Being a teacher is one of the most difficult, rewarding, frustrating, impactful jobs there is. It takes an extremely special and dedicated person to take on a classroom full of children with varying emotional, academic, behavioral, and socio-economic needs. Teachers are a vital part of our society. And yet, they are part of one of the most under-valued professions there is.
Teachers carry the weight of budget cuts, standardized testing, and over-crowded classrooms. They are bound by ridiculous policies and procedures and are drowning under the pressure of extensive evaluations and bureaucratic idiocy. All while loving and putting everything they have into our children.
They pour their blood, sweat, and tears into our kids. They work long hours, for little pay, and are expected to jump impossible hurdles.
As a result, teachers are leaving the profession in droves, and one former kindergarten teacher is “taking the filter off” and speaking out on why.
In a Facebook post that has quickly gone viral, Jessica Gentry outlines five reasons why she left the profession. Contrary to what administrators would like to believe, it wasn’t because of the lousy pay (although it is) or that she had found something she was more passionate about (she hadn’t).
Gentry starts off by saying it’s not the kids. The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents and society. She states:
The old excuse “the kids have changed”. No. No friggin way. Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/coparenting situations, terrible media influences… and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed?
She goes on to explain that problematic kids come from unsafe and unstable environments. The kids “flipping tables at school” are not the ones with a loving space at home where they can safely test their boundaries. Instead, they have absentee parents who have failed to model respect or teach their children the word no. It is these parents who are letting their kids (and teachers) down in the worst possible way.
In the midst of all of this… our response is we need to be “21st Century” schools. 1 to 1 student to technology. Oh. Okay. So forget the basics of relationship building and hands on learning. Kids already can’t read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings… let’s toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website.
And with technology comes extra training and new assessments. Both of which take up time that teachers don’t have.
And since our technology approach doesn’t seem to be working, teachers must need more training. So take away two planning periods a week. And render that time utterly worthless when it comes to ADDING to the quality of the instruction.
Teachers are being bogged down by lengthy procedures and assessments which do little, if anything, to improve their evaluations of their students. And along with all these extra “tools” teachers are being forced to use, they are also expected to cater to parents. When did it become the teacher’s responsibility to shoulder the failings of the parents?
Instead of holding parents accountable… and making them true partners, we’ve adopted a customer service mindset. I’ve seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting “the letter”. Well, here’s the thing… I can’t teach your child if he’s not in school 🤷♀️. I was cussed out by parents who wanted to attend field trips but missed the THREE notes that went home–and when they did attend a trip, sat on their phone the entire time. I’ve had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after school option.
It’s no surprise that dealing with all these factors takes a toll, physically and mentally. Teachers are being pushed past their breaking points and it needs to stop.
My mental and physical health was in jeopardy every.single.day. Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they’re getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told ‘don’t lose sleep over them’… when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission… these messages tear you apart. Watching them come in… dirty clothes… chaos at home… and knowing they need more than you can give them in a classroom of 21, with less and less support, multiple languages spoken, several different disabilities… it breaks you.
She is the teacher you hope your kids have. The one who loves them, who cries over them, who celebrates with them when they accomplish what they thought was impossible. These are the qualities that matter. And these are the teachers we are losing.
Gentry finishes her reasons why with this:
I finally realized… you can’t save them all. You can’t even help 21 if you aren’t healthy yourself. If your mental and physical health aren’t a focus, you aren’t even good for the 21.
Our educational system is broken. Our teachers are broken. Our homes are broken. And worst of all? Because of this, our children are broken. We need to do better. We HAVE to do better. For the sake of our teachers, and ultimately, our children.