We all know teachers have a tough gig, but after reading this candid post by a former teacher about why she left the profession, we finally understand.
It’s not about the pay
In the hard-hitting post, Jessica Gentry, a former teacher and now stay-at-home mum of one, shares the reasons why she was happy to walk away from the classroom.
And really, it’s food for thought.
“The filter comes off now”, she begins the post.
“I think it’s easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay,” she writes, going on to reveal that the HR director would have preferred her to say she had another ‘opportunity’.
But Jessica prefers to say it like it is.
And it wasn’t about the pay.
“Let me tell you why those who ooze passion for teaching are leaving the occupation like their hair is on fire …” she continues.
The filter comes off now..I think it's easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay. …
The kids haven’t changed
The post is a bit confronting to read as a parent, but no one can deny that it drops a few truth bombs.
“The old excuse ‘the kids have changed’. No. No friggin way.” she says.
“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/co-parenting situations, terrible media influences … and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do?”
Jessica then goes on to explain that challenging behaviour seen in the classroom is because kids act out in environments where they feel safe.
“For those ‘well behaved’ kids – they’re throwing normal kid tantrums at home because it’s safe. The kids flipping tables at school? They don’t have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they’ve ever heard ‘no’, been given boundaries, shown love through respect. Cue ‘the kids have changed’ 🙄.”
Technology is replacing relationships
Jessica goes on to point out how our obsession with being techy is taking away from personal relationships and that too much emphasis is put on teachers to have ’21st-century classrooms’.
“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,” she eye rolls.
Too much time spent out of the classroom
Adding to this pressure to be tech-savvy, Jessica raises the point that already overworked teachers are spending the time they don’t have out of the classroom in meetings and teacher development programs.
“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,” she sighs.
A customer mindset
In addition, Jessica urges us all to look at the way we view the education system nowadays, as customers, rather than active participants in our kid’s learning.
“Instead of holding parents accountable … and making them true partners, we’ve adopted a customer service mindset.”
“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. I’ve had parents tell me that I’m not allowed to tell their child ‘no’ …” she goes on.
Not worth our mental health
The post is timely in that new research has come out showing teachers are more stressed and anxious than the average worker. The next part of Jessica’s post really brings this home.
“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’ …”
“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. We become emotional eaters. We become couch potatoes to zone out. We become so short-fused that our families suffer.”
“You can’t even help 21 if you aren’t healthy yourself. If your mental and physical health isn’t a focus, you aren’t even good for the 21.”
Starting with one
The long but poignant post concludes with Jessica realising she couldn’t, “save them all.”
“I left my retirement fund … my paid sick leave (46 days left on the table, unpaid). I didn’t leave for better pay”.
Being a mum now, Jessica has decided it has to start there.
“I found something that I can make an impact with … that doesn’t leave my tank empty, rendering me useless for others.”
“I may have left the classroom … but I am still advocating for those kiddos. It just looks different now 😘” she concludes.
Hats off to teachers everywhere and let’s all remember that a thank you and a kind word of encouragement goes a long way.
Teachers are a special kind of wonderful, but they are worn out and worn down.