Shedding Light on Education: why we leave

What started out as a few Facebook posts has grown and festered in my soul.

See I am an educator by birth. I was born to do this. I didn’t wake up one day and say “oh this will be easy let me do this” No honey, I would play with my toys and pretend I was teacher and they were the students. I can remember my 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 12th grade English teacher. Why do I remember these teachers because they made education real. They made school fun and enjoyable. I remember my 7th grade teacher. I don’t remember what subject he taught but he was the one that taught how not to be a teacher. That man got on my nerves and made my skin crawl. He would snatch my books from me and call my mom. This was the first time I ever felt like reading was not a good thing. I knew I wanted to be a teacher that shared her love for teaching and wanted to make school enjoyable for my kids. I teach kindergarten and I am sometimes the first teacher they will ever have and I am their first experience with school. I want it to be a good one. So I come to my classroom and look around. How can make it warm and inviting. I look on the internet for various resources. I dig into my teacher supply and pull out from previous years. I go to the store and purchase new stuff. WITH MY OWN MONEY!!!! There is no budget given to me that says “here you are teacher go buy what you need” I have NEVER been given a classroom stipend. Why do think places like http://www.donorschoose.org and http://www.adoptaclassroom.com exist?!?!?! We come out of pocket every year to decorate our classrooms. We come out of pocket to motivate students with stickers, pencils, erases, small toys, etc. Then the lovely ISR says here is $250 at the end of the year for your trouble. I spent that on classroom supplies alone to make sure ALL my students have school supplies and to keep extra supplies. Crayons break. Pencils get sharpened down to the eraser. I swear they eat the glue. I want to paint…yep I gotta buy paint. I want to lose my mind and use glitter….yep gotta buy that too. Any arts and crafts I have to buy. Remember they cut art out the budget and kindergarten is the new 1st grade, so we don’t need those things….WRONG!!!!

Kindergarteners are still children who enjoy making things. When kids can touch and manipulate what they are learning the more likely it will stick into their little brains. I can’t lecture them by direct teaching. Noow students need to be responsible for their own learning. It also needs to be fun. If a child has never used a pair of scissors or held a pencil or used thier fingers to paint or made a mistake, their foundation is shaky and their future will be challenging and difficult at best. As a 10th grade teacher you don’t want a child who still struggles with fine motor skills. I love all this technology. I really do but let the children get messy. Let them cut paper.

You want a doctor who has held a scissors simce they were at least 5 or one who started cutting at 18?

But common core doesn’t require basic skills. We have to figure out how to put that in our lessons and tie into what they are learning. I can’t tell you how times I have thought how on earth can I make this lesson fun and engaging. If I taught only using the teacher edition I would miss that child who is struggling. I would miss that child who is bored because they already have an understanding of what that teacher edition says do.

So we make fun learning centers with activities that they can do independently. Several reasons

1. It’s only one teacher in the classroom

2. It’s student led and they can teach and help each other

3. It’s review of skills and concepts

4. It’s one teacher and hi that one teacher now has to pull 3 to 5 kids to a table and support them with reading and math strategies

5. You need these learning centers to keep them busy but engaged in learning while you teach a small group of students without constantly stopping to answer a question about what to do.

These learning centers include writing, word work, computers or iPads (if you are lucky to have these things) math work, reading, seatwork, fine motor skill practice, etc. Long gone are the days of dramatic play and blocks, nope they took that out and replaced it workbooks. Write and write some more.

Then comes the testing. This is straw that is breaking many backs.

I did a stint in 4th grade. Yep I ended up in a testing grade. January I started. State mandated testing was around the corner. We have to test the kids. We have to see what they are learning. We have to see if teachers and schools are performing. We need the data. We need to know who will get the money next school year. We need to know who will have job next year.

We spent an entire month interacting with the text. Money was found for highlighters and paper to make copies. Day after day we took a text and we unpacked it. We looked for the main idea and the supporting details. Highlight your main idea and underline your supporting details. I still and to pull my small groups and read with my kids. I still had to teach the regular lessons. According to the data the kids didn’t understand main idea and supporting details. They also did not know how to write an essay type response to a story.

Look we were all stressed because this was high performing school. The kids did not have fun and they hated school. I hated it for them.

Testing comes around. I had my smartest stop in the middle of the test and burst into tears. He was frustrated. He was under pressure. He couldn’t do it. Trying to calm him down took 15 minutes and he could not get those 15 minutes back. I had kids with IEPs and 504s who got accomdations. I had a child just give up. I had a child who had an agreement on the playground and just couldn’t take the test upset. I watched and walked around. Nothing I could do. It was a state test. I could not look as if I was helping. No talking. Need the bathroom that took 3 teachers. One to walk the child. Another to come in and monitor. It was not worth it.

I moved to kindergarten the next year and wouldn’t know it they brought in a brand new assessment for kindergarten this year. This joint took a month to administer. You could only administer it one on one. It’s only one of me. Legit took a month. Asking five year olds a series of questions. I don’t even know what happened to that data. Then I had assess their reading levels. I had to math baseline assessments. All this went into my student learning objectives that was tied to my evaluations and will determine if I’m effective or ineffective. At the end of the year the district said I was an effective teacher. I left public school and went to private school. I felt like the pressure was lifted and I could breathe again. I had 12 kids. I had a dramatic play area, blocks, art, computers, iPads, you name it I had it. If I didn’t have it I could go and ask and I would get it. Wait, what? Where on earth do they do that at?

Only draw back, the pay. I took a 10k a year pay-cut. Oh it was nothing BUT God that got me through. So I begin to look back at the public school system but in a neighboring state. Then I became depressed. I just could not go back to a stressful situation of wanting to teach and be creative but can’t because lawmakers and EVERYONE not in my classroom and no tin education telling what I should be doing. I did not go to school rack up student loans not to be trusted to do what is best for my students. I stay current on the latest research. I collaborate with my coworkers in and outside my school building. If I don’t know I ask. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know everything but good grief I know that asking a five year old to sit still in a chair to answer question after question for an hour is INSANE. Asking a child who does not know a letter from a number to read is INSANE. Asking a child who is hungry and sleepy to sit, listen, participate, and retain information is INSANE. Asking a child to write their name when they can’t hold a pencil and they have weak fine motor skills is INSANE. So after deep thought and prayer I set my eyes on a career outside of education. That idea quickly left because 1. I’m too old to start over 2. I have maxed out my student loans 3. I was born to be a teacher. Then I went back to an idea I had back in 2013, go teach overseas. Maybe they will appreciate you more.

Look the benefits

  1. tax-free salary
  2. housing accommadations paid for
  3. utilities paid for
  4. flight over paid for
  5. summer flight paid for
  6. visa paid for
  7. added bonus travel is affordable

So why not because

  1. I am stressed out trying to make sure my ends meet and I can provide for my child
  2. I’m not appreciated as an educator
  3. I am tired of testing my babies
  4. I am tired of not being trusted to do my job
  5. The demands have NOTHING to do with the children
  6. When I sat in a staff meeting looking at the budget and my principal says “I see dollar signs on the students back” because she wants to know how much the district would pour into the school for a student.

Let me pause and interject some facts.

  1. Title 1 schools get money
  2. for every child on free and reduced lunch = money
  3. minority =money
  4. IEP/504= money
  5. SPED=money
  6. pass the state test=money
  7. fail the state test=money
  8. ESOL=money

oh it’s a whole list, who gets that money, I don’t know because it’s not the teachers. Let’s not forget those who misuse and don’t allocate the money correctly.

7. parents are not involved
8. the community is not involved
9. I was actually considering a second job (NO MA’AM I will not work 40 hours plus on one job and stay in financial lane and still be broke)
10. I was not built to pay bills and then die
11. I was not meant to struggle like this with a full time job
12. the kids are disrespectful
13. the parents are disrespectful
14. no support from the parents or even for the parents
15. we are legit blamed for everything wrong in education and when students don’t succed
16. no one is sticking up for us
17. current administration (I will not give a whole lot of time to this utter chaos and foolishness but really people DeVos and Trump???!??!??!)

Now they want to freaking arm us with concealed weapons!!!!!!!

Look I already addressed this issue in a previous post so I won’t go into again.

For a career that creates all other jobs we get beat up on every side of this coin. It is like an abusive relationship and we wake up everyday hoping it will be better going back into the battle for more abuse.

Yes everything varies from school to school, district to district, state to state but good grief people. Look around you we are tired. We still love our careers but our careers don’t love us anymore.

Well enough is enough. I signed up on a website to start looking for jobs abroad. At least if I’m going to get beat up everyday pay me for it. Give me better benefits. I wanted that joy back before I finally gave up and left education all together. What was I going to do if I left education, no clue but I was not going to continue to take the abuse.

After I started my journey to teach abroad I discovered some things

  1. I was not alone
  2. It was and is a whole bunch of us teaching abroad
  3. It was and is a whole bunch of us who just decided one day to pack up and move abroad. Some with a plan some without. Some in education some not.

The decision to leave is never a light decision. There are many factors to consider. At the top of that list though better be YOURSELF. You cannot and should not live your life for others. Yes we wanna be close to our families. Yes we don’t want to leave the comfort of our lives that we have spent years building. You may not be that person that leaves with no plans of returning but don’t afraid to leave.

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