I know you mean well. really, I truly believe that you started your journey with that spark. But, maybe you’ve forgotten why you’re here, in this job. Twenty five or even thirty years is a long time to be in a career that has such high emotional demands. You are not only an educator. You are a nurse, a psychologist and perhaps a shoulder to cry on. You are a cheerleader and a disciplinarian. Sometimes you feel like an ATM, buying school supplies and lunches for kids you know won’t get anything unless you take care of it. That’s a lot of demand placed on one person who gets paid less than $30 per hour.
Today I watched you with your students. I heard you yell in a way that made me cringe. I heard you call a kid stupid. I watched your body language, with your arms folded tightly against your chest. I saw you interact with other teachers, cutting them off mid sentence so you could say your two cents worth. The looks from your peers should have been a clue, but you were too caught up in yourself to notice.
The message you are sending is that you don’t care as deeply as you once did. The jaded tone in your voice tells me you are just treading water until you retire. Your peers see it. Your students see it. And yet, you seem oblivious. You have all the answers. You play all the games. No one could possible be as “good” as you.
But your actions are speaking very loudly. When you lose the ability to truly listen, it’s time to stop and think about things. When you resort to name calling, it’s time to examine your reasons for remaining in the career field. When you rely on passive-aggressive relationships to maintain your “position” in the hierarchy, you’ve lost what made you an excellent teacher. When you no longer care what message you are broadcasting, it’s time to let go.
You’re not the first teacher I’ve met with this attitude. You probably won’t be the last. It’s sad that in this career field there aren’t many opportunities for sabbatical or even true job changes. You will work your entire career doing pretty much the same thing. And while this job is vitally important, you will become jaded because of expectations, curriculum swerves, student behaviors and lack of support. I just wish you could see yourself and realize what you are really saying.
What you are telling students…they don’t matter. You have more important things to think about. “I” am not important. Why should “I” try when “You” aren’t?
So, dear Teacher, I encourage you to rethink why you are here. What is the purpose of you showing up every day? How can you change so your students change? What can you do to improve the school so everyone can learn? Because it’s not about you.