It is that time of year where it seems there is always a viral post or two about teachers leaving the profession … this is not one of those posts.
Yes. There is much that is not being done correctly in education and we can blame whomever you want for the issues, but I will tell you with certainty it is NOT the fault of the teachers … the school Administration … or district officials. It is the fault of politicians attempting to control something of which they have no understanding, but teachers will keep blaming Admin or District officials for following the mandates created by politicians.
… You telling everybody why you are quitting does NOTHING to solve the problem … because … well … everybody already knows.
I have just finished year 17 of teaching and I have no intentions of quitting … Why?
The kids need some stability in their lives and sometimes that stability comes in the form of a teacher.
I am teaching at my second school. I taught at my previous school (a grades 6 – 12) school for twelve years and because of my longevity there I was able to build relationships with kids and families over years not just a single year. I was a constant in their lives, which is important during adolescence especially when their home life may be being ripped apart through divorce, family issues, death, or just being a kid. Becoming a part of their family is huge. I cannot even count how many siblings I have taught and how the relationship continues to grow from one sibling to the other. After five years of teaching at Jewett School of the Arts , a K-8 school, I am finding the same dynamic. Elementary kids coming up to me saying “You teach my sister! I can’t wait to be in your class!” I am just a teacher, but I am just a teacher who has become a part of a kid’s life and that is hard to walk away from.
I have seen kids devastated by teachers walking away. They don’t understand your rationale for leaving. All they know is you left them. Whether you leave at the end of the year or in the middle of the year … the kids will ask the other teacher, “Why did they leave us?”. They don’t view it as you leaving the system that is causing chaos in your life … they see it you leaving them. Then of course you write a blog post telling everyone the system sucks and now your kids know you left them behind in a system that sucks.
I LOVE being an opportunity creator.
It is so easy for teachers to get bogged down on the stuff we cannot control. Curriculum standards … testing … paperwork … but think for a moment about the opportunities we create for the kids. The learning, regardless of content, is an opportunity to change the trajectory of a kid’s life. As you look back in your own life you remember singular moments, both good and bad, that changed you as a person … an activity in school that made you think differently or piqued your interest in something. We are all opportunity creators.
It is not my job to “fix” the system.
This will not go over well with all the people who want to save education. My job is to teach the kids within the confines of the rules created. Can it be frustrating? YES. However, I have found the less I focus on “fixing” the system the more liberated I become as a teacher. I am not spending the time being part of conversations that do not further the academic progress of my kids. I am not saying I do not push back when it is necessary, but I am not going to go storming into the Principal’s office because he is pushing down a mandate created by a politician that I knew was going to happen because I saw it on the news. My job is to make a difference in the kids’ lives through the content I teach.
I am not going to quit.
This may sound cocky, but my leaving education does not make education better because at the end of the day, I am easily replaced. We have many teachers choosing to leave … sometimes it is for the better, but the kids need us to stay. They need us to be there … to shield them from the system we despise … to help them understand the world …. to inspire them to be the change.
I am not going to quit.