Friday, February 12, 2016

Teacher's Blues

I have had a couple of days that have only confirmed my belief that ending my "career" as a substitute teacher has come to its natural course.  It is tragic watching children flounder and be left such incomplete lesson plans, confusing ones and be in schools where it is clear that the support is all visual not actual.  You know this by the drop ins and pop ins before school starts.  There is no way a Teacher can assist you in discipline problems when they have their own class to teach. Then we have the Administrative staff, some themselves are subs as the endless rotations and meetings to reform education has them rarely in the building, the irony is not lost there.

So when the day begins and you realize that there is a problem by the notes left about students it is a double jeopardy situation. You know the kid is a problem so it can affect your reactions and responses to him/her/them/they (yes we must be careful about our pronouns now as I am sitting in a classroom with a transgender child immediately to my right) and in turn you may find that it is like many situations, a simple personality conflict with that teacher, that student and your relationship will be fine.  That said, kids with serious behavior issues should have a SPED or IA with them, whom actually supports and assists and in turn the "management" should not blink an eye when a call comes to have a kid removed.   Simply put that these kids can be placed in resource rooms, counselor's office or even the library with a project to keep them busy until the next class.  This does not need to be a major incident report associated with say, a natural disaster.  But often it is and subs are usually blamed for somehow causing the volcano to errupt as if Mt. St. Helens just blew up one day without warning. Right.

And god forbid you complain that the lesson plan was convoluted, inappropriate, as in videos or stories that well cross a line that makes one think wtf!  Subs can administer many lessons but some have so many bells and whistles, seem overly contrived to cover it as busy work and well no keys or details that would actually enable a sub to teach them.. such as clear cohesive keys for physics, math, etc that the kids just throw in the towel and do nothing versus doing something.  And my favorite is when the instructions say "check their work and monitor." Really? That may work in elementary and then somewhat in middle school and then fold that tent in after that.

And yet I am willing to head back into the fold, and why it cannot be worse. I have a clear idea, I am better with bullshit and frankly get that I cannot reach all kids it is utterly impossible. You get the ones you can and hope for the best and leave the rest if you are to survive.  And anyone who says otherwise has never spent time in front of a class. 

So when I need to remind myself that I am not alone I find other blogs by Educators to remind myself of the best and the worst in the field;  for the record, Teaching is the loneliest profession.  You will be with kids all day, you have adults who may be one step above the kids in social and emotional skills and in some cases intellectual, you will find yourself mostly alone and having a hard time explaining to anyone what you do. The reactions are to lionize you as if you are Thomas Aquinas or to demonize you as some child predator whose union is protecting you. In other words this is a profession that has been so demoralized and vilified that we are like the Zombies on the Walking Dead, where will eat each other to survive.

And when I read this young man's blog dated from 2007 and the comments that were still coming it up to 2012 that affirmed his experience, I was not sure what to say, only yes I know. It is why I left the first time and why this time I don't expect it to be different but only that I am and I truly only care about what I can do with what I have and the rest is bullshit. But I have no debt, no delusions and a 10 year time window left before Social Security and I would rather be with kids, warts and all at least I know they don't care either.  And that is the state of Education. So please reformers tell me how testing kids to death and using those to evaluate Teachers and in turn terminate them and replace them with whom? Computers? Robots? Or just more good people who figure it out and then leave.

Thoughts on NOT becoming a teacher  
April 3, 2007  By Mark Welch

— Why did I decide not to become a teacher?
Five years ago, I wrote that I was considering becoming a teacher, and four years ago this month, I wrote joyfully that “I have decided that I definitely want to become a secondary-school English teacher (that is, I intend to teach English or Language Arts in high school or middle school).”
Since then, a number of people have sent me emails (and a few have called) to ask what happened? Did I become a teacher? Am I happy teaching? Did I regret my decision?
I did move forward, but then stopped. In June 2003, I started a credential program and from August 2003 to February 2004, I taught English in an urban high school, on an “intern” credential.  I quit mid-year.
Sadly, I decided not to continue to pursue a career as a teacher. While I was sorely disappointed by my experience, I must be fair and acknowledge that nothing that happened was really a surprise: in my 2002 essay, I’d outlined many of the obstacles that I faced.
Accepting Failure: Five years ago, I wrote that I knew it would be difficult, but that I knew I would have to “learn to accept limitations and failures,” both my own and my students. In the end, that was what made my decision to quit so easy: I realized that I had abandoned so many expectations that I was no longer part of the solution — I was part of the problem.
Lack of Support: A huge factor in my decision to quit teaching “midyear” was the lack of administrative support. I accepted a full-time teaching job in an urban school, and many of the “worst” 10th graders were “dumped” into my classroom. Without support, and with nearly zero follow-through from administrators, I faced serious behavior issues, but oddly enough that wasn’t the worst of it.
Indifference: I was surprised at the level of “indifference” from students, parents, and administrators. This resulted in a climate where failing was completely acceptable. I had experienced “indifferent” students before, but in most of my classes I was failing 40% or more of my students, and it seemed as if nobody cared — not the students, not the administrators, not the parents.
Hard Work: Before I started teaching, I commented that I knew that teaching was “really hard work,” involving long hours preparing and grading, and specifically I knew that teaching involved “steady, intense work” every day. I wrote: “I’m also worried about the enormous load and the potential for a ‘triage mentality.’ . . . . Apart from the raw work involved, and the energy level to maintain my own focus and attention during every class each day, I wonder how well I can serve those students whose needs are different.” What I didn’t realize was that the workload was quite simply impossible, and that I’d be forced to make decisions every day (every hour, really) about which “required task” was most important and which would have to be abandoned. I worked 10 to 12 hours every weekday, and more hours on the weekend.
Stress: Two days before Thanksgiving, I experienced severe, disabling chest pains, which stupidly I tried to ignore for many hours because I had important, essential work to do. Finally, at 9:00 p.m., I drove myself to the emergency room. After taking my blood pressure, the nurse quickly summoned a doctor, who immediately gave me a pill to reduce my blood pressure. After several hours of tests, I went home with a diagnosis of extreme stress, and a recommendation to try to reduce stress. I went straight back to class the next day.
Intern Credential: In 2002, I wrote: “I was also reluctant to pursue the common ‘entry path’ for many teachers, which was to accept a full-time position as a teacher under an ’emergency’ or ‘intern’ credential, thus teaching before receiving any meaningful training as a teacher,” and with very little supervision or direction. I ended up accepting a full-time teaching position as an “intern,” which was a huge mistake. While I recognize the financial pressures that make an “intern credential” seem necessary to the state, to local schools, and to new teachers, I now believe that the “intern credential” should probably be abolished. (In theory, an intern credential might work if a high level of support were provided, but in practice, districts provide very little support and would simply not follow through on any new requirements.)
Teaching to the Test: I taught four classes of 10th graders, who faced the “High School Exit Exam.” Many of my students had no expectation of ever passing the HSEE, and more than half came to my classroom with skill levels that made passing uncertain. I felt that I had no choice but to reduce genuine education time in order to meet ill-conceived bureaucratic goals. Although I concede that the HSEE is a very low hurdle and that high school students who can’t pass it probably don’t deserve a diploma, the test is simply unfair to urban students who haven’t been taught by an indifferent school system.
Preparation: I was interviewed on a Monday at noon, and received a call that afternoon telling me I was hired — to start teaching that Thursday. I was given a classroom that was nearly stripped bare. I was given no resources to teach with (other than the teacher’s edition of my textbooks), and I received very little guidance and nearly no help preparing to teach. During the five and a half months that I taught five classes per day, I was supervised for fewer than 20 hours total, mostly because I begged for help.
Spending on the Classroom: During the first few weeks of school, I spent thousands of dollars on materials for my classroom. I had money from my dot-com days, but by February it was nearly depleted.
Money: As a teacher, my salary was lower than any other professional job I’ve ever held. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked at any other job in my life. Financially, it wasn’t even a close call, really not even in the same ballpark. Financially, teaching was not worthwhile.
Joy: Every day I taught, I felt more joy than I’ve felt in any other job I’ve ever had. Although many of my students were challenging, and I often felt incapable of meeting their needs, I loved my students every minute of every day. I often acted stern, angry, or abrasive in order to try to encourage students, but even when they resisted and challenged me, I enjoyed the experience.
Quitting: While I was teaching, my girlfriend (now my wife) was incredibly supportive. The day I told her that I had decided to quit, I thought she might be disappointed, but instead she was relieved, and immediately told me that I’d made the right choice (though perhaps five months late).
So Why Not Teach? Before I taught full-time in that urban school, I worked as a substitute teacher for a year in an affluent suburban school district, and I returned to substitute teaching the following school year. I knew that if I “tried again”to become a teacher, and did “student teaching” instead of full-time teaching to get my credential, and refused to work in a district that provided no support, it was likely that I could complete the credential program and become a full-time teacher. But in the end, both my heart and my mind realized that all the “obstacles” that I’d listed five years ago would be present even in the best school, and while I might enjoy teaching — perhaps even more than any other work I might do — it would almost certainly kill me.

21 Responses to “Thoughts on NOT becoming a teacher"

  1. Shannon says:
    You’ve clearly articulated the very reasons I’ve been listing in my head for the last year for quitting the career for which I trained and to which I have given, literally, blood, sweat, and tears. I love teaching, but in just the past four years, my health has suffered tremendously due to the hours, the stress, and the lack of support. And this year is the last straw. They want me to give up my “duty-free” lunch to supervise kids in the cafeteria and playground b/c budget cuts reduced the number of people in the building who could do this. I have realized that while teaching makes me happy, doing it under the current system does NOT make me happy, and indeed, has had a mostly negative impact on my life as a whole.
    I’ve approached the idea of leaving teaching with a high degree of ambivalence. I almost didn’t sign my contract last year. But, in looking for others who feel as I have been feeling, I’m finding the resolve I’ll need not to renew my contract at the end of this year.
    Your blog has made me feel less guilty, and more validated, than anything else anyone has said to me.
    Thank you.
  2. Monica says:
    I am what many would call a “lateral entry” teacher. When the economy took a “dip” and I was laid off from my professional science career, I viewed teaching as an opportunity to transition to a “noble” profession where I would make a difference in people’s lives while having a “family-friendly” career and spend more time with my own kids. I am now in my third year of teaching and I am not happy.
    I teach to the “dumping ground” of remedial students without support from administration.
    Students, parents, and administration alike are quick to attack teachers for student failures but, none accept the responsibility for achieving success (i.e. doing homework, studying for tests, seeking the free tutoring I offer after school, etc.).
    Unlike you, I was unaware that by accepting a teaching position that I would actually be working significantly more hours for about 40% of the pay.
    While I don’t have to “teach to a test” since I teach at a private school, there is a lot of pressure to pass students who put in very little effort because parents pay “good money” to send their kids there.
    I have wanted to be teacher my whole life. In earlier years,(i.e. as a pre-school teacher, camp counselor, swim instructor, Algebra tutor, science 101 lab teaching assistant) I really enjoyed those “eureka” moments kids or adults had when they learned something new or were no longer afraid of something they found challenging to learn. As a high school teacher however, I feel as though I am viewed as the “enemy” and all I can do is bite my tongue.
    I feel as though I am walking the “slippery slope”…that if I allow myself to become “jaded” by what I deal with day-to-day it will show in my ability to connect with students. I don’t want that. By reading your post, it is validating to know that I am not the only one that feels this way. I need to make a change…to what, I don’t know.
  3. Mark Welch says:
    Monica, the day I actually decided it was time to quit was the day when I realized that I was part of the problem, not part of the solution.
    I was trying hard, but the only way I could function in my classroom was to set aside many expectations and accept a culture of failure. While I might still have been providing a benefit to those students who wanted to learn, that benefit could not possibly offset the disservice being done to other students.
    Why are you still teaching? You don’t need to answer to me, or out loud – but I urge you to ask yourself that question, and try to create a list of the reasons.
    When I look back at my original essay, where I outlined the issues I’d considered and shared my ecstatic decision to become a teacher, and then I look at the more recent essay explaining why I quit, I’m consistently satisfied that I made the right choices each time.
    And I will always look back at the days I spent in the classroom as some of the most joyful days of my life. I’m even considering whether it might make sense to re-qualify myself to work as a substitute teacher, and as I’ve recently worked on my “Lesson Index” web site, I’ve also considered returning to classrooms as a volunteer to help teachers find more efficient ways to work.
    But I am absolutely certain that I will never, ever be willing to work as a full-time teacher in a public school, because I know that our society simply won’t allocate the proper resources, even while setting standards and rules which are physically impossible (forcing classroom teachers to break laws every minute of every day).
    Things are going to get a lot worse, of course, as budgets continue to be slashed.
  4. Andrew McCaskill says:
    Teaching was absolutely the worst job I’ve ever had. I’d rather be in the middle of a rice field with a shovel plugging levees on a hot day than set foot back in a classroom as a teacher, and I can say that from experience. After not being able to find a job after graduating with a Master’s Degree, I started substitute teaching and began an alternate route program to become a licensed teacher. I taught 7th grade science for ten days at the local public school before being “let go” by the administration. Mostly because I was not effective at maintaining classroom control. I fought with the students over disciplinary matters and received little support from the other teachers, including an assistant teacher who was in my 7th period who would not back me up (there were a few who were very helpful). Anyway, considering the pay, the workload, and what I had to put up with, I’m glad the administration let me go. I want to send them a thank-you note. I’m going back to school to become an accountant, to which I am better suited and which has a much higher job satisfaction rate than being a teacher. I just wanted to vent on how much I hated my teaching experience and I will do what I can to steer others away from becoming teachers, because it is simply not worth it.
  5. Mike says:
    What a shame. After losing my military career–15+ years without retirement–and considering teaching as a rewarding alternative after sacrificing so much for (what I now label) a disloyal employer–it is disheartening to see folks’ experiences. Still, I cannot help but believe the problem lies with bad parents and incompetent administrators. It is a shame that discipline cannot be maintained in many of today’s urban classrooms. There are some GOOD public schools where I live, though it appears private schools aren’t much better (for different reasons…)
  6. Mark says:
    It’s very interesting (coincidental?) that I stumbled upon your essays this morning. I have been working for 20+ years in a corporate environment, mostly as a contractor for IT services. To say that this line of work has been disappointing, lackluster, etc. is an understatement. In the past 2-3 years I have come to the realization that I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life than to accept government money to perform “services” for them, knowing full-well that my efforts will most likely only benefit a government that I trust less and less (that’s really a separate issue) — the point being is I don’t find government contracting very fulfilling at all.
    So in my quest for a better career path (which I confess I am still very befuddled by), the thought of teaching secondary school mathematics has crossed my mind (I have an engineering degree). Your essay, and the various responses, was an eye-opener. I do very much enjoy teaching (I coach, i.e., teach, youth soccer) so that professions seemed a natural. I might have to find an outlet for teaching and math elsewhere from the sounds of it, however.
    Thanks for the timely message.
  7. Amy says:
    Your essays are so very enlightening to those of us considering a mid-life career change to teaching. I, too, am a lawyer, and have perhaps naive aspirations of making the proverbial difference by becoming a teacher. Financial constraints notwithstanding, your essays spoke to a number of questions I have had about the actual work environment and the “system.”
    I am increasingly dismayed and disheartened by what I am learining about our education system. Rather than becoming part of the problem, do you think that running for the school board or some other type of involvement might be a good route to go?
  8. Precilla says:
    Hey this is just a thought; but maybe yall were not teaching the right kind of grade for example most of you choose high school teaching maybe yalls passion lies within the walls of an elementary school or middle school?
  9. Jill says:
    Middle school is not any better. I am mentally and physically drained at the end of the day and have more to do when I get home. My relationships are suffering because non-teachers have no clue. I’m stuck. I have no idea what to do.
  10. Pat says:
    I have to say I’m one of those people who did make a mid-life carreer change into teaching. I thought I did all the homework I needed to, I volunterred in one of my districts ‘most difficult’ classrooms. I lived in a very low-performing urban districts. I was able to get through to the kids, and loved the experience. Over the next three years, i worked part-time and went to school for my master degree and techer certification. I spent a year from hell working with some inner-city kids getting them to love music, and at the end of the year, I had a large amount of success. Then I took a ‘temporary’ position at a school my state was trying to close down. It was unblievably difficult, I was the third teacher for the year, in addition to over a dozen substitutes who all turned the position down. I almost quit, but my principal backed me up, helped me out, and I succeeded! This year the district offered me a ‘probationary’ position at another high-needs school. But I have not support, the kids walk all over me, I’ve asked for help and have been told ‘You’re doing a good job, much better than the previous teacher’ and the administration then walks away feeling they helped me. I appreciate the pad on the back, but I hate the fact that I too am part of the problem. There is no way, under the current structure that I can succeed at my job. There IS a reason my school is failing, it isn’t becuase teachers don’t care, but because we don’t have the resources to help our students. There is very little I can do to fix things, when my superiors have decided my mediocrity is good enough for now. I have asked for help many times, I’ve asked my principals to sit in on a class, take notes and offer some feedback. Last week they finally did, they said I was doing everything ‘right’ but that the kids just weren’t responding correctly. What is that? Ok, what ideas do you have?…nothing was suggested other than just dealing with the reality of my school.
    I really hate being a cog in a broken wheel and realizing that while I want to fix the system, it really requires many more people to come together and come to consensus on how to fix it. Movies are wonderfully motivational, reality is quite different.
  11. JC says:
    Having taught for 15 years at junior high level, I resigned to raise my own children. Being “out” of the profession, I can’t believe the lack of respect for teachers and in some cases, downright hatred. I’m still trying to figure out why that is. Many of out friends earn 3 times what I earned yet trash the profession and feel that we are paid an outrageous amount of money. No one will EVER believe how stressful and time consuming (outside of the school day)teaching is. I believe, at least for me, that choosing this profession is the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life. I have tried to secure part time positions in simple jobs, such as reception and clerical work and I’ve been asked, “So ALL you’ve ever done is teach?” Apparently a GED or high school diploma gives you more credentials than a BS from a top ten University! Our family’s financial situation has always been far lower than anyone in our neighborhood (my husband is a teacher)and therefore, our lifestyle and our childrens’ lifestyles are significantly lower than others. I told my children that I would not pay ONE penney toward their college degree if they chose teaching. I mean it too. Any young person who chooses this path is not intelligent enough to think it through and is a fool.
  12. JC says:
    An additional note. I thoroughly enjoyed my students and my classroom atmosphere along with the personal freedom to set up and conduct my classes as I chose. But reality is OUTSIDE your classroom. Young people considering teaching need to consider what their life will be 10, 20 years down the road. They also need to consider how they will provide for their own children’s needs and most ironically, their own childrens’ college education. You will make just enough as a teacher to NOT qualify for any kind of financial help yet you will not make enough to comfortably provide them with what you have. All at the same time that people trash your efforts. It’s fine to aspire to lofty ideals in life, but not only do you have to pay your bills, you have reposibility, once you have children to provide well for them. Yes, money is important, like it or not. YOu will never be free, as a teacher, from continuting your OWN education which is not a small expense.
  13. Jeffery H says:
    The current system ot teaching is heading for a tumble, that is my opinion. I have been riding the wave of teaching now for 6 years and in all that time I have been doing only contracts. Why? Because I was led to believe like many others that a teacher shortage existed. BS! There is no shortage (especially maths and science), if anything there is now a glut because of all the gullible people like myself who took the bait years ago. I chose to be a teacher like many others because I enjoy working with young people and helping them to succeed, however after 200 applications (not joking) and only 5 interviews I am fed up. I am fed up with the lack of financial support and the stress of the politics behind teaching. It is just not worth it. Anybody who is considering a career in the teaching industry DO NOT do it, YOU are setting yourself up for a massive fall. GET OUT while you can. Teaching has RUINED ME. Don’t let it ruin you too!!
  14. Rick says:
    I must say after reading all of these posts that teaching is definitely not a profession that I would enjoy. I recently began searching for a “more rewarding” career as a teacher. I am a very high paid electrical engineer, and I’ve been working as a consultant for the last five years. While office politics and project funding can be stressful in our economy, I can now honestly say that teaching would kill me. It isn’t less stressful – indeed it is much more stressful than CJ says:
  15. I am glad that I stumbled onto this blog. My mom was a teacher, and I always knew I wanted to teach. I even have an “about me” project from third grade that says “When I grow up, I want to be an artist and teacher.” I earned my B.S. in art education in May 2011 in hopes of being an art teacher. Student teaching was rough. My cooperating teacher thought that it was best to (I literally quote) “throw [me] to the wolves.” She left the classroom while I tried to deal with a class of 26 eighth graders, 23 of which were boys, that I had never gotten to watch her teach. She left everything for me to do after school by myself with no help. One day I was at school from 7 am until 6:30 pm and had to go to work at my part-time job afterwards, because she felt like she didn’t have to teach for that period of time so everything was left to me. I understand that she was trying to give me an authentic experience, but it was a very frustrating end to my four years of education leading up to this final experience before I earned my degree.
    I passed my art Praxis with a very high score. I graduated with a 3.9 overall GPA. I still don’t have a job teaching. I have been substituting, which I only enjoy if I sub for art but it is unrealistic to think that I’ll get called enough just for art jobs. I most often get called for subbing for special education aides. My first day doing this, my student threw a fit and started dry heaving like she was really sick. It was so scary; the classroom teacher had things to do so I had to figure it out on my own. I took her to the nurse and the behavior continued. She ended up going home, and I was given busy work to do for the special education department (laminating). I was later told by another aide that she does this if she doesn’t want to do something. My second student communicated with sign language with his aide. I did not understand anything he tried to tell me, and he got really frustrated with me. He didn’t want to do anything for me and laid down in the floor in class. He also punched me in the chest. On this day, I was given very little instruction in the sub plans and the other special education aides offered no help. Everybody else was too busy so I had to figure it out on my own.
    I also work in an after school program at an elementary school (which I love, but can only get 15 hours a week doing). Last year I had a third job at a retailer. On days that I substituted, my work schedule was from 7 or 8 AM (depending on which school I subbed) until 6 pm when I left the after school program. On days that I didn’t sub I worked 7-12 at the retailer and 3-6 at the after school program, which isn’t a lot of hours, but I live 15-20 minutes away from each place so I couldn’t do anything in-between jobs. Most of the time the three jobs didn’t even add up to 40 hours a week.
    I have applied to every position that has opened in the area, but there is always another candidate with more experience (who got their position cut by a nearby county), or the interview was for formality because they already had someone in mind to hire. I am so frustrated with my experiences of trying to secure a job, and so frustrated with substitute teaching. My husband will graduate with his masters degree in the spring and we are planning on moving. I want to attend graduate school. I have thought about art therapy because I want to have a creative career where I can help people, but I am afraid that I will just be pigeonholed again. After thinking that I had everything figured out and working so hard to get there, I have become jaded by my experiences.
  16. Jeffrey H says:
    All the comments that I hear about teaching are mostly negative and further validate my stance on this industry. There is very little respect, poor wages for the work that is conducted. Many people do not realise that teaching is not only a multitasking job but it is also a combination of other jobs as well. Jobs such as administration, facilitator, planner, therapist, childcare worker…etc. All these just create the massive headaches that is teaching. If that wasn’t bad enough everytime one of the dheads in the education department has a brainfart it creates more work and stress on existing teachers by upping their workload and responsibility.
    No other job do you have to sacrifice your morning tea breaks and lunch breaks to do other crap (another thing I hate). Most teaching is also contract so forget about trying to secure a car loan or home loan (I learned that the hard way)It aint going to happen. Due to the nature of the job market and reponse rate to interviews (about 5% if you are lucky)I struggled to get work as a teacher and had to do one bs contract after the next. My partner of 6 years left me because she felt that I was useless and wasn’t trying hard enough. I put in 200 applications, how much fckn harder do I have to try. And that lady from earlier is correct too: if you have been a teacher and not much else it is very difficult to secure a new type of job.
    So after adjusting to the devastation to my relationship (now non-existent), financial difficulties experienced and emotional stress and anger that I felt I have this to say to any person even thinking of being a teacher:
    Do you value your life? Do you care about your future? If you are just using teaching as a sideline to finance something better then that is fine, however if you are planning on investing the next 10, 20 or 30 years of your life (assuming that you get a job) be very sure of what you are doing.
    My experiences have taught me a hell of a lesson and one that I would not like to see any person repeat. As a result I am very anti teaching and try to discourage as many young people out of this industry as I can. I do not want to see them throwing their lives away.
  17. Jeffrey H says:
    I want people to understand that while I may be anti teaching I am only referring to teaching in schools. I love teaching and private tuition outside of the classroom. I now run my own business educating students and love it. I do not have to be part of a failing system and be subjected to continuous pointless meetings and discussions about how teachers need to improve. Teachers are not the problem the system is. I choose my hours I do not have them dictated to me.
  18. Joe Shmoe in Idaho says:
    I have not used my real name on the off chance that someone in my district would see this, which is probably a little paranoid but if you’ve worked with a difficult principal or superintendent then you know where I’m coming from!
    I have actually just recently changed careers from business owner to teacher for the seemingly common reason, based on many posts above, that I wanted to do something noble and useful with my life. I actually came to teaching while working with international schools in Asia through the company that I launched several years ago and loved the experience.
    The plan is still to teach in the U.S. for a few years to get experience and wait until my wife gets citizenship before going abroad to work at the international school, which by all accounts are FAR superior to the U.S. school system in terms of the experience you have as a teacher.
    After only 3 months in the classroom I am now wondering if I can make it to the end of the year let alone the additional 3 years until I can go back abroad. I am now in quite a lot of debt as I went back to school for my certification and masters degree and was kind of counting on the IBR and PSLF programs to manage the debt. If I leave teaching now and go back into the business world which is where most of my knowledge and experience lie, then I’ll have these huge loan payments to deal with. But This is probably what I’m going to do.
    I am an extremely optimistic and happy go lucky person, but similarly to what everyone has wrote above, the combination of the huge work load, disrespect from students and parents, less than no support from the administration, and to top it all off a tiny salary, I can’t think of any good reason to continue to go through with this.
    I actually do enjoy a lot of my interactions with students and have made some great friendships with colleagues. But these are the exception rather than the rule. The general environment of high school, the larger context of a culture that blames teachers for the relative failure of our nation’s students, and the feeling that as a teacher I am somehow a bad guy is just too much.
    I went into teaching for all of the right reasons, and am now looking for any viable exit strategy. I have even developed a twitch in my eye, which can only be caused by stress and fatigue. This is by far the worst professional job I’ve ever had, period. And I have never once whined or written this way about any life experience before this.
  19. Selma Goen says:
    Student teaching made me lose interest in the profession. I never felt such utter despair. It took a toll on me in such a way that one day I lost control and began crying with students in the classroom. It didn’t help that my cooperating teacher dumped the worst classes on me without preparation for how to deal with them. She was unsupportive as well as the school. I still graduated and became certified but chose not to seek out an education job. Instead, I am working at a dead-end nursing home job. And as much as I hate the it there (I get paid minimum wage), it has yet to make me feel that same utter despair that I felt while student teaching.
  20. Kim says:
    Four years after your post and this is still a major issue. I’m a career switcher and left a great career because I, like so many of you here, wanted to contribute to the greater good of education by teaching. I cried at home nearly every night. No support, only push back from aggravating specialists, a non compliant cooperative teacher, and backstabbing bitter colleagues who enjoy watching you squirm. I was determined to forge ahead. It got a little better the following year but at the expense of my values and my health (I also developed high blood pressure). Not enough for me to continue with it any longer. Ironically, the kids weren’t the problem. I actually felt sorry for them. They were until as much pressure as I was.
    Note to new teachers: When entering schools that aren’t making AYP, please know that incompetent administrators will lose their minds and make life generally hell for you and your students. During the interview, ask the right questions so you can get an idea of how this administrator manages when under fire. It will make a big difference for you.
  21. Andrea Peacock says:
    Your story was very similar to why I decided to quit teaching. I was an executive who volunteered at the local high school. After the economy crashed and my industry took a turn I decided that teaching was something I always wanted to do and I loved working with the high school kids. I already have 2 bachelors degrees, went back and got my Master’s in Education with a specialization in technology. I started my
    student teaching stint which is supposed to be only for months, but they rope you in for six three weeks ago. What made me leave was the fact that 1) I was placed between two supposed “master teachers” who wanted to escape their classrooms and leave me alone including designing curriculum from the ground up for five different subjects. This is so they could have their “breaks” without any thought about the quality of education they were providing the kids. I had one student approach me and tell me that he felt his education was a joke – he was either being taught my student teachers or subs (I agreed). The administration is so out of touch with their teachers, the districts provide no professional development and they teachers still use old teaching methodologies and know nothing about technology at all. In short, because of these factors the kids are not motivated and not engaged. I was a breath of fresh air to them. However, I was tired of being used and abused while my “master teachers” (by the way that title is a joke…they were not relevant and I knew more than they did — way more) were so burned out and apathetic to the profession that they just took off to go to the gym or shop. They used student teachers to fulfill their own personal agendas and completely forgot what their priority was – the kids. I asked them this question on several occassions. I was still waiting for the answer when I quit. I have decided to teach, but at the college level instead. Public schools have gotten so bad. Really teachers should not be allowed to be credentialed unless they have worked in a viable profession for a minimum of four years. Forget all the rediculous testing. Experience is what these kids need. Relevance. Not one teacher I observed tied anything current or relevant into the curriculum. I started to see that the system was breeding a generation of dumb kids who will not have the necessary tools to survive. Then I looked back on my high school education in a public school and asked myself what I remembered. I laughed outloud to myself when my answer was – nothing. Unfortunatley nothing has changed and without support from qualified administration and teachers we are breeding more bad teachers so vicious cycle continues to be perpetuated.
    At least in college (for now), students have a vested interest because they have to pay for it. Although I went to college with many students who graduated – with a D, and came out dumber than when they went in. It’s really the person, not the paper. So, the defunct CA system looses another good teacher.
    Sorry kids. I would convince anyone I could to run from the public school system. Put your kids in a private, charter or online school or homeschool them. They will be leaps and bounds beyond their peers.

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