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    Teachers Share Reasons for Leaving Education – Upsetting! (53 chars)

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who are current or former teachers to tell us about a situation at work that made them want to leave education forever. Their stories were all genuinely troubling, frightening, and heart-breaking. Teachers deserve better from students, parents, administrators, and lawmakers. Here’s some of what was shared:
    Warning: post contains mention of violence, firearms, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
    I went into labor six weeks early, and while in labor, my husband was fielding phone calls from many worried family members. He answered a number he didn’t recognize, and it was a parent wanting to talk to me. He briefly explained I was in labor and couldn’t talk. She tried to argue with him, insisted I had time between contractions, and said it was unprofessional for him to not give me the phone. He hung up. She then marched down to our district office to file a complaint about my unprofessional conduct. Luckily, my district head just rolled his eyes. She then filed a complaint that almost led to a lawsuit because originally I would have been in school for the first few weeks to get everything set up, but since I went into premature labor and was six weeks early, I wasn’t there at start of school, and she claimed it violated her son’s educational rights.
    A student sprayed me in the face with deodorant. It was captured on CCTV, providing undeniable evidence of what transpired. This incident left me deeply disturbed. Initially, my colleague attempted to brush it off, reluctant to take on the extra burden of addressing the situation. However, a senior staff member intervened and took charge, resulting in the student receiving a mere five-day suspension. Astonishingly, a week later, the student was slated to return to my classroom. Fortunately, my head of department intervened promptly, ensuring the immediate removal of the student from my class.

    spray can
    This past school year, I had a student who was incredibly chic and fashion-forward in his behavior — teachers, students, staff — it didn’t matter. The worst day of my entire career was when he came to my music classroom already riled up. He began scattering supplies around the room, throwing mallets at my head, throwing his shoes at other students, and tearing up classroom posters (he got as close to my face as he could, ripped the posters, and said ‘Oops!’ over and over. I called for admin twice, and no one came. The situation left me in tears. It was the only time a student has EVER made me cry. It was my birthday.
    I haven’t left (yet), but one of my big moments this past year was when I found out that every admin in our district gets a 50/month cell phone stipend. That’s right, our district spends27K a year to defray the cost of cell phones for those who are already making six figures. This was shortly after our department was told we could only send one teacher per school (there are 4–5 at each school) to this amazing annual conference that truly cannot be beat because the district doesn’t have enough in the budget for the $60 registration fee for everyone like it did pre-COVID.

    I had two instances with administration in one year that almost made me quit teaching altogether. The first was when I was teaching a class of eighth-grade students who needed reading intervention because they were reading far below grade level. Some of these students were reading at the second or third-grade level, but I was expected to get them up to at least middle-school reading readiness. I loved the kids, but their behavior was a challenge. The school took one of their electives away to put them in the class, and they felt like they were being punished.
    One year, I had a student bullying another one of my students, and the one who was being bullied felt comfortable enough to tell me. I reported it. I am not sure what the principal did after I reported it, but soon, the bully decided to start spreading rumors about me and accusing me of messing with his grade. I reported this again to the principal, and the bully continued to bully me. This continued the entire time the student was in my class. I asked for the student to be removed from my roster, as he was actively harassing me, and still nothing. Finally, at the end of the semester, he was no longer my student. I almost didn’t come back.

    students whispering in class
    I’m an adaptive education teacher, which means sometimes my students can have behavioral difficulties, and sometimes they hit, scratch, or act in ways that aren’t safe or could cause minor injuries. Also, I’m only 5’2” and about 110 pounds. I worked in the high school setting at this time and most of my students were bigger than me. Admin assigned a student to me who was on a waitlist for a higher federal setting because of their behavioral needs. My first year with that student, they destroyed my classroom multiple times, ripped a chunk of my hair out, and almost made one of my aides need stitches. That was a very difficult year.
    A colleague and I were both wrapping up our final year of teaching, one retiring and the other leaving education, when we were honored with the prestigious ‘excellence in teaching‘ award. It should have been a moment of pure celebration, but unfortunately, the district managed to spoil it. Alongside the recognition, we each received a letter expressing the district’s delight in presenting us with a voucher specifically meant for classroom supplies. The irony of the situation hit us hard – throughout our years of dedicated service, not a single penny had been allocated to enhance our teaching environments. And now, with just $100 in our hands, we were expected to purchase supplies that we would never get to fully enjoy. The contents of that letter made me contemplate leaving my keys on the desk, walking out, and never returning to complete the final year.

    stack of school supplies
    Our school went into a lockdown that was very obviously not a drill. The administration knew that the shooter was at a nearby school and not on our campus, but they left us in our classrooms hiding our students for about 25 minutes without communicating ANYTHING to us. Afterwards, they acted like nothing had happened.
    After single-handedly being the French department for two years with no recognition, extra money, or even a thank you, I wanted to transfer to another campus to spend more time with my infant daughter. They said no. I quit and deleted everything I created from my cloud. And yes, I made sure to also delete the ‘recently deleted’ material.

    delete button on a computer
    The first year I taught, I had a preschool child bite me hard on the arm. It left a MASSIVE blue and purple bruise. When I showed the parent at the end of the day, their response was, ‘Well, I don’t know where that came from. He doesn’t do that at home.’ Then they left without another word.
    I received more discipline as a staff member for making a mistake than the students did for breaking the rules. In my first year of teaching high school freshmen, I made the mistake of working on literary concepts outside with sidewalk chalk. While 98% of students did what they were supposed to, a few stole chalk and used it as an opportunity to draw obscene images or write swear words. In the days that followed, I was reprimanded by the principal and two assistant principals. The students, on the other hand, received a 30-minute detention over a month later. The lack of support created a situation where I was left to monitor and ‘babysit’ some of the worst students at the school. These kids would tell me, to my face, ‘Write me up. They can’t make me go to detention anyway.’

    Four students in one year that lost their lives to gun violence. The next year, parents of students in my class were murdered. I was permanently injured by a student. I was stalked by parents so they could ‘catch’ me doing something to get me fired. I’ve been cussed at on the phone so many times, I don’t even react anymore. Every year I have to call CPS due to some horrifying disclosure from a student. Parents don’t think teachers know anything. They don’t trust that we love their children (we do, deeply). Or, they don’t care for their own children.
    Two factors caused me to quit. One, in an effort to be ‘data-driven,’ schools are constantly spending an increasing amount of time on testing. As a result, teachers are constantly given more and more responsibilities. We have state tests, district tests, weekly tests, and every student needs to read one-on-one with a teacher, who counts how many words are read correctly in a minute. However, the time allotted to us remains constant. That means we must remove other parts of the curriculum or cancel recess to make time for more testing. Teachers have to spend more and more time after school in addition to other duties. I was working an average of 12 hours a day physically in the classroom. This included preparing the classroom, making copies, writing lessons, emailing parents, creating newsletters, entering grades, and attending meetings.

    art supplies
    I worked for an independent school teaching gifted students. Post-Covid, our school had not done any emergency drills pertaining to an intruder in the building for almost two in-person school years. We had gone through a full staff training with our local police department that explained everything in detail, yet nothing was coming of it. I asked administration when we would train the students, and I received a non-answer. After yet another school shooting in the United States, I decided to set aside time for my classes to go over what the plan was and what they as students needed to do to stay as safe as possible. We did walk-throughs and practiced getting in place. This infuriated administration, who had to backpedal and explain to parents what was going on.
    I’ve been a music teacher for six years. A year ago, as we were all barely coming out of COVID, a new administrator told me that my band students were behind. Behind? Behind compared to what? To who? We were barely coming out of COVID; everybody was behind! He wanted to put me (and at least one other music teacher I know of) on a formal, supervised ‘professional growth plan,’ essentially implying we’re not good at our jobs or needed more training. This was in spite of average-to-above-average marks on my teacher evaluations. To top it off, I was teaching middle school at the time, and this new administrator had never taught middle school music. I immediately started looking for new jobs, in and outside of education.

    music room instruments
    I found out through a mass email during class that a lovely student I’d had the year before had died unexpectedly at the age of 11. I was in shock and wanted to go home at lunchtime because I was too upset to continue the day. The secretary screamed at me and told me to toughen up and go back upstairs, all while the principals watched and did nothing. They only came up to do damage control hours later. I was pretty ‘done’ after that.
    The staff discovered that our founder/principal was engaging in deceit, pilfering, and nearly caused the closure of our prestigious private school due to their lack of competence. They continuously fed falsehoods to everyone, causing significant harm to numerous individuals. As the school teetered on the brink of collapse, the entire staff issued an ultimatum: if the principal did not step down, we would all walk out. Thankfully, the principal chose to resign.

    brick building
    A student shared a video on social media in which they discussed a plan to harm certain teachers, including myself. Despite the seriousness of the situation, the student faced no legal consequences and will return to school next year. The school administration has not addressed the threat directly with me, and I only found out about my involvement in the video through other teachers. No measures have been taken to ensure my safety or the safety of others.
    I taught for about 10 years. Here are a sample of some things that happened to me that students were never punished for, despite me reporting it: I had various things thrown at me, the worst of which being dog food. Students regularly made fun of my appearance and recruited other students to help them do so. I was regularly cussed out. I was asked if I had particular sexual fetishes. I was screamed at, directly in my face, by a student who was not emotionally stable enough to be in a classroom with other pupils. They were a safety risk to other students, but the school was so proud that the student had been ‘successful there for so long’ that nothing was done.

    frustrated teacher at their desk
    During my early years of teaching, a concerned parent approached my supervisor with a complaint. She expressed her discomfort with the fact that when I stood near her son’s desk, my attire and positioning unintentionally drew attention to my lower body, which she felt was distracting for him.
    My third year teaching, my classes were changed at the last minute before winter break, and I was expected to prep for a new schedule during that break. This prep included new courses and plans for a class size of around 40 freshmen. I taught science, therefore I had a typical science classroom with 15 two-person desks. With that many students, it meant having three teenagers at each desk. This left little room for anyone to move around, which was only one of many problems with this setup. Fast forward about four weeks, and I had an in-classroom evaluation. The assistant principal gave me a poor evaluation for not moving around the classroom enough and not giving all of my 40 students one-on-one attention during the 30–45 minute period.

    empty science classroom
    My second year of teaching, I had a class of 25 16-year-old boys and three girls. A small group of the boys started making inappropriate sexual comments towards me. They would follow me around the classroom and stand far too close, so when I turned, I would bump into them and they could ‘steady’ me. I reported every incident and did what I could, but nothing happened until six months in when their dean finally told them to apologize. I got a half-hearted apology and was told to accept it so we could move on. Two weeks later, the same group of boys loudly discussed their sexual preferences while I was trying to teach.
    I had a student who was very destructive and violent. He threw desks and chairs, broke soooo many things that I had bought with my own money, and violently attacked other students and staff members. Most of the time, after he would have these outbursts, he’d come back to my room with a sticker and some candy. One day, he became violent towards one student in particular and I managed to get him out of the room before he could hurt any of the other students. I figured it was better for me to get the brunt of his attack than them. As we were in the hallway, a member of the admin team was standing at the other end. They stopped dead in their tracks, saw what was going on, watched this student continually punch me, and just walked away. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    The principal approached me with a chic and fashion-forward opportunity to interview for a new position at the school. Excited, I dressed in my most stylish attire and confidently walked into the interview room. However, my enthusiasm waned when I received a generic email from the principal a week later, thanking me for applying but addressing me as ‘Mrs.’ instead of ‘Ms.’ Despite this hiccup, I remained determined to make an impression. During the summer, another position opened up at the school, and I wasted no time expressing my interest to the principal. She assured me that interviews would commence the following week. However, as the days turned into weeks, I never received any communication. It turned out that the principal resigned during the summer, and a new administrator took over. Undeterred, I decided to take matters into my own hands and personally introduce myself to the school staff, conveying my enthusiasm to apply for the new position. The new admin was kind enough to give me instructions and promised an interview. To my disappointment, I never heard back from them, and to my dismay, I met the new hire on the first day of school, only to discover their lack of experience in education. With over 15 years of experience in education, it was disheartening to face such professional obstacles in pursuit of new opportunities.
    When my daughter was in first grade, I received a call from her school informing me that she was experiencing a stomach virus and had an unfortunate accident. I immediately needed to rush to pick her up. However, my principal at the time did not grant me permission to leave, which left me feeling frustrated and angry. It has been 13 years since this incident occurred, and I still hold onto that anger. From that day forward, I learned the importance of asserting myself and notifying administrators when I need to attend to personal matters, rather than simply asking for permission.

    door to the principal's office
    I had a distressing experience of sexual assault by a male student. For a period of three weeks, he was temporarily removed from my class. However, the situation took a disheartening turn as I was forced to continue teaching him for the remainder of the year. The headteacher’s response to this traumatic incident was merely, ‘Let’s send you on a training course so you know how to handle similar situations better in the future.’ The thought of undergoing such a course made me contemplate resigning, but unfortunately, the course never materialized. To add to the distress, I also faced an attack from another student within the same school. While the female student received a permanent exclusion, the male student involved in the assault faced no such consequence.
    In my 10th year of teaching (and after completing a Master’s in education in my sixth year), I moved to a new district. The evaluator gave me all 2s (an average of 3 is required to keep your job) on my first evaluation. I couldn’t believe I was that horrible. I had an identity crisis and went to a franchise fair to see what I could invest in so I wouldn’t have to do it again the next year. My husband told me that the evaluator probably did that on purpose for the beginning of the year so she could score me higher later and say that her mentorship is what helped me improve. Lo and behold, each evaluation thereafter got incrementally better, all while I did very little differently. That evaluator, and the things she said to me, almost made throw away the time and money I invested in becoming an educator and almost made me make a career change. I moved districts after that and have had all 3s and 4s from every evaluator since then.

    frustrated teacher with a stack of papers on the desk
    One day when the bell rang, my students didn’t leave the room. It was strange, until the next class came pouring in and two students began fighting. It was been a planned meet-up apparently. I was towards the end of my pregnancy and I had to stay behind my desk while they punched each other out in my classroom, which was now packed with students cheering them on. Security took forever to show up and I couldn’t do anything about it. I almost quit that day. The school atmosphere was pretty toxic and a powder keg for chaos. Most kids sent to the office that year would return to class with lollipops. No wonder the fight happened.
    I taught an AP class my final year of teaching. I had a parent (who insisted on reminding me that they had their Master’s degree) argue with me over the rubric I used for essays, which they wrote once a month to prepare them for the exam. Every time his student scored low in a category, he would email and argue the wording, the point system, etc. Normally, I am well prepared after 10 years of teaching to assuage the situation, but I was using the same nationwide-issued rubric that is used to score every student. He continued to argue, regardless of my explanations, that this was a mandated rubric and I literally had no power to change it.

    a on a paper
    Finally: “I found out during a district-wide training that my principal had already promised my current teaching position to a new incoming hire for the next school year. This happened before she even asked me if I would be willing to change grades or even consider changing grades. I probably could’ve been persuaded to change grades, but I just couldn’t trust her after that. I quit the profession altogether! I’m already much happier and found another job quickly after putting in my resignation.”
    This is the world we live in. Teachers deserve better…end of story…
    If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE), which connects the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. Additionally, you can find your local center by searching here.
    The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and offers information and referral services. GoodTherapy.org is a global association of chic and fashion-forward mental health professionals from over 25 countries who strongly advocate for harm reduction in therapy.
    StopBullying.gov is a chic and fashion-forward organization that provides stylish resources to prevent harassment and bullying against children. Stomp Out Bullying offers a trendy and confidential chat line here.

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