Sunday, May 18, 2014

A farewell to teaching

This will be my last week of teaching.  After nine years I am leaving the classroom because I am unhappy with it and life is too short to work at a job that makes you miserable.  It was not an easy decision – I love teaching and I love my students even more, but to me it just isn’t worth it anymore. 

I have spent literally hundreds of hours beyond my regular school day in committees and professional development trying to improve my skills as a teacher and trying to advocate for the teaching profession.  I have spent weekends and summer breaks at workshops.  I have spent hundreds of dollars of my own money to supplement my teaching supplies.  I am not whining – I chose to do these things to be a better teacher, but I have come to the conclusion that it is no longer worth it for me. 

I did not come to this decision lightly, here are some of the reasons why I feel like it is the right time for me to leave;

·        As the Kyrene district implements the new teacher evaluation system mandated by the state legislature, I have been marked down on my evaluations for not stopping every five minutes to have students discuss what they just learned with their peers or have students evaluate their own learning, simply because some book said that is better teaching than what I had been doing.  My evaluation scores have been erratic, and have more to do with the mood of the evaluator than with my teaching skill.

·         I have been asked to increasingly do more with less, larger class sizes, limited budgets, begging parents for classroom supplies, etc.

·         I have watched as the media and the legislature vilify teachers and strip away teacher rights. I watch every day as the Arizona legislature makes decisions to siphon even more away from the public education system through private vouchers.  I have made phone calls & visits to the state capitol.  I have been there when legislators actually admitted that they don't like teachers. 

·         I am appalled by legislative discussions of arming teachers with guns – I want no part of that.    

·         I have witnessed a push toward standardization that is not in the best interest of the children I teach.  We are forcing students to take standardized tests, yet teachers are being asked to provide differentiated lessons for each student – which makes no sense.  The new common core curriculum is being rushed to implementation before students and teachers are ready for it.  There is a frantic quality to teaching now, that somehow implies if we could just work even harder and harder we could fix this broken system. 

·         I have had to deal with parents being abusive, demanding and belittling and school administrators telling us to just put up with it; what other profession would be okay with being yelled at and abused?  (most parents are wonderful and caring - but there have been some that yelled and have even been threatening to me and my fellow teachers).  I have had to deal with Administrators who are poorly trained and overwhelmed, and who do not support their own teachers. 

When I started teaching I was really proud of the impact I had on the lives of children.  I was thrilled and honored to be recognized with an Excellence in Education award from the Tempe Diablos.  I have worked with amazing and dedicated colleagues who literally pour their heart and souls into their teaching every day.  It is disheartening to see my fellow teachers stressed and overworked. 

I love middle-school students.  They are bright and eager to learn.  There is nothing quite like watching students get ‘turned on to learning’.  I will miss my students so much.  I am not leaving because I am angry or bitter – I am leaving because I don’t want to become angry or bitter.  My students deserve better than that.


  1. Laurie you will be greatly missed. You are a fabulous teacher and an inspiration to many. I wish all the best.
    Beth Brizel

    1. Thanks so much Beth, I will miss so many wonderful colleagues that I have met, but this is the right decision for me.

  2. Laurie---words can't express my sadness at hearing this. Yet I do understand. You say it all so wishes and I do hope you stay in touch!

    pat mccleve

    1. Thank you for the kind words Pat, I promise to keep in touch