A brutally honest kindergarten teacher shares five reasons why she quit the profession
This article originally appeared on 11.04.19
Teachers in modern-day America face a whole host of problems. Under-funded schools, low pay, union busting, an overemphasis on standardized testing, and children who are addicted to technology.
But it seems the biggest problem for many teachers is dealing with parents.
“Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list ‘issues with parents’ as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel,” Ron Clark, motivation speaker and author of five,books on education, said in a CNN editorial.
“Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges,” Clark continued.
Jessica Gentry, a former kindergarten teacher for 12 years at at Stone Spring Elementary School in Harrisonburg, Virginia, wrote a viral Facebook thread about why she’s left the profession and says that parents were a major reason.
“I think it’s easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay,” she wrote in a post last June that received over 270,000 reactions and 220,000 shares.
“It was easier for my former HR director to believe it was because I found something that I was more passionate about. Some would allow them to assume that… let them be comfortable in their assumptions because your truth may lead to discomfort of others,” she continued.
Gentry made a list of five major reasons why she left the profession and she held absolutely nothing back. Here is an edited version of her five reasons, you can read the whole post here.
1. The old excuse “the kids have changed”. No. No friggin way. Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/coparenting situations, terrible media influences… and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed?
2. In the midst of all of this… our response is we need to be “21st Century” schools. 1 to 1 student to technology. Oh. Okay. So forget the basics of relationship building and hands on learning. Kids already can’t read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings… let’s toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website.
3. And since our technology approach doesn’t seem to be working, teachers must need more training. So take away two planning periods a week. And render that time utterly worthless when it comes to ADDING to the quality of the instruction.
4. Instead of holding parents accountable… and making them true partners, we’ve adopted a customer service mindset. I’ve seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting “the letter”. Well, here’s the thing… I can’t teach your child if he’s not in school. I was cussed out by parents who wanted to attend field trips but missed the THREE notes that went home–and when they did attend a trip, sat on their phone the entire time. I’ve had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after school option. I’ve had parents tell me that I’m not allowed to tell their child ‘no’…
5. My mental and physical health was in jeopardy every.single.day. Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they’re getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told ‘don’t lose sleep over them’… when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission… these messages tear you apart.
Gentry left the profession to focus on ways to help children where she believes they need it most, in their own homes.
“I decided to start with my 1 at home… and work to help other mommas be able to show up for their ones at home,” she wrote. “Because… I really do believe it starts there. I found something that allows me to impact the environments that [her former students] go home to.”
In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Gentry said the response to her viral post has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“There is an enormous amount of educators who feel that exact way but have felt alone and guilty for thinking so,” Gentry told “Good Morning America.” “I never expected it to reach farther than a few friends — but I am so humbled to be able to throw the curtains open on the issue and give those who feel unable to say it a voice.”
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