So I was debating whether or not to post this, but I might as well... I'm thinking of leaving teaching. It's not because I hate it. I actually love it. It's very hard for me to imagine doing anything else. But I started teaching right out of college, and I'm feeling that I kind of want to try other things as well. A big part of it is just me wanting to explore other possibilities. I expect that I will probably want to come back to teaching in the future. I understand this seems like a poor move considering how pay works in most districts, but I think I'm heavily influenced by my co-workers. Not to mean that I dislike my co-workers. It just seems that many of them came to teaching later in life, after having a career. This is particularly true of other science teachers. Most have had a career in science or in engineering. I teach science because I love it. I've had limited experience over the summers working in science jobs, but always as a teacher just getting "experience" rather than as an actual scientist or engineer. I feel that they are able to use this experience to enrich their students and give them honest outlooks on their prospects as scientists or engineers in the future and know best what kinds of skills that they need to succeed in the field. I also feel that at this point in my life, I still look too young. I know many argue that age doesn't make a difference. In the long run it doesn't. But I believe that outward age elicits an automatic response in most students. My older co-workers automatically elicit respect from students simply because they look older. No whether or not this respect is maintained, again depends on their skills. However since I look younger, I automatically elicit a sense of less respect, and am seen automatically as a peer. This usually disappears after a while when I assert my presence and management as a teacher, but it takes work. This has been increasingly clear to me with the struggles I've had with new students coming in 3/4ths of the way through the year. Their disrespect for my authority is clear and I believe it's because they weren't here with the rest of the class at the beginning when I proved to them my ability and authority as a teacher. I have to prove it all over again, and it's exhausting. Adults even tell me that they probably wouldn't listen to me if they were my students because I look so young. I think if I came to the field older, and with more varying experiences, I could be a much better teacher for it, and I'll have been satisfied at least exploring other options for my life. I don't plan on leaving any time soon. I like my school and my team, and I want to stick with them for as long as I can, but I think I will start to formulate a long-term exit plan (perhaps over the next two years or more). I want to get a degree, and perhaps pursue a job in photonics engineering. I am curious also as to whether or not I'll really want to leave after two years anyway. Any advice?