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ON: Don't Become A Teacher (Warning: Long Rant)

Posted 03-02-2021 at 12:56 PM by Blondebaerde

Originally Posted by RobinsonCrusoe View Post
Warning: Long Rant ahead. Using my chance to vent to let people know what’s going on in the education industry.

So the long-story-short version is: I was just let go by my school. But that’s actually not what I’m here to vent about. I know a lot of positions are being terminated due to COVID so I’m not looking for pity for myself. I just wanted to use this opportunity to finally let ANYBODY who’s thinking about becoming a teacher be fairly warned about what they’re getting themselves into.

So you may be thinking that your job as a lawyer/doctor/marketer/programmer/banker/whatever royally sucks and isn’t worth the stress, but don’t let that be the reason that you get into the [BLEEP] that is K-12 teaching. You might think that you’ve always wanted to do something wholesome and fulfilling like educating young kids, but that’s where you’d be terribly mistaken. You see, the education field is made up of people. Who are [BLEEP]. Not all of them. But I’d wager that if your current field is made up of ~20% [BLEEP] people, that percentage doesn’t magically change once you switch industries. You know why? Because the education industry is made up of people too. Who are [BLEEP]. Of course not all (or even the majority). But for some reason, they tend to concentrate in positions of leadership. Which means they can and do make your life [BLEEP].

So let’s talk about how I was a mid-year hire (aka the previous teacher quit midway through KNOWING what it could do to her career but did it anyways) and I inherited a dysfunctional mess. Ok, cool. You know what, I knew that going in. The odds were stacked against me, but I had my optimism as well as my deeply-held conviction that I got into teaching to help cultivate the impressionable young minds of today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders.

So let’s talk about Problem #1: The STUDENTS. I bet you assumed that they would be respectful and attentive. That they would know better than to physically hit you, a teacher. That they would know better than to start physical fights with other students in the middle of your lecture. That they wouldn’t disrupt your class so you can actually proceed along your schedule as planned. You might even think that this is the kind of “interesting challenge” you’d be ready to take on.

Oh your poor soul.

Unless you get the rich-people districts, you’re most likely going to have to start out at a lower-income public school/charter. High-performing districts are such creme-de-la-creme teaching posts that they get thousands of applications for every opening (read: you’re not getting it. at least not until you’ve put in a lot of time and gained the experience first).

So let’s talk about what kind of students you’re MORE likely to get: the downright disrespectful, rude, and entitled (who basically do NO work once word got out they couldn’t be failed due to COVID). You may think this is “cute” or “interesting” on Day 1 or even on Day 20, but this is not the kind of “interesting challenge” that you want to face day in and day out for years. It wears the best of us down, visibly aging some of my favorite teachers here. It’s just not worth that stress. Obviously, you can get stress from any profession out there. But honestly, go get paid better for it. They’re gradually doing away with all of our benefits and pensions, increasing our work hours, loading us down with more students per class, and making it impossible for us to enjoy our free time.

Which brings us to Problem #2: The PARENTS. Throughout the schoolyear, I had to deal with equally entitled parents who treated me like the enemy who “had it out” for their kid. The same parents who complained “why should a teacher get $45,000 a year? That's what we pay a grizzled war vet sergeant with 10 years of combat experience! And they defend our country!” The read-between-the-line message here? We want the best possible teacher for our kid, but we don’t want to pay for it. Be that star teacher right now, but we’re gonna vote against giving you benefits or increased pay. Oh, and we expect you to pay for classroom material out of your pocket too.

And then we get to the biggest [BLEEP] in the industry. Problem #3: The ADMINISTRATORS. The do-nothings. The responsibility-shirkers. The ones who kowtow to every unreasonable request (read: bullying) from parents and just pin it all on you, the teacher. The ones who try to look busy to their own bosses (state-level agencies/politicians) by assigning us more Professional Development classes (which are largely useless, a waste of time and money, and led by consultants who talk as if they haven’t been inside of a classroom in years). They are the literal equivalent of Michael Scott’s impromptu conference room “meetings” in The Office.

And finally, let’s talk about what it takes to be teacher today. I’ll start by saying that I can’t name another profession where literally everyone has a Masters degree. It’s pretty much a requirement for being a teacher these days. Never mind the costs associated. Also, the “published” hours of work, usually from 7 AM or so until 2 or 3PM? Yea, that’s total bullcrap. You’re not done at 2 or 3. It’s more like 5, 6 or 7PM. The actual number of hours you work, divided into your yearly salary, will probably put you at right around minimum wage. But that’s not all. You teach 5th grade math? Great, Admin wants to know if you can also teach 3rd grade math next year due to budget cuts.

Now, technically speaking, if you know 5th grade-level math, you know 3rd grade. Obviously. But what’s not so obvious is now you’ll need to devise a completely new curriculum to teach to a group of students who are at a different stage in their lives developmentally than what you’re used to. That minor difference changes everything. It’s just one of those things the monkeys in Admin just assume that you can do without really thinking these important details out. They give a rat’s ass about a student’s development, just as long as you can hit those test scores they want, a process called “teaching to the test” which is universally despised by educators.

So if you didn’t care to read through all that or want a nice little recap, I can give you the ABCs on it right here:

A) [BLEEP] students, B) [BLEEP] parents, C) [BLEEP] administrators, D) your livelihood ALWAYS the first on the chopping block when there’s budget problems (and even when there’s not), E) nobody truly respects this profession. They pay lip service. Might even reward you with a $20 coupon at the Italian restaurant in town. Then, they email you a notice that you’re being let go. That's what happened to me, but I digress.

Wasn’t there a time when Parents, Teachers, and Administrators teamed up together to raise a kid right? I feel like there used to be this unspoken-but-tacitly-agreed-upon alliance that helped raise smart capable and respectful students who were prepared for the world. Cuz we know that kids can be full of [BLEEP] and try to weasel out of every/anything. But back then, the teacher would tell the principal, who’d call the parent, who’d grab Johnny by the collar when he came home from school and ground him in his room until he finished his homework. Johnny would go to school the next day and behave himself because he knew that he could no longer get away with it.

But now? My school is going to let students who don’t fundamentally grasp Pre-algebra go onto Algebra I next year. What SHOULD happen is that they SHOULD be failed and made to repeat that grade until they can prove they understand the fundamentals. No, I don’t have some vendetta against your kid, Ma’am. It’s not a punishment. He’s Just Not Ready. Mr. Principal, please tell this lady that her son is going to struggle intensely next year if we let him pass. Wait…what? You’re going to let him pass? And you want me to “do everything I can” to make this happen? Are you serious?

I feel broken. I just moved here a few months ago and have my own [BLEEP] financial [BLEEP] to deal with. Like student loans, this year-long lease I have with a roommate here, and car payments for the car I needed to drive to the school that just let me go. I feel like there’s a war on teachers for some insane reason. Somehow we’re the bad guys. We apparently demand TOO much pay (lmao). We apparently don’t educate kids right. Admin and politicians set guidelines and rules that we KNOW don’t make sense, and when it doesn’t go right (surprise surprise) they look to US like it’s our fault.

The one silver lining (at least for me) in all of this is that I’m getting out of the profession for good. It takes 3-5 years to become a “good” teacher. That’s what they’ll tell you when you first get started. You begin to hit your stride around then and feel like you finally know what you’re doing. Which is awesome. Because it means that most of us will become adequately decent teachers with experience. But I’m getting out because no matter how good of a teacher you can become, it doesn’t change the fundamentally rotten core factors I summarized above from A through E. Everything is just so entirely out of your hands. And that’s no way to build a career. Or a life.

I think the biggest problem is just that we live in a country where only the people with money really value education. The other 80-90% just don’t see it. They vote against their own child’s interests because they’re too stupid to know any better.

Let the public education system fail. Let’s go full Atlas Shrugged on this [BLEEP] and see how they like it. Never mind that teachers literally build your child's human capital up in ways that bring immeasurable dividends for the rest of their lives…never mind the positive network effects that their increased intellect and output and productivity provides for others…

Rant over.

I’m not seeking your understanding, pity, or anything really. Probably will be many out there who will disagree with this, but I won’t respond or even read. Your truth is your own. And I honestly just don’t care.

I want to be productive with my rant, so it’s really just a big fat warning to anybody looking to become a teacher. I say, let society prove to you first that they deserve you. You will also gain the life experiences that enables you to become a better teacher as you get older anyway, so in the meantime, go make more money elsewhere.
Fascinating read, the above, copying all in case it gets deleted as "hot" threads sometimes are. Replying as a blog post...

Well you did say it was a rant, albeit an interesting rant. Thread is aging, but still applicable unf. (Note: May 2020).

I'm a subject matter expert in IT, age 53, and figure my career will grow stale about by age 62 if not sooner. "Peak Earning Years" means something and I may have risen to my Peter Principle so-called Level of Incompetence. It pays well however.

My mentor Mike was run out as a Sr. Director around age 60. He considered it an ignoble end to a distinguished career, as he was a GM when I met him w/portfolio of about $13M and a thousand strong (wo)men under command. I was one of his functional senior leads. He left with a whimper not a bang which bothered him. Same happened to my dad also at age 60. So I won't be surprised if same happens to me. The workplace isn't getting any easier vs. 2015 in Mike's case or 1989 in my dad's.

To point of thread: Mike got bored and chose to teach, as a visiting adjunct Prof (if that's the right term) from industry as a recognized SME. He taught at Bellevue Jr. College in greater Seattle area. He loved it. Very different student base, and one could not make a living per se doing that for $5K/semester or whatever it was...free money to him doing that which he loved.

Not what (the quoted) means, but the only way that I could teach. Fellow professionals paying good money in Jr. college are a far cry from younger people who "must" be there. That applies to the "rich people districts" (Bellevue certainly qualifies) and lower income areas too, as money is money! Dealing with smart mouth youth would get me in hot water reeeal fast as I have no time for it. Notoriously so...know thyself, thy own disposition!
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