Why I Gave Up Teaching

Today, I breathe a sigh of relief that I managed to escape the teaching profession, that I managed to find a new career where I feel I can still make a difference in the world.

But then, I realize that in expressing myself this way, I’m doing a huge disservice to all the teachers out there.

You see, when I joke that I “escaped” the teaching profession, that implies that those who still teach are stuck, that they’re in a career they hate and can’t get out of.

Nothing could be further from the truth. My teacher friends devote their lives to education not because they’re incapable of doing anything else. They do it because it’s their passion.

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The Gifts That Make Teaching Worthwhile

Last night, I was given a gift. It was my second of the week — and one that the teachers of young children rarely receive.

I had been surprised to hear from the parents of a child I worked with 30 years ago. At that time, I was a resource teacher for the state of Arizona, specializing in children with developmental delays, ages zero to five. Their son had been one of my students. In fact, he had been one of my favorite students.

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I Feel The Same Way About Meetings As My Students Feel About School

The attitude I have towards teacher meetings is the exact same attitude my students have towards school. Deep down, on some level, they know it’s important for them to be in class, to learn new skills, to attend school every day and graduate.

But, they also know they have time to develop these skills, they have time before they need to graduate. So, they just can’t get themselves engaged in class. And that’s when they start slyly chatting with their classmates whom they haven’t seen in over a month… checking Facebook on their phones… texting people… playing Angry Birds….

I get it now.

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The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do

Today, I’m a high school teacher. I spend my days culturing teenagers. Sometimes, my students get disruptive, and I swear to myself in frustration. Acquaintances ask me how my work is going. I explain how I’m having a difficult time with a certain kid. I can’t seem to get him to pay attention in class.

Acquaintances smirk knowingly. And they say, “well, have you tried making it fun for the kids? That’s how you get through to them, you know?”

And then, they explain to me how I should do my job….

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