Monday, June 3, 2013

Message from a New York City Teacher Who Has Lost All Hope

I need to vent.....I am tired, burned out, stressed, and disenchanted.....I changed careers 11 years ago to teach. I had many influential teachers in my life and when I decided to change careers teaching was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make the same difference for another child as my teachers had made for me....however, if someone were to hand me another career right now and tell me I didn't have to go back to school tomorrow, I would take it in a heartbeat. I am a good teacher...there are some things I am great at, some that I am ok at, and some things I could improve....I know my strengths and weaknesses...I am not perfect, but I am good and the kids learn. I am tired of not being valued, being micromanaged down to practically every second of my day, being made to feel like a failure, like I cannot do anything right, to be made to feel like I am responsible for way to many things that are way out my control, for not being respected. The demands of the job are unreasonable, and truth be told, I could stay after school everyday until 7pm and never get done all the things they want done...and even if I could get them done I am sure it would not be good enough.

I am sad to be complaining, I would love to love my job. I completed graduate school with a 3.98 GPA and a 4.0 in all supplementary education classes I had to take to get certified. I am smart, capable, independent, creative, passionate.....however now, I am also a single mom of a special needs child. I cannot risk leaving a profession for the unknown. If I did not have these responsibilities or if I was still in my 20's and unattached I would quit and pursue a career where I was valued as a professional, and a thinking, feeling, capable, contributing member of a team.

A colleague's college aged daughter was thinking about grad school last year.....My friend told her daughter she would be happy to contribute to the cost of her graduate degree...unless she chose teaching. If she decided to become a teacher, she would be on her own. My friend said "This is not the life I want for you." Maybe the powers that be will figure all of this out in the years to come when people retire the very second they are eligible, and when the pool of new teachers graduating college diminishes to nothing.....first, school will no longer be inspiring to students with all the testing (if I were tested like these kids are, the teachers I loved that inspired me to teach, would not have been inspiring. They were out of the box thinkers, and these days would not be permitted to teach the way they did). Second, smart capable, passionate, creative people do not like (or stand for) being told how to do everything, micromanaged, criticized, rarely praised or recognized, and not being treated as professionals who have expertise that others do not. If I were a smart college student, teaching would be the last major I would look at these days. So much for recruiting the best and the brightest......they are driving them away.

I definitely did not become a teacher to get out of school at 3pm and have vacations and summers off. I did it to inspire and teach children. Now, solely for self preservation, I have to look at it that way. I am home to get my own child off the bus and help her navigate her education, and help her succeed. Sadly I have to look at it as "just a job", because when I let myself think about the stress and sadness I feel for my profession and all of those in it, when I think about the passion I have for the kids in my class with my hands tied in so many ways in things I can and cannot do to help them succeed against my better judgment, I get infuriated. And that makes me a very unhappy person, which is no good for me and no good for my beautiful little girl.........

Thanks and sorry for being the vehicle of my frustration...I am only speaking for myself, but I have a feeling there are many who might be able to relate....."


Miss Onwit said...

I have been teaching 11 years. I love to teach, it is my passion and my students are my joy and yet this weekend I made a list of career options. All of them out of the classroom or out of the system altogether. Then today i heard from a former student of mine. He told me I was the best teacher he ever had and that I needed to just keep being myself because that's how I help kids like him, just by being myself. Of course I cried but the tears were more than humbling gratitude for being his teacher. They were for all the kids I have inspired and all the ones I never will because "they" won't let me teach my kids. I am allowed to administer tests, collect data, form groupings, write lesson plans and call parents but I am not allowed to teach my kids in my classroom. I may give directions and "chunk" information for 8 minutes a class. Then the kids are to be doing critical thinking accountable talk in groups while annotating the approved (not by me) text. I am forbidden from being myself. I am forbidden to teach.
You are not alone, there are thousands, tens of thousands of us who feel as you do. Perhaps if we scream louder some one will hear our cries for help.
In solidarity.

Katje said...

Know that you are not alone. So many of us have been and are where you are. Instead of receiving the support we need to educate our students, we are thoroughly demoralized and disabled in our ability to teach effectively.
We have a truly important job that should be as rewarding (emotionally, intellectually, AND economically)to us as professionals as to the students we teach.
We need to work with public school parents so that our combined voices and votes can be heard.

raj said...

Amazing article to read, thanks for sharing this with us.
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