Fellow educators, many of us on the front lines in the schools of America are bearing witness to “an awful moment” in the history of education. We are losing many soldiers, as the fight becomes too hard to bear. As many of you in education know, education is clearly supposed to be about the students. However, so often, teachers are caught up in a political quagmire of “who you know” and “what can you do for me.” There are booby traps that lie in wait for the well-meaning teachers, who are sabotaged by those who have lost “the light.” Quite frankly, there is often no way to gain promotional opportunities or to simply keep your fervor and love of teaching without learning to play nice in the heavily politicized war games that go on in each school across America.
This awful moment is made worse because the love of teaching dies hard. That said, often teachers stay in a very difficult and emotionally damaging situation because they are hopeful that simply focusing on the kids will make life and learning bearable. I am certain that each of you reading know teachers who have believed that if they simply put their noses to the grindstone and did the “important” work that needed to be done their supervisors, evaluators, and administrators would eventually come to their senses and thank them for their contributions. This is a thank you that may come for some but never arrives for most. However, there is a bright side to ending unhealthy relationships in education. There is beauty in letting go of the moment and reaching for the future.
Speaking of the future, it’s so hard to say goodbye to the “rose colored glasses” memories and moments that compel classroom educators to stay in a teaching situation when they should not. In a Boys to Men moment, I think it is much healthier for teachers to know and accept when they have come to the “End of the Road” in a school. More importantly, a well -equipped teacher should bask in their knowledge that, as apathy and ineptitude have crept into our profession, they are a free agent, who, in the spirit of LeBron James, can take their talents anywhere.
While we may reside a while in that “awful moment” where teachers are choosing to leave the profession all together, we must take heart in the fact that the desire to learn and teach can never be satiated. While there are those who choose to stay in very distressing teaching situations and suffer in silence, this piece calls for a moment of reflection. While there are so many teachers who are beaten down by the bureaucracy and red tape that keeps the educational conversations going about everything except sound instruction, there are leaders who are ready for the true work that needs to be done in education. While the meetings in schools rage on about the operations of the school, sports exploits, etc., teacher concerns are left behind.
Sadly, there are few meetings about the mental well-being and morale of the very important people who are tasked with educating the youth of America. This “moment’ is one that will witness exits from the lives of well-loved and would-be well- educated students by teachers who have simply had enough. Those of you who are choosing to hang on, it is time to stop and ask why is it “so hard to say goodbye” to data-driven demagogues who speak to our value added to the many “testables,” while overlooking our value to the lives of our students each day. It’s a short and pithy call to action, but it is a call to stop in this “moment” and realize your value and your worth. Free agency season is now open. Go out and get your well-earned peace of mind in a teaching environment where your skills are appreciated and rewarded.
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