Former Teachers Admit The Moment They Stopped Caring About Their Jobs
We all have stories of our time in school; some good and some not so good. But what about on the other side of the desk? Some teachers and professors have stories so bad that they even left the profession.
Reddit user SomaSovari asked them to share those moments, positing "Ex-Teachers/Professors of Reddit - What was your "F' this." moment?"
Here are those moments, or series of moments, that made educators (or almost made them) change their career.
Lack of Experience
Going through my "f' this" moment right now. Been in special education since 2007, district I work in desperately wants teachers to start new classrooms due to over crowding yet they don't want to hire the right people, they'd rather hire fellow locals from high school and the area who the admins know versus hiring qualified people from the outside. Our special education admin has zero spec Ed experience and his replacement also has no spec Ed experience. Not fun at all.
A female student I had disciplinary issues with accused me of hitting on her and making obscene gestures towards her. I'm an openly gay man and most of the staff knew this yet the district still put me on suspension while they investigated. They were able to prove she was lying but the district decided that the best course of action was to transfer me to another school instead of, ya know, punishing the student. I quit at the end of the school year and got a job in banking.
Two weeks in to my first year teaching 9th grade math I had a girl attack another girl for no reason in my class. She was grabbing on to her hair really tightly and I was trying to break it up.. Another student tried to help me out and somehow the instigating student managed to punch him in the face and give him a bloody nose while still holding on to the other students hair. Now what makes this story relevant is I literally said the words "f' this" while trying to break up the fight. Not loud, not to a student, but just like "f' this this I'm not gonna let this happen in my class right now". Well... The instigating student decided to tell the principal that I was "cursing at her". Despite the other students in the class supporting me and the fact that this student had a history of violence, I got a letter in my permanent file saying I had used inappropriate language towards a student. F' THAT.. teaching taught me a lot but I couldn't do it for more than a couple years. Really respect those that make it their career.
Wait for It
Kid poured gasoline under the door of my room (after hours) and lit it, burning most of the room. The facility guys worked all weekend to clean it up and paint it, hauling in new desks to replace those burned. Not long after that, I found out I could make more money with less hassle by waiting tables at the beach.
I was gone a week later.
When I saw messages of what my students would "do" to me.
I found out because one of the more decent students showed me the chat logs.
The Little Prince
Parents yelling at me for accusing their little prince of acting out and getting zero support from administration.
I was a high school teacher with seven year's experience in my district and a master's degree. I was making $49k (this was 2013). I was talking to a friend who was in from out of town. This friend had barely made it through his bachelor's degree, even with a lot of help from me and other friends. Over dinner he was complaining about not getting a good enough raise, so he was only making $143k at his software consulting job (he didn't do the technical stuff, more customer relations).
I left teaching to make more money. I am, but it has taken a while, and I really miss working with the kids. Wish I had stayed in teaching.
I had a student that copied off another kid during a test. I gave him a 0%. The parents came in to complain to administration that, since I hadn't explicitly said during the first day orientation that cheating wasn't allowed, it was an unfair punishment. Administration forced me to allow him an opportunity to retake the test. He never retook the test, and the grade of 0 stood. Still, I was so disillusioned by the entire experience that I started looking the next day at college programs that I could use to transition away from public education.
It's the Principal
The principal's niece made a B in my Freshman Geography class and she wanted me to bump it to an A. Because the child could not get into Texas A&M with a B in a freshman class on her record. This school also pressured teachers to fail no students.
Calling for Help
A student had a mental breakdown in the library, smashed a wooden chair, and gouged a pencil in his arm while screaming that he wanted us all to go away, and I got reamed out for not calling campus security before I called 911.
I failed a college student who never came to class and missed both the mid-term and final exams. The influential parents complained to the school. The administration later went into the digital records, and changed the fail to a passing grade without my knowledge. I found it out later, third-hand. Ergo: I refused to sign a second year contract they offered to me.
I used to teach chemistry and O-chem for an MCAT prep course prior to med school. Pre-medical students often have a reputation for being highly motivated, egotistic, and often downright nasty and/or manipulative towards each other; to many of them you're not a colleague, you're the competition. Towards the end of my tenure there I was giving a lecture and gave the class a break. Walked out to my car to retrieve something and overheard two of my students talking in the parking lot. One of them was confused about a topic we had just covered and was asking the other to clarify it. The other student blatantly told her the incorrect information to make sure she would get questions on that topic incorrect on the exam. I know this student knew what the correct answer was because she was one of my brightest and I had tutored her 1-on-1. It made me sick to think that she would purposefully sabotage a "friend" to give themselves a better chance of acceptance. I never called her out on it but made sure to go over the topic again once we returned from break.
I'm so glad I'm no longer pre-med...
End of year assessing students to see who'd progress through to the second year, while assessing the work the department head came in and said we had to fail X amount due to facilities and resources for the next year.
He then returned an hour later and said that due to the budget we actually needed to pass a higher number than originally thought.
I completely ignored what he'd said and carried on marking on merit but it was the proverbial straw.
I caught a kid selling drugs in the hallway and turned him in. He threatened to kill me with an ice pick. He was super unstable and volatile, and had a criminal record, so I didn't doubt that he might try it.
The principal refused to remove him from my class because "he has the right to have an education."
My other students took it upon themselves to escort me through the school in between classes and walk me to my car after school in a big huddle so ice pick boy couldn't get to me.
Caught a student cheating. But, stupid cheating, cheated off of someone else with the wrong answers and the same wrong spelling. When I spoke to him regarding taking a new test (generous on my part considering it should have been a 0 per school policy) he refused and said i would be hearing from his parents. I, of course, did hear from them via my principal within an hour. (Gotta love kids and their phones readily available)
Fast forward to a meeting with the student, parents, and principal. I had his test and the one from which he cheated. Upon showing this to the parents I fully expected them to understand and hold their son accountable. Nope. Instead, the parents demanded an apology from me for branding their son a "cheater"'which would "negatively impact him for the rest of his life," and also, it's the least I could do since they were "paying my salary." So, yeah, good times...glad I got my Masters degree for that.
Letting the Kids Down
When admin wouldn't let me take more than four days off after my girlfriend died unexpectedly. "You're letting the kids down" is a phrase I heard over and over again as I tried to reason with them.
Long Story, But...
I graduated from high school in 2010 (in the US) with the intent to be an English teacher. I'd had an English teacher my senior year who greatly inspired me, and I wanted to do the same thing for other kids as he had done for me.
I went to college and aced all of my education major classes, became a favorite of a lot of my professors, more than one told me that I'm going to be a great teacher and the industry is in good hands if there are more people like me in it.
In my senior year of college, I did the "Student Teaching" placement. I didn't take any classes for a semester, and instead was essentially a full time teacher at the local high school. This gave me my first look at what apathy looks like.
The students weren't even necessarily rowdy or disrespectful (some were, but that happens anywhere) they were just broken. Many of them were 16 years old and reading at an elementary school level, and had given up all hope of ever catching up. They saw no value in education, simply resigned to the fact that it was being presented a question and then figuring out what answer to plug into the blank. Somehow the "actual growth" part had been lost on them.
My cooperating teacher didn't seem to care. He spent most of this time working through the easiest grad school program he could find so he could get more money out of the district, and most of his lessons involved showing a video and asking the students questions about it. He did his job, but the passion seemed to be almost entirely gone.
But, I graduated. That was a bad school district in a bad neighborhood, of course it was going to have problems. If I got a job at a better district, I'd have more support and more options for handling problem students.
My first job out of college was a part-time reading aide at one of the largest school districts in Pennsylvania. Every full time teaching job wouldn't give me the time of day because I didn't have any experience. This was the only place I got an interview. My job was to meet with students who were having difficulties with their reading assignments (mostly ELL and special ed students) and give them some extra time work things out. Surely this would mean I'd have a structured schedule with quality time spent with students.
It turned out that this school district was so disorganized that it felt more like I was a salesman trying to book clients to keep the work alive. The school was so large that 95% of the faculty had no idea I existed, so I needed to go out and find students who needed help instead of having them referred to me. The bizarre schedule (everything worked on a 6-day cycle) meant students frequently forgot about our appointments or came at the wrong time, and I had little to no means of hunting them down. The job quickly devolved into me sitting in a small room for 8 hours a day, seeing maybe one student.
The one consistent student I had was a Bangladeshi girl who had only recently come to America. Her English was pretty good, but she was illiterate in her own native tongue, to say nothing of her ability to read or write in English. She was in a foster home after CPS took her away from her family. At 14, she had a husband back in Bangladesh. When I checked in after leaving that position, my colleagues told me she had gone back to her home country to visit over the summer and then never returned.
My wife was also unhappy with her job at the time, so we jointly decided we needed a change and moved cross country. I got a full time job at a high school in the Seattle area, one with supportive administration, interesting colleagues, and a strong amount of support for new teachers. I finally had my own classroom, a curriculum to teach, and a chance to start my career. Surely, things were looking up.
For the most part, things were actually pretty good. The coworkers in my department were supportive and uplifting, and my opinion was valued even though I didn't have as much experience as the others. Our administrator was a pretty cool guy, and I met some students who I'll keep with me forever. I honestly did enjoy working there, even if it was difficult sometimes.