Every year a number of “open letters”, blog posts, or newspaper articles go viral outlining why a teacher or educator walked away from the profession. The educator is often heralded as a superstar teacher or award winning educator and nearly all of them have similar reasons for stepping away. Too much testing, lack of funding, lack of administrative/classroom support, disrespectful students, over involved parents, and/or changing school climates and cultures are all cited as reasons these educators have decided to change careers. Nearly all educators can relate to one or more of these reasons and understand their plight. But what about those educators that have stayed?
Any honest educator will tell you they have thought about quitting more than once or twice and even evaluated what other professions are out there for them (for me it’s carpentry or woodworking). While I don’t condemn these educators for their decision to move on, I do questions what it says about our profession as a whole when this is the narrative that is being published nationwide via mass media and social media outlets. If our (educators) story is about being overwhelmed, underpaid, and over regulated why would any student contemplating career fields choose to go into education?
While the issues that are plaguing public schools need to be addressed, we can’t allow the pundits to use “Why I quit” letters to seek further change that will ultimately place more oversight and restrictions on teachers. Our profession is so much more than standardized tests, evaluation models, and tax levies. It is about building relationships and inspiring youth to find their true passion in life and become the leaders of our communities tomorrow.
For me relationships, passion, and moments far outweigh the issues which seems to burden educators and ultimately push them out of the profession. Nothing is more important than being a part of a family and through our schools, educators build relationships that superseded the classroom walls and impact communities as a whole. Relationships with staff, parents, patrons but most importantly students are the fabric of our schools that create cultures of learning and trust. For a handful of our students the only family they have are the people that greet them at the school door each morning.
Passion is what drives me to continue to advocate for public education. Students depend on adults to advocate for them outside of our buildings. Sharing our school’s story and the great work that our students do is what I enjoy. I believe wholeheartedly in the programs and offerings at MHS and across the state. The “Why I quit” articles only paint schools in a negative light and the great things happening in our buildings are lost in the rhetoric.
At the end of the day, moments are why I don’t quit. While throughout any given day or week I can have multitude of negative interactions with staff, students, or parents, it only takes one moment to remind me why I love this profession. If I were to quit, I wouldn’t get to experience the 7th graders first day at school, a struggling student acing a test, a staff member trying something new in their classroom, the student who walks in your office asking for help, singing Ice Ice Baby at Prom, the basketball player hitting the game winning shot, announcing every single graduating senior by name as they walk across the stage to receive their diploma, or a plethora of other moments which brings a smile to my face or a tear to my eye. As an educator, these moments prove you are making a difference in a student’s life and/or providing the comfort and support they need.
Education is a tough and tiring profession which brings with it the great honor and privilege of inspiring the next generation of artists, electricians, architects, lawyers and hopefully teachers. As educators, we need to share our stories of success, while continuing to work on the issues facing ours schools. Positivity and joy needs to outshine the negativity. Our best and brightest students need to be inspired just like the thousand of educators who have decided the moments are what makes teaching so special.
Milford Jr/Sr High Principal