To Teach or Not To Teach…

Posted: August 13, 2012 in From Student to Teacher
Tags: , ,

They say the average duration of a teacher in public education is five years.  So I feel pretty good about getting to my ninth year of teaching before cataclysmic burnout.  I don’t believe burned out is the phrase I want to attach to how I currently feel though.  How could I let one year at one school make me want to walk away from the passion I have for teaching?  How can I let one group of malignant administrators and poisonous parents, with their pretentious students compel me to actually contemplate giving up, when I know I make a difference, when I am certain that I am a strong, creative, and natural teacher?  Quitting is not in my makeup.  Yet that’s exactly how I feel right now.

My stomach cramps up as I contemplate the interview I have tomorrow at a different school.  What if I get the job?  What can I do to cleanse and purge my psyche of the painful experiences and the stress that accompanied each and every one?  I have prayed all summer.  I have reflected.  I have tried to make light of it, and even apply some Eastern karma perspectives.  And still it lingers.  Still I feel a distinct sense of panic when I envision myself unpacking my beloved supplies and books in a new school.

Will the students be like the last school?  Will the same approach of “let’s pretend we have high expectations, but don’t make them realistically high expectations” be the mantra at a new school?  My sister has been teaching happily at a lovely school in California and she has been at that one school for almost twenty years.  She is an absolutely amazing teacher and puts her heart and strong soul into every unit and lesson.  However, she is protected by a viable union that will not permit her to be harassed by parents, threatened by administrators, or told by coaches and special education chairs to pass their kids along.  She is provided with professional development workshops in areas to help her become a better teacher and she gladly embraces the great ideas, or alters what she finds to suit her own particular situation.  I want that too.

Why don’t teachers have that kind of protection in all geographic regions of the United States?  I don’t mind old buildings; they have a certain charm.  I can make do with limited resources.  I have learned to improvise and still be able to teach within standard limitations.  But who stands up for teachers when parents threaten, harass, and blatantly lie to give their child the edge or ensure their child doesn’t receive a low grade?

So I decided this would be my year to stand up for injustice.  And that’s exactly what I did.  Lots of people I didn’t know patted me on the back, shook my hand and praised me for my courage.  But they equally faded back into the wallpaper when given the opportunity to support me.  After all, they had mortgages to pay and kids in the schools… Nobody reached out to me when I was notified I would not be receiving a new contract.  The baseless and vague superfluous reasons were simply twisted around from the administrator’s actions and loaded onto my dossier.

I want to do something different, explore my talents and make a living in an entirely new way.  I just need to find a way to come to terms with my frustration.  The corrupt and defunct system continues and I feel like a coward for not raising my voice and demanding someone take notice.

  1. Ms. Nine says:

    It takes getting used to, the South. I appreciate many cultural elements, but after twenty years, I still don’t feel like I belong.

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