Why I Quit Teaching... Twice

Discussion in 'General Education' started by amh1819, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. amh1819

    amh1819 Rookie

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    Nov 13, 2017

    I think it's important to post this because I recently left my job as an elementary teacher for the 2nd time. I know that everyone has a different experience, but I want to be completely candid on the realities of my experiences. I became a teacher because teaching was my passion since I was child. I looked up to my teachers, and I knew that's exactly what I wanted to be. While I was in school earning my degree in elementary education, I made all A's and I loved every second of learning about how to become an educator. During my first year of teaching, I realized very quickly that my education classes covered very little of what it actually meant to be a teacher. I wasn't given strategies to help students who are on intervention programs. I wasn't told about the massive amount of documentation and interventions required to "meet the needs of each student." Where was time in the day to do this? I had to spend hours after work preparing learning centers to keep kids engaged while I documented interventions. I spent two and a half weeks giving students individual assessments required by the county. What did my other students do during this time? Whatever I could find. Did I feel good about this? No. What was my alternative? Was I offered help? No. I still stuck it out for three years. I kept hearing, "it will get better. Next year you will be more prepared." The next year, our curriculum completely changed and I started from square one. Our assessments changed, and I had to be trained to assess a new way. I was expected to progress monitor every 10 days. To progress monitor means to be with one student at a time while the rest of the class is without a teacher. By the third year, as I spent my weekends gathering data and work samples into files to possibly be used at waivers at the end of the year, I realized that the fun and passion of teaching was being sucked out of me, and the fun and joyful moments were diminishing as the many hats I wore kept increasing. So at the end of my third year, I decided to take a break...or I would break. I took two a few years off. During those years, I decided to give it another chance. I felt like I should give it another chance, because, after all, it was what I had wanted my entire life. So this past year I accepted a job in a different school in a different county. It did not take long at all to remember why I had quit the first time. I realized that over half of my class of 30 students were not on grade level, yet I was expected to teach grade level standards. So if half my class doesn't know how to multiply 2 digits by 2 digits, I am expected to teach long division of three digits divided by two digits. I had no teacher assistant, or any help at all. Half my class was on a 3rd grade reading level ( I taught 5th grade). Yet they were expected to read grade level texts. Who decides all of this? The "powers that be" who don't teach. I also had many behavioral issues in that class. I have never had issues with classroom management until this year. The problem wasn't that I didn't know how to manage them; the problem was that there were no effective consequences set for misbehavior at this school. I was not allowed to give consequences other than silent lunch, which they didn't care at all about. Administration asked me to document behavior so that something could be done about the students who talked back to me, slammed chairs, yelled across the room, and had inappropriate conversations during instruction. Was anything ever done? No. A lot of threats were made by administration to the these students, but nothing was followed through. Parents of these students were rewarding them, and the students would come to school bragging about how their parents don't care about their behavior at school. About four weeks into this school year, I knew I was in a sinking ship. When all of my weeks of documentation weren't being used to help me, I knew I had to make a choice. I resigned. It was a very hard choice to make, but I refused to continue to be disrespected by students, parents and administration. If you work in an environment where administration won't help you, won't set consequences for bad behavior, caters to parents above teachers, then you can't really be an effective teacher. I am posting this because if I had to do things over again, I'd do a lot more research and ask a lot more questions before teaching in a certain school or district. I'd spend more time interviewing teachers and finding out the realities of teaching. The majority of the teachers I know are holding out for retirement and trying to survive. They can't wait until Friday, vacations, and holidays because teaching is a job, not a passion anymore. Most of them are on anxiety medication or anti-depressants. There is something seriously wrong when teachers are beat down until they either don't care anymore, leave the profession, or medicate themselves. Teachers start out behind. They are not being prepared for teaching by the universities that they paid dearly for "training." I have learned my lesson. I can't be in a profession that isn't valued. If you are thinking of becoming a teacher, do your research. Observe the classrooms in the school where you want to teach, and interview lots of teachers to get different perspectives. I know this is a negative thread, but I only complain if I feel it will really help someone else. I'd like to save someone from going through what I have over the last several years. It didn't have to be that way. I believe there are good schools out there with administrators who value their teachers and support them. I just think they might be in the minority these days.
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Nov 13, 2017

    I think your experiences are very much the norm for public school teachers in many districts nowadays.
     
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  4. Been There

    Been There Rookie

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    Nov 13, 2017

    Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to find "good schools . . . with administrators who value their teachers and support them." Every successful CEO knows how critical it is to treat their employees with mutually-shared respect, support and trust.

    Have you thought of applying to international schools? I've heard that most are well-run and teachers love working with students who are excited about learning.
     
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  5. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

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    Nov 13, 2017

    I like education. I still like weekends and vacations more because I’m human.
     
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  6. amh1819

    amh1819 Rookie

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    Nov 13, 2017

    Yes, I get that. I wasn’t being realistic when it comes to weekends and vacations! Of course even if we love our jobs, we still love our breaks. In reality, the teachers who are miserable can’t even enjoy weekends. I used to work at least 4 hours every Sunday just preparing for the week.
     
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  7. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

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    Nov 13, 2017

    True
     
  8. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

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    Nov 13, 2017

    Really I think the biggest problem facing teachers is the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Kids aren’t delicate pieces of pottery. They won’t break if we screw up a lesson. Sometimes a lesson is terrible and it’s OK. I think the problem is when teachers feel like they work for people who don’t understand that or are simply incapable of giving up that kind of control.

    Once you realize your best has to be good enough, it’s a relief. The day to day is not what causes me stress. It’s all the excess (like meetings during preps or extra work for others).

    There are always ways to make your workload easier. You need to be open to pursuing them.
     
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  9. Markie

    Markie New Member

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    Nov 16, 2017

    I'm an English teacher working in China, I must say working abroad is far more fun and less work then working in your home country, i only work 25 hours a week, the classes are well managed and the pay is quite good, if you truly want to keep teaching, then you could try the same, plus the adventure of being abroad is a bonus in itself!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  10. Markie

    Markie New Member

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    Nov 16, 2017

    I'm an English teacher working in China, I must say working abroad is far more fun and less work then working in your home country, i only work 25 hours a week, the classes are well managed and the pay is quite good, if you truly want to keep teaching, then you could try the same, plus the adventure of being abroad is a bonus in itself!

    ( Why do i have two the same posts.......? )
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  11. TeacherWhoRuns

    TeacherWhoRuns Rookie

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    Nov 16, 2017

    Sorry, Been There, but been there and this is not an accurate statement. I spent 15 years in a corporate environment before becoming a teacher and I can tell you that the only CEO I ever worked for who seemingly valued his employees sold the company out from under us and took off with his big payoff. The other ones didn't even make an effort to make us feel valued.

    amh, I can't speak to your experience, but I'm in a school where I was very happy but a recent leadership change has made many of us the opposite of happy. I feel your pain.

    Can you get out of the classroom so you don't have to deal with the behavior issues? Maybe take on a TOSA position or move to a part-time aide job if you can afford the decrease in salary for a while? Getting a new perspective might help.
     

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