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"Quiet Quitting" for Educators

"Quiet quitting" is a social media trend that encourages employees to unsubscribe from the hustle culture. Some say it is synonymous with employee disengagement, "acting your wage," or simply doing the job you were hired to do.

Burnout and stress hit an all-time high for professionals across industries during the pandemic. In an effort to prioritize mental and physical health, employees are no longer going above and beyond the requirements of their job. While the term has received LOTS of criticism, is this new? Not exactly. Many critics of the term say "quiet quitting" is doing the bare minimum of your job description. Others say it is simply having healthy boundaries and "working smarter, not harder".

If you work in education, you may wonder, is this something I need to try? The idea of "quiet quitting" may be daunting because we work with kids. You don't want to feel like you are quitting on the kids. In fact, you aren't quitting anything. "Quiet quitting" does not mean you are quitting your job. You are no longer centering your life around your work. You are unsubscribing to the toxic mindset that to be successful, you have to sacrifice your well-being. You are quitting the practice of giving away your labor for free.

Instead, here are some boundaries that you can set to "quietly quit" or push back against the demands of the system. I suggest reframing "quiet quitting" as having a clear separation between your personal life and work life: did somebody say BOUNDARIES!!

Setting and enforcing boundaries with yourself and others may be difficult at first stirring a variety of feelings like liberation and joy, but also, guilt. Teacher guilt is the feeling of not doing enough for the kids you serve. You may feel as if you are not meeting a certain standard or expectation. It is important to unpack teacher guilt. What is the source? What story are you telling yourself? What is the reality?

As a beginning teacher, I found myself feeling the most guilty when I fell short of where I thought I needed to be in my career. I'd created this image of a good teacher in my mind and put so much pressure on my shoulders to conform to the norms of the system. Arriving early, leaving late, saying 'yes,' grading everything, responding immediately, and the list of "doing whatever it takes for the kids" goes on and on.

What I failed to realize was that I did not have to accept the good teacher narrative I'd painted over the years. I thought that being a good teacher meant I put myself on the back burner to serve others. I had accepted that I knew what I was signing up for and that I had to deal with it. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I could be an amazing teacher AND prioritize myself. I could learn how to navigate the ebbs and flows of the school year. I deserved to treat myself with care so that I could do the work I signed up to do. Here's how I ditched teacher guilt.

You should not feel guilty for having a life outside of teaching. Healthy boundaries and harmony between your personal and professional life are necessary. Do not blame yourself for the unsustainable working conditions created by this system. Doing your job is not quitting. Start small. Slow down. Prioritize yourself. Give yourself LOTS of grace. Boldy say YES to you!

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