Please be a teacher: A Response to Warnings and Resignation Letters.
This is a blog post I read recently that got me thinking a lot about things I had put out of my mind. Namely, how and why I left classroom teaching, and do I still consider myself a teacher.
I used to teach Biology and Chemistry – first at the college level as a grad student, and then at an exclusive prep school. I loved being a student, and I loved being a teacher. I loved the classroom. I loved my students. I loved the work. It was the best job I ever had – and I would still be doing it, if it were possible. But it isn’t. I found myself pushed and prodded and bullied and micromanaged to such a degree, it made doing the actual job, the work I was so crazy good at*, impossible. Why would they hire an expert, and then not allow her to function? It was an obscene farce.
I soldiered on for eight years, believing in the work I was doing. But finally, what amounted to the last straw was an ethical dilemma, where I found administrators more intent on maintaining their power than doing the right thing for some kids who were bullied. I was disgusted. I couldn’t bring myself to be in the same room as those people for one more day. All I could think was – “You don’t get to work with me anymore.”
That meant – no more being a teacher for me.
Or did it? I entered what I called “semi-retirement” – I puttered around at home, went to the library, went for long walks in botanical gardens, swam laps. But I couldn’t turn off the teaching part of my brain. I found myself still mentally composing lectures and activities for my students – but I had no students. I used to teach about 50 students a year, intensively. I missed them.
Well, I found a way. Now I teach thousands, through Socratica, all over the world. I can still be a teacher. I still am a teacher.
*not to tootle my own horn, but I was awfully good at my job. Presidential awards and other commendations. Unbelievably high test scores. After taking my class, kids got lab jobs and into top colleges – the works. But nothing was ever good enough.