I’m not usually a complainer. I do my job. I teach my kids. I try to do everything they ask of me, even if it’s a hard pill to swallow, because I am a professional. But, I just don’t know if I can take much more.
I noticed that it was starting to get harder to want to stay a few years ago. There was a new administrator, who we all thought was going to turn things around. We believed in this person. This administrator had been one of us. The administrator had led teacher trainings and seemed to “get it.” When we asked questions, the person listened. We may not always have agreed, but we could at least have a conversation.
Then, something happened. It was like a switch got flipped. The administrator started making monumental changes without any input from teachers. Several things at the elementary level were changed without any input from parents. It suddenly became very difficult to get ahold of this administrator. The person stopped doing teacher trainings and would only enter our rooms surrounded by a team of principals. The administrator started pitting administrators against teachers, and teachers against teachers. The person stopped wanting to hear questions and inviting teachers for committee work. The administrator stopped communicating with the teachers and with the parents altogether.
Yes, a few devastating things happened in our district. I’m sure they were difficult to deal with from an administrative point of view. But, we were dealing with them, too. And, we were fielding questions from students and parents without any direction from administration.
Now, we are being talked down to at school board meetings. We are being treated like the young students this administrator used to teach. We cannot ask a question without getting our wrists slapped. We are being told that things are being changed, that we are not doing things the same old way, and we are being told what to do instead, without any chance for discussion. Suddenly, everything is a “non-negotiable.”
Yes, a group of teachers was asked to do curriculum work over the summer. And, they did that work within the very strict confines of the administrative directives. The result? A few people know the curriculum and the rest of us are being berated because we aren’t familiarizing ourselves with the new standards and domains enough. And here I was, thinking that I should be getting to know my students and their needs and teaching them and becoming familiar with the new information as I have time, not completing hours of paperwork and gathering a certain number of artifacts for my portfolio before the first month of school even has passed.
Worst of all, is this new lesson plan that just so happens to have this administrator’s name on it. The lesson plan that makes us “consistent.” The lesson plan that the administrator admitted in a public forum had taken her a couple of hours to complete – for the ELA portion, alone. We have to do ALL of the portions and turn them in once a week. Oh, and when is this studying supposed to occur, when we are grading papers, making parent contacts, copying materials for class, creating centers and engaging lessons, teaching, recording assessments, and now doing this God-forsaken lesson plan that I can’t seem to complete in fewer than 5-6 hours, per week?
This administrator had such promise. The person is knowledgeable. The person is enthusiastic. The person is charismatic. But, lately, “vindictive” and “defensive” also are being used to describe this administrator – not qualities I want in a leader. We are trying to do what’s best for the kids. This person seems to be trying to do what’s best for … I don’t know what or whom.
There is no rhyme or reason to requiring ALL elementary teachers to complete a lesson plan of this magnitude every week. There is no room for discussion of the new curriculum before the school board votes on it soon. There is no consistency across buildings in the district, as far as communication from administration goes (no matter what they say about the goal of this ridiculous lesson plan). There is no room for teachers in this current climate.
I’m ready to quit. I stay for the kids.
*Submitted anonymously Sept. 12, 2014. If you would like to submit a Teacher TRUTH, email it to Bailey at email@example.com or Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may remain anonymous or choose your level of identification; for example, state, school district, grade level, initials, or other identification form of your choice.
**Please note: certain non-essential facts and figures have been altered in order to protect the identities of the individuals involved