Ready to Quit

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.

Teacher In Classroom by www.audio-luci-store.itI started teaching because of the kids. I have remained, through all of the standards and tests and administrative turnover because of the kids. The only thing keeping me here TODAY is the kids.

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 Mrs. Laker's Desk by Brule Lakerteaching 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 bailey@truthinteaching.com or Angela at angela@truthinteaching.com. 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

Teacher Image via Flickr by www.audio-luci-store.it
Desk Image via Flickr by Brule Laker

2 thoughts on “Ready to Quit

  1. Amy Barnabi

    Common Core and other Made up Mumbo Jumbo

    I am a teacher.
    I am a good teacher.
    It’s not what I do.
    It’s who I am.

    That used to mean something.
    That used to have some clout.
    I used to have some form of identify within my community.

    Truly, I became a teacher because I wanted to be the difference, as others had been in my life.

    My students challenge me, demand respect from me, don’t settle for ‘good enough’ from me, and they believe in me –
    Even when I don’t believe in myself, they believe in me. (Wow!)

    Never in my teaching career have I ever once thought “I can’t do this forever.” Actually saying that out loud right now feels good and I know that’s scary.

    Trying to be what the state feels I should be as a teacher has made me more negative, less inspiring, frustrated, and even more under appreciated.

    When I go home in the evenings, I have several more hours of work to do and I have a family, and my family continues to suffer because of my job as a teacher.

    I am exhausted and tired of data.
    I have given you everything I have and then some.

    In my classroom, it used to be if I just shut “you” out and closed my door, than we were ok. As long as I had my kids, I was ok. I found inspiration in them because they were all I ever needed, but you’ve taken that away. You’ve taken away the one thing that I’ve known more than anything else throughout my career:
    That I could get better.

    But I now know that’s not enough for you.

    The heart I used to freely wear on my sleeve is now pushed down deep in my pockets.

    When I hear those bells, I count the periods until it is time to leave (and I’ve never felt that way).

    I still schedule my nights around my teaching, but it used to be “my nights,” not yours.

    I can be replaced.
    I know I can be replaced, but in what other profession would you want to hire a guy that’s “not as qualified” as me because it’s cheaper to do so?

    I know that I’m not the best (and that IS what makes me effective), but please know this… no one, no one will ever love your children more.

    In what other profession do you get stuck under contract because if you leave, you would lose thousands of dollars or other benefits? (And that’s not what they are fixing in education, btw).

    Education cannot be run as a business.
    In business you can still succeed without that true human connection.
    In education you cannot.

    Education as we knew it is becoming extinct and that should scare everyone.

    There is an X factor, no matter how hard you try to predetermine, you can’t because it’s ever changing, and they are children …

    Children are not just numbers. They are remarkable beings capable of more than any of us could ever imagine!

    Data doesn’t show us that … But a child’s face does… every time they walk in my classroom, or pass me in the halls… That’s how I calculate data.

    My data is also calculated through quiet conversations or silent observations. Data doesn’t ever have to show me what I don’t already know about my students, because I can calculate a whole heck of a lot more data than any test ever will.

    It’s crucial to maintain that human connection.
    That is the X factor that you are taking out of a vital equation.
    I cannot successfully do my job without it.

    How could you not get that? How could you not want that?
    How could you not NOT question that?

    I’ve forgotten what feels good about public education and that’s sad.

    If they are doing this to our teachers, what are they doing to your children?

    Reply
  2. Brule Laker

    The desk pictured was Mrs. Laker’s. She taught for almost 35 years in CPS before retiring on a full pension in 2009. She felt the same way and was happy to be done. BTW, she earned every penny of it.

    Reply

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