With every good intention I became a teacher. There was never another career path for me. I’ve been teaching since I was 3 years old. In school, I was the “teacher’s pet” and begging to take home overhead sheets at the end of the year. Anything I could do to play teacher.
Fast forward 20 years, my best of intentions have gone all wrong. Most people assume it’s the stress of the children that drives teachers out but ask any teacher or former teacher, the children are who we are there for.
I have been so lucky to have taught in 2 countries and experienced the ins and outs of both. When I left Houston to move to London I thought it couldn’t get worst than teaching in inner city Houston districts. I was bit, spit on, cursed at, had all sorts of things thrown at me and was told I ALLOWED THEM to do it! WHAT THE F***! I absolutely did not allow children to treat me with disrespect but the truth was the administration couldn’t say that they had no control to do anything so they left it as my lack of control. By the way, I am a control freak. I am always in control. Even though my time was rough, I loved those little rascals. I taught them and gave them every ounce I had.
A fresh start… coming to London and trying to find a teaching job. The first school I substituted in, everyone said good morning, asked me where I needed to be, if I needed help, the head teacher introduced herself. I thought I was in heaven arriving at the school. I had never been so welcomed at a school. A facade. In April, I interviewed and accepted a role for next year at the school. (No contract signed) And things began to change from the happy and welcoming school I walked in to.
The first, a parent confrontation. A child did something they shouldn’t have so I told the mom at the end of the day. It goes wrong and she’s yelling at me in the playground. After being very upset I walk away and go right to the head. Explaining what happened. When the parent called, I was not backed up and the parent (at a state school NOT private) was told that I am new to the country and don’t know how things are handled here. What!? I am not a moron, I know how to speak to a parent about behavior. Me being me, I let it go.
The second, short and sweet. I was moved from ages 7-8 to 5-6 next school year without so much as a word of notice. I was told what I’d be doing. I mean I don’t think I should have a say in my life either. (Obvs sarcastic) Ages of the kids- not a big deal. Moving to the other campus when I’d made friends, organized my classroom and got to grips with the year 3 curriculum- big deals. This didn’t make me a happy teacher.
Third time’s the charm, writing end of year reports. (The US doesn’t do this and thank goodness because it is tedious and a waste of time. It’s time to move onto report cards England!) Not ever receiving one or writing one before I googled end of year reports in England. A nice little comment bank appears on my screen. I looked at them and thought jackpot! A retired teacher FROM ENGLAND posted all her comments she’s ever used for her reports. I used them in mine. Turned it in. Got it back. Told I have too many “Americanisms” in it. So I think spelling issues maybe? No. Not a single thing I wrote myself was flagged up for being “too American”. I asked a coworker who I’d let in on my report comment bank secret if her reports were handed back with the same corrections. No. I was so embarrassed and upset. I was made to feel like I wasn’t able to do a simple report because I was American. How outrageous.
For me the three strikes you’re out rule applies in my life. Must be because I’m too American. 😂 So I’ve made the decision to quit teaching. At school that is 😉 I won’t go into the attitude of the school when I left but let’s just say, they rang true to their nature and proved I made the best decision. If a parent or student of mine is reading this, I did not leave three days before the end of school. I was told not to come back.
I love every student I’ve ever taught and I hope I’ve instilled enough positivity in each and every one of them to power through and be resilient.
Unfortunately my experience in schools is not a single incident. Almost every current teacher I talk to has had a similar experience. As for former teachers some have had it much worst than I have.
So many of us are scared to stand up. To leave. To say this is not right. So here I am. On the platform I hold most dear. For the profession I hold most dear. For all the students that deserve better. For all the teachers and former teachers that love to educate. My story of teaching. Out in the open. Hoping to inspire others so we can see change. Until things change for teachers I’m afraid we will have the same sad story. Teachers leaving after the first few years. Not because the children because the running of the schools, paperwork and unrealistic expectations all for a measly salary that doesn’t allow you to support yourself and a family.