why I teach without a W2 now

I used to teach in the classroom.  I like to say it that way because damn, between homework and life skills and manners and raising up humans it feels like I still spend most of my time teaching someone something or other.

But I used to teach in the classroom.

I spent a year teaching special education in a rural Virginia school then another two in the St. Louis school system.  Burnout and life issues led me to take a five year break before teaching three more years in a private North Carolina school.  But then my own kids came along and I decided to stay home with them.  Bye bye, classroom.

Huh.  When I look at it that way, I only taught one year more than the amount of time I spent earning advanced degrees.  Good thing I’ve found that knowledge useful in other areas of my life or I’d worry about the cost/benefit analysis.

I loved teaching.  Those magical moments in the classroom when things just clicked?  The air was crackling with excited minds at work, making connections and drawing conclusions.  It was an extremely cool thing to witness.

But I can never go back.

How do I know this?  Let me count the ways…

** Too many parents have lost their damn minds.  They believe their children can do no wrong. They undermine the teacher’s authority by questioning reports of classroom behavior in front of the child.  They don’t support the school’s expectations by following up misbehavior with consequences at home.  They foster infantile attitudes, ones that translate into it’s always somebody else’s fault or the teacher’s out to get me or it’s okay if I forget my lunch/project/homework/gym clothes, my mom will run it up to the school for me.  They expect teachers to jump through hoops for their special snowflake.

Put succinctly, parents are no longer partnering with teachers.  All too often they’re yet another obstacle to overcome in teaching students to grow up.

** There are some kids who believe they have all the power, and in many ways they’re right. They understand limits placed on a teacher’s authority – the scope within which he or she can work to create meaningful behavioral consequences.  And if those consequences aren’t effective, either because the student isn’t intrinsically motivated to achieve or the parents don’t find ways to back teachers up, then you’ve got a kid who thinks he’s untouchable.  And what are you supposed to do with that?

** Paperwork.  Holy heaven above, the paperwork alone involved in teaching these days makes me want to run screaming for the nearest door.

** Administrators face a new task master – the almighty test scores.  Schools are mandated to present physical proof their students are learning, but they’re required to use specific measurements to do that.  It’s not that we don’t want our schools to teach kids effectively.  Of course we do.  But administrators are now beholden to test results over the learning environment, and that’s one of the quickest ways to crush innovation.

** As such, teachers are being micromanaged beyond belief.  Do you know a teacher?  Ask him or her what’s been added to their classroom responsibilities in the last ten years alone.  End of year testing, retesting, remediation, followed by more testing is just the tip of the iceberg. There are regularly scheduled assessments to track student progress throughout the school year. Exams to determine mastery of material covered as well as knowledge of information not yet taught.  How exactly is a teacher supposed to squeeze creative, student driven learning in between all the data crunching?

Remarkably, I’ve met several teachers who manage to do just that.  I have no idea how they manage it, though, and I’m pretty sure they should qualify for some sort of education medal of honor.

So my teacher heart is satisfied by volunteering at the school, working with small groups of students on reading or math concepts.  No crazy parents to handle, no belligerent children disrupting the learning environment, no incessant testing crammed down my throat when all I really want to do is teach.

I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t last a semester if I tried to return to the classroom now, so my hat is off to all the teachers out there fighting the good fight.  Taking every new requirement thrown at them in stride and still managing to inspire their students to reach for the stars.

You’re all superheroes in my book.

teacher superpower

10 thoughts on “why I teach without a W2 now

  1. You may find yourself teaching in the future – but in anotheer way (or even in anotheer country like myself 🙂 ). In the meantime, your kids will thrive under your personal tutelage and schools will welcome your volunteer hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been blessed to find a fabulous teacher — my son had her last year, my daughter this year — and we’re totally in sync. She loves having me work with her students, and I told her I’d come for as long as she’d have me no matter where my kids are. 🙂 It’s a great way to still get that teaching vibe without giving up the other things I love to do, too.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This post speaks my truth. Teaching changed considerably over the last decade, and I do believe I was fortunate to teach when I did. I hadn’t been out for maybe 3 years when I went to volunteer at my kids’ school and I bout died of all the things you’ve written here. The paperwork is INSANE. Like the level of admin insanity is inexplicable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For Real. It started the very first year when I volunteered in T-man’s kindergarten class. His teacher was no nonsense & had been teaching forever, so she was in my camp when I was all “What do you mean, there’s no rest time? They even have work to do during snack.” “What do you mean, they have to do all these worksheets?” “What do you mean, they have HOMEWORK?” She was old school & definitely not on board with the new process. She was a great teacher, but by midyear they put her on an action plan & by spring break she’d had enough & didn’t come back…

      We’re losing teachers left & right in NC for all kinds of reasons. It’s really a shame.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I couldn’t agree more. Losing the best, the experts, because it’s not the job they studied and practiced so long! Testing…testing would be high on my list of irks.

        Like

  3. LOL. I can see your side. I know that teachers are under tremendous stress to TEST, TEST instead of making sure there is an understanding of concepts. We have to work together. I just got an email from Munch’s teacher about his behavior yesterday on their field trip (it came yesterday after I shut down) so I will address it tonight and he will go to bed with no TV.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t imagine bearing up under the weight of all that stress. And I think e-mail is one of the best innovations for parent-teacher communication. I’ve had several issues to deal with this year, in several different classes. I e-mailed the teachers involved and all three of them responded within a day (over the weekend) or within hours (on school days). If only all parents were as invested in working together as you are!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just wanted to add…that the skills you learn as a teacher can be applied to so many other areas in the working world. I found a way to teach somebody/something in every job I ever had outside the classroom. And I’m with you on the benefits of volunteering, it’s the best for both you and your kids. Nice post. 💘

    Liked by 1 person

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