When No Child Left Behind came into effect, it didn’t affect me that much at first. My class averages were always above where they needed to be, and I was still having good results, so I didn’t really worry about it much. Philosophically, I knew I didn’t agree with focusing so much on test scores, but I could still keep my students’ scores where they needed to be by focusing on what my experience as a teacher had taught me was best.
. . .
Then the past few years a few of the buildings in our district didn’t meet their AYP (adequate yearly progress.) The district began to look for ways to help these building to succeed. The focus on test scores escalated to a crazy level. The teachers in one of the elementary buildings in my district were told they could no longer teach anything besides reading, math, and science because those were the subjects that were tested. Our building wasn’t ever told that specifically, but it was understood that we were to focus on practices that would improve our students’ test-taking skills.
The district decided to implement required core instructional materials that were mandated to everyone. Suddenly, the creativity of the job was being removed. They wanted everybody to teach the same materials, the same way. I’ve never been one to buck the system, so I began to wrack my brain for how to use these new materials and still keep the lessons interesting for my students.
. . .
Never once in the past 34 years of teaching did I ever want to quit. I even told my husband that if we won the lottery, I’d keep teaching. My students would just have all their own computers, art supplies galore, and any book we wanted to read as a class.
So now I’m into my 35th year of teaching. Last July my district had offered a $20,000 bonus to any teacher who could retire, in order to save money. It struck me as odd that they’d want to get rid of experienced teachers. I didn’t take it because I felt I’m not ready to retire. It’s been such a big part of me forever, and I’m not ready to give it up yet. Besides I’m only 55, and even though I’ve been teaching so long, I’m just barely old enough to retire.
But then one Thursday, on the eighth day of my 35th year of teaching, I suddenly thought for the very first time ever, “I don’t want to be a teacher anymore.”
Read her full list of reasons here.