Yesterday, I had a few friends over for game night with food and drinks. While playing games, education came up. In fact, education comes up often with us because we have all been teachers in the classroom. As the conversation rounded the corner into a deeper, more passionate dialogue, I reflected on the experiences of each of us: Jude, Ellie, Connor, Monty, and myself.
Out of the five of us, only two currently teach. My partner, Jude, worked for a private school and loved the experience. He got hired at a charter school the following year and worked there for about six months before leaving the profession. Ellie (pseudonym) and I worked at a local charter school together before she left to teach in another state at a Title I school. She ventured back to DFW after a couple of years and currently works in a high-achieving, privileged school district. Connor (pseudonym) works at a secondary charter school in DFW, which happens to be in the same network of schools where Ellie and I worked together years ago. Monty (pseudonym) worked with me at a Title I school in Richardson. She was about to go into her fourth year of teaching at the same schools when I recommended that she get out. Monty left K-12 education to join me in my current role at the Art Institutes.
The underlying element of our constant discourse surrounding the education profession is passion. We are all 100% passionate about helping students achieve success. So Why aren’t we all still in the profession?
The answer is easy! R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Jude: Quickly found that his peers were more problematic than any other stakeholder in education. His leadership was constantly in his room, developing him to be a better leader. His students respected him because he earned it, though he was hard on them. But his peers were jealous of his rapid success and positive energy. After all, Jude is a half-full type guy.
Ellie: Was challenged at our first charter school together. She wasn’t respected or appreciated because her bubbliness and lively personality that made her appear as scatterbrained, if you will. She was snubbed for a music teacher position at our school, though she was highly qualified. She left after a couple of years to another state where she said she fell in love with teaching. Moreover, it was a Title I school in Harlem, New York. Now, she works at a very privileged school district and absolutely loves her job. It’s hard to get into her district because very seldom do teachers leave. She has the autonomy to make her classroom her own. She doesn’t have to turn in lesson plans or attend many meetings. She has the ability to actually teach!
Connor: Has a specialized science degree. Simply put, he could make big bucks outside of education. He teaches high school science classes and is a sports coach. He has been in his current position for a few years and was recently disregarded for a team-lead role, though, his scores were some of the highest in the network. He’s eager to grow as an educator, but also deeply off put by the politics of education. He and his peers don’t see eye-to-eye in most cases. However, his students look up to him because of his love of teaching, the respect he has earned from them, and the support that he provides them. I give him another year before he leaves the profession all together.
Monty: She is the most diverse of all of my friends and coworkers. She’s a single mom as well. She has so much desire for helping others, as she puts others’ needs before her own. She craves challenges and collaborative learning opportunities. She seeks guidance and is receptive to feedback. She confronts conflict and doesn’t conform to comfortability. She was at the same school in which I left mid-year last year because of leadership. She’s always had my back and knows the up-and-downs of working in such unprofessional, under-appreciated conditions. In actuality, she lived it. She was split between schools for two years. She worked her ass off to make things better for all stakeholders. She went the extra distance with each task asked of her; not mediocre, to say the least. This summer, she was approached by the [awful] principal at the school that I worked at to become a full-time team lead at the school that I worked at. While she was excited to just work at one school, she knew the devastation that existed. A week later, the other school that she was split with for two years approached her to become full-time there. She was ecstatic. Both schools, mind you, are in the same district, minutes apart and both Title I. However, Monty wanted to work for the second school because of the professionalism and respect that the leadership gave her. Long story short, Monty left the district, altogether, and jumped ship to work with me at The Art Institutes. She approached the [awful] principal at the school we both worked who approached her first to let her know that she wanted to accept the other school’s offer. The [awful] principal lost her shit, to put it nicely. She did everything she could to ensure that Monty wasn’t able to transfer to the other school within the same district. Literally, simple paperwork and a signature and Monty would’ve stayed in K-12 education.
It’s stories like this that exemplify the dire need for change in our school systems. How is it that all of us, who are so passionate about education and helping others grow, are not in the classrooms leading the way?
Once again, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Monty is currently in training at The Art Institutes. I have been there several months. While we won’t have the opportunities to enjoy long breaks and summers off, we have the abilities to be part of an organization that embodies professionalism and R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We have odd hours, but we are valued and appreciated for what each of us has to offer. We even get an hour to simply enjoy a meal and down time. I enjoy going to work because the stress level and challenges are a different type of ‘hard.’ I leave work at work, underscoring the importance of a well-balanced work-life schedule.
As social media is being pulverized by the many unhappy teachers going back for the 2019-2020 school year, I am reminded of the BS that teachers go through. Seriously, many teachers who just went back this past week have already begun bitching about their leadership, peers, and other things, such as having to work mandated evening events throughout the year and professional development. I’ve had conversations with teachers who are dreading going back; some who are starting next week.
These things, I don’t miss. What I do miss? THE KIDS! And the self-R-E-S-P-E-C-T that I should’ve commanded, with confidence, of myself and of others.
Aretha put it best! [You can sing it!]
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin' (just a little bit)
You're runnin' out of fools (just a little bit)
And I ain't lyin' (just a little bit)
(Re, re, re, re) when you come home [or to school, right?]
(Re, re, re, re) 'spect
Or you might walk in (respect, just a little bit)
And find out I'm gone (just a little bit)