What Do You Do When Your Teaching Contract Is Non-Renewed?

Nine tips from teachers who’ve been there.

Non-Renewed Contract

“We will not be renewing your contract.” These might be some of the hardest words for a teacher to hear. It’s normal to feel scared, uncertain, or even embarrassed. But getting non-renewed happens for a LOT of reasons, and often says nothing about your abilities as a teacher. 

If you are non-renewed, What should be your next steps? Our wonderful group of teachers on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE came to the rescue with suggestions, comments and valuable advice. Take a look.

1. Put in Your Resignation

As soon as you find out that your contract will not be renewed, you should try to take control of the situation. Write up a professional resignation letter, and turn it in to your administration as soon as possible. “If possible, do not let them put non-renew on your record,” says Kristel R. “Definitely resign.”

This might seem like a small or insignificant step, but it’s an important one. It might affect getting a job in the future, so you want the record to show that you resigned. Then in future interviews, simply say that it wasn’t a good fit.

teacher non renew tip

2. Ask Colleagues for Letters of Recommendation

If you are being non-renewed because of funding or low enrollment, your principal or admin may be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. But if your non-renewal is due to job performance, ask your peers for recommendation letters. A lot of times our teacher friends can see what leadership doesn’t and are happy to serve as professional references. 

3. Check Your Union Options  


If you feel like your position is being eliminated unfairly or it’s a problem with administration, quickly find out if you have union options that you can turn to. “Some unions even provide services for non-members,” says Matthew S.

Even if you end up leaving and not using the union, it’s still good to have someone on your side.

4. Start Looking for a Better Fit 

When Kari F. didn’t have her contract renewed last year, she was devastated. “I was the most senior person in my department, and I worked my butt off every year,” she says. “It turned out to be a blessing, though, because I LOVE the school I’m at now.”

Even though it’s hard to admit a place might not be a good fit, this can definitely be the case for many educators. Kari says she went on to a job that made her feel much more respected and valued. Even though it was a shock at first, it led to a much better opportunity long-term.

It turned out to be a blessing, though, because I love the school I'm at now.

5. Look Into Private or Charter Schools  

Warning: Many teachers will tell you they avoid private and charter schools because they often DO NOT have job security. “One girl told me that on the last day of a charter school she was at, the principal went and fired five teachers with no warning,” writes Julia A.

When it comes to private and charter, it’s definitely one of those “to each their own,” but know that it is an option if you’re looking for a job.

6. Have a Growth Mindset

It might sound silly, but this is the exact advice you’ve probably given your students a time or two, and it’s absolutely solid. “You CAN do your best; you WILL give your all. That is all you need to do,” writes April M. “Our end result doesn’t always match our efforts, but you can know you did all you could and will still be happy.”

You can do your best; you will give your all. That is all you need to do.

7. Try Teaching Abroad

Sometimes you just need a new outlook or a change of pace, and many of our teachers recommend teaching abroad. “It’s so nice, and there are so many positions available,” writes Amy B. “I’m getting my teaching license now so I can teach in Europe as well. The hardest part is getting on the plane for the first time. But I have zero desire to move back to America at this time.”

8. Don’t Live in Fear

Life happens. Things change. But don’t let yourself live in fear. Go out and start searching for a job again, and be proud of who you are. “You don’t owe anyone an explanation,” writes Vanessa F. “People move schools all the time. You shouldn’t stress and worry.”

People move schools all the time. You shouldn't stress and worry.

9. Let Others Lift You Up

You might feel embarrassed, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you love—teaching. Our wonderful group of teachers had countless positive comments to say to their peers, so we collected some of the best to feature below. Use these to remember you have all the support of us here at WeAreTeachers. We can’t wait to hear where you land!

“Hang in there.”

“You’ll bounce back.”

“Wherever you go next will be lucky to have you.”

“There will be better times ahead.”

“Hold your head up high.”

“Everything in life teaches us something as long as we learn from it.”

“One door closes, another one opens.”

Has your contract ever been non-renewed? How did you handle it? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, the most common teacher interview questions.

What Do You Do When Your Teaching Contract Is Non-Renewed?