“Nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years.” I have always viewed this as a challenge. If I can make it past the 5 year mark it might be easier, I told myself. Sadly, February 12, 2016 was my last day teaching. Since I worked for a Title 1 school, if I would have stuck it out for one more year, the government would have paid off some of my student loans. I’m leaving for a job 20 minutes away, while I live less than 2 miles away from the school I worked in.
Full disclosure: I’m taking a pay cut in my new position. I’m starting out entry level as support staff. I have hopes of moving up in the company and really showing them what a great asset I can be.
I battle with the thought that maybe I failed. I’m not use to failing. I have always had the view that if I really give it my 100% best effort then it will always be good enough. Anyone who knows me or worked with me can attest that I gave teaching 110%. I tried my absolute best, I went above and beyond…..sadly it was not enough.
I kind of feel like I have to prove that I tried and that I really was a good teacher.I could write paragraphs and paragraphs proving that I was a good teacher. I used teaching as a badge of honor and I identified myself as ‘A Teacher’. I really had to take a step back and realize that I am so much more than a teacher. Being a teacher can’t be the only thing that defines me!
Recently while going through some old files I found a journal entry I wrote the night before I started my 1st day teaching……….
“How I feel- Nervous, excited, scared, sick, overwhelmed, blessed, (+ about a million other emotions). This weekend has been filled with many emotions and not much sleep or food. There is so much to do and so little time. I feel blessed by all the support I have received when my friends and family heard that I have the job. Everyone is so excited for me and keeps encouraging me and letting me know that I have it in me to be the best teacher to these students. That is exactly what I want, I want to be a fantastic teacher to my students. I want to learn and grow with them this year. I know I will not be easy but I am confident that I can handle this.” 9/3/12 11:24 PM
I wanted to be the best teacher! My first year I worked at least 12 hours a day, teaching 2nd grade at a Charter School. I lost weight and got pneumonia. I learned how to juggle my time better after I got married. I was a great teacher, but at what cost? My health? My time? My Happiness? I received little to no support from my school and the parents of my students. I switched to teaching 6th grade at public school and had high hopes of ‘the grass is greener.’ I quickly learned that middle school is a completely different animal. I taught 6th grade for 3 years. The main thing that drove me from teaching was the lack of respect and support I received.
I am a nice person. If you look at my high school yearbooks almost every entry says “Tiffany, you are so nice!” My husband and my friends have never heard me yell or even raise my voice. Teaching brought out the worst in me. I felt ugly.
Some students were wonderful and despite the atmosphere, worked hard. There were many students who were completely apathetic towards school. (Read my post on Thoughts of the School-to-Prison Pipeline) Every day it was a struggle to get them to do any work. Many of my students were low academically. There was severe behavior problems and when I call home I received little to no support. When I would send student to the office, the majority of the time they would get sent back. All I wanted to do was teach but I had to do so much more.
On top of dealing with the harassment and stress I had to get a year’s growths out of my students. I had to put them through days of testing. Standards were constantly changing. New mandatory policies were being put in place monthly. I kept on top of all the grading, paper work and data. I even lead PD’s for my staff on how to integrate new mandatory technology into the classroom. This is one of the parts of teaching that I loved. I loved helping my colleagues out, and figuring out new ways to integrate technology. I was a ‘go-to’ person for many programs in my school. I held after school programs, lead assemblies and was on multiple committees.
There is only so much a person can handle. I guess I suffer from teacher burn out. I am only 3 weeks into my new job and I feel like I am healing. I have not had to yell or raise my voice or even be emotionally involved at work. It is so peaceful here. I go home happy and smile on my way to work. I started training for a half-marathon, started a blog and I’m taking an online Spanish class —all since leaving my teaching job.
So maybe I failed? Or maybe the field of education failed to work for me? Sometimes I miss it. A lot of prayer and counseling went into my decision to end my teaching job. God opened the door for this new job. (Read my post on my last few days) It was not all bad and soon I will write about all the good experiences and my success stories.