There has been a lot of talk about the viral teacher resignations floating around online. I myself have recently engaged in conversations with fellow teachers who have said they are thinking about resigning or retiring as soon as possible. Even more are the individuals who say they would never recommend their children or their neighbor’s children to go into the teaching profession.
Many of these people make statements like, “It's not what it used to be”. “Kids have changed”. “Parents don't support our schools”. “There is no funding and Common Core is killing our kids”. The list of reasons to not go into teaching are pretty long and are often the same reasons people leave the classroom.
The simple act of teaching is often being suffocated by meetings and administrator initiatives. What was once an art and craft has in some places become cold and calculated all the while being driven by data. There is less emotion and more calculation in the profession. In the short 13 years that I've been teaching, I have seen these things. As a result I am asked if I would recommend someone going into the teaching profession. I have thought long and hard about this because I do have reservations.
Teaching isn't what it used to be. Yet as I thought about it, I realized teaching shouldn't be what it used to be. Society has changed, regardless of if we think that is a good or a bad thing. Kids have changed. Families have changed. So it only seems natural that teaching should change as well. Teachers are being held to a higher standard and held more accountable for every child's education. I'm trying to see why that's a bad thing. Granted, I am not in agreement on how measuring this is being done, but the reality is improvement is a good thing.
As I was reflecting on this notion of resigning or not going into teaching, I received an email. The email was from a student I had in my first two years of teaching. She was nearing graduation in a teacher prep program and had to interview a teacher who had inspired her to become a teacher herself. As I read her comments and reflections, I knew without a doubt that I would recommend anybody to enter our profession. People like to say teachers teach everybody. We teach the future doctors, the future mechanics, the future presidents and the future corporate giants. We teach them all.
Yet, we don’t teach with the intention of creating future greatness. We simply teach to inspire them to find whatever potential greatness may be hidden inside. If a student is able to find their passion and are inspired to find their life’s work, that is all we can hope for as teachers. Reading the letter from that former student about her aspirations to become an educator removed all doubt about the profession I have chosen. It forced me to reflect on why I chose the profession I did and also feel really good about the impact I had made on that one student. It is in those moments that I know I would recommend a career in education to everyone.
Actually, I take that back. I don't recommend everyone go into teaching because not everyone can do what we do. Not everyone can inspire, motivate and empower children like we do. Not everyone can shape the course of a community like teachers do. Maybe we should be thanking all of those educators who are resigning and retiring or choosing a different career path. Just maybe, at the end of the day, people who aren't sure about their choice are probably not the ones we want working with our children anyway.