💔😢😔This really hits home! Here is a little insight into my experience riding the struggle bus of a 21st century teacher.
Even though I was warned, scorned and basically threatened not to go into education, my heart knew it was my passion from a young age. Even though I knew I would make peanuts and I would end up with a massive amount of student loan debt…. I spent the long required 3 years of classes and 2 years of student teaching (5 years all together, I did NOT take even 1 EXTRA credit 😂🤣) getting my special education degree from GVSU. I was among the few lucky grads that landed my first teaching job right after graduation. To my surprise I was hired as a general education teacher 2nd grade. Some of my graduating teacher friends moved to Arizona and North Carolina for the promise of immediate hire there. Some teacher friends substitute taught while trying to get a job, some found a job after a while, and some never found a teaching job and went into a completely different field.
In the state of Michigan I am certified to teach general education K-6 and special education K- age 26 (transition age students). I made sure I was highly qualified to teach a wide range of students making me a great candidate for many teaching positions. I would not allow myself to fail. This was my destiny; “Miss Bre” Or “Miss Woolley” for those really classy moments.
Here we go! My greatest adventure: what was suppose to be the greatest time of my life; Working in my dream career, making money hired with a big girl teaching job… my own classroom. Let’s just say reality was rough. I was making less than I could live off of, no pension, unbelievable standards to uphold/reach inside and outside of the classroom, 31 students packed inside my classroom, parents trying to be sneaky videotaping you/coworkers in various public places/happy hour/lunch time, parent teacher conferences leading to sexual harassment and aggressive threats=parent is no longer allowed alone in room with teacher, parent asking teacher why you aren’t doing your job and failing student by not teaching right or spending enough time with them 1 on 1, parents allowing their child to yell at teacher during conference, parents disrespectfully talking about teacher or school at home=no respect of teacher or school, being threatened to be sued/reported to a news station/administration every week of a 180 week calendar, having parents call you or email you daily-multiple times and then report you to your administrator for lack of communication … 😑🙄 but the original complaint that she was contacting you about was that student said aren’t teaching enough during school hours (listen parents we won’t believe everything students say about home if you don’t believe everything they say about home.. deal? Because we hear some wild stories), having to teach 3 math lessons in 1 day because there are more math lesson then there are days of school in a year, kids can’t be kids on recess (I always played soccer with the kids on my recess duty and sometimes was accused of being to rough by parents/students/coworkers because I kicked the ball.. it’s soccer)… also this mentality of everyone wins?!?! How can everyone win.. then no one wins and that is setting up our students for failure because in the real world.. there are winners and losers(there is nothing wrong with losing, the most successful people in this world will tell you they became successful and are still successful because they continue to lose and make mistakes and grow from them)-you have to work hard at life- REALLY HARD but it is so rewarding, FIDGETS: did you know that most parents in the 21st century think that everything that moves is considered a legit fidget- just because you want your kid to have a light up squishy ball to squish at their seat because it makes them happy doesn’t mean I need that to be a distraction for myself (A.D.D) and the 29 other distractible humans in my class during instruction so yes I would love your child to be happy-NO I don’t hate your student-I am not picking on them or bullying them-NO, I am not favoring that student over there with fidget (that I gave them for therapeutic purposes, that looks very different than a toy, for their IEP, that you DO NOT have any right to question me about because I am a professional and I should be treated as one as soon as you walk through that classroom door/write me a note/email/or pick up the phone to call me) FIDGET RANT OVER, mental health (in my opinion) is lacking or non-existent (not the schools fault entirely), if teachers give 112.5% it isn’t enough, bathroom break? What’s that.. teacher bladder status achieved, social life=nope, OCD/control issues/perfectionist/anxiety=full force, losing your self identity and becoming a “teacher” in every moment of your life, ummm who’s Bre?
Whew…. the list goes on, it is bizarre but the point is, it was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. The only things that helped me survive? My co-workers, social worker, mentors/co-teachers, secretaries, those parents who are absolutely amazing, family, my pup/ traveling/friends who understood why you didn’t text back.. EVER and never ever had enough energy to do anything, sleep, food, doctors, therapists, counseling, credit cards 😳🤷🏽♀️, sunshine, almost dying* and my students*. SIDE NOTE: Let me make this loud and clear, it is not a district problem. Many of you know what district I taught for. I go back and visit that district and my kiddos I had and my coworkers that I still love and adore. The community there is absolutely amazing. If I ever have kids without a DOUBT in my mind they will go to school there. So don’t you think for a second it is a district problem we have here it is a society problem, a 21st century problem, a parenting epidemic, a spoiled rotten kids problem. A problem with our country not valuing our education and educators. Do I know how to solve it? Or why it became a problem? Or when it became a problem? Nope.. just know it is one.
Thanks to google I have some approximate statistics: Average starting salary for 1st year teacher in Michigan 2014 (when I started teaching) was about $36,000 (I made less than that when I left 3 years later). An approximate average salary for all career fields requiring a Bachelor’s degree is around $50,000. Most teacher student loan debt is averaging $30,000+. There is requirements to continue college education courses in teaching in order to keep your teaching license on top of the requirements for continuous professional development and training. I am proud to that in the past 5 years of teaching, I have upward of 500+hours of professional development from after school and summer hours helping me gain knowledge as a professional and become a better educator. The average amount of money a teacher spends on their classroom is $479 (that is a low number for most of us). This is not counting the countless hours I (and many others) have spent writing grants, contacting/using various companies/websites/promotions/events for supplies/additional services and supports/monies in order to provide students with the most beneficial learning experience at school.
I hope you are thinking something 21st century basic lingo along the lines of OMG, WTF or GTFO?! Or at the very least learned something new….. but again, there will be people out there who say “then pick a new career”, “you did this to yourself”, “you get so many days off it’s worth it”, or one of my favorite “those who can’t do.. teach” ya you could be right. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, where did you start out? Public school, private school, tutor, computer, homeschool, it’s all the same basics. teachers do what they do because of their passion for the students and teaching, their selflessness, to be part of the greater good of the community. To be taken advantage of? That’s what it feels like most days. Anyway, moving on….
I spent one year teaching 2nd grade and two years in 3rd grade. After three years teaching I was burnt out. I do not feel embarrassed or that I am a failure for burn out. I look at burn out this way… if you burn out of your passion you gave it everything you had. You had nothing left to give. Every ounce of sweat, love, energy, knowledge, fight, fun, laughs, tears…. it was ALL in. In teaching… when you are done, your last day.. nothing should be left because those kids deserve everything and in the placement I was in… I was at the end of my wick. Those 3 years of kiddos got the very best of me and nothing less. I will be proud of that for the rest of my days! Anyway, I began looking for other degrees (more debt) and trade jobs. I was determined to be done by year 4 to squeeze what little fire I had left to burn for 30-31 more third graders. Thankfully, with a lot of faith I found my way to where I am now. I am teaching 9-12th graders with cognitive and multiple impairments. It’s a whole different world. It is what I got my specialty degree in. I feel like a trusted professional again. This is for certain, this position, place in life is not forever. I certainly won’t retire as a teacher, the money is lacking and burn out issues will come again… but for now my heart and soul is happy. 💜
Parents, remember how your parents parented you? How about your grandparents? Still not working? Get professional help please. Don’t be embarrassed… our society as a whole needs HELP. This is a big problem. All schools are facing this problem. The teachers are not to blame… I do not have kids for a reason. I would have no idea how to parent. I would do my best by asking my parents and using them as a model. By using ever resource I had to be the best parent I could be. Not by enabling my child and blaming everyone else. Your child will fail. They need to feel hurt, uncomfortable and be in those types of situations where they need to problem solve. You can not always jump in and fly your helicopter 🚁 and think you are doing a service by providing them with a rescue mission. That’s one thing I do know for sure.
*I absolutely love and adore every student who walks through my door/ into my life. Do I have high expectations? Absolutely. Do they meet them? Absolutely exceed our wildest dreams! We celebrate, we cry… we learn about life. If I have taught my students anything about anything after they walk out my door into another adventure.. it is to love themselves and others, that they can do anything in this world with hard work and the help of others and that they should inspire the world and give back to their community. 💜
*December 2015 my life changed forever. I will keep this short but multiple pulmonary embolisms in my lungs almost took my life. From that moment on I decided to make little changes to my life. I made basic non negotiable standards in my life that I would not negotiate from. Waking up unhappy is one of those non negotiables. Doing something in my profession that doesn’t fit with my beliefs as an educator/person is one of them. I made changes accordingly. My profession/career is no longer my life. I made that switch and my whole life changed. I no longer introduce myself as a teacher first, but myself, Bre. Without myself there is nothing else. Self love is so important 💜 I will leave it as simple as that but we all know it could get much deeper.
Ps. Internet trolls and negativity please keep to yourself. Do not take this personally, if you are taking this personally that is your problem not mine. Fly that helicopter 🚁 and get some help please. I don’t judge a parents or people in general I just tell it how it is from how I have experienced it. We are all entitled to our own opinions.
If you want to share kindness please do and if you took your time to read about my experience in the struggle bus of a 21st century teacher thank you!