I looked back at my first blog entry at my 'definition' of myself and my comment that each of the sentences in that post deserved its own entry.
I call myself a recovering teacher. I taught in our local urban school system for 19 years and...about three weeks. In that time I was mostly an elementary teacher, but I also spent six years at the Middle School that is most often in the news. In our 2006 Christmas letter, I wrote,
"I’m finding this year very stressful. I’ve taught in [this system] for 17 years, but have never felt quite as ‘at odds’ with the kids as I have this year. I’m affected as never before by the way they treat each other, they way they treat the adults who are there to help them, their lack of concern for their futures and their disdain for education. It’s shocking, sad, and frustrating."
I don't know if I'm yet capable of writing objectively about it. I continue to be in mourning for the teacher I was, the teacher I could have been. I feel sad, bitter, regretful, full of self-pity, but mostly relieved to be out of there. My husband is a teacher there also, and the stories he continues to bring home are alternately funny, pity-inspiring, and sometimes they anger me. It seems to me that it's a school system that simply uses its teachers up until there's nothing left...and then they quit, or retire, or simply implode like I did.
I occasionally sub out here in the 'burbs, and when I do, I feel sad for what might have been had I not been so determined to 'be where I was needed'. I see teachers appreciated and respected; I see education valued; I see creativity in teaching. It came to me, in my final years there, that that system didn't want creative teachers anymore. They wanted education technicians who could drill, and teach to the test... The principal at the middle school actually told us in a staff meeting that he did NOT want to see us teaching novels--that we should stick to the direct teaching scripted lesson plans we were to download every day. I had always thought that my job was to teach my students to love learning. I guess I was mistaken.