Exhausted Teachers Reveal What Made Them Retire On The Spot
Teaching is one of the most noble, but also most difficult professions a person can go into. It literally shapes the future! There can be days, though, where it feels less like shaping the future and more like a slow descent into madness. On those days, it's perfectly natural to want to throw your hands in the air like you just don't care. One Reddit user was apparently feeling that funk, because they asked:
The answers they got were eye-opening, gut-wrenching, and thought-provoking. Some were even giggle-inducing. We picked 20 of the ones that hit us the hardest. So take your places, everyone. Class is officially in session.
Nobody Else Cared
No me but my wife. She was an engineer at a good company on the east coast. Left because she wanted more rewarding work. Soon after she is doing clinicals at a school on the rough side of our home town. She was the kind of student teacher who showed up early, ate lunch with the kids, stayed late, and followed up with parents. Anyway....
Some months in she has repeatedly had trouble with some students (they came from troubled homes and brought a lot with them into the class each day). She tried working with them one on one, working with the administration, and the parents. More than one set of parents said "Stop calling." And the administration told her to send them to the principal's office (where they could sit all day) and focus on the "good" kids.
Eventually, the futility set in.... She was the only one who cared. Not the kids, administration, other teachers, or even their parents. She finally wore herself out after a couple years with no support at work and no one appreciating her efforts (except me of course!).
She's back in aerospace now.
I worked in a high needs behavior class. I got hit, punched, scratched and spat on daily, but every day I went back and did my best for those kids. It was sickening, but I loved my job and every one of those kids.
One day was called to the office to talk. It was Christmas time and things weren't great at home and as anyone with kids knows the holidays makes children especially high strung so things were also wild in the classroom. My boss said "you seem awfully stressed" and I thought how nice of her to notice so I agreed that yes I was struggling. She said "you have 6 weeks to sort it out or I'll have to let you go".
I was crushed. It literally broke me. 6 weeks to get less stressed...how does that even work? I found myself just showing up to show up and I realized that wasn't fair for me or for the kids.
6 weeks later I get a call back to the office. I am congratulated on the amazing turn around and sent back to class. I was baffled. I was more upset and stressed than ever and they congratulate me?
More and more I showed up to work just for the paycheck. One day I just decided screw it, I wasn't a teacher anymore I was a robot fearful of showing any negativity . I quit that week. Never went back to teaching.
Horrible Home Life
I had a behaviorally-difficult student, maybe 11 or 12, sitting with me and having pizza. I asked how her life was going and she says "Well, my dad's a drug dealer so he's always got people coming over to sell or buy drugs or play cards so I can't sleep. My mom's dying because she has a hole in her heart and they can't fix it. And I have a boyfriend but I'm afraid to tell my mom because she'll tell my dad" Just normal, like this was everyday stuff.
So, as a mandatory reporter I go to my Dean of Students and tell him all this, and he just gets irritated and goes "Yeah, but that doesn't excuse her behavior."
That's when I knew I was done.
Teaching Isn't Teaching Anymore
I taught high school English for ten years before finally quitting for the corporate sector. Honestly, it was a lot of small things that built and built until I realized it wasn't where I wanted to be. The largest of those "small things" is stifling focus on standardized testing. I lost weeks and weeks to test prep at every grade level. I couldn't teach novels I loved teaching because I ran out of time. And those standardized tests are useless, they prove nothing but offer schools a pat on the back for the high performance results. Which, mind you, do not transfer at all to college success. And too many public schools force the idea of college. Why? Is it because it's for the betterment of the kids? Hell no, it looks good on their graduation statistics. But, there is nothing wrong with not going to college. And I'd tell that to my AP students as much as my kids with the 12 average for the year. You have a 3.8 GPA and want to be a plumber? You go. You be a plumber. F*ck, you'll make more than the rest of us.
I was once told I shouldn't do so many lessons where discussion between students was required. No more Socratic seminars, there had to be more "material that could be graded." I can't encourage discussion in an English literature class because I can't grade the kids on it. And don't even get me started on quantitative vs. qualitative. Teachers are being held accountable for students who "don't improve" regardless of anything else. Jimmy doesn't come to school for three months because he's f_cking off and then shows back up and fails the midterm? That's on YOU buddy, should have taught him better for the two weeks you had him at the start of the year.
I eventually got tired of the constant hurdles and stupid state requirements. People said "Yeah, but you get a pension! Unions! Summers off!" So the f*ck what? I'm in corporate now and I make 31K more than I did teaching with a yearly bonus and a matching 401k with profit sharing. And bitch, please, I never had a summer off. I worked two jobs to make ends meet from June to September. Most teachers do.
What kills me is that I loved teaching. I loved my students and I was good at what I did. I was good at encouraging kids to take risks with their learning and I didn't penalise them for making mistakes. That's how you learn. You don't learn shit from multiple choice and you never will. I miss my kids, I miss watching them go from hating a piece to being eager to discuss it. Even my lowest level students could show me something, even if it wasn't on paper.
It wasn't my students that killed my love for teaching. And I DID have kids throw chairs or get into fights or tell me to f*ck off, all of that? That was doable. And I did it. The stupid, useless requirements and the idiotic state testing, the abysmal pay for the hours and hours I put in. That killed my love for teaching. And it's killing plenty of other young, passionate educators. I miss my students. I miss everything about teaching, when I was allowed to teach. Now? It's not teaching. If you want to teach, get into higher education or a private school. Do yourself a favour and stay out of public education in the United States. It doesn't exist anymore.
Two 16 year old kids were facing each other (I had the classroom seats in a U shape) and were silently challenging each other to fight while I was in the middle of a lesson. They suddenly jumped up from their chairs and came at each other with eight inch knives with me in between them.
I was pretty built, having been a stonemason's apprentice in college to help pay my way through, but these kids were both bigger than me. Without thinking I grabbed each by their collars and shouted SIT. DOWN.
I didn't start shaking until that evening. I was done a week later.
When the corporate job offered me three times the salary AND a 12% annual bonus.
Now, my kids can afford to go to the college where dad used to teach.
Small Town Nepotism
Nepotism is a major problem in smaller school districts. Yes men, family members, and friends will get hired as the school system is one of the better paying jobs in the county. All of this is done in return for loyalty and not questioning if decisions are best for the kids.
One of the bigger nails in the coffin was when I was pepper sprayed by the school resource officer AFTER myself and another teacher had broken up a fight and were sending students back to class. He sprayed to "disperse the crowd" spraying myself and our female assistant principle in the face and causing three students to have asthma attacks. For as little as I was being paid, I could find a safer place to work where people were less incompetent.
When I tested the reading level of a 19 year old girl, and it registered at 1st grade. Since she was on FRL and English Language services, she would ding the school in two "at risk" categories for our graduation rate. I told the administration "This girl is illiterate in English. We know this as a fact. She cannot graduate, no ifs, ands, or buts." Smash cut to 3 weeks later as she's walking across the stage in a cap and gown to receive a diploma she can't read. Sad. At that point, I knew my job wasn't serving at risk youths, it was playing a numbers game to bill taxpayer money to prop up a failing system. No thanks.
- School started the Monday before Labor day. I was hired the Friday before Labor day.
- Not once did anybody talk to me about how I only had 3 days to start planning math lessons or offer to help get me on my feet.
- I had to drive 90 minutes one way, which meant leaving the house at 0500 and not getting home until 1800 and still having to make lesson plans for the next day.
- My 1st class was all ESL students. Administration determined that despite being present for all their other classes, an ESL teacher's presence was not necessary in my classroom.
- My 2nd class was 16-21 year old 8th graders.
- My 3rd class was 30 7th graders. I had 24 desks.
- I was never given so much as an orientation. I still could not find anything but my classroom.
- It was an inner city school with inner city school problems.
I lasted 4 days. I never got paid.
"Berlin's In GERMANY?!"
So a while back I was a permanent sub for a German teacher in the area I lived (she went on maternity leave). And in this German class I'd also talk about geography and what not. So anyway, near the end of the school year, I was talking about how Berlin...
"Wait wait wait... Berlin's in Germany?! I thought it was in Europe!"
It was at that moment, that I realized I failed as a teacher.
Well, Honesty Is Everything
When I realized getting drunk and cooking epic meals was way more enjoyable.
"I Think Grades Are Stupid"
I went to a national teaching conference and nearly every single speaker was an excellent and passionate educator. AND nearly every single speaker talked about how their administration impeded progress, innovation, and generally sucked. I had been hoping it was only my school.
I also realized that I think grades are stupid. I had liked them as a student because I was good at things, but watching students struggle when they lacked the aptitude to excel in the same way some of their peers could, but still busted their butts hoping for that A made me sad.
I think learning should be more student led than test driven, and more interdisciplinary in nature. Basically, I think our educational system goes against research and kills intrinsic motivation and curiosity.
I was written up by the principal for "always showing movies in my class."
It was a Film Studies elective.
When it would have taken 43 years to pay off my degree at a teachers salary.
When the principal said she would change my grade book. I had several fights with her and the master teacher on how to run my class. They wanted someone to do handouts everyday, which I wasn't going to do since I had to buy my own paper, and give out grades based only on worksheets. I told her I was there to teach and that's what I did. It's not my fault some of the students didn't want to try or turn anything in. The funny part was that my standardized test score and benchmark scores had the highest growth rate but my grade book had the most students getting Cs and Ds. I was planning to curve but once she said she was changing the grades I was done.
Well, Better To Find Out Now
I didn't even make it to being a teacher. During my final segment of student teacher in a urban High School I got my tires slashed after placing the school star running back into ISS and was not able to play in the next game.
Confessions Of A Bad Teacher
I only taught for one year. The moment I knew it wasn't for me was my second day.
I was hired by a failing school district taken over by the state board of education. I thought I was hired for high school biology, but I was placed as the 7th and 8th grade science teacher. It was a rural school (7th-12th grade) with 200 students.
My first class decided to have a riot on my second day. They picked up books and threw them, knocked over the desks, and ran around the class laughing and having a grand time. No disciplinary action was taken. I was told I needed better classroom management skills. This only increased the problems throughout the year.
I really became an expensive baby sitter the whole year. Most of my students didn't care to learn. I couldn't find a way to teach them so I gave up on teaching right before Christmas break.
After the holidays, I stopped turning in my weekly lesson plans. I found a write up form in my box every week for a few weeks, but no one ever came to me and asked why I didn't. Eventually, I stopped getting them.
I would just print work sheets for the kids to do. I think I had the only students who were tired of watching bill nye.
I was a sh_tty teacher in a sh_tty school. I should of been fired. The sad part was I was offered another contract for the following year. I declined. I now am in restaurant management making $25k more a year than I would in education.
Grading A Kid Who Wasn't There
To me, it wasn't the students. It was seeing the caliber of teachers that surrounded them. Four months into one school year, I finally found out that the kid that wasn't in my roster was suppose to be in English class with another teacher. When I asked the other teacher about it, he showed me his attendance and grade books showing that the student was present most days. The student also somehow had an average grade of 78. In short, the 7th grade English teacher was making up attendance and grades.
Kids can't succeed if teachers don't care enough to see if they're actually there. I then thought I could catalyze more impactful change by working in tech.
When a kid asked me "why do I gotta know what a verb is?", and I couldn't think of a good answer.