“Raise my children!” Then, “How dare you raise my children!”

The following is a post from my brother. He is, or was, a teacher. Today is the last day of his teaching career. He is retiring due to medical reasons, and if it wasn’t for his illness he would still be teaching. But on the day of his retirement, he decided to let it all out on the state of teaching in our society today.

Today is the end of my teaching career. I am retiring early because my cancer treatment has made it impossible for me to teach. Today I am officially retired.

This means I get my last name back! I can actually post things online using my real name again. Man, oh man, what a ridiculous profession. I love it. I loved teaching. But man, the current state of teaching is fucked up. There’s no other way to put it.

Teachers are besieged on all sides. Yes, there are regular mass shootings where one teacher is responsible for protecting 30 children from a person with an assault rifle using only our hole punchers and staplers. Cops with body armor won’t engage these guys with AR-15s but teachers will. Teachers will and have died to protect other peoples children. And we do it without thinking. It’s just our instinct. Like the instinct of a parent protecting their own child.

But honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceburg. We are asking teachers to raise our children more than ever and our favorite thing to do is to get pissed at them for raising our children. “Raise our children!” And then almost immediately afterwards, “how dare you raise our children”.

In the age of social media and divisive politics, where more people get their news from social media than any other source, where most people won’t even identify let alone consider the source of an article or the evidence it uses to support its claims, where people actually believe and repost articles after only reading its headline, parents have become emboldened to tell their children’s teachers what they can and cannot teach. Most of the time when a parent complained about something in the curriculum they have no idea what the fuck they are talking about. We are smack dab in the middle of one of the most dangerous anti-intellectual movements in our country’s history. Everyone thinks they know everything. If a teacher, an expert in their fields, teaches anything that disagrees with some headline you read specifically designed to anger you whilst you scroll on your lunch break, that teacher should be fired. That’s how much respect our society has for the teaching profession. We respect it less than a headline from brietbart.

Critical race theory is a great example. Critical race theory says that you can still see the effects of slavery on our modern society. That’s all it says. And it’s absolutely true. But if a teacher teaches it, they are the devil and should be fired. I had a parent tell me I can’t teach about the history, practices and beliefs of Islam in world cultures class. It’s the second largest and fastest growing religion in the world. If I teach about Islam I should be fired.

Don’t say the word trump. If you say the word trump, you should be fired. (It doesn’t matter if you are pro trump or anti trump).

Do not post anything on social media. At least not under your real name. Someone else posted a picture of me at a bar AFTER school one Friday and my boss wanted to fire me. I wasn’t even holding an alcoholic beverage. It was St Patrick’s Day. I’m Irish. My middle name is Patrick, for Jimmy crickets sake. If I don’t go to a bar on St Patrick’s day, I’ll probably be excommunicated from the church. Don’t go to a bar after school or you should be fired.

Don’t you dare touch a child. I was having fun one day and passing out textbooks. I kind of tossed one to a kid beyond my reach. The book lightly hit his finger. He was not injured and I immediately apologized. They wanted to fire me. I’m very animated. I believe teaching is a performance. If you’re in the front row you may get spat on accidentally. I did accidentally spit on a student while teaching one day. They wanted to fire me. They ended up requiring me to go to counseling.

Teaching is amazing, when you are actually teaching, but over half the job has nothing to do with teaching lessons. We are now case managers. The amount of paperwork that we require teachers to do is suffocating. It’s beyond overwhelming. I’ve got 130ish students I’m responsible for at any given time. It used to be we just gave them grades. 10-20% of my students have been diagnosed with some sort of learning or behavioral disability. For those students you can multiply the paperwork by ten. As the teacher of record you are legally responsible for providing accommodations for those students. Sounds easy enough but when you realize you’ve got 27 students, 5 of which require individual specialized accommodations which you must provide while simultaneously teaching the other 22 students a lesson, it becomes extremely challenging if not impossible. And, of course, if you don’t provide every accommodation every time, you should not only be fired, but you should go to jail.

Student support team reports, individual education plans, 504s, Student Learning Outcomes, teacher development plans, coverage duty, chaperone duty, lunch duty, bus duty, team meetings, department meetings, staff meetings, quarterly monitoring reports, domain four portfolios, extracurricular activities, active shooter trainings, homeless child training, equity trainings, gender and racial equality trainings, physical abuse trainings, money handling procedures trainings, blood born pathogen trainings, required continuing education college courses. They make us keep going to college. I had a masters degree plus 30 additional credits when I started teaching but to maintain my certification I had to take three college course every five years. And they don’t pay for it. These are all examples of non-teaching responsibilities which just bury and overwhelm new teachers under their crushing weight. And if you don’t do one of them, you guessed it, you should be fired.

We love to complain about the quality of the people entering the profession, but we also are constantly attacking and lessening teacher compensation, and bargaining rights, ensuring that getting quality applicants will be more and more difficult.

Teachers are the devil to some people. How is that possible? How is it possible that a person who is willing to go through all of the above just to enrich your children’s lives is worthy of your hatred? How could someone convince you of this? How could teachers become the scapegoat for our society’s problems? We have so many problems in our society. And we seem paralyzed to fix any of them. Teachers are among the super small minority of people in our society that are actively fighting to make our society a better place. They get up every day and pour their entire souls into making our society a better place. They are overworked. They are underpaid. How have you been convinced that they are the problem? How easily manipulated are you that someone has convinced you that these amazing people who just want to teach your children skills and content they’ll need to succeed, and are willing to go through so much for very little pay to do it, are somehow the problem? I leave the profession in serious trouble.

But man, let me tell you, there is nothing like teaching kids. Give me a classroom, a curriculum and a group of kids, and close the door and leave me alone. I loved it. I was not a not a normal teacher. I wanted to have fun with my students. I was loud. So loud. You could hear me teach a lesson from the end of the hallway. Teachers would all close their doors when I got really excited. I’d throw desks when talking about wooly mammoths. I knew my content and I loved working with kids. And that’s all that mattered to me.

I made administrators so nervous. I was never asked to mentor other teachers. My teaching style cannot be found in any book or college course. I wanted to have fun. I loved my subject. I knew my subject inside and out. And I had the mental maturity of an 11 year old. And even though my style was never endorsed, say what you want, it worked. My students learned. And yes, I demonstrated this fact through the required data. It would have been much easier on the administrators if I was bad at teaching. Maybe they would’ve succeeded in firing me if that were the case. I bet some of them were shocked and saddened that my methods worked so well. Regardless, it wasn’t a style they wanted to endorse for whatever reason.

I’m not really ready to leave. I wasn’t planning on it. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I want to keep teaching but I can’t. I loved it. Thank you to all the amazing teachers I worked with. thank you to all the students that were brave enough to share a classroom with me. Thank you to all the parents who I supported and who supported me. I love you all.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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