Sunday, June 11, 2017

For the Out of Work Teacher...I'm Struggling Too

I’m struggling right now, so indulge me while I wallow and work through this with writing. Plus, maybe my story will at least let other teachers know they aren’t alone. Otherwise I’d keep my whining to myself.

In April my principal let me know they were “opening up my position”—a nice way of kicking me to the curb. As it was only my second year at the school, I was still on “probation,” and it was much easier to get rid of me. I have so many issues with this.

1. This was actually my twelfth year of full-time teaching. Why do districts treat teachers like first-year rookies each time you start a new place? Just because I’m new to your building doesn’t mean I have amnesia of the last 12 years. I didn’t just wake up and start fresh, with no wisdom or experience or lesson plans. Why do schools need to make it so easy to get rid of teachers? Oh wait, I know the answer to this: teaching isn’t treated like a real profession and teachers aren’t afforded any trust. There are all those BAD teachers running around! Lock your doors and protect your innocent children.

2. If you can’t trust me, why the f*ck did you hire me? Or, why ask me back for a second year (which is also probationary)? If I’m such a sh*tty teacher, why give me another year? Oh that’s right, I’m actually not a bad teacher, which brings me to #3.
3. I’ve been in trouble several times this past year for stupid stuff

(Seriously, it is stupid: not giving detentions for phones [we are zero tolerance—you even see a phone, it’s detention—like I have time for that], making adults uncomfortable during PD [still have no idea how big old meanie me managed that], “inciting rebellion” in my classes by letting them talk about the school rules, tweeting something construed as negative about the school [even though I never mentioned the school—and the tweet wasn’t about it], etc.).

Not once, lemme say it again, not once have I been in trouble for my teaching. Well, I guess you could say the “inciting rebellion” was my teaching. ;-) Yet, I’m not being asked back. I’m at the mercy and whims of an administrator’s feelings. I wasn’t even given a reason because no reason is needed those first two years.

4. The funny part (I have a gallows’ sense of humor): I’ve received my best evaluations these last two years from two different administrators. I’ve had constructive feedback, healthy dialogue when we disagree, and a feeling of mutual respect…of course neither of those admins have a voice in my future employment.

5. Honestly, I felt this was coming, and while it shouldn’t hurt, it does. It really does. It hurts to think I can push myself, risk my health, work like a dog, see remarkable (really incredible) student growth and improvement and realize it’s still not enough. That I’m not enough.

No, I’m not fishing for compliments or accolades or pats on the head or even stickers. That’s not my style. I’m simply expressing what I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling: no matter what we do as teachers, it’s never going to be good enough for those in power.

Please don’t tell me I shouldn’t care about admins because I’m doing it for the kids. That cliché will not help me keep my job, find a new job, or pay my bills.

But, I do have so much student support. I’ve even heard from parents about how upset their child is and how they are also upset. Other teachers are shaken and pissed off. I have built a pretty good reputation for being an effective teacher, so if I’m not being asked back, is anyone else safe? People who know me, really know me, as a teacher, are shocked. The general reaction from other teachers and friends has been, “Are you f*cking serious?” Yep, as a heart attack.

Meanwhile, I’m figuratively curled in a corner, not blindsided but still stunned.

6. However, I am a big girl. I’m applying for other jobs, which I’ve been doing since about February (told you I felt this coming). I’ve applied to five different schools so far. I’ve had one interview and crickets. I know it’s still early—that doesn’t help my anxiety over my ambiguous future. Two jobs have been filled. The one I interviewed for will be handed to someone who can coach two sports…oh, and teach English.

My inner figure shrinks further into the corner. Those ridiculing voices suddenly seem to be voices of truth: I’m really not good enough. Because, honestly, it shouldn’t be this hard for someone with my resume, in a state desperate for warm bodies, to find another position. Even with ELA teachers being a dime a dozen and ELA not being as important as STEM or athletics.

And, I’m looking around at the average or below average teachers who get to keep their jobs because they aren’t troublemakers like I am.

They don’t get the results I do, but results are nothing compared to compliance.

7. Plus, the thought of starting over in another district exhausts me. To move my books and belongings to another room—again. (The last three times I’ve done that, I’ve had to clean out the previous teacher’s crap before I could even move my possessions in.) To make new friends, which is hell to an introvert—again. To learn the ropes and students in a new district—again. To learn to navigate all the unspoken—again. To be treated like a rookie—again. To worry I won’t be asked back—again.

Is it really worth it? The pay sucks. The hours are ludicrous. The lack of respect and autonomy is stifling. I swear to god if you say anything about “the kids,” I will punch you in the face. If the kids were the only aspect of my job, then I could simply think about them. However, the kids end up being the least of anyone’s concerns.

8. Now I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to bother anymore. My heart is broken and my spirit is tattered. Maybe I shouldn’t be in education. Thus, I’m looking for jobs outside of education…which has turned up a whole set of thoughts I thought I’d laid to rest: I’m not qualified for anything but teaching. I’m just a teacher.

Yes, yes, I am an effective communicator, a virtuoso at multitasking, adept with technology, blah blah blah. Yes, I’m definitely trainable. But, why do I want to start over again in another field? My degree is in education. I don’t want to educate adults. I’m really not fond of adults. At least with teens I believe they still have a chance, still have potential.

I never thought I’d have to worry about qualifying for anything else. I was going to teach, get a master’s, move on to something else in education, maybe get a doctorate (dreams!), and again move on to something education-related. I have no desire to do anything else. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ve overstayed my welcome and education doesn’t want me.

So, if you hear of any jobs for an out-of-work, washed-up, unwanted former English teacher, let me know. Hmmm, wonder if I could stage a real life Breaking Bad. He was a former teacher, right?

**6-10-17 Update, I’ve applied for every ELA job in the area, which was really not many. Because of the stupid lupus, I really can’t commute a long way. I know I’m a masochist for trying to stick with education. At one school that had two openings, I applied on a Tuesday and by Thursday I received an automated email telling me the positions were filled/closed.

I may have a job (I’m waiting to hear back), but it’s really difficult knowing I’m not a district’s first choice nor is the position really what I would like. I’ll admit it’s pride, but, dammit, so what? Other careers are allowed to take pride in their accomplishments. Why can’t teachers? It doesn’t mean I have or will become complacent—that’s not my style. I’ve worked hard to become an “expert” in my field, but I also know I will never stop learning and improving.

I’ve made teaching my life, so, yes, it sucks when my hard work hasn’t paid off…

When I’m not a first choice…

When I have glowing recommendations and have built an impressive resume…

It hurts.

No comments:

Post a Comment