7. All her fault

I had a student, maybe 11 or 12, sitting with me and having pizza. She had been having some trouble, so I asked how her life was going. Was everything okay? 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 and he’ll punish me.” She said it casually, like it was everyday stuff.

So, as a mandatory reporter I went to my Dean of Students and told him all this. He just got irritated and said, “Yeah, but that doesn’t excuse her behavior.”

That’s when I knew I was done.

8. No trust

I realized that I was being more micromanaged every year. I expected a lot of oversight when I was a new teacher. I actually had more people watching my every move and every word once I had a master’s degree and fifteen years experience. I never had a single complaint. Parents and students loved me (even requested me).

But administrators who needed to justify their jobs were constantly in my classroom or calling pointless meetings to discuss pointless things. I spent less and less time teaching and more and more time filing out meaningless forms, responding to emails, and sitting through meetings.

9. No more reading?

In a meeting with other English teachers, an administrator said: “6th graders will no longer be reading novels. It’s not statistically proven to improve test scores.”

If reading doesn’t improve testing, then your testing is…

10. You’re right, I’m lying

I taught 8th grade math, and I had one student who literally couldn’t multiply. So I would give him the same tests I gave my special education students. He’d usually fail anyway, but not as badly. He never knew that he was given a different test. When I made the different versions, they were essentially the same questions, just with much easier numbers to work with.

One day, I was grading his test, and I notice that he missed every single question. The weird thing was, he had all the correct answers to the normal test.

However he showed no work. So there was literally no way with the numbers he had, that he could get to the answers he got.

So I called his mother in (I had to stay like an hour later than normal to meet with her). I presented her the evidence, which most people would find pretty convincing. She just turned to him and said, “Did you cheat?” He, of course, denies it. Then she looks at me and says, “You say he cheated, he says he didn’t, I don’t know who to believe.”

I got up and left right then.

Parents are the reason most teachers leave the profession. They tend to make the teacher the enemy.

11. “SIT. DOWN”

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 collar and shouted, “SIT. DOWN.”

I didn’t stop shaking until that evening. I was done a week later.

12. No support

I stopped when my annual review with the new program dean focused on the 10% of student reviews that were negative rather than the 90% that were positive. There are too many aggravations working against teachers. At the least, the administration has to have your back.