Why I quit TEFL

I loved teaching English with passion. And I loved teaching English, with a passion.

I loved spending my days with a bunch of little people, playing games and drawing pictures and seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Sharing my journey with these tiny lives that are so full of love, simplicity and innocence; there are some moments that will warm the cockles of my heart for as long as I live. 


There were also all those challenges that I never thought I would have to overcome.

Singing and dancing on a stage under spotlights in front of hundreds of people? Sure just make sure my dress is cute this time.


Explaining my culture to six-year-olds through a language barrier? Hell yes! I taught every one of my classes that in my culture if a woman wants to be a mechanic or a man wants to be a nurse that’s not funny, it’s actually a totally normal and acceptable thing to do because we don’t do stereotypes or limiting beliefs in my classroom or in my world.


Becoming the only female Senior Teacher after just 6 months? Well someone had to step up and help the new teachers when they arrived jet-lagged, culture-shocked and confused. I believe some might even call this “making friends” or “professional development”. 


However, as my experience in different grade groups and the job demands increased, the exhaustion began to set in. It stopped being about fun and games and learning. It slowly became more about pressuring every single student to achieve consistently high results and comparing their progress to other students and classes. I hated having to lie about students on report cards and knowing that test scores would be changed after I marked them so that parents would save face and happily continue to invest in the program and I would keep having a roof over my head.

Seeing the same people at work all day and then getting on a van and travelling back to our shared apartment building together made work/ life/ social balance a whole lot more… intimate. I didn’t make many friends outside of work because of my own language and accent barriers. Don’t get me wrong, at any given time there were about 20 foreign teachers on staff, but in reflection, it made it too easy to not push myself to develop my social network a little further. 


Eventually, the pressure in my life made me realise I didn’t want to be in the classroom anymore. I didn’t enjoy the expectations on my workload, the relationships with my colleagues, or anything apart from the smiles and lightbulb moments from the students I worked with.


I was exhausted, burned out through my bones, my heart and my soul. This was not the life I wanted any more and I knew it with every fibre of my being. But I had been living this life now for 4 years, and it had been 3 years since I had even visited home. I wasn’t the same person as when I left searching for my happiness, and I wasn’t the same person as when I arrived and found it.


Yet again, I found myself in this position of being unhappy with my life. I was closer to reaching my potential, but still not quite there.


So again, I quit my job, the life I had spent years now setting in motion, thinking I was doing the right thing. But by this time, I was married to an amazing, supportive partner who fully believed in my dreams and was willing to carry both of us financially while I worked on the big picture goal to build an empire for us that would sustain us for the long term so that I could gift him the time and space to build the business online that he was interested in pursuing.

And now?


I am still working on building my coaching business, and perhaps always will be. I love coaching people, partnering with my clients to achieve their goals. I love specifically working with expat women who, like me, want to change the world in some way. I love helping people become happier with their lives because I think the whole world could use a little more happiness.

And that starts with quitting the things that make us unhappy.

Pam