A Short-Lived Teacher (1 of 2)
Roy Schlegel
203

I absolutely LOVE this piece! I, too, began teaching with the intent to be a “different” type of educator, and left after a single year. It was a combination of running up against an antiquated system and people who adore systems even when they suck. I was initially quite sad to realize education is what it is after aspiring to be a teacher for so many years, but now that I’m pursuing other things, I realize I still want to be a teacher very badly, but not between the 4 walls of a classroom. I have started my own little “mini courses” where I essentially mentor young girls, and it’s like all my favorite parts of teaching without someone walking around with some bullshit checklist with silly items to check off. (You know the list!)

At the end of the year we had 2 ladies from JA come speak to my 5th graders for the day and it was honestly the greatest lesson ever. I wanted to take their place so badly and be able to teach about real, actual, applicable things, because now that I acutally do that, I see how much more fired up me AND the kids are.

I’m so happy to read about another “one and done” teacher like myself. I was met with lots of criticism and side-eye when I left (like you I was (Still am!) young and impressionable, but didn’t let that stop me, just let it make me feel like shit for deciding to leave. And like the teacher that said to you “Get out while you can!” one teacher said to me she was jealous I was quitting, she wished she could do the same… Really?! I thought. This solidified my choice. With all the problems I ran into in education in the traditional sense, I also knew I could not work in a place that most of my colleagues hated.

I also struggled with feeling a bit selfish for letting the salary play a role in my choice too, but it did. I thought to myself, “What if I could make this money or more (not that hard to make more….) at a job I liked and had more freedom in? What if there was something else?” Because as educators, we aren’t supposed to feel that way, right? But the truth is, we all need to support ourselves. I’m not married, but my salary and my boyfriend of 10 year’s salary are both factors in our timeline of when/how to make that happen. So yes, the salary affected me, too. I also was frustrated thinking “Damn, no matter how good I do, no matter how much time and effort and creativity I put into this lesson, and no matter what my principal rates me on this silly 5 point scale, my check won’t change. Worse, I’ll be getting paid LESS than the old lady down the hall who never leaves her rolly chair behind the desk and hands out busy work, simply because she’s been here longer!”

Extremely exhausted and juuuuust curious enough about the grass on the other side of the fence, I told my principal in February/March I was quitting and on the last staff day in May as I walked out the doors for the last time, I can’t tell you how scared I was of the future and how hurt I was by the words of some of my colleagues, but 5 months later I am happy as can be and stumbling upon your article has made me feel like I’ve met a kindred quitter soul! I’m hoping you know I do not see you as a quitter, but it is interesting to me that many people do see me as only that, and I’m sure you felt some of that backlash too.

Thanks for sharing and listening to my personal vent on teaching! Hope JA day was fun!!

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