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

Read Across America Ideas

Dr. Seuss is the perfect author to inspire students of all ages to read.  As teachers, we love to share his work during Read Across America Week and to celebrate his birthday with March activities.

Here are some great ideas to help you inspire your students with reading themed activities.

Red fish

One Fish , Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is a classic delightful book that helps students with colors and counting skills.  Have students make their own colored fish to display in the room.

Oh The Places

Read Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.  Then, have students make their own hot air balloon craft.  They can even write about where they would go.  I like to use tissue paper or wallpaper squares to decorate the balloon.

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Wacky Wednesday is a fun way to spend a Wednesday during Read Across America with Dr. Seuss.  While the students are at lunch or recess, make your classroom “wacky” by changing the clock, hanging things like shoes from the ceiling, putting socks inside the tissue box or turning a desk upside down.  Then, have students see how many “wacky” items they can find out of place.  They can play rhyming games this day or make a “wacky” animal using different animal body parts.

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How about these cute Halloween printable glasses?  You can easily turn them into something creative during the week for students to wear during reading time.  Tell them that the glasses are magical and help them to focus on the story you are reading.

Invite a guest in who dresses up like one of the characters from Dr. Seuss’ books to read to the class. Make sure to have a CRAZY SOCK day also to go with the Fox in Socks books.  I also like to ask students to send in their favorite Seuss books to share with each other during reading time.  I have them find rhyming words in the books.   They love it!

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Ask parents to send in a special treat for a day like these yummy Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes.  Make task cards with Seuss colors like this WHAT CAN I DO WHEN I’M DONE for Early Finishers.

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Of course, no Read Across America celebration would be complete without making Green Eggs and Ham with your students. (Check for allergies first.)  I had my students make these hats out of paper plates.  No matter what, have fun with your students this week.  This is a great week for students to explore new words, use their imaginations, and feel inspired to read a good book!

 

Sources for Printables: http://bit.ly/2HLe8s3

Groundhog Day in K!

Groundhog Day is celebrated in America on February 2 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The legend is that the groundhog comes out of his burrow and if it sees it’s shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather.  If it is cloudy and there is no shadow, it is an indication of an early spring.  Each year we create crafts and make predictions about groundhogs in my kindergarten class.  Here are some ideas:Slide22

  1. Pass out sticky notes and have a chart to make predictions on if the groundhog will see it’s shadow or not on February 2.
  2. Go to the Groundhog Web site to share the history of Punxsutawney Phil and watch the video LIVE STREAM of Punxsutawney.   http://www.groundhog.org/ (You can see the replay here also.)
  3. Use this FREE coloring printable for students to engage in for fine motor skills.
  4. Sing Groundhog Day Poem (Tune: Frere Jacques)Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day

    Is near

    Is near

    Will he see his shadow

    Will he see his shadow

    And disappear

    Disappear

  5. You can make the whole day relate to groundhogs by using activities in all subject areas in this GROUNDHOG DAY UNIT.

Make it a fun day! Students remember connections, not lessons.

Interactive WORD WALL – Dry Erase

Are you still displaying a dull word wall that just stays glued to the wall all year, adding words, and hoping the kids look at it during their literacy time?  Time to step up your game.  Students need to touch, feel and interact with a Word Wall.  This has been one of the best tools to teach reading and writing in my room since I changed my old way of using a Word Wall.  Just print, laminate and hang letter squares in an area that is easy to grab it from the wall, take it to their learning area, and then they can put it back on the wall.  Oh no, the words erased?  That’s okay!  If they do, ask a helper to put the words back on the board.  It may look a little messy, but it is in use, exciting, and empowering them to use those sight words.  I keep a small print out of the words next to the word wall for them to use, if they erase, so they can easily rewrite it correctly.  They could even ask a friend.   You can always fix it at the end of the week, if you worry about neatness.  Here are some tips for using an interactive Word Wall:

Mrs. Kaney using her Interactive Word Wall in First Grade
  •  I like to play games with the squares. Sometimes I mix the letters up, and see if the students catch the mix up. Then, I offer them a little award for being a good “Letter Detective.”
  • Another game I play is called, Swat the Sight Word. This is where I group students in two lines, give fly swatters and call out a word on the Word Wall. They both try to “Swat” the word and whoever gets there first wins a point for the team.
  • I highlight the vowels on the Word Wall, so dry erase word wall square coverstudents can easily identify them.
  • After laminating, make sure you leave a small portion around the paper when cutting to ensure moisture never gets into our paper.
  • Use Cardstock or glue to poster board to make it last longer.
  • We make up songs to go with each letter sound.  “A, /a/ /a/ /a/ Apple, B….
  • “Box Up” the words, by drawing lines to show (low, high and medium) letters.  We say the word.  Then spell it with body movement. (squat down for low letters (like g), hands by your sides for medium letters (like e), and hands up high for tall letters (like t).
  • Find word families.
  • Don’t stick just to sight words.  Students love to learn ROBUST VOCABULARY WORDS! (For example,  hysterical or words from their interest areas like Survival or Creeper.)  You will be surprised at how often they use them even in kindergarten!