The filter comes off now.

I think it’s easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay. It was easier for my former HR director to believe it was because I found something that I was more passionate about. Some would allow them to assume that—let them be comfortable in their assumptions because your truth may lead to discomfort of others. Well, I’m not some. That ain’t me.

Let me tell you why those who ooze passion for teaching are leaving the occupation like their hair is on fire. 

1. The old excuse “the kids have changed”

No. No friggin way. 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/coparenting situations, terrible media influences—and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do? Kids behave in undesirable ways in the environment they feel safest. They test the water in the environment that they know their mistakes and behaviors will be treated with kindness and compassion. 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” 

2. In the midst of all of this… our response is we need to be “21st Century” schools.

1 to 1 student to technology. Oh. Okay. So forget the basics of relationship building and hands on learning. 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. During an interview, one division asked me “how are you with technology? That’s important to us”. Uhhh… I hear Bobo the chimpanzee is pretty tech savvy. I consider myself pretty great with kids.

3. And 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. Just this year, a new math assessment was introduced for K teachers. We had to attend a training on a school day (time missed with students) then it took us THREE WEEKS to administer it… one on one… to 21 students. Such. A. Waste. All of the info I could have told you about them without taking away from precious instructional time.

4. Instead of holding parents accountable and making them true partners, we’ve adopted a customer service mindset.

I’ve seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting “the letter”. Well, here’s the thing, I can’t teach your child if he’s not in school. I was cussed out by parents who wanted to attend field trips but missed the THREE notes that went home and when they did attend a trip, sat on their phone the entire time. 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’…

5. 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’… when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission. These messages tear you apart. Watching them come in… dirty clothes… chaos at home… and 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.

So that’s why.

I finally realized—you can’t save them all. You can’t even help 21 if you aren’t healthy yourself. If your mental and physical health aren’t a focus, you aren’t even good for the 21.

I left my retirement fund, my paid sick leave (46 days left on the table, unpaid). I didn’t leave for better pay.

I decided to start with my 1 at home. and work to help other mommas be able to show up for their ones at home. Because I really do believe it starts there. I found something that allows me to impact the environments that those 21 go home to. 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.

This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page

 

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Jessica Gentry

Momma and former teacher who is now a health and wellness advocate. I believe strongly that healthy homes start with healthy people-mind, body, relationships.

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