Writing my way through the school year!

The other day I posted a status on FB, “They are sucking the joy out of teaching!”  You know who “they” are. I have taught for 27 years, and never have I felt this way.  It’s not the new principal. It’s all the next “new” things that have been lobbed at me from one day to the next. After I duck one, or get hit, depending on what innovative thing they have come up with, something new is thrown at me.

I sat at our last meeting, completely overwhelmed, when our principal told us that she wanted us to use data to develop carousel workshops, every week, for reading and math.  My first thought was, in order to gather this data to use every week, I would have to test the heck out of my kids. My second thought, when am I supposed to teach? Teach! Remember when we used to be able to do that?  My third thought was, this is utterly ridiculous, and I cannot do this anymore! My mind is flailing as I try to stay afloat in a sea of acronyms! EQ, CSR, KUD, LM, NCLB, DCAS,  some one throw me a life raft!

I have come to the belief that we have been pimped out for RTT (Race to the Top) money. The powers that be jumped at the chance to accept that money, and agreed to do anything  that was asked to keep it.  But in the end, who actually completes all the requirements?Teachers do! Who benefits from this money, the kids? I think not. The teachers? A resounding no! We have “coaches” running our schools. My principal has at least three different coaches telling her what to do and how to do it. And then, she tells us. An example, the coaches walk around with her, enter our classrooms for five minutes, and then leave us a feedback form with 5 questions we have to answer. (What happens if she doesn’t have 5 questions?) It’s called 5 X 5, isn’t that the cutest thing? How much are these coaches being paid and do any of them have a background in education?

I know some of the ideas have merit. As a matter of fact, I have used some of them. But when you are told how often you should use them, when you should use them, and penalized if you don’t, my gosh, doesn’t that defeat my purpose? Why bother to pay me if I can’t make any decisions, if my judgement cannot be trusted?

I begin every morning watching my administrator walk through the halls, making checks  on her clipboard.  She is checking to see which teachers are in the hallway, greeting the children. I receive a newsletter(emailed), every Monday, 4 pages long, (I am not exaggerating), with the percentage of teachers who were observed meeting the requirements along with the new requirements of the week. I am losing my drive, I don’t want to, but I am. 😦

I want to teach! After 27 years, I still love teaching! So, I am going to try to not let “them’ steal my joy! I will go in my room, and Skype, integrate technology, have meaningful discussions about anything and everything, watch the smile when one of my kids finally “gets” it, laugh, tell jokes, blog, create global learners, teach my students to problem solve, and most off all,I promise,  I… will… teach!

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Comments on: "“I Just Want to Teach!” A Teacher’s Plea" (21)

  1. Unfortunately, I know exactly what you mean. But lucky me, I retired two years ago. I loved teaching, but hated the stress of all the extras thrown at us and it is just getting worse and worse. Just stay focused on the kids. It will keep you sane. They are lucky to have you. Now I have a much easier way to communicate with kids….I write for them!

  2. OMG!!! This sounds like my life. 27 years in and I remember the joys of teaching… All I want “them” to do is let me teach:(

    • I’ve been teaching 22 years. I can still remember when it was so much fun to teach. Now, well, too many “test” to prepare the students to make proficient. How can “they” take four days out of a school year and judge the students’ knowledge or the teachers ability to teach. I know we were able to teach everything the students need to know. Teachers would help each other, share ideas, and laugh together. Now, it has become so competitive for the “best scores” teachers seem to keep ideas to themselves. All this cause the morale in my schools to be low. I’m glad I can say I remember when teaching was fun and if you taught “the test” you would have been “dismissed” from your job. I’m sad to see the fun going out of school, what a shame…….

  3. This is definitely the danger behind jumping on every educational trend and adopting every new edtech gadget or service out there.

    I’m all for rethinking the way we teach, but some teachers already have their style down pat — and it’s a good one!

    We need to leave teachers some autonomy!

  4. I’ve been in this for 30 plus years and I am hanging it up. I don’t want to be identified on a scale of 1 to 5. I know what my students need and it is not a teacher who has to focus on every word that state guidelines and standards require so I can be considered a “rock-solid” educator. Kids are feeling the stress of their teachers and no one is winning. Race to the top is causing all of us to plummet to the bottom!

  5. Wow! This could have been written by me (including the perception of RTT, which I call “Race to the Trough”) except that I decided to retire this past June. I have always been (and still am) a staunch advocate of a public education but I do find myself wondering sometimes whether the key isn’t to find a private or parochial school where teachers can still teach.

  6. The only memories I have of teachers truly teaching is from my dad. Now, I’m in my first year teaching at a Title I, recipient of RTT money and I can’t even begin to find a rhythm. I teach Algebra I and every time I think I’m hitting my stride with my kids, an AP–who has been in my classroom for 3 minutes out of the entire year– decides it’s not working and lays out a minute-for-minute lesson plan.

    • The dreaded RTT money! I was talking to a top district person and told her I would like to receive Ipads for my classroom. She said the only way I could get them is for my school to be “under review.” Then, tons of money would be thrown at my school, and I could get my Ipads. Isn’t that sad? Don’t worry, when the money runs out, they might actually let us teach again. I hope you can hold out that long. we need good teachers.

  7. I found your blog, and though I teach high school, you have made me feel better already–better that there are more of “me” out there… people watching people running around checking things on Youtube with iPads while I have to read student’s emailed homework when I get home or on my own phone because my OS/Office versions are too old to read them. We have so many “systems” for communicating with parents that they conflict with each other and parents have told me to “just pick one,” which is not possible because I’m forced to obey everyone’s conflicting mandates. I redid all of my lesson plans, much to student delight, when they gave me Youtube, only to discover last week that it was a “mistake,” and “we can’t possibly use that.” We can’t possibly use news clips to supplement a 20 year old book? I have to put standards from other fields into my curricula because we don’t have any state given standards in my field yet, but we’ll be tested on them. We are in the process of redoing the teacher certification system AGAIN–this will be time #3 in my decade, and when I finished the other two systems, they said, “Oh, sorry, those don’t count; we’ll be coming up with a new system.” I’ve wasted literally hundreds of hours and dollars for the “doesn’t count,” mantra. I’m a reformer at heart, and I live for my students, all 150 of them a year, but I’m going out of my mind. I love to collaborate, help, work with others, but I can’t keep up with the mandates. I left a decent corporate job where I was responsible for millions of dollars, but I have been out of paper for weeks now, justifying why I can possibly need more (um, double the student count–not complaining, can I just have some paper, and toss in ink while you’re at it)…

    I really want to continue to be a great teacher…I feel like I’m in a life raft, drowning. When education first became “standardized,” it reduced the amount and quality of what I could teach, but I found ways around that. I’ve been jumping hurdles and roadblocks with great successes. I believe in the good intentions of people driving reform, but I feel that no one listens to me when I tell what works in my classroom. My family and non-teaching friends continue to laugh at me as I follow mandates that conflict with each other, copy papers I will never use, and slowly go insane. I have received job offers outside the field, but I love my kids and I truly love what I do. And I feel that if I feel this way–someone who lives “teaching,” talks teaching constantly, reads books about teaching, and tries to improve teaching all the time, then what about those who are just there for the paycheck? They don’t seem concerned or upset at all. Maybe because they’re not as focused on generating success with RTTT? I know we need data and standards, but we need to control how we implement and follow up on new systems. I have a high tolerance for hard work and change. I love change. Just give me coffee… I’m positive, motivated, and always smiling. Still, I feel like I’m going to crack. I’m hoping for someone out there to tell me to hang on because they’ve felt like this before…

    P.S. You’re my new hero. I would never be able to blog about this stuff. We’re all scared to death to speak openly. It’s not like me at all.

    • Thank you. My colleagues and I say it every day, we are no longer allowed to teach. We are regulated every minute of the day. Today we were told my principal will be looking to see if we’re using another one of those strategies from on high next week. I just do what I do, and know it will all work out in the end.I wish you well.

    • Your post makes me so sad. With over thirty years in teaching, can I give you a bit of advice? Find a teaching buddy who thinks and feels like you do. There were many times in my career when hanging on would have been next to impossible if it had not been for my best teaching friend. We would call each other, drive hours to see each other, and do whatever it took, just so we could talk and remember that there were people out there who thought like we did, cared as much as we did, and were willing to take the idea of bucking the system right up to the edge with out going over the edge. In other words we got each other through the roughest of times. Once we found each other, we started looking for more people like us and the more we found, the more fun we had.

      Mandates can be tough, but trust me when I say that there have been mandates driving teachers crazy for as long as there have been teachers. However, there have also been people who found ways around the mandates so they could make teaching and learning fun. You can do that too.

      • Hey Cathy, I know about the mandates. I have taught for 27 years and have seen them come and go. I am fortunate in that I still manage to love what I do. So, every day, I take a deep breath, and remember why I’m here. 🙂 Thanks!

  8. Just found you through Pinterest. I am in my 27th year too and would not recommend anyone become a teacher these days. My saying is that school sucks the life out of me. I still manage perky, interesting, and engaging during the day, but once school is out . . . . .
    When is the last time you heard a teacher talk with interest and say “we’re learning about electricity” or “we’re learning about the Revolutionary War” because now it’s “we are learning how to answer the benchmark test question about writing a bibliography” or “we are memorizing the formula for area”.

    I am the librarian and NO ONE gets to do projects anymore. Only test objectives.

    • I am part of an amazing PLN on Twitter,so I still get my fill of interesting teacher talk whenever I sign onto Twitter.:) We test our students 3 times a year, and you know what? We still have pen pals, Skype, participate in Global projects, AND get ready for those darn tests! I will not give in to standardized testing and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from doing a job I love so much and that they may end up loving as much as I do. 🙂

  9. soon2bteacher said:

    Nice post. I am just finishing my alternative teacher’s certification & master’s degree, hoping to get a job in Aug. I have heard & read all the mess out there that teachers have to deal with & it makes me sad & makes me think twice about even wanting to become a teacher. I have waited years to become a teacher (was a SAHM until my last child has gone to kinder) so @ 40 I will begin my career.

    • It’s a big mess! But you know what? I still love my job because most of the time, I can close my door, and teach my kids. Now, it will be difficult for you as a new teacher, but I think teaching is such a rewarding career. I wouldn’t quit for anything!(Well, maybe if I won Powerball 🙂 )

  10. trbutche said:

    I have to say, that I agree 100% and more and I’m only 3 years in. It is so sad to see, and to be a part of. It becomes especially difficult to swallow when the people tallying how many of each item you do or do not do in a given moment, have no teaching experience.

  11. Ed Week just had an article titled, Survey: Teacher Job Satisfaction Hits a Low Point. The article noted that 29% of the 1,000 teachers surveyed indicated they were likely to leave the teaching profession in the next five years. Is it any surprise, really? 43% were pessimistic about the level of student achievement, and many teachers perceive teacher evaluation systems as punitive- Yikes! We need to get things turned around so teachers can teach once again, feel good about their teaching, and have others recognize their efforts. Otherwise, I am afraid that it will be difficult to keep good people in the classroom.

  12. I’m not a teacher. I would like to be one in the future. I currently work in retail making a little above min. wage, and I get three weeks of vacation a year. I think that everyone has something to complain about when it comes to their jobs. Hard work is hard work after all. Yet, what I wouldn’t give to switch positions with you. To have that job, no matter how bureaucratic it has become, would be my ultimate. I would find joy in it with or without the coaches. Because, remember there is something worse than teaching in a tough political environment, you could work retail at Christmas and not get two weeks of vacation to recharge your batteries instead.
    I think teachers do an important job, I one day want to hold that important position. I just want teachers to have prospective, it could be worse. I deal with coaches and principles everyday, they are my bosses and my bosses bosses and they don’t play nice all the time. I don’t get to see happiness on a kid’s face, I get to clean up after the public shows their true colors when they don’t have to clean something up themselves. I greet and smile at everyone who has had a bad day and takes it out on the checkout girl. I work every holiday except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. I work nights, days and afternoons, basically whenever I am needed according to the work schedule, not my life schedule.
    Don’t get me wrong, you have every right to blog about your bad day. Just next time, think about the life you may have led if you ran out of money for college and couldn’t get another loan. You take what you can get to pay off your debt. You end up working retail for 12 years before you begin to dig yourself out. You work every weekend, bank holiday, summer etc. with only 3 weeks off a year. Would you have something to say to yourself?

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