Thursday, April 26, 2007

Scientific Proof for My Burnout


The San Francisco Chronicle ran several articles about why teachers quit. Again, I could have told them all of these answers, but they didn't ask me. They preferred instead to spend God-knows how much money on a study.

The second article particularly interests me. Among the important points:
  • "Nicolle Miller could handle the overcrowded classrooms, the lack of supplies and even the shortage of books for her seventh- and eighth-grade students at an Anaheim middle school. What she found most discouraging was the lack of support. "I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to help these kids. A lot of times I would feel that I wasn't allowed to do certain things," to teach her mostly poor, non-English-speaking students at South Junior High.
  • "It was this constant, 'If you don't do better, you're going to lose your job.'"

  • Those who quit overwhelmingly cited bureaucratic impediments to teaching, such as excessive paperwork, too much classroom interruption and too many restrictions on teaching. Despite the high rate of attrition, virtually no schools have adopted the standard business practice of exit interviews to survey teachers about why they're leaving.
  • Miller, of Anaheim, left in 2001, saying she had burned out. She now works in children's ministries at her church and sometimes does substitute teaching at the private school her children attend.
I'm afraid that might be where I'm headed. Everything here describes me exactly. I can't count how many times I've told people, "It's not the kids [even though the kids have so many problems - I can deal with those]. It's the adults who are driving me out."

And it is. Over and over, it's the adults driving me out. From principal #1 who kept telling me, "If you don't watch out, you'll get fired," to the most recent principals who kept saying that we'd better dust of our resumes - I'm tired of the fear tactic as a way to push for excellence. (Has that ever worked for anyone??)

It's heartbreaking to see kids reach out and cry for help and yet know that once again, the district/state/nation has cut funding for counselors or given teachers five more things to be responsible for so that we don't have time to help our children.

It is disheartening to see children beg for science or not know the first thing about history - or show an incredible aptitude for art/dance/music and know that we are so focused on testing that we don't have time or money to teach them what they need and want to know.

And it is just plain INFURIATING to see children who want to learn, who need to learn, who are motivated to learn, and who have to take these damn tests over and over and over! Who get so burned out because anyone would get burned out if they took this many tests - and practice tests - throughout a year. We're beating the natural curiosity out of them by testing them - over and over every single year.

We're going to regret the way we're running education. I think we're going to regret it very soon, and it's going to last a very long time.

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