Friday, February 01, 2013

Why I won’t teach forever.

When I’m off of school (either for a holiday or for personal leave such as recently), I rarely get that “oh, I’m ready to go back” feeling of missing it that some describe. Often, I wonder about teaching, wondering if I could ever find that I-missed-this feeling. For long, I thought that was simply because I  was at a “rough” school, where I didn’t always feel safe or supported. I thought in the right environment, of course, I’d finally feel that feeling. Nah. Even at what I’d argue is one of the best schools to work in, I don’t feel that. And it dawned on me why. It’s not the climate that I don’t like- it’s the job itself. Teaching is not the same thing it used to be. One spin down the headlines of the local news, one scroll down Twitter or Facebook, and it slaps you in the face. teaching is not safe. Period. It’s now in that same category as police officers and firefighters and other people who risk life and limb for penny wages.  As a teacher, you are CONSTANTLY judged. Is your teaching style justified by research? Are you meeting the diverse needs of your students? Are you implementing Common Core? Are you following the criterion for 21st century learning?  Now, all of that wouldn’t be so bad if left into that context, however, teaching goes so much deeper. I don’t mind the stress of grading papers, staying abreast of current research, differentiating my instruction… any of that. I am organized, efficient, and I do a dang good job. I love my kids and work hard. But what bothers me is that my every movement is judged. What stores you frequent and what you purchase. Your character is always one accusation away from irreparable harm. One ticked off kid, one infuriated parent away from total annihilation. Even when I get to work at 6:45 and leave at 5:00 or 6:00 most days, not returning that ever so important email or following up on that most pressing issue is ammo for an attack against me as a professional. Who cares that I have a husband and a child and a family, a church, a hobby, a LIFE? I must eat-sleep-and-breathe each child’s problems, intellectually, physically, any issue at home, you name it.Then, in the midst of this, you are expected to be a counselor, a therapist, at any moment’s notice. If a student is bullied, or even suspected of it, we are responsible for action. If a student is having dangerous thoughts, it is up to us, not the parent, to investigate. Say nothing? We are responsible. Say the wrong thing? We are responsible. And then, when the unthinkable happens, we are expected to talk down shooters, jump in front of gunmen. Heck, it were even headlines debating the need to have armed teachers wielding weapons to protect the children they teach. What is this?! You are constantly on the defense. Every single action you take is judged. And sometimes you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You can follow every step, every action, each protocol, and things still blow up, and it’s your fault. And if you get support to back you up that you acted as professional and followed said protocol, you’re pretty dang lucky, THAT day. I wanted to teach. Not be a police officer, therapist, or politician. I wanted to teach. And teaching is the last thing a teacher is allowed to focus on in this new reality. I am not superwoman. I don’t have a 6th sense to the emotional needs of each of the near 100 kids I interact with daily, though I try. I can’t fix scheduling problems, change administrative decisions, provide resources that aren’t available, and I can’t make a student who is unwilling to learn succeed. I can’t make a turnip bleed. I can’t be a I do try though. Again, I love the school where I work now, and for now, I will continue to go to school each day and do my very best to help my students learn and grow. For now, I will work and work hard at educating and loving the students in my room, My school is a great place to be, But I do find peace in knowing that I won’t teach forever, that one day I’ll turn in my key and back up my books and I’ll dust my hands off and leave the name tag behind, And it’s not because I’ve changed my mind. I didn’t change. My profession changed. I will always be a teacher in my heart. Sadly, though, teachers are not what we are allowed to be.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Very well said! And i have a ton of teacher friends who have said very similar things - a few of them have gone back to school to do something else. It's sad. I always wanted to be a teaher. But i know i wouldn't want to do ALL that teaching entails! But God bless teachers. I admire the good ones!