Burned Out Teacher Looking to Switch Careers

FenderLover

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I'm looking into that, but having a hard time finding opportunities. They all seem to want people with 5 years engineering experience.
Don't sell yourself short. You've got a Masters degree. Not trying to be snarky at all, but you could afford to start in a new vocation at more than a teacher's salary. It may not be about money, but maybe it should be. One thing I learned late in life is that working for a living doesn't have to take your whole life. I also learned that there ain't NOTHING like being happy, so best of luck to you sir.
 

Leonardocoate

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You have stated every reason I can think of to make a change. Guitar tech alone would be a challenge. The successful music stores I know do repairs, give lessons and sell stuff (I always thought consignment would be a good niche). The three I know all say the same thing, "lessons keep the lights on"....you can teach.
Here is an idea: There are three big old warehouses were I live that rent out practice spaces for bands. I am currently working on getting a small space of my own to see If I can drum up some business there (I will let you know how it turns out). It get things started. I see this as beer money and hobby, not a living.
 

telestratosonic

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I'm a PE Teacher that is BURNED OUT! Part of the burnout is the fact I'm a 90% disabled vet (Non-Combat), and I deal with some of the toughest/most damaged/disrespectful/defiant humans I've ever been around. Don't get me wrong, I love my students. But constantly having to carry all their baggage along with my own is a burden too heavy. I've worked in 3 states, all levels, and it's the same everywhere I've been. I'm just "done". My family (wife and 2 kids) are seriously thinking about moving, and my wife (and VA Psych) thinks I should be finished with teaching. I live in the PacNW, and even as a teacher with a Master's degree and 10 years experience (and VA disability) I can't afford to buy a house here. Also, I hate it here. I miss sunshine, warmth, and ocean breezes.

I'm seriously thinking about becoming a guitar tech. I started learning how to do set-up several years ago because every time I took my guitars for "set-ups" by "big name" techs in the Seattle or Portland area I always got them back worse than when I'd dropped them off. I do basic set-up work for my friends at church, but nothing like re-frets or new nuts. I'm very good with tools, know how to work quickly, understand "professionalism", and I'm very well organized. I don't want to build guitars, I just want to take a guitar and make it play, feel, and look the best it possibly can for a fair price in a reasonable amount of time. I want to to treat other's guitars like I treat my own; as a very special gift.

So, what do you think? Do I need to go to school for this? find an apprenticeship? (or just keep teaching until the wheels fall off)?
In no particular order:

1) millwright
2) plumber

I'm a retired boilermaker (welder). I dropped out of university after a couple of years in the early seventies. Before I got in the Boilermakers' Union 25 years ago, I worked with millwrights at power plants and pulp/paper mills as a welder on maintenance turnarounds. Those were my favorite welding jobs.
Everyone needs a plumber/natural-gas fitter as well.

I replied to a post about 'workplace music' in a recent thread. Check it out.
 
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Lowspeid

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I"m going to patently disagree with you. Teaching is and will always be a calling and a profession. I have several family members who are teachers in VERY difficult situations who love it and are thriving.

I work with teachers every day. True, some are struggling, but many are doing great and love their work and are successful and their students are succeeding.

I think your comments are woefully misinformed and cynical. Teaching is not for everyone, like anything else, and the times are very challenging, but, I get to see great teachers every single day and I get to see people succeed every single day and most of them are looking forward to July and August when they are taking student groups to Europe, taking classes and prepping for the fall.

There are teachers who thrive, we don't hear about them because they aren't suffering.
I absolutely agree with you. I have people in my (VERY TOUGH) building that are absolutely killing it. There are also many who are like me; struggling with the daily challenges that poverty, broken families, student apathy, and "agenda-ized" administration pour out on us. I would love to stay in teaching, and my students (mostly) enjoy me and my class. I just need
Your comment reminded me of this movie...


That is one of Kurt Russlle's best movie roles ever! I remember watching it for the first time on local TV as the "Friday Night Movie of the Week" as a kid. Loved it!
 

brenn

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I'm a PE Teacher that is BURNED OUT! Part of the burnout is the fact I'm a 90% disabled vet (Non-Combat), and I deal with some of the toughest/most damaged/disrespectful/defiant humans I've ever been around. Don't get me wrong, I love my students. But constantly having to carry all their baggage along with my own is a burden too heavy. I've worked in 3 states, all levels, and it's the same everywhere I've been. I'm just "done". My family (wife and 2 kids) are seriously thinking about moving, and my wife (and VA Psych) thinks I should be finished with teaching. I live in the PacNW, and even as a teacher with a Master's degree and 10 years experience (and VA disability) I can't afford to buy a house here. Also, I hate it here. I miss sunshine, warmth, and ocean breezes.

I'm seriously thinking about becoming a guitar tech. I started learning how to do set-up several years ago because every time I took my guitars for "set-ups" by "big name" techs in the Seattle or Portland area I always got them back worse than when I'd dropped them off. I do basic set-up work for my friends at church, but nothing like re-frets or new nuts. I'm very good with tools, know how to work quickly, understand "professionalism", and I'm very well organized. I don't want to build guitars, I just want to take a guitar and make it play, feel, and look the best it possibly can for a fair price in a reasonable amount of time. I want to to treat other's guitars like I treat my own; as a very special gift.

So, what do you think? Do I need to go to school for this? find an apprenticeship? (or just keep teaching until the wheels fall off)?
The last hint I had about that job market was a couple of weeks ago. I knew a guy, 20ish years ago, who was a great guitarist and electronic engineer - built his own amps and tube home stereos and such. Founded Burriss Amplification and built quality, hand-wired tube amps and effects.





Last time I stopped at the local guitar center I noticed the guy moving amps and unpacking boxes was Bob Burriss.
 

kuch

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1st of all, thanks for your service.
0 down VA home loan?

If you can swing it, I'd say go for it on the guitar biz.
I don't know if you look at CL here in the Seattle area but there are some people offering setups for $40/up. That's a lot of people in and out the door to make a "living".

Before you leave your job, I'm sure you've thought of this but at least make it to the end of the year so you can take the summer to step away and realistically look at your options.

I would suggest taking some time with your wife away for a while and really go over what both of you want as far as job opportunities for her and relocation.

I can tell you that I moved here from Maui 43 years ago and I have never regretted it. I do miss it and used to visit there at least once a year while my parents were alive, but I really like it here in the PNW, and my grandkids are here too

Whatever direction you take, make a 100% commitment to make it work.
.
As the Yoda said: there is no try, only do or do not....

Good luck in whatever you choose.
 

scook

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I’m going to second @charlie chitlin on this one. Looking into a private school might be a worthwhile path for you to pursue.

Moving may be also if you really hate the area.
 

tap4154

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Boy, do I feel this one. I stepped into teaching (English) as a second career at age 31. There are *way* more English teachers here than there are jobs, so I bounced around filling in for teacher leaves, long term subs, that kind of thing for 5 years until the recession hit and suddenly jobs were being cut. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I wasn't returning to teaching and I hung out my shingle as a guitar repairman while I figured out what to do, but I was a bit burnt out at that point. Mostly it was due to parent and administration politics, but I'd been averaging almost 80 hours a week during the school year. Ultimately, I found another job in education. I'm about to leave that job to pursue guitar repair full time.

Here's some of what I have learned:

  • It's tough to build a client base.
  • If you have to go to school to learn this trade, you’ve got an uphill climb. If you work in someone else’s shop or for a music store or something, the pay is not great. The high end seems to be about $20/hr, but will vary by location. (That’s about $40k/year.)
  • Going to school doesn't increase your business prospects. It may make you more hirable, but there's no accredited luthiery program, so there's no real standard of what you need to learn.
  • Your gross revenue is not your income. Plan on losing about 40% of your gross in taxes, expenses, etc.
  • You probably can't make a living if you're competing on price. I started at $20/hr 12 years ago. Now I charge $100. It took a long time to get to the point where I could start charging real money and think about making a living. Even at that price, I’m still backlogged.
  • You can only ethically bill for about 2/3 of the time that you work. You’re going to spend more time than you think talking to customers, sourcing parts, finding something that you should have done better the first time, etc.
  • Repairing guitars is something that takes a *lot* of practice to do really well.
  • Renting space is probably more expensive than you think. Utilities for commercial properties are much more expensive than they are for residential. If you can reasonably set up space to work in your home, it probably makes the most financial sense.
  • If you're not busy, it's worthwhile to spend the time to build/modify tools to save money. Either way, you need good tools.
  • If you're busy, it's worthwhile to invest in good tools that help get the work done faster.
  • Repairing guitars is something that takes a *lot* of practice to do really well.
  • Hobbyists almost always want whatever they read about on the internet, whether or not it's true or fits what they want out of an instrument. I try not to argue customers, but when they ask if they’ll be happy with the thing they want, I give my honest opinion. Everyone knows they shouldn’t believe everything they read on the internet, but they don’t always believe that it applies to them.
  • Musicians in general are fickle people, and are more likely to look elsewhere than complain if something isn't right. I have a lot of customers that come and go. I try not to take it personally.

The tech I am using used to work out of a shop that he rented, and he also gave music lessons. He's an excellent player, and plays around in cover bands. When I had work done at his original shop it was a lot cheaper than after he moved into the little mom and pop music shop, that's been here forever. However he doesn't work for them by the hour. It looks to me like he raised his prices, and they just take a cut off of each job. In fact that works out well for both of them, because he just takes an area in the corner for his work, and by people bringing instruments in for him to repair, it generates retail traffic for the shop.

Prior to him moving in, the owner was a master musician on many instruments, and owned the shop since I was in high school here. He used to do most of the instrument work himself. After he passed a few years ago, they didn't really have anyone to do the work, so it was a perfect role for him to fill.
 

KokoTele

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The tech I am using used to work out of a shop that he rented, and he also gave music lessons. He's an excellent player, and plays around in cover bands. When I had work done at his original shop it was a lot cheaper than after he moved into the little mom and pop music shop, that's been here forever. However he doesn't work for them by the hour. It looks to me like he raised his prices, and they just take a cut off of each job. In fact that works out well for both of them, because he just takes an area in the corner for his work, and by people bringing instruments in for him to repair, it generates retail traffic for the shop.

Prior to him moving in, the owner was a master musician on many instruments, and owned the shop since I was in high school here. He used to do most of the instrument work himself. After he passed a few years ago, they didn't really have anyone to do the work, so it was a perfect role for him to fill.

You're right, the repairman probably isn't making salary. Various shops/techs have various arrangements. Sometimes the tech pays rental to the shop but keeps the fee, like a barber/stylist renting a chair in a salon. Sometimes the shop takes a big cut off the top. There are lots of arrangements out there.
 

Lowspeid

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1st of all, thanks for your service.
0 down VA home loan?

If you can swing it, I'd say go for it on the guitar biz.
I don't know if you look at CL here in the Seattle area but there are some people offering setups for $40/up. That's a lot of people in and out the door to make a "living".

Before you leave your job, I'm sure you've thought of this but at least make it to the end of the year so you can take the summer to step away and realistically look at your options.

I would suggest taking some time with your wife away for a while and really go over what both of you want as far as job opportunities for her and relocation. I can tell you that I moved here from Maui 43 years ago and I have never regretted it. I do miss it and used to visit there at least once a year while my parents were alive, but I really like it here in the PNW, and my grandkids are here too

Whatever direction you take, make a 100% commitment to make it work.
.
As the Yoda said: there is no try, only do or do not....

Good luck in whatever you choose.
Thanks for that. I appreciate it. I'll make to the end of the year (My VA Psych has me on some pretty good meds that seem to be helping :|), and we're planning on a trip to the gulf coast of Florida and Alabama to see friends we had while stationed in Puerto Rico. My wife and I like the weather down there, and the mellow pace of life.

There is so much wrong with education right now, and it's not getting better. The education system in the Pac NW is overwhelmingly stressful.
 
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kuch

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Thanks for that. I appreciate it. I'll make to the end of the year (My VA Psych has me on some pretty meds :|), and we're planning on a trip to the gulf coast of Florida and Alabama to see friends we had while stationed in Puerto Rico. My wife and I like the weather down there, and the mellow pace of life.

There is so much wrong with education right now, and it's not getting better. The education system in the Pac NW is overwhelmingly stressful.
Hey LS,

Sorry to hear that. As in most areas of the country, we definitely need more good teachers.
I had several uncles and aunts who were teachers where I grew up. I always looked up to them.
Too bad it's not like other cultures, where teachers are valued and respected
 

Lowspeid

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I REALLY appreciate all the encouragement from everyone! Many of you have brought up various other jobs I can do. I am looking into transitioning into something else, whatever that might be. I'm a pretty high-strung guy, and like many vets deal with the mental health issues that are common among us (even those who aren't combat vets). It's been a rough go, not gonna lie. I'm thankful for communities like TDPRI where I can find support and positivity. And I know I'm not the only one. You guys rock!
 

thesamhill

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Be well!

Lots of advice to leave and I'm not arguing against that, but here's a possible thought if you want or need to try to stay.

I think burnout can feel like it's about the students, when actually it's about a lack of clarity or support about the expectations of your position from the supervisors or administration.

You might consider laying all this out for an administrator, giving some specific examples, and saying, "you can't possibly expect me to tolerate this level of disrespect. That's not in line with our mission. I need guidance on how I shut this behavior down within the parameters of staff expectations."

See if they can provide you with specific suggestions. Ask how far they'll back you if a parent objects.

If possible, identify or create a "professionalism" element to your curriculum and start failing them when they violate. Don't be arbitrary but document and be ready to describe the behavior. Try not to get mad, just keep documenting and sanctioning violations.

One thing I realized is that SOME administrators don't care but some actually just have no idea how things are different even in the past 3 years. We kept hearing, "be flexible, be flexible" from admin but when I asked them to describe what that meant, we were already doing everything they were asking for and more. They were floored when we told them what the demands for flexibility actually looked like and it opened a conversation.

Point is, make sure you're not making assumptions about their position that aren't actually warranted.

Regardless- document! Document the behaviors. Have the conversation with admin and document the response. Let everyone see you're documenting. Talk about it off hand. If someone acts out of line, actively pause, pull out a notebook, check your watch for the date and start writing.

One final thought. I was a total f###up in school and did a lot of failing and being a jerk. But it wasn't until I hit a point where people stopped letting me get away with BS that I actually had a reason to get my act together. At the time I hated it and those teachers. Now I'm thankful for those teachers and I kind of wish the others HADN'T been so lenient so that I would have gotten the message that much sooner.

At the same time, some of those teachers took it upon themselves to treat my behavior as my own personal moral failure. Those teachers can rot in... Ok purgatory. They were probably pretty maxed and doing the best they could. They still messed me up tho. Dang

Anyway, what I actually needed was for someone to calmly and dispassionately drop the hammer on me when I deserved it, and be willing to let me get back up and try again without holding my previous behavior against me. You gotta be both if you can.

But if you're done you're done and none of that might apply to your situation so ultimately I say do what you need to.

And one final thought: with an MA you might find some interesting opportunities in unexpected places. Esp with military experience, maybe consider USAjobs and look for positions with, say, SAMHSA and/or the CDCs initiatives to prevent veteran suicide or other similar policy type work. Some of those are remote and might be worth investigating.

Edit: wanna know how to identify a teacher whose on a roll on a topic near and dear to them? They say "one final thought" a bunch of times, lol
 
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P-Nutz

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Go for it!

Leaving public education after 28 years to work for a private university. I wanted to do something different as my passion was waning and I wanted to go out on top before burnout, bitterness or burial.

I will miss my colleagues (many) and most of the students, but am excited about new adventures.
 

telemnemonics

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Severe shortage of truck drivers puts pay rumored to be up to six figures with big sign on bonuses.
Probably need qualifications like passing a drug test, clean driving record, and reliable work history like no felonies on the job.
Bet you’re qualified!
 

telemnemonics

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The last hint I had about that job market was a couple of weeks ago. I knew a guy, 20ish years ago, who was a great guitarist and electronic engineer - built his own amps and tube home stereos and such. Founded Burriss Amplification and built quality, hand-wired tube amps and effects.





Last time I stopped at the local guitar center I noticed the guy moving amps and unpacking boxes was Bob Burriss.

You mean he went from business owner engineer to stock boy at GC?
Gosh.

I was a guitar tech for friends for years and landed the spot as the in house tech at a small busy shop in Brooklyn.
Loved it and got to take in guitars face to face so I knew the players style, return finished guitars same day to make sure they were happy.
Had hung out a shingle but a one man shop with no storefront is a tough sell. For that matter even WITH a storefront all the drop ins want free advice and buddy up chatting which you don’t get paid for.

Before us consumers killed off most brick & mortar guitar shops there were more chances of having a career behind the bench.
Not sure now if we look at the hobby tech movement, the raging complaints by players on forums about US workers wanting fair pay when we can buy a whole new Chinese guitar for the price a US tech charges for a refret.
Consumers are a bit irate.
They may not be any nicer than teens in PE class, or worse.
 

Lowspeid

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Severe shortage of truck drivers puts pay rumored to be up to six figures with big sign on bonuses.
Probably need qualifications like passing a drug test, clean driving record, and reliable work history like no felonies on the job.
Bet you’re qualified!
And then some. My Stepdad was a short haul truck driver. Belonged to the teamsters union. His retirement is better than any teacher in America will ever hope for.
 

getbent

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I absolutely agree with you. I have people in my (VERY TOUGH) building that are absolutely killing it. There are also many who are like me; struggling with the daily challenges that poverty, broken families, student apathy, and "agenda-ized" administration pour out on us. I would love to stay in teaching, and my students (mostly) enjoy me and my class. I just need

That is one of Kurt Russlle's best movie roles ever! I remember watching it for the first time on local TV as the "Friday Night Movie of the Week" as a kid. Loved it!

Change is good for you. You will kick ass. When the shoe does not fit, you must acquit (oh wait) seriously, when I get burnt I'm out. Do what is good for you amigo!

One of my brothers favorite movies is the used cars movie, I love it too.. and the movie with robert duvall where he has a pet lion....
 




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