GUEST POST – A friend and a recently retired teacher Marla Phan shares her insights.
While I left education of my own volition, I want to share why I would have stayed.
Keeping my mouth shut about what I saw happening around me, things that were detrimental to actual teaching and learning, were contributors to my leaving education.
I would have stayed longer … had education not turned into a one-stop-shop for the promotion of socialized, progressive education … where a liberal agenda is put in place, with a smile.
Teachers get called out on grades, not the lazy students who failed when they could have passed.
Education has become the hallowed ground of “positivity,” where a liberal agenda is put in place, with a smile.
Students are the barometers of this new deal. They know exactly where lines used to be drawn-academically and behaviorally, and of their near-extinction these days.
Fluffed-up grades are the new norm. Who wants to answer for 50% of their students failing? Teachers get called out on grades, not the lazy students who failed when they could have passed.
Teachers have to tutor the students who fail, allow them to re-take failed tests in a different way so they can have a chance to pass, and know full well that these students are under-served and under-educated.
Data dictates moving on, not actually teaching in depth. Yes, I would have stayed longer had my hands not been tied to the grinding death-wheel of data and “do-overs.”
I would have stayed longer … if students would have parted with their electronics during the school day. This would have allowed their minds to remain in the classroom instead of on that last text to a BFF, or sworn enemy, that video game, or the incoming call or text from mom that she “should be allowed to answer during class.”
I would have stayed longer … if students cared about being able to read and write well.
My last year was the only one where students were unable to sustain silent reading for a reasonable length of time — longer than ten minutes by year’s end.
It was a year that many students were openly offended if they had to write a paragraph longer than five sentences, spell and punctuate correctly.
I would have stayed longer … had my skills in developing relationships with students not been pushed aside in favor of a one-size-fits-all program (and yes, it was expensive!), that was mandated for all teachers and classrooms. With a spy from the company visiting to make sure we were in compliance and had class-created contracts prominently posted.
The re-education of teachers began with a two ot three day professional development – indoctrination presented by a company rep. I could have written such a program that was much better with my fellow teachers. It could have been used to help out fledgling teachers who needed a hand, instead of forcing all teachers to comply.
I would have stayed longer … if parents truly knew what education was going to be turned into, before it happened, so they could have had a voice — if they even cared.
Parents would know that their 21st century school buildings, with their kid – friendly charging – station furnishings, new ways of grouping kids so that they can teach each other, and all the other flashy programs and methods, are just cover-ups for what teachers know is missing; true education.
Yes, you will still see smiles and good fun among teachers, but behind those smiles lies ”The Countdown Until I Can Retire.”
Some even have it down to months and days. Teachers truly know what is going on.
I would have stayed longer … if keeping my mouth shut had not meant two full years, in a row, of serious illness.
Now I know why my doctor wanted me to leave the profession. I also know why she said that she had many other teachers as patients, who were leaving education – well before retirement.
(An aside-I believe people would be surprised to know how many teachers are on medications, have had panic attacks at school, heart attacks due to stress, nervous breakdowns, made a trip to the hospital in an ambulance from school, or cried endless tears with colleagues behind closed doors. But, we don’t talk about those things.)
I would have have stayed longer … had unruly, disrespectful, disruptive students been disciplined and dealt with so that these behaviors stopped.
Instead, students sat down for a long chat with an administrator, probably got a lunch detention (a joke), or night school (another joke), and got sent back to class.
We teachers were not allowed to know what type of punishment a student received. If the behavior was truly serious, (as decided by an administrator), a student got sent off-campus to alternative education for maybe 30 days.
That meant that teachers had to gather that student’s work together and send it there, which was just one more thing to worry about. All we knew was that the behavior often continued unchecked and administrators were often nowhere to be found.
I would have stayed longer … had education not been turned into a “look-how-great-I-am” circus of earning stickers once we teachers completed self-education on computer software programs, as chosen by the district.
Our stickers went on posters outside our classrooms for all to see. There was one teacher (maybe two), who had two posters. She was very popular with administrators, had small “fun-type” classes and a budget for her fabulous classroom that the rest of us would have liked to have had.
Whatever happened to respecting the teachers who quietly went about the business of loving and educating students, instead of taking up precious time earning stickers?
Those veterans used to be the backbone of our schools and the mentors of newbies. Now they are leaving in droves, and nobody cares. All are easily replaced by younger, more progressive, cheaper models – who earn stickers and accolades for going along. They are trained Stepford – like to make sure that everyone is safely homogenized, and individualism is erased.
Stop and think about how many veteran teachers you’ve seen move to private schools, or leave the profession entirely.
We’ve all heard the reasons … veteran teachers wanted to retire, wanted to leave the area, wanted to move on, personal reasons…etc.
If you asked those same teachers if they would have stayed longer if they were granted the autonomy and support of say ten years ago, I would imagine that most would still be in the classroom.
– Marla Phan, I Would’ve Stayed …