Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Leaving Public Education

I was listening to a podcast today and one of the panelists mentioned she was a former teacher. As I continued listening I realized my perception of her had changed (not for the better) and I realized it was because she is a 'former' teacher.

I started to think about all of the reasons why I would negatively judge a former teacher, and remember this a judgemental and I know it:

  1. They thought the job was easy, and then when they found out it wasn't they left. 
  2. It was something to do until they decided what they really wanted to do.
  3. They can't hack it. (Insert whatever the word 'it' means to you.)
  4. They wanted to raise a family. Ok, this one needs explaining. I don't mean they want to have children and stay with them until they are grown up or in school. What kind of monster do you think I am? What I mean is they say they want to raise a family as an excuse to quit. Remember, I already pointed out I am judging.
  5. They want to make more money.  This one is a trap in my thinking. I mean, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make more money. Also, we know what we are getting paid when we sign the contract. Also, teachers are underpaid. Also, teachers have bills. Somewhere in all that is the problem. They judge the value of the work solely in monetary terms. Again, judging!
  6. They think kids these days are horrible. I can't even...
And this is the problem I have to address with myself, it shouldn't matter to me why they left. It isn't my business. I think that the teaching profession is somehow more than just a job where people come and go. It isn't, despite my romanticism of it. And as long as I romanticize it I will keep judging the people that leave, and that isn't right. 


  1. Thanks for writing. I left public education in 2012. It was one of the toughest decisions I ever made and judged myself similarly as you expressed in the post. I knew was I was 13 that I wanted to teach. When I got my first full time position I was elated. I like to think I still teach, in a different capacity these days. I think what you are experiencing if beyond normal. Thanks again for posting, blogging and comments aren't dead.

    1. Comments have flatlined, but a shock or two might do the trick. :)

    2. I have a post kicking around in my head for my blog about referring to teaching as a "calling". I'm still working oit my thinking but it has something to do with the fact that it gets used as a kudgle when negotiating pay and benefits (which relates tonyoir #5). A lot like people complaining about baseball players. Teachings a profession and requires a lot of training and when people say its a calling I also get images of Dangerous Minds. If we were all a bit more like Michelle Pfifer just loved our students a little more they might be successful. That falls into your #1 point. People think its easy especially if one feels its their destiny to care for kids. Which again plays into the pay/benefits negotiations hamstringing.

    3. I agree, the 'if you love kids you don't need pay/benefits' narrative is so very toxic. I also really, really hate the teacher hero narrative.