Why I Left the Classroom

Why I left Teaching
Why I Left the Classroom

The Struggle

I am so thankful for everything that is part of my life right now including you!  My life is drastically different than it was a couple years ago!  I’ve never talked about it openly because I was fearful, insecure, and riddled with anxiety.

A couple years ago, it was my 20th year of teaching.  My son was in 5th grade at our school.  For me, it was a year of H-E (double hockey sticks!)  For the first time in my career, I had a principal who hated me. Still not sure why.  Not only did she hate me, but she got the rest of the staff, who I considered my family for 18 years, to pretty much dislike and/or avoid me too.  I was threatened with my evaluation, lied to, challenged with impossible tasks, given 5 MAJOR behavior problem students who physically hurt me and the other children regularly, and faced life-threatening health problems because of the stress.  Prior to the last year, I had been a well-liked and highly effective teacher who loved her career path.

Depression

Without going into a lot of detail, I suffered from depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety/panic attacks.  For the first time, I had been broken.  My mind, my spirit, and my body were broken!  I consider myself lucky that prior to that difficult year, I had never been on any kind of prescription drugs.  But I knew after waking up in fetal position next to my husband, crying that I didn’t want to go to school, and losing 16 lbs. in one week due to stress, that I had to give in to what my Dr. suggested…  A good therapist and drugs.  I was on anti-depressants, blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medication, and XANAX!  So basically, I was drugging myself to go to work. I even developed an eye twitch.  If I wasn’t at work, I was fine, but the thought of going every morning would begin a cycle that was dangerous to my health.  I fought it because I wanted to stay in the classroom.  I loved the students and figured I could transfer the next school year.  It was important to me to be there for my own son who was in 5th grade.  But, even on the medication, I continued to be harassed.

Abuse

After getting beat with a chair again, punched in the stomach, calling the front office for help, and realizing no one was coming to help me, I knew I had to leave the classroom.  Seeing the scared faces and hearing the ear-piercing screams of the other kindergarten students as they watched their teacher get hit repeatedly, shook me to the core.  I knew the only reason they were in this situation was because the principal didn’t like me.  So, I had to remove myself.  Now, if you question, why didn’t you report it? Why didn’t you collect data on the principal? etc.… Let me tell you, I did.  On doctors orders, I left two months before the school year was over.  I still had to pick up my son at school, so Xanax to the rescue. I dealt with a staff who wanted to know what was wrong with me, and because I wasn’t ready to tell them, they made up their own inaccurate stories of why I left my dream career.

My husband planned several mini vacations because I was told to relax.  I know he was thinking this was the end of the wife he knew when we married.  These getaways were frowned upon by staff (according to the county investigator’s report) because I was on sick leave.  Little did everyone know the pain I was suffered from because WHY would I post that on Facebook?  In hindsight, I should have never posted pictures of me relaxing on social media.  But, in my defense, at the time I was on medication. Maybe it was also the need to let people know that I wasn’t completely broken too.

The LAST STRAW

It wasn’t until my son’s 5th grade graduation where his Certificate of Completion was conveniently removed from the pile that I pushed for a harassment investigation with the school board.  Seeing her smirking face as my son sat alone in a row as his friends got their certificate knowing she was behind it as my son signaled to us that he was okay was a total mind-blowing experience.  I had to beg my husband to leave before he made a scene as anger filled his “un-Xanaxed” body. Other parents were stunned, taking video and making noises to get staff’s attention that a student was forgotten.  I had to stand up to tell them they forgot my son.  Anyway, an investigation was done which amounted to nothing even though 9 other teachers came forward with their painful stories of harassment they endured from the principal.

The New Chapter

After that experience, even though I was offered other jobs, I decided I could not go back to teaching in this district.  I took me about 6 months to wane by body off all the medication that was mandatory for my survival.  Crazy how stress can mess up your entire body!  I tell you this story for two reasons. One is if you are experiencing anything like this, you can know that you can come out of it stronger than you were prior to the experience.  That you can find confidence, security, and begin a new beautiful chapter to your life.  I found a love and passion for making educational resources that I didn’t know existed.  Through this experience, I developed strategies to build my confidence back up and to become healthy again. Keep up with this blog in the future, and I will share some of the strategies that helped me.  I would have never left the classroom to discover this passion without that crazy experience. The second reason is I want you to know that YOU are part of my new chapter.  I love making teaching resources and helping teachers like you save time and money.  This is one reason why I offer freebies and discounts regularly.  Thank you for being there for me and for your students! My heart will always be in education. I value you!

Here is a Forever FREEBIE:

Spaceman Finger Spacing for Writing
Spaceman Finger Spacing Tool for Writing

Christmas Themed Days in the Classroom with The Polar Express

I don’t know if you like or LOVE themed days in your classroom, but I LIVED for them!  Themes get kids excited, which can be exhausting, BUT, they get them engaged.  Don’t get upset when your kids are loud and jumping with excitement.  When they are excited to learn, especially when they are having so much fun they don’t even know your academic objectives, is when you can pat yourself on the back knowing you are Teacher OF THE YEAR!  My favorite theme that I used most of my career was The Polar Express.  The story is perfect for squashing any “non-Santa believer’s” verbal language with other students who want the magic still.  I’ve also used a Winter Frozen theme and a Movie Theater themed day.

The Polar Express

I’ll walk you through my typical Polar Express day.  Parents are asked to send in hot chocolate, marshmallows, and dress the kiddos in their school appropriate PJs. (Make sure you get your principal’s permission first.) In the morning, students arrive to a chalk or taped train track on the floor leading to my classroom door.  At the door, they are greeted by a crazy conductor (ME), who wants to collect money or items in exchange for a golden ticket.  This is really fun!  It is also the time I tell parents to come and take photos.  I joke around telling kids to get some money from their parents, and then settle for a shoe or pencil in exchange for a ticket.

Polar Express Ideas

When the students enter the room, they hear train sounds, see the chairs in rows (like a train), smell hot chocolate in the air, and are instructed to stay on in their train seats with their

Golden Tickets for The Polar Express

golden ticket.  After they settle, we review rules for the day.  I take out a hole punch to ask for each person’s golden ticket.  I pretend to punch holes in the ticket by excitedly putting the tickets under my let, over my head or behind my back making the clicking sound.  You can either collect the tickets and reuse them every year, or allow them to take them home for a keepsake.

 

We read the book first.  I tell them that the movie came out after the book.  Students are encouraged to find differences when they watch the movie.  We talk about characters, settings, problem and solutions.  We talk about the author’s purpose.  During the week they do various writing activities, but the main themed day is about keeping the excitement all day, so focus on the fun.  I tell students they are going on the imagination express to take their seats on the train.  After beginning the movie, I have a little cart that I keep the hot cocoa on that has wheels.  When the part of the movie comes on where the kids get cocoa, I roll out the cart, I DANCE, yes, DANCE around like crazy.  Before I got to old, I did cartwheels!  This is always the part of the day that the kids go home telling their parents about.  I have a hot cocoa maker that I use every year that makes a whole pot of cocoa.  I make it really strong and then, mix it with water so it is not too hot.

Hot Cocoa Time

After The Movie

After the kids watch the movie, we do a Venn Diagram to compare the book and the movie.  I hold a bell up and ring it.  I pretend like I can’t hear it, because I must be too old or not a believer.  (Sniff Sniff)  The rest of the day we make crafts, sing holiday songs, and usually write a letter to Santa.  This way I can send the letters home to help the parents out with some gift ideas.  If you are looking for a fun themes holiday day, The Polar Express just may be your ticket!

Mr. Coffee Cocomotion Hot Chocolate Maker

Polar Express Activities for Writing and Author's Purpose