Why I Left My Teaching Career Behind

I like teaching. I don’t like being a teacher.

These words are from a journal entry that I wrote in the spring of 2011. At that point in my life, I was burnt out from teaching and defeated as a teacher. My classes had been particularly challenging for several years in a row, and I was just plain exhausted. Everyone told me I was such an awesome teacher, but because of the number and severity of student needs both academically and behaviorally over those few years, I felt like I just wasn’t cutting it. I was working day and night, and it wasn’t enough.

I had been applying and interviewing for other positions in the district. Positions that would get me out of the classroom and give me a break from the rigor of classroom teaching. I had interviewed and been rejected so many times, all I could do was start to laugh about it, even though I wanted to cry instead. My husband had started calling me the “queen of rejection”. Strangely, I felt like a victim of the system, trapped and alone. I felt like there was something wrong with me and my self-confidence waned.

How in the hell is one supposed to meet the needs of students who are 2-3 grades lower in ability than the average? How is one supposed to teach “the curriculum” to everyone when only about a third of the students can actually understand it?

Seriously, how much can one expect from one classroom teacher? If we want kids to succeed, they need to be taught at THEIR level and this simply cannot be done by one person in a classroom of 24 or more students when half of the student body lacks in educational intellect or ability. REALLY! These students need MORE and something BETTER to meet their needs! It’s not that I’m lazy or don’t know what to do. It’s that these kids need more than I am able to give them in a classroom of so many kids.

I am only one and I cannot meet the individual needs of the kids when there are so many different abilities spread among the students. I’m not kidding. I cannot do it unless I were to devote every minute of my life to this cause.

 My feelings were intense and my attitude, broken. I felt incredibly guilty too. I wasn’t supposed to feel this way! That year, I decided to leave my career behind. I was done, and I was never coming back. But, I was hopeful. I had exciting plans for my future.

Chapter 2 can be found here.