A wonderfully honest and thoughtful post about the struggles that so many teachers think and feel on a regular basis.
Thank you for writing this honest reflection and sharing so transparently what many educators think and feel. I really love how you are trying to strike the balance between letting yourself be in this place and pushing yourself to work towards the positive in a real and authentic way. “…keep hold of my thought life” was a statement that really resonated with me and that I’ll be pondering for a while.
There are 2 things that I also struggle with, perhaps because of my perspective as someone who chose to leave the classroom a year ago. I completely respect your choice and feelings that, “When I leave the classroom, I will not quit – I will decide and know that I have another classroom of another kind to tackle.” but I worry a bit that as educators we perpetuate the message that if someone chooses to leave a classroom they are, in fact, quitting and doing so in a way that is a sort of cop out. I made a very thoughtful, intentional choice to leave the classroom – in part to do exactly what you said by venturing into my “new classroom” and tackling a new set of challenges I was passionate about solving, but in part because teaching was crushing me as a person and a professional at that time and place. I will always in my heart be a teacher, but stepping away from the classroom was actually the harder thing to do than to stay in many regards. I did for a long time feel like a quitter, like I had given up on myself and my kids, both current and future – but I am now happier, healthier, and doing right by myself, my loved ones, and my students and colleagues in a way that I could not have continued to do in my previous situation. Making an intentional choice that feels right for each individual at that time is always, in my opinion, the right choice, and I am so glad you have figured out what the right choice is for you right now.
I also have a slight fear when we as educators settle for the status quo, and I wonder if that is what you’re saying here or if I’ve misread something in the wording: “I’m not resentful against this profession I love; this profession is what it is. No one can change this for me. I either accept it, or I don’t.” I agree that if we spend all our time being resentful for what was or what is, we will never make the necessary changes towards what can be. In the same way, though, I think that educators pointing out what is wrong with the system and problem-solving for something better is also the only way things will change. If we accept an “it is what it is” mentality then we are devaluing our collective and individual voices to create the education system that teachers, students, administrators, and families really need and deserve. It is my hope that by more people like you showing such honestly and transparency in their situations that we can collectively make teaching a sustainable professional career that provides kids something truly amazing every day.
Original Post: If I’m Such a Great Teacher, Why Do I Want to Quit? by Vicki Davis