Dear friend about to leave teaching,
As another school year comes to a close, I am once again surrounded by teachers who are ready to give up or change careers. There are always complaints about testing, administration, other teachers, students … the list goes on and on. Each year, it feels like you’re at your wit’s end.
I’m not just talking about teachers who have been teaching for 25 years. It’s the new teachers, too! I see educators who are abandoning the profession they had such a passion for pursuing in the first place. The reasons vary, but some of the ones I hear most are stress, not feeling appreciated, and just a lack of energy to fight the war that seems to be raging in schools.
I get it. As an educator, I understand how tough it is in schools today. You’re never good enough.
Whether it’s your students not appreciating or even completing a lesson you spent the entire night preparing or administration highlighting your deficiencies without making a point to tell you what you’re awesome at, I know it can be difficult. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem worth it. People make comments, and it seems like they downgrade you. They say you settled for teaching when you could have been more. It feels like they blame you for almost everything wrong with the world.
Before you give up and leave teaching, please consider these three things …
1. You are my hero.
If not for your dedication and perseverance, students like me would never have pursued their passion. If not for teachers like you, I would have given in to what society has told me I should want: a lot of money with a lot of possessions. Instead, I chose to love people and listen to my calling. I chose to join you in your frustration in order to create a better future. Even though your job is difficult, your pay is not sufficient, and your to-do list never gets any shorter, I’m begging you to hang in there. Don’t let a score determine your impact. Don’t let another’s opinion decide your worth. Don’t let a failure control your future.
2. You have power.
It may not seem like it most days, but your words and actions change lives. People look up to you, and you CANNOT let them down. You make a difference, and giving up is not an option. If you don’t like something about your job, advocate for change. Don’t let it make you question your purpose. Instead of letting it change you, YOU be the one in control.
3. You are not like the rest of this world.
You care. I know you do. That’s why you entered this profession to begin with. You are an advocate, a coach, a comforter, a friend, a mediator, a mentor, a magician some days, a counselor, a discoverer, a lifelong learner … YOU ARE A TEACHER. That’s who you’re supposed to be. You know this, but you’re letting the details, the stress, and the “haters” make you consider other options.
As we approach the end of this year, don’t run away from your calling. Instead, use this time to reflect on why you chose to teach in the first place. Remember the impact a teacher has made on your life and continue that cycle by not giving up. Remember the excitement and nervousness of being in front of the class for the first time. Remember there’s someone in your class right now that needs your strength, your wisdom, and your love. Remember the time you saw a spark in a child’s eyes or the first time a struggling student found success.
You are an amazing teacher. You know what you are doing. Keep fighting and know there is someone who believes in you.
With much love and respect,
Another struggling teacher