Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why I Had To Leave The Profession I Loved

Teachers lately are writing letters, some about why they are resigning and some why they are choosing to stay and fight.

I was the teacher who wanted to die with a piece of chalk in my hand.  I loved my job and only joked about actually retiring.  My family was shocked when I went through with my decision to leave.  But, even the toughest warriors have to sometimes admit defeat.

I left the system before VAM, so test scores were not an issue for me.  I even took some of the hard core students from younger teachers hoping I could help these kids but, at least I could help the newer teachers have better stats, something my AP really cared about.  Stats weren't a problem for me.  Although my AP would constantly berate me for them, the Principal and the AP of student affairs knew the students I worked with and appreciated what I did with them.  They understood that although I never had a 90%+ passing rate, I got more of those kids through than most other people could.  But, even their approval wasn't enough on a daily basis.

The AP of a department is the lord and master of what goes on there.  He creates policy, programs teachers and students and takes no criticism.  There is no give and take.  It is only take, take, take on the APs part.  There are always a few teachers that the AP has decided are worthy of extra consideration or, for some reason or other the AP fears.  There was a guy several years ago who came  to school in smelly, ripped clothes, taught by handing out copied pages of a book and always found ways to get out of marking regents.  He never got a late schedule, even when it was his turn to take one.  He taught in one room and had one prep.  And there was this woman who had a reputation as being the meanest teacher in the city.  She too always had choice classes, one prep, the same one year after year and he made excuses for her late arrival every day.

Anyway, these teachers left the profession a long time ago and there is no use crying over what was.  But, what is makes another story.  There is obvious favoritism  towards the newbies, where they get the best classes and their opinions and thoughts count for everything.  Being told your grade and that of other experienced teachers meant nothing if the newbie gave the child a lower grade stings.  Being told your exams are worthless because the second year teacher had a problem with it pained.  Constantly being told to retire and that you didn't need new courses and new materials bites. 
And, being ignored and totally left out doesn't feel too good either.  Listening to Monday reports of the parties the newbies attended at the APs house (where you were discussed and ripped apart) hurt.  Having to resort to a bit of blackmail to get a class that in reality no one else wanted just sucked.

This little jabs, while not job threatening, took their toll.  I admitted defeat when the job became a rock around my neck, when my energy was more on survival than my students. 

I was one of the lucky ones.  I had enough years in to retire with a healthy pension.  And, after an initial adjustment, I know I made the right decision.  Still, I wish I could have held on for a few more years.  There is a group of students due to graduate this term that I was especially close to.  Many had academic and other problems and I know I was doing a decent job of helping them through.  I wonder how many of them made it.  And, I wonder how many of them are really ready for college and life.  I know they had potential.  I hope they really got an education, not just a diploma. I wish I wasn't forced to hand in my papers before I was ready.  Those constant hits got me in the end.


Anonymous said...

Writing pieces like this make me feel sad for those who felt that they had to leave the profession (either by retiring or resigning) as a result of a negative and hostile work atmosphere. Those kinds of environments are not pleasant to be around...

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why Principals don't address these issues! They see moral in the buildings are very low! It is not just in the building work in or you work in but it is throughout the system!

Principal's hire young AP's so they can mould them but they are the first ones that disrespect the experienced teachers!