The Seven Year Itch

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I have been at my job for seven long years.  As much as I enjoy the actual teaching part, lately I’ve been having a hard time thriving in my abysmal workplace.

As a student I never realized how political teaching is.  There is so much red tape involved in every minute decision.  Nothing is done in the best interest of the children.  No child is left behind because they were never “there” to begin with.  Most schools are not designed with the learner in mind.  The administration seems to have no idea what it takes to be a classroom teacher.  Of course, everything is our fault from student truancy to them failing to comply with the dress code.

I am tired.  It is  an exhausting mind-grinding job.  At the end of most days I have nothing left.  The life has been virtually squeezed out of me.  The students are the opposite.  They are energized and peppy, pumped up on making things hard for the staff.  They have been enabled every step along the way and are highly resentful to anyone who tries to change the status quo.

And I am what many consider a “good” teacher.  I have even been described as “excellent.”  I have  earned my fair share of accolades early in my career and continue to garner positive attention.  I am often “dumped” on because I manage my classes well.  I can only imagine how struggling teachers feel.

But with this being said, the students essentially are not the problem.  You can train a child how to behave, teach and model good work and study habits, and provide a comfortable environment conducive to learning.  Now the adults I work with are another story.  It’s too late to train them.

The thought of empowering students is a foreign concept to many of them.  They allow the students to get away with murder to avoid really dealing with them.  They don’t care that they can’t read or write; they only want them pushed out of the school system in order to avoid public scutiny.  They can’t possibly begin to fathom how this laissez-faire mentality helps perpuate the cycle of dsyfunction, low expectations, and poverty.

I have created a wonderful world in my classroom.  But I hate being confined to one such place.  I’m sure the students feel the claustrophobia as well.  I want to be able to utilize the entire school and all of its resources–both people and things. 

I am at a croosroads in my life.  Do I stay or do I go?  I interviewd at my alma mater (my husband’s, too) last Wednesday.  Maybe a change will do me good.  My husband urged me year after year to leave my building.  He often referred to it as a mockery of education.  I agree.  But what about the kids that I am leaving behind?  Perhaps I need a whole new career.

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12 responses »

  1. This is a very tough question. I also worked in a school district for 15 years and there were many, many times I wanted to throw in the towel. It just got worse and worse as the year went on. In the end, every new year, I looked forward to going back. I switched buildings 3 times in those years just for the change and for advancement.

    This is about you though. You have to do what YOU want to do and what you feel is the best thing for YOU. If you aren’t happy doing what your doing, you owe it to yourself and your own children to do what does. If your not happy in your professional life, it will bleed into your personal life so your making others children happy at the price of your own is just not fair. You know what they say about if Mama ain’t happy!!!

  2. Would it be possible to take a sabbatical to focus on what YOU would like to do to be happy? Maybe not just a change in location but perhaps a change in what you’re teaching (subject/area). My mother has always told me to find a profession that I’ll be happy doing while getting paid nothing. So I’ve always made sure that I’m doing something that I wouldn’t mind doing, even if I was getting less. It’s worked for me in finding a profession I love doing. Good luck finding your way.

  3. It’s not the job in itself, it’s the atmosphere, politics, and the administartors who run the educational system. I love teaching English but I think I need to find a better place in which to do it.

  4. Morocco, a person only has to go back and read all your blog entries, to see that you are a gifted educator. Everyone you come in contact with seems to gain from the gift you were born with, the gift of sharing knowledge and your inner self. It does not matter where you are, ie: your home, the school where you work, or here with those of us that follow your blogs. People learn from being exposed to you. It is often rare to be paid to do a job that you love to do. Sometimes at the places where we work, there are those that don’t enjoy the work they do, and act like they don’t care about the work place or the people they work with. They are only there for the pay check. Their attitude makes it hard for those who are trying to make the work place a better place for everyone there. It is hard to do any thing good when things around you make you feel like not being there. Sometimes a change of scenery is needed so a person does not lose the drive to do the job that they enjoyed doing early in their career. It is not like you are leaving people behind, but rather going to the people who want and need and will appreciate you more. Sometimes the ( grass is greener) on the other side of the fence.

  5. I think you just answered your own question. You love teaching, but need to find an environment that works for you.

    Some questions to consider:

    What atmosphere would I like to work in? Is this realistic?
    Politics exist in all jobs, what am I willing to accept for politics in my new job?
    Administrators, will be good and bad, what is acceptable for me?
    What are the pro’s and con’s of taking another position, regarding how it affects my personal life?
    This is about what is acceptable for you today, not yesterday, but right at this time.

    I have worked many many years, and politics exist everywhere. You cannot get away from that. As long as you have people with personality’s, you have politics. However, they exist in varing degrees. Every person has a threshold, of what is agreeable, and what is not agreeable.

    You have the gift of teaching, that is your calling. No matter where you teach, your students benefit, because you love teaching. If you feel that staying where you are, is not good for you, and truly feel that. Then you may need to make a change.

    Change is not comfortable, we are creatures of habit. We become comfortable, with whatever we do for long periods. Change is scary, because it takes us out of our comfort zone, even if our comfort zone is no longer comfortable.

    Reflect on this and maybe do some journaling, the answer will reveal itself. There is no right or wrong here, only what is best for you.
    Take a paper and make two columns. Your Job/New Job
    Write down questions that are important to you. Answer them in each column. Those columns, willl tell you what is best for you, will also show you where your priorities lye.

  6. Such amazing advice from so many of your wonderful friends, Morocco. You DO touch lives, there’s no doubt you’ve touched mine. Follow your heart, you know the Lord will lead you where He needs you.

  7. You are right Stacy, such good advice! And I think you are right Been There, I do know the answer to my question. I’m just scared to make the wrong decision. But as Old Friend pointed out, sometimes it is better elsewhere.

  8. Dear Morocco,

    I just changed schools this year. I went from an elementary school that was Program Improvement under NCLB beyond belief. While I loved many of the teachers, I didn’t love the administration or the teachers around the administration charged with moving the school forward. I felt they lacked innovation, which is what it was going to take to really make strides, etc.

    My husband had been on me for YEARS to get out of the school/district. I didn’t move districts because I’ve been here for 10 years and I have the admiration of many higher-ups. I don’t want to rebuild relationships right now. I did change to a school that is transitioning from K-5 to K-8.

    In the beginning it was HARD. Not having a community is very rough for me. However, the administration here IS different. After I realized that going and talking about my issues meant being listened to and, in fact, referred to (if others were having the same problem). The school really is trying to foster the best. I just couldn’t see it because I was used to dysfunction.

    I’m still having issues with the students who came in being told that it would be like elementary (so they assumed hand holding. I don’t know where they got that). This school functions A LOT higher than my last school so my expectations of them are high too. We clash over this, but they’re 11. It’s gonna happen.

    So…. Should I stay or should I go? You know when it’s time to go. You start to be bitter; you don’t go that extra mile anymore (and it doesn’t bother you); you assume all places are the same; you start to question your own attitude; you question whether you make a difference at all, etc.

    In my humble opinion, if the politics at this school are keeping you from being your best, it’s time to go. There are politics at other schools, but the politics at this school are better than my last one. There are better principals.

    Kids will always be there and need you and love you. This is what Cassie told me. It’s true.

    BTW, she changed schools because her principal was TOXIC to her. I think it’s something we all end up having to do from time to time. In retrospect, it’s a blessing no matter how hard it is.

    Did any of that help?

  9. Yes, Suzanne it does help. Our school has undergone massive changes, including adding grades 7-8 as well as a program for students who are behind their level in grades 5-6. So we are a 5-12 school! Not to mention, this is our second principal of the year and next year we will have a different one. With that being said, the leadership of the school is very important. The principal can help make or break you and the students! Sadly, our principal(s) are not very supportive.

    I know it is not just me because many of my coworkers feel the very same way. I agree that you really get used to the dysfucntion and it starts to look normal.

    If I am offered the job I hope I am brave enough to accept it.

  10. I feel this entire post. I don’t know if I should go or stay. However, I have a feeling that decision will be made for me, what with all the budget cuts. You know the rule, “Last one hired, first one fired”. I’m not worried though. If it happens, it happens.

    As for you, I know that you already know what to do. It’s just hard to take that step. I know you’ll make the right decision.

  11. Morocco,

    Wow! Except for the whole high school thing, at one point in my life I could have written this almost word for word! My friend Suzanne went through it last year as she noted above. Every word she said was true.

    After I made the change, I was very lucky I know have an amazing principal! Even with that though the first year was hard. I like Suzanne missed my tribe (as she often calls them.) I had LOTS of emails throughout my days that first year to my old friends.

    Now four years later, it is hard for me to imagine leaving (unless my principal leaves. 🙂 )

    You know when you need something new. Throughout my life when I went through some of my toughest times, changing jobs literally saved my life. Now looking back I can see they were probably windows put in place by God for me to jump through. It was at those times when I felt like lots of doors had been closed on me.

    Pray, think, and trust. You will know what to do.

  12. JAG~

    You know, I can feel your heart through your words. Thank you for sharing your stories with me! I feel as if my soul is closing up with everything going on at home and the daily grind here at work.

    Maybe this is God’s way of telling me it’s time to go. It probably would be a good time to change buildings as everything in my life has already changed.

    I will let you all know if I get the position!

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