear of hurtful admissions and painful accusations. It keeps you on the high road.

Address any questions your principal or supervisor might have in a forthright manner, keeping in mind that this really is no time to air grievances or lodge complaints about your current position. Constructive comments are best left for your exit interview. Be prepared to tell your principal or supervisor a little about your new position, but don’t gloat; be humble.

Tell your principal or supervisor your last day of work, following the dictates in your employee manual. Be prepared to give her the expected two weeks’ notice – more if you can accommodate extra time.

Offer to train your replacement or a teacher substitute. Promise to do what you can to make your departure as stress-free as possible on the staff and students.

Demonstrate your graciousness about the job you are leaving behind. Express your appreciation for your principal or supervisor’s leadership and/or credit your colleagues with contributing to your day-to-day enjoyment of your job. Above all, be sincere and follow the maxim: “If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all.”

Hand your principal or supervisor the folder containing your signed resignation letter. She may wish to read it on the spot, so politely give her the time to do so. There should be no “surprises” in the letter, meaning there should be symmetry between your conversation and the contents of the letter.

Written Notice

Center your name and contact information at the top of the letter. Choose a bigger font for your name so that it stands out.

Direct your letter to your principal or direct supervisor. Copy the appropriate parties -- a direction that should be outlined in your employee handbook.

Begin your letter with a direct statement. For example, you might say: “Please consider this my official resignation as a teacher at (name of school), effective (name the date).”

Provide a brief explanation about why you are quitting – in this case, because you’ve accepted another teaching position. Name the school but do not mention your new salary.

Segue to your accomplishments and contributions, perhaps by saying, “During my tenure, it was my pleasure to manage/direct/spearhead…” Remember that someone at the school may refer to this letter in giving you a future job reference, so toot your horn but do so with humility.

Express your gratitude to your colleagues and your wish to make your departure as seamless as possible for them. Offer to provide training or admin support before your last day of work.

Close your letter on gracious note, wishing the principal or supervisor “continued success” with its educational objectives. You may wish to express your hope to keep in touch, but again: say so only if you really mean it.

Proofread and edit your letter to ensure that it is flawless -- and then bask in the knowledge that you’ve covered your bases like a true pro.


  • News tends to travel quickly in most schools, so keep the lid on your resignation until you’ve had the chance to speak with your principal or direct supervisor, who should be the first person to hear the news.
  • Do your level best to leave your current teaching job on good terms because you never know when you may need a positive reference in the future. Remember too that your resignation letter may be placed at the very top of your personnel file. In this case, the letter will be the first reminder of your tenure at the school, so make your last impression a positive one.

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About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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