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Why Me Quitting Teaching, Means You Don't Have To?
Written by D.Scott Schwartz, M.Ed. 
Lessons I Learned BEATING the K12 System
It seems almost impossible that anyone, let alone a lone educator from NJ could BEAT THE K12 SYSTEM, but that's exactly what happened.

My name is D.Scott Schwartz, and I started my career over 20 years ago inside the classroom. Like any new teacher, I struggled with getting all my work done, like lesson planning, keeping kids on-task, handling student behaviors and assessing student knowledge.

Being a teacher is hard work, but like every new teacher--we want to be the best we can be.

But there was a problem...

Why I Quit Teaching?

The main reason the K12 system doesn't work is because it refuses to admit the truth. Not acknowledging there are systemic problems means that things will NEVER get better. If you stick your head in the sand, all that happens is full DENIAL, not change.

I didn't realize this until my 3rd year of teaching. For the first two years, I was making improvement. I still struggled with lesson planning and I was anxious when a student would act up in class, but my teaching skills were improving. 

For my first two years, the administrators placed me in a computer/tech lab in an elementary school.  At the time there was no certification for tech teachers, so they thought it would be a good place for me to learn. It wasn't ideal and wasn't the subject I wanted to teach, but I was eager and happy to be in a classroom. 

I had made improvement during my first two years, and the administrators feedback on my formal observations was they were happy with my progress. That's why they transferred me to the High School in my 3rd year of teaching to teach Social Studies.

That was what my background was in and I was excited to teach American History.

But I still wasn't an expert teacher. I didn't fully understand how to write incredible lesson plans, I didn't fully understand how to avoid student misbehavior or handle when a student would interrupt the entire lesson and I was also not fully confident in my assessment skills.

Regardless, here I was teaching the course I wanted to teach, so I had to make it work. 

At the beginning of the school year, a few weeks into September, one of my students all of a sudden started to growl at their seat. Then they dropped down to the floor and began barking like a dog. Before I could say anything, they began crawling around the floor and going from student desk to student desk sniffing the other students shoes and sneakers. 

As you can imagine, I was stunned and paralyzed. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I called the student's name, but every time I did that, the student barked at me. I went over to the phone in my room and called the Main Office. As I spoke to the office, the student lifted one of their legs...

This incident is NOT the reason I quit. I loved my students, but what was disturbing to me was that I was alone and isolated. Any student at any time could start acting "out of the box" and there was nothing I could do about it. In fact, I had no idea WHAT I was supposed to do.

The realization that I was alone and isolated to that extent made me anxious more and more everyday. As the year went on, more student behaviors occurred that baffled the imagination. Students were also struggling to grasp the content of the course. When I went to the Principal to ask questions, they just pat me on the back and said "you're doing a great job!"

I wasn't looking for a pep-talk, I was trying to get help and resources to be a better teacher. I started to question if I was seeing the same things as everyone else? Was my perspective just off?

I went to ask my parents for advice. Both my parents were teachers. My father started his career as a high school teacher in the South Bronx and my mother was an elementary teacher in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the 1960s. 

Their advice didn't help at all. In fact, what they told me made the situation much worse. The truth was the K12 system has NOT CHANGED in 100 years. My father told me that when he showed up to his first day of school, the principal gave him the roster of students, escorted him to his classroom, shook his hand and said "good luck, I'll see you in June!"

My mother's advice wasn't much better. She told me "you just have to survive."

Was I living in an alternate universe? So what you're saying is the goal of the K12 system is not to support teacher growth and development, but to put them through a series of torture tasks and see "who survives?"

Was this education or war?

As you can imagine, the realization that I was isolated inside a system designed to torture me and things would NEVER get better is the reason I decided to quit at the end of the year.

Becoming a Statistic

I was ashamed. Both my parents were teachers. My father continued on with his career, earning a PhD from Fordham University and teaching in Fordham's Graduate School of Education. My mother went back and got her Masters in Special Education and became the first special education teacher in West Orange Public School District.

And here I was, someone who couldn't "hack it" as a teacher after three years.

But I was not alone. In fact, according to the US Department of Education, nearly 35% of new teachers quit the profession before the end of their 3rd year of teaching. 

And the Wall Street Journal reported in 2018, that 1 million educators quit at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. 

I had become a statistic.

Beating the K12 System

When I talked to my parents, friends and former colleagues about how bad the K12 system was, they all laughed at me. I had quit the system, so they saw my comments and feedback as "sour grapes." 

In their eyes, I couldn't "hack it" so why should they listen to me. 

The reality is that our current teachers are not really educators, they are WARRIORS!

It's a test of will, can you survive the system or not?

But I was determined not to let the K12 system win. It's designed backwards and needs to be upgraded and turned to face the 21st century, not looking back at the 19th century.

So I went back to school to earn my Masters in Educational Leadership. Not surprisingly, I learned techniques and strategies to be an administrator "WITHIN" the system, not how to change the system. 

After I graduated and got my first opportunity to be a building administrator, I was determined to start focusing my efforts on developing ways to break the system's LOCK on progress.

I have always had excellent research skills and now I combined that with field research on what teachers and students are dealing with on a daily basis. I collected and studied data for a couple years, until I was able to put it all together and develop what is now known as the Teacher Development Program.

How to Become an Expert Teacher

What I faced as a new teacher was a K12 system that ignored, placated and gaslit me on a daily basis. If I had a question, the system ignored it. If I was concerned or worried, the K12 system fueled my anxiety until I was overwhelmed.

The biggest problem teachers face is HOW TO BECOME AN EXPERT within the system?

The goal should be to have an expert level instructor in every classroom, but that's not how the system operates. This is WAR!! And only the teachers who STOP CARING, survive!

That's just backwards thinking. 

So I ignored what the experts were telling me. I ignored what other building administrators were doing. I even ignored my parents. I didn't care what any of them had to say, since none of them were concerned the system was backwards. Everyone just ACCEPTS the K12 system doesn't work.

Not me!

I was determined to BEAT THE SYSTEM!

I wanted the teachers in my school to ALL become expert instructors. But no one had ever seen a program that WORKED before. Naturally there was a lot of skepticism. After all, I was just a lone educator from NJ who quit teaching after three years and I only had a couple years of administration under my belt. What could I know? How could I beat the entire K12 system?

But I knew the issues teachers face in class and on a daily basis. I knew why I quit teaching in the first place. I knew how teachers feel after 3 months of school.

The Teacher Development Program focused entirely on teaching strategies, best practices and expert level research. To start the year off, I developed a 40-hour teacher bootcamp to introduce teachers to the expert research I had found that showed them what EXPERT instructors do in class.

They were all amazed. No one had ever shared with them the research and strategies that WORK in school. At the end of the 40-hour bootcamp, all of my staff were more prepared for the school year than they EVER had been, but they still weren't experts.

Over the next two school years, each of them developed individual development plans and I used walk-throughs and informal observations as a method to help show teachers the areas of strength and needs improvement.

I abolished Professional Development schedules as they knew it. They rejoiced! Teachers no longer had to sit through workshops and lectures that were only marginally interesting and wasted valuable teacher time.

Instead, teachers were focused on working on their individual teacher talent. 

By the end of the 2nd year of the Teacher Development Program, every teacher was 100% more confident about their own skills as a teacher. When students acted out in class, they knew how to handle it. My teachers didn't spend 200+ hours writing lesson plans per year because I had shown them how they could outline 40 weeks of lesson plans in 30 days.

My teachers were working approximately 45 hours per week.

Becoming a Recognized Expert

If you spend any time on social media, you see teachers talk and complain about how overwhelmed they feel. They mention working up to 60-70 hours per week. They complain their principals don't even read the lesson plans they write. They mention how exhausted they feel because of student inappropriate behaviors.

If there is one thing teachers listen to, it's other teachers. 

Especially when teachers are talking about working less, not dealing with inappropriate student behaviors and feeling more confident every day they go to school. That's what every teacher wants. They want to go to work and NOT be exhausted!

Naturally, teachers start asking questions. "How do you do that?"

When my teachers started telling other teachers they only worked 45 hours per week, word spread quickly.

How could it not? Right now, teachers work close to 60-70 hours per week and only get paid for a 40-hour work week. Teachers do not get paid for overtime!

That's when the requests starting piling in. Yes, thousands of emails and phone calls flooded my office all asking for more information and if other schools and teachers could be part of the Teacher Development Program.

I quickly became overwhelmed. I did not anticipate that my 2-year Teacher Development Program would be so successful and effective at Beating the System that everyone within ear-shot would want to be involved.

The problem was that I already had a full time job. I was the Superintendent of a K12 program, I couldn't run the Teacher Development Program in other schools at the same time. So in 2013, I decided to launch an education think tank to collate what I had done with my staff and try and help other schools and teachers in my local area.

The overwhelming success also brought recognition. Not only did local public and charter schools within a 50-mile radius know about me and this groundbreaking program, but local elected leaders and state leaders also knew about what I was doing to BEAT the system.

That's why the NJ Legislature invited me to provide expert testimony before the NJ Joint Legislative Committee on the Public Schools, when they were trying to figure out how to improve education.

And that's also why I was nominated and recommended by state leaders and experts to join the NJ Governor's Task Force on the Public Schools. 

Why Teachers Don't Need to Quit

The fact that so many teachers quit teaching every single year, should be enough to SOUND THE ALARM!! This isn't a problem - it's a CRISIS!

Unfortunately, it's like everything else wrong with the system. People just nod their heads and accept how broken things are. No one does anything to fix the problem.

My groundbreaking Teacher Development Program helped thousands of teachers and building administrators over a 10 year period. Every school within a 50-mile radius of my K12 program knew about me and what we were doing to help teachers.

And that worked for 10 years, until...

In March 2020, all schools shut their doors to in-class learning, including mine.

Instead of students sitting in class, they were now being forced to sit at home and learn remotely. It became readily apparent the Teacher Development Program needed to go nationwide. 

So I launched Leaf Academy in 2020, so that I could promote this teacher support program to all teachers across America.

I have been listening to teachers for the last several years in private conversations and on social media. I know the situation has been difficult and there doesn't seem to be any relief in sight.

I hope you can hear me now - the reality is - the SYSTEM is to blame for all of your problems. The System is broken. The only way for teaching to become a profession, the only way for teaching to STOP being impossible and exhausting and overwhelming is to learn how to become an expert teacher.

When you know the best practices and the teaching strategies that ACTUALLY work in class, you won't feel tired, overwhelmed or burnt out!

The truth is that all teachers are WARRIORS, not teachers! And that's not sustainable.

Teachers shouldn't have to PROVE how tough they are. We need teachers to be teachers, not WARRIORS!!

The goal is to help students learn and grow. How can teachers focus on that goal when most of the time they are fighting to get the SYSTEM off their back.

I don't need to convince you the system doesn't work. You already know that. You feel it every single day you go to school. You see it when you pay for your own supplies. You feel it when a student acts out and there is NO support or guidance.

As my mother said, "you just have to survive!"

That's not inspiring at all!

I developed the Teacher Development Program so teachers could beat the system. So teachers could go from surviving to winning!

If you are exhausted or thinking about quitting, you are not alone. 

But I want those thoughts and feeling to end today!

If you want to overcome the feeling of anxiety, learn expert strategies.
If you want to feel more confident, see what expert teachers do in class.
If you want to reach every student, see the expert best practices that work, as opposed to guessing what you should do.

Real World Results

Time Management Skills

One of the biggest benefits of the Teacher Development Program was teachers no longer worked longer hours. Some of my teachers were working 60-70 hours per week before the program, but after it - they were working 45 hours a week MAX!

That's a huge difference. Imagine what your work week would look like if you only worked 45 hours per week?

Teacher Self-Confidence 

Another huge benefit of the Teacher Development Program was the level of self-confidence my teachers gained. Before the program, my staff were nervous when they would enter the classroom. Some of our students had violent tendencies. Many of them had made verbal threats against teachers, administrators and other students.

Naturally, if you aren't an expert teacher, your first instinct would be anxiety.

But after the program, all of my teachers felt calm, relaxed and confident. They knew how to handle situations in class, but more importantly they knew how manage the classroom so those incidents NEVER happened. 

My teachers learned secret expert techniques that prevent student behaviors in class.

How confident would you feel if you knew strategies to prevent student misbehavior that ONLY experts knew as well?

What Are The Next Steps

I cannot thank you enough for reading this blog and finding Leaf Academy. The next step is to BEAT THE K12 SYSTEM across America. It's time teachers stood up and overcame the gaslighting and the backwards logic.

The conventional wisdom says, "you have to learn how to survive!"

Not only is that the wrong mantra, I proved it's not necessary.

There is a path for teachers to walk that can help them become better teachers. There is a path teachers can walk to build confidence. And there is a path teachers can walk so they don't OVERWORK themselves into exhaustion and feel like they have no choice but to quit.

I felt I had no choice, but to quit.

I don't want any OTHER teacher to feel the same way. 

I BEAT THE K12 SYSTEM at its own game and now I want you to feel that POWER and RELAXATION knowing there is a way to become an expert that doesn't involve breaking your will. 

For the last 100 years teachers were forced to be WARRIORS. Now I am showing teachers how to return back to teaching. You shouldn't have to fight just to teach.

Leaf Academy has published a Confidential Report that reveals how some teachers became EXPERTS!! If you want to read that report, follow the blue button below. It will take you to a page, where you have to enter your email, so Leaf Academy can email you this EXCLUSIVE FREE Confidential Report! 
More About Our Founder

D. Scott Schwartz, M.Ed. 

Mr. Schwartz was able to fix the problems facing schools, teachers and students because he ignored the "NOISE" that said - no one can solve the problem.

What he realized was our schools face a CONFIDENCE problem more than anything else.

People working inside the K12 system have "accepted" the system's failure. 

The obstacles seem TO BIG TO FIX, except they aren't. 

In reality, America  has the smartest educators and brightest minds in the world. If someone could research and compile all of their research, data and best practices, then any problem inside the K12 system could be solved.

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