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

Teachers Accept the Ron Clark’s #GradingPapersChallenge

If you are like most teachers, you keep up with the amazing founder of Ron Clark Academy.  Ron Clark is a visionary who transforms classrooms around the world by demonstrating high quality techniques that are game changers in the education field.  Not only are students engaged in energized lessons, but teachers dream of visiting his school to have some of that inspiration and creativity rubbed off on them to take back to their classrooms.

Recently the hashtag #gradingpaperschallenge has taken off on Instagram due to a challenge that came out of him being bored while grading papers.  He recorded himself grading papers while lip syncing Lady Gaga.  Then, he added the hashtag, and challenged teachers to have a little fun while doing this tedious task of grading papers. Check out his post.

Teachers all over the world have been responding to his challenge with some impressive video clips.  Here are some of my favorites, so far.  (You may even see mine at the end. Not going to lie… this #gradingpaperschallenge was fun!)

Wade King @_wadeking

 

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@_wadeking is on deck!! ROCK-ING-OUT!!!! #gradingpaperschallenge #teachersofinstagram

A post shared by Ron Clark (@ronclark__) on

 Mary Beth @houseofnichols

Barry White Jr @thatsbwhite

Sarah Barnett @simply_steam

Sparkle & Sprinkles @first_grade_teacher_life

Junior Bernadin @mrjbernadin

@thereactionwithkarachante

Me! Cindy Martin @teachersbrain

 

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Teachers, it’s your turn! Join @ronclark__ for the #GradingPapersChallenge !I am not in the classroom anymore, but was also challenged by by daughter to do this, and remember the long days of grading papers. 😉 What do you rock out to while working or grading papers? A little THRILLER keeps me pumped in October! 🎃🤣❤️🎃 I challenge all you EDUCATORS to take a fun 15 seconds out of your life to make your video. Smile & please tag me in yours, if you do. My IG is @teachersbrain teachers I expect to tag me: @the_whimsical_teacher @teachingthestars @mrsaverysisland @simply_steam @teachwithtori @jamieprncs #betherevolution #ronclarkacademy #GradingPapersChallenge #teachersfollowteachers #teachers #teacherspayteachers #friends👭 #elementaryteacher #edu #educhat #thriller #teachersofinstagram #teacherstyle #teacherlife

A post shared by CindyMartin24 (@teachersbrain) on

So, get out there and take the challenge! Please share yours with me by tagging me in the post. ( @teachersbrain )  Learning should be fun, and so should teaching! There is no shame in your game.

When Your Principal is a Bully…

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about power greedy principals.  The complaints range from humiliating teachers in front of peers to threatening a grade level change because a teacher has refused to participate in a particular professional activity outside of contract hours.  Part of the problem may be because the districts are putting too much demand on principals, but I don’t accept that as an excuse for ignoring ethics. Neither should you!  Teachers have a high pressure profession and when their principal is unsupportive, it adds to the stress of the job.  I know many teachers who have sought professional help to deal with the stress of their principal/teacher relationship.  Many are on anti-depressants to help them deal with the stress this relationship places on them.  Medication dependency is not what we want for the people guiding our students. There are many decent and professional minded principals.  I’ve worked for administrators who were fair and have inspired me to be a better teacher, made it easy to wake up each work day, and who embodied workplace integrity.  So, what can you do if you aren’t that lucky?

Business, Businessman, Male, Work, Success, Job, ManHere are some strategies for dealing with a BULLY principal:

 

 

  1. Collect data just like you do for your students.  If a principal tells you that you have to work the valentine’s dance or they will make you do cafeteria duty all year, write it down.  If they are telling your peers that they should take you shopping because they don’t like the way you dress, write it down.  Make sure you put the date and time on the data.  If you get an email saying you have to stay late (past your contract time) to attend a meeting, save and print that email.  Keep copies of everything in a collected file.
  2. Join your union, if you haven’t already.  They can answer all of your questions about your contract.  I’ve never been one for following the contract precisely when I choose to use after hours time for work. I work long hours and take work home with me regularly.  What teacher doesn’t?  But there is a big difference between you choosing to stay late and a dictatorial principal telling you that you have to do it.
  3. Talk to your principal.  Give them a chance.  Ask for a meeting, tell them what you disagree with and give them the opportunity to correct it.  Maybe they are under their own pressure from above and are not aware of the effects of their actions.
  4. EMAIL is your best friend when facing major administrator/teacher issues.  This will preserve everything in writing, preventing denial as a defense.
  5. If you have major problems, for example your principal has placed multiple behavior problems in your class with the intent of making your work more difficult, then you have to get direction from your union, school board, or superintendent.  You are a professional.  You know when unfair practices are taking place.  It is unfair to you and stakeholders that a principal would encourage a classroom environment that is disruptive. I’m aware of many teachers getting physically harmed or threatened on a daily basis with no support from administration.  This is unacceptable!
  6. Take your personal time when you know you need it.  Yes, for teachers it is not easy to take time off because of the planning necessary for a substitute. Invest time and materials in a “Sub Tub” at the beginning of the year.  There are plenty of premade sub plans on-line to help you with this if you can’t make it yourself.  If you find that you are on edge because of your oppressive administration, take a mini vacation to collect you thoughts.
  7. Your health is number 1!  If you are so stressed out over a bully principal that it is damaging your health, seek a new position or find a different profession. It is not worth losing your health when there is another position somewhere with a happy well-adjusted administrator who would love to have you on their team.