Wednesday, November 07, 2012

How to lose a teacher...

I finally said the words to Doug. They'd been rolling around in my mind off and on since this time last year, but I can confirm now that they are true. This is the least amount of fun I've had in my job for the entire 12 years I've been doing it - and I'm really, really close to making a change.

This post isn't for you idiots who think teachers have it easy. Those of you who believe I took this job for the "great hours" or "summers off."  If your mantra is "those who can't, teach" then you probably aren't my friend anyway. Go away.  I've run the gamut of emotion over this career path - overwhelmed, insanely happy, inspired, amazed, irritated, angry, frustrated, creative, fulfilled.  I have never ONCE woken up in the morning and not wanted to go to work. Can you believe the blessing that is? Well, that is, until this year.

I have a federal government that has put impossible timelines in place for my achievement. A state government that wanted an extension, so now has created more hoops for teachers to jump through. A district that wants to be "ahead of the curve" so has required 8 common assessments throughout the year to gather data. A curriculum coordinator who made my job twice as hard than it needed to be because she was lazy. A school board who created goals for its teachers which sound good on paper, but in practice are ridiculous & so poorly worded it took us 2 months to figure out what they meant.  A district that introduced 2 new styles of instruction and demanded we train on it & implement immediately. The same district who promised us great testing technology but gave us little training, and still expects us to be experts.

I have students who failed a 20 point test and want to argue with me about whether they should be allowed to retake it. I have parents who email me and question my policies to make sure they are "fair" for their child.  I have students (please note the plural) who are struggling so much with their own issues that they are admitted to inpatient psychiatric treatment centers, and I am expected to teach them mastery of my content.

I am a professional who holds a Masters degree in her chosen field. I have 12 years of experience with 7th and 8th graders, a population to whom only the bravest would devote their time. I volunteer my own time (and take time away from my family) to be with these students in extracurricular activities, sports, & overnight field trips. 

And I am tired. I am not getting anything close out of my efforts, to what I put in.  I am not enjoying this job anymore. And dammit, I'm a GREAT teacher. But they're really close to losing me.