Teaching is hard work. I know, I’m married to a teacher, so I see the daily struggles he goes through to be a successful educator. In this AskReddit thread, teachers share the reasons they left the profession my husband loves so dearly.
Worst of all, I know he shares MANY of their pains.
1. Shouldn’t have looked
I once did the math to convert my yearly salary into an hourly wage based solely on the hours spent working (not subtracting all the money I spent to make my classroom workable). I didn’t get into teaching for the money, but there’s a certain frustration that hits when you realize I would have been better off working full time as a waiter.
2. Well that escalated quickly
I had a 6-year old pull a knife on me while screaming, “I will kill you!” This was the culmination of a lot of various incidents with the same kid. What was most infuriating was the parents claiming they had the sweetest little boy and that we (the school) must be liars for saying otherwise. Eventually he was transferred to a special school after we filed a report on the various incidents.
I felt really bad for the kid because when he wasn’t freaking out over something, he really would be sweet, asking a ton of questions and participating in the activities. But he was highly prone to sudden burst of rage.
The incident with the knife happened in an after school setting, where the kids go to play and have fun. Apparently another kid had done something he disliked so he was kicking and spitting on him when I pulled him away. He ran straight to the drawer and found a kitchen knife. Due to his size it was pretty easy to wrestle out of his hands though, so no harm done.
I guess dealing with lousy parents was what made me change my career.
I worked in a high needs behavior class. I got hit, punched, scratched and spat on daily, but every day I went in and did my best for those kids. I was so battered and bruised that my husband wouldn’t shop with me anymore because people would stare and sometimes even comment that he must be mistreating me. But I loved my job and every one of those kids.
One day, I was called to the office to talk. It was Christmas time and things weren’t great at home. 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.” I thought, how nice of her to notice.
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. Six 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.
Six 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 pay-check. 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.
4. Money talks
I quit when a 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.
5. Cheap Labor
The director of the school told me I was hired as a new teacher because it was cheaper than hiring someone with experience.
My first year I did not even have textbooks. I was printing out hundreds of readings for my students every week just to have something.
6. Testing became King
I quit when it became “education” rather than teaching. Let me explain.
I taught 4th grade. Math is heavy on fractions. So, to my thinking, two things in life you do using fractions are cooking and woodworking. This lead me to creating units where we learned to cook and build things with hand tools. We’re making cookies. We need to know how much half a cup is, or a third of a tablespoon. You get the idea.
I did this for years. I loved teaching, the kids loved learning (mostly), and my students did well on the state tests (which I hated even back then). Then things changed. Testing was king, but then it became God.
In response, my district required all teachers at a grade level to teach the same topics, the same way, on the same day. No more cookies. Now I had to use worksheets and constant testing. It was to the point where we were told exactly what to say. It was scripted.
I argued, loudly. I fought against it, but lost. So, I did it their way. My students hated math and school. There was no joy in it for anyone anymore. Then, I was told I was “under review” because my test scores were too low.
I was at risk of being fired for incompetence. So, I decided to go back to doing things my own way. To fight the system. And then they came to me and informed me that at the next board meeting I was going to be fired for incompetence and insubordination. Lawyers got involved. I wound up resigning.
Do I miss it? Sometimes, but I get my teaching fix through higher education courses and being a guest in classrooms (in a different district) for things like hatching chicken eggs or history presentations. Besides. I’m making the same money with less work selling real estate.