How much longer will I survive doing this?

Why would anyone become a teacher?

This is my fifth year teaching and I have begun wondering this more and more each day. There was a point when I loved teaching. I felt so content in my job and my life it was overwhelming. Then overnight education in my state began to change, and once change begins there is no going back.

Teachers in many states are having benefits taken away. If education is getting worse in this country, and you cut pay and benefits, will the good teachers stay? With the smart and talented youth go into teaching? Would you go into a field if pay was going down and benefits were being cut? Who will be left to teach?

Teaching is a thankless job. Maybe a few times a year a parent or student tells you thank you for all that you do. Some years, no one does. You turn on the tv and people are trashing teachers for standing up for themselves and their jobs. If you are sick and miss a day you are punishing the students. If you have to go to a doctor appointment, which are only open during school hours, you are punishing the students by missing work. During the school year, there is an expectation that you stop existing in your life and only exist for your students. You are no longer allowed to be human, you must be robo teacher.

Parents have switched the blame for failure from the kids to the teachers. No matter how amazing of an educator you are, not every single student will get 100% every day. But, expect to be punished if they don’t. In some schools your pay will be cut, in others the parents will yell and degrade you in front of a room full of people, and if you a lucky the students will be nasty to you and storm out to text their parents to come back and yell at you again. One school I worked for I was only allowed a certain percent of failures. If I had more I had to just change the grades, even if I had students who did not do a single assignment the entire semester. Of course, it is the teacher’s fault they refused to do any work.

Schools are falling apart in many places all over the country. I would come to work with rat feces on my desk every day. There would be an inch of dirt on my pants at the end of the day. I had to duct tape holes in my windows because they were never going to get fixed and I had to keep bees from coming in the classroom. When I asked the health inspector what they could about the rats, he said there was nothing anyone could do. Would you send your kid to this school? Would you expect your kid to be successful there? Who would you blame?

The worst part about becoming a teacher is having to send your child to school. I know what goes on behind closed doors. I know too much. I have never seen children come to harm at school, unless they were in a fight, but far too often have seen little education happening. I spend far too many waking moments trying to find someplace to move to that has excellent education, but surprise surprise the best education in the county is in the the wealthiest cities. Money talks.

 

*None of the stories apply to my current school, which is very well maintained, no rats, and I have never had a student fail, literally*