I Escaped the Classroom After 12 Years of Teaching

So why can’t I move on?

Kristin Playter
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readSep 15, 2023


Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, returned from war to find the war wouldn’t leave him. It’s all he could think about, dream about, and write about. Tim O’Brien loves soldiers in the same way I love teachers.

The author, early in her career.

There is nothing better than a highly skilled, highly motivated educator. The things I have seen my co-workers achieve in my 12 year career . . . I have seen teachers belly crawl on the floor to help kids in crisis, hiding under desks, armed only with the de-escalation tactics they have picked up in professional development meetings. Inching towards the stressed out student, hoping to strike that delicate balance of remaining calm yet authoritative. I have seen the drabbest, most institutionalized-looking spaces become bright and inviting. On non-existent budgets, I have seen teachers design inclusive, magazine-ready classrooms. I have seen my colleagues be the only reason some kids graduate. There are students who only show up because of the emotional connection they feel with their teachers. Oh, the motivational speeches I have overheard during grade checks!

Is this why I can’t move on? I have seen so much good, been a part of the magic, of the poetry, of the art form. We rose to the occasion, over and over again, even though we were bone tired and…