Yeah, I know. A lot of things are hard. Look, I am a product of the 90s. This was the Grunge Era; the time to learn that Global Warming was killing the planet, and AIDS was affecting everyone. My school set three entire school days aside to teach us about AIDS. That’s how intense it was. I also remember being in class in 8th grade and they brought a financial advisor in to let us know we would not be getting Social Security because of the Baby Boomer generation, so we better figure out how to manage our money for retirement now.
I also know what hard means because of my dad. My blue-collar, Naval Ship Yard dad worked seven days a week from the time he graduated from high school until the Ship Yard closed down and he was rerouted to mechanist at the US Postal Service facility.
So here’s what I mean when I say teaching is hard. Right now, there is a nationwide teacher shortage. Fewer and fewer students are even majoring in education every year. Personally, I have seen quite a few student teachers quit midway through their time because, and I quote, “They did not realize teaching was this hard.” They had already made it through four years of coursework and spent thousands of dollars, and they were pivoting in their career choice after three weeks in an actual classroom. Why? Because teaching is hard.
Gone are the days when you could safely say, “Those who can’t, teach.” This was my father’s joke when I told him I was going back to grad school to become a teacher. He hates teachers, by the way. Most people, it seems, hate teachers. And most teachers, nowadays, hate teaching. Maybe they hate it because it’s hard, but I think the answer is much more complicated than that. It’s hard and it is no longer as rewarding as it may have been.
Parents are dissatisfied and have expectations for public education that it can’t possibly sustain in its current state. Teachers are dissatisfied because they have to beg, borrow, steal, fight, and claw to get supplies, advocate for kids, and be trained in the right programs. Administrators are dissatisfied because they are in the middle of those two factions and they also have the tremendous responsibility of keeping this all afloat for the good of our students.
As I said, teaching is hard.
There was a student teacher here during COVID times. He sat at our lunch table every day. One day, I said, “You’re insane getting into this profession. You should do something, anything else.”
I know, I know. It was super negative, but if you read my previous posts I wrote during COVID, you will understand why I said that.
Anyway, one of my colleagues hit my arm, and said, “Don’t say that. That’s terrible.”
“It’s true,” I answered. “Seriously, man. I’ve been here for twenty years. If you don’t listen, you are going to remember my face saying these words, and you are going to regret not listening.”
The table of seasoned teachers admonished me, and they were right to do so, but I sometimes think about that student-teacher because if you want to know the truth, I don’t regret what I said. If my saying that was enough to scare him out of teaching, he doesn’t belong here. If he doesn’t understand that teaching is really hard and it expects a lot out of you, then he should get out now because, in the end, he isn’t doing much of anything at all.
Love and Light, All.
I am sorry you’re having these problems.
I was an elementary teacher for 17 years. I quit after being told “the secret” to improving test scores. My AP said that I should ignore students who were significantly below grade level. I should ignore special education students because they were “dummies” who would never pass a state test. I was told to focus on those students who were only marginally deficient. I was also told to not teach social studies or science because these subjects weren’t tested. I was told to double up on reading, writing, and math instruction.
When I complained that I couldn’t ignore the instructional needs of my most deficient students, the AP referred to them as being “statistically insignificant”. I went home, thought about it, and started an after school remediation program since I had been told that I could not remediate during the school day. Although every single parent and guardian gave me permission to keep their children for an hour after school, the AP shut this program down after just two weeks because she said that I was making the other teachers “look bad”.
I resigned the next day. In my letter of resignation, I stated that no child was statistically insignificant.
I opted out of teaching, retrained as a chef, and began work in the food service industry. A few years later, I reentered the field of education as a Culinary Arts instructor. While I miss the children I work with, I am more at peace being a Career and Technical Education instructor because I don’t have to teach to the test. I also don’t have to worry about academically deficient students. This is now my 32nd year in education and my 15th as a Culinary Arts teacher.
I’ve been following the news about book banning. If you’re in a state where book banning is a matter of state law, I very much regret that you are fighting a losing battle especially without the support of your principal.
If you’re in Florida, you can be charged under HB 1467 for having violated the state’s book ban. Not only would the state then shut down your book club but you would also lose your certification since teachers must “be of good character” and must not have a disqualifying offense (like a felony) on their records.
This is a lose-lose situation.
My two best suggestions are to find a teaching job in a state where your efforts will be appreciated. You could also side step the issue by getting certified in another field where a class library or book club wouldn’t be needed.
I like Culinary Arts because my students get to eat what they produce. Most of what we do takes place in the kitchen. Products are either edible or they’re not. They have either been attractively plated or they haven’t. The kitchen work stations are either clean or they’re not. On most days, I have student grades in the computer before the period is even over. I rarely take work home and my nights and weekends are my own.
Since most students like to eat, they are motivated to learn and to participate. The very worst thing that I can do to any of my students is to ban them from being in the kitchen.
Thank you so much for your response. You have given me a lot to think about. Fortunately, my state is not as strict as Florida and we also have local control, so for better or worse, the district can decide and then it would be my place to sue them if I felt I had been wrongly let go. As of right now, things are staying positive and though the parent organization was able to get a few books banned, they were denied some titles. It seems as if their primary targets are LGTBQ texts for now. I am not sure where my path will take me. I’m currently getting my doctorate, so I think college is in my future, but who knows. Thanks again for your insights and understanding. Hope to hear from you again. 😊
A doctorate would allow you the added options of teaching at the post secondary level, working in a district office, working for the U.S. Department of Education, or becoming a district superintendent.
One of the only good things about the Covid pandemic is that it really promoted virtual learning. These days it’s possible to get a Ph.D. or an Ed.D on-line. It will take about three years, taking one class at a time. Some of the more affordable schools will charge in the area of $30,000.
I have thought about getting an Ed.D. even though I’m getting a bit long in the tooth at 62 years of age. Since I work in Nevada and we have continuing education requirements, I could use these classes to fulfill state certification requirements. Earning a doctorate would also give me a step increase with my district which in turn would improve the amount I would receive as a pension.
Since I am not interested in leadership, I’ve been thinking about a doctorate in rural education since I gravitate towards low income rural areas.
One advantage to being older is that I could easily afford my tuition. With interest rates up, I would not want to borrow to attend college.
P.S. I have a colleague who is transgender. He has been very open about this and I’ve noticed that LGTBQ students have been gravitating to him as a positive role model. I would be very annoyed if anyone were to suggest that his gender orientation somehow makes him less professional than any of my other colleagues or that he is somehow corrupting our youth.
Yeah, apparently I am not that young getting my doctorate at 47. I am in class with people in their 30s. Yes, it is very upsetting that people are so intolerant of people and their orientations. It is really unacceptable. Thanks again for your comments!