Well, it’s been a while. Sorry to my followers. My last post was nine months ago. No, I didn’t have a baby (praise Jesus!) I have just been extremely uninspired, and not the purpose of life. I started this page as a way to take life to the next level, and in the last year, that was not accomplished. So, I’m back, and making changes and steps to the life I want to lead.
Last September, I took a full time job as a virtual teacher. I have been an English teacher for 14 years. Most of this time was spent in a brick and mortar classroom, and then I was a virtual teacher for 4 years and got really burned out. I took a step away from full time teacher, and worked as an adjunct for two years, and attempted to step back in to full time teaching, thinking a break was all I needed. I was wrong. Last Friday, I tendered my resignation with the intentions of never being a classroom teacher again.
I’m sad. It’s what I have done all of my professional life. I am also tremendously relieved. I left college fourteen years ago with hope and passion. I entered into my first classroom very green, but eager nonetheless. As time went on I evolved as a teacher and really enjoyed what I did. I like to think I was a good teacher, even though I am sure I have some students who would disagree.
As I am stepping away from this noble career, I would hope that somewhere someone says something about losing another good teacher. I would hope that in fourteen years I left an impact on some of the kids I came in contact with. I do know there are many that left an impact on me, both good and bad. I cannot say I have loved every minute of teaching, but I can say that the job was very rewarding. I can say that I was happy to be a part of the world of education for many years. I can also say that I am tired.
Educating children takes a village. You have administrators and legislators, and teachers and staff. But you also have parents and families and students. All of these people make an impact on every single child at every single school. Whether the parents are involved or not, they have an impact on the students.
What made my job hard was not pedagogy or methodology. It was not administration or staff meetings, or PLCs or conferences. It wasn’t even the students. What made my job hard, what extinguished my fire for teaching, were parents. The majority of the parents I encountered were kind, and loving, and genuinely concerned for their students. The majority of the parents I encountered simply wanted their kids to learn in school. We traded emails and phone calls; we sat face to face and talked about the best options for their child, individually. We worked on a way to make sure their child succeeded through hard work and perseverance. Then there were others. There were parents who threatened over the phone, or cursed me through emails, or belittled me in person. I was the reason their child wasn’t successful. I have been called a bully, a tyrant, and a bitch. I am not saying I haven’t been these things. Again, ask any of my students on a given day. However, the day I was called a bully it was from a parent who was mad I was giving vocabulary tests. His argument being that his son, “didn’t know these words.” You know, the entire point of vocabulary. Anyway, we live in a world where the schools have adopted the mentality of “the customer is always right,” with the parents being the customer and the report cards simply a product we were marketing. I read about a story today where a student tweeted a hateful comment to the school’s superintendent using profanity. Because of the school’s policy with social media, the school suspended the student, but the parents weren’t upset. They thought it was funny. They argued for their child. At what point do we teach our students that they are at the hands of authority figures in a school? They have to show respect and not expect their parents to bail them out or back them up anytime they are in trouble at school. Whether it is an assignment they forgot to turn in and ended up with a zero, or a hateful remark that lands them in detention, students are no longer held accountable at school, as long as they have parents who will come up and argue with the administration. These are the people who grow up to be employees who expect the same things at professional jobs. We are not teaching life skills. In my classroom, I taught through ownership and responsibility. I always told my students that it was up to them how they did in the class. Every grade was earned and not given. I told them I would always help them, but they had to meet me halfway. They had to put in the work. I repeatedly reminded them throughout the year that I had, in fact, passed Junior English a long time ago, and now they had to. Grades were earned and not given. But somewhere along the way, parents believed that grades could be given, and administration started telling them they were right.
Now, please understand, I KNOW there are bad teachers out there. I have worked next to them, heard them, and been in their class. I am not saying that teachers are always right! Parents have got to be an advocate for their children. I have two school aged children, I believe that whole heartedly. Situations need to be handeled, and not swept under a rug. I agree with that completely. I am talking about the teachers who are good teachers, but are tough. The ones who don’t give the kids slack, but expect them to do the work to succeed. Who hasn’t had a bad boss or terrible work environments? Unfortunately, we have to teach the kids coping skills, and constantly bailing them out is not one of them. We have to think, what is the motive? Is it for an appearance or is it for learning? Do we want them to learn? Do we want them to succeed? Or do we want them to pass?
It is time to hold our children responsible for every aspect of their lives. We have to teach them how to function in a world that is not fair, that does not go our way, and that expects us to pull our own weight. I tried to do my part in 14 years of education. I held students accountable, I expected a lot out of them, but I also helped those who were willing to help themselves. But, I’m done. I can no longer carry this burden on my back. I am pulling for the teachers who are still in the classroom and behind computers all over the world. I pray they can keep fighting for our students.
So, I’m venturing on. I am making steps to be a full time writer. I am scared and excited and nervous and thrilled. Following your dreams and taking the leap is a lot scarier than I thought. But, I’m writing, exploring, and dreaming. I’m holding my own children accountable and working on taking life to the next level. Join me. It’s going to be awesome.