Monday, September 12, 2016

Why No One Wants to Teach

So Yellow Rose posted a comment (Hi there! Yellow Rose!) about my previous post about substitute teaching, money, testing and silliness in general.   And her comment was right on target:

"So is Awesome Sub not interested in the full-time job, or does she not have the paper qualifications to get on full-time?  She sounds ideal."

The answer is....both.

Awesome Sub was pretty much offered the job as long as she took the Praxis and passed.  It was her's for the taking.

Except she really didn't want it.

Awesome Sub and I talked quite a bit over the few weeks she was here, and she really was awesome.  But she felt completely overwhelmed.   She had a Fifth Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself (if I know most of the kids in the class from their stints in ISS as sixth graders, then you know it's a tough bunch).  And it was a class of 36.  And it was an inclusion class.  And even with an aide in there, They Would Not Be Quiet and Behave.  She told me the only time they got quiet was when I was in there and threatened to haul the lot of them off to ISS for several days.

And that was just the beginning.  She was overwhelmed by the time spent planning, and in meetings, and grading papers, and prepping for labs, and generally just all the things that go into being a teacher these days.  And she has her own middle school son and felt that she wasn't being the Mother to her own kid that she wanted, and he was being short-changed because of all the time she put into her job.

So she's actually applied for an Aide position, which is a lot less stress, and would still give her a steady paycheck and benefits.  And she can leave at 2:30 and take her own kid to his soccer games, and out to dinner after when they suffer a loss and he's upset, and help him do his homework.

I have noticed a trend the past few years with some of our staff - and I don't think our school is unique in this by any measure. Many teachers are leaving because the cost to stay is just too high in terms of emotional well-being.

One of our best sixth grade language arts teachers, who had rock star test scores, decided she had had enough and quit to stay home and being a mom to her kids.  She and her husband realize that money will be significantly tighter than when she was working, but now, instead of grading papers all night, she's spending time with her own kids.

Another rising star math teacher quit a few years ago and is now installing fencing.  He blames the hours and time put into his teaching job as a contributing factor in the break up of his marriage.  Now he has half the stress, makes about the same amount of money, and is able to spend a lot of time with his little girls.

I even had some serious thoughts about leaving myself a few years ago.  I was leaving school every day at 6:00 pm, spending all day Saturday grading and prepping, and was constantly being told it wasn't enough.  When I started teaching, lesson plans were written in a 3" square block in a lesson plan book.  Now we not only need weekly plans, typed, but daily plans, also typed,  which are so scripted they explain exactly what you're going to do and say during every minute of class - and can run to two pages long.  The hours, the stress, the pressure to get those almighty test scores was tremendous.

And along the way we forgot that these were kids, and not test scores.

If I hadn't been given the gift of ISS, I probably would be out of the profession by now.  I have a degree in business, and can run an office with one hand tied behind my back, so finding a job outside of the profession was feasible.  I was at the point where something had to give.

And then I was given ISS and decided to stay.  At least for a while.


angie said...

So true! I've taught for 32 years and the changes haven't always been for the best. I remember the lesson plan books with the squares. Now lesson plans need to be done online, standards based, cross-referenced with pacing guides, emailed by a set time, and posted on the wall in class. I moved to preschool to get away from some of the testing but the past few years we do STAR early literacy, DRDP (which is about 1,800 questions I have to answer online), reading levels determined, and another one I can't recall. Plus we need to go to the science lab, the garden, last year we even had ballet class once a week! Our parents want us to do more than one field trip a month.All I want is time to teach my students. I've got one more year before I can retire and being in my mid 50's, there has to be more to life than the constant stress of trying to juggle a hundred balls at one time!

Carmen said...

Those weekly and daily plans remind me of writing substitute teacher plans. It took forever, was tortuous, and I hated it. I think if I had to do it all the time I might consider quitting, too.

Ms M. said...

I've been reading your blog for ages and don't comment often, but thought I'd chime in here. I taught in the New York City Public Schools for about 6 years before moving out of state and working in a totally different district - suburban, very posh. I lasted two years before I quit. I knew I was stressed, but did not understand the magnitude of the stress until I left. I ended up going to a "bootcamp" for software development, and now, that's what I do. I get paid MORE than I was as a teacher, and am so much less stressed out. My husband comments on it all the time, especially on Sundays since now I am able to actually enjoy the day with him instead of freaking out that my lessons/grading/etc needed to be finished. I loved being in the classroom, and I miss the kids, but I will never go back.

Hey Polly said...

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