Friday, January 25, 2008

Memorandum to District Office: I Want A Divorce.

Last July I read an email from the principle at my school and decided that this was that last year I'd be teaching at that school.

You see, I'm kind of a long suffering kind of person. (That much is obvious, I guess. I mean - 17:20 to finish an ironman. jeesh.) . But then there comes that moment, which some will refer to as the "last straw" but that's the moment, that IS THE MOMENT where I look at the person or the email or whatever it is and I realize,

that's it. I'm done.

And that moment came last July. It doesn't matter what happened. It was just that moment, after years of creeping doubt and bitterness when I suddenly realized, it's not me. It's them.

This realization came slowly, but through several comments people made to me over the year by people who were in my classroom, observing me. There was the special education teachers and the sign language interpreter who told me that they could understand Algebra now, and before Algebra sucked. There was that new teacher observing me who asked me if he could come back because I was organized (ME!) and he wanted to write down some of the things I did. Then there's that school counselor who told me I have "a way with kids."

I ignored them at first. Like a battered spoused who ignores her friends telling her she deserves better, I hung on for 8 years telling myself, it's going to get better, hoping I was okay and any day now my district would start appreciating me...and then there was that moment when it finally hit me:

THey don't care about me.

It's been 8 years.

They will not change.

I have to leave.

It's finally dawned on me that it's not me. I don't think that my school district respects its teachers. Maybe it's the community I live in, and their politics. 1/4 of our school's teaching staff turned over last year.

Now, I have this theory about that every person needs that little edge of insecurity, just that tiny bit of worry that maybe that aren't as good as they think they are and that makes them work just that much harder to be good at whatever it is that they do. It's why they work so hard.

Well, my current employer has capitalized on my nagging self-doubt long enough.

The only thing I've been mulling over the last couple of months is, what will I do next? AFter exploring a lot of options, I've decided I need to try a change of venue. I'm not leaving teaching, not now. SO this morning I turned in an application to Albuquerque Public Schools to be a math teacher for them. It's scary. They're huge., with over 6000 teachers and a whole bunch of high schools.

I'm kind of sad. And pissed. I've been in a co-dependent relationship with my current district for so long (8 years) and change is scary. I have a 4-mile commute and what if APS doesn't want me? (True, they did call me 30 minutes after I submitted my online appliction and clarified a few things before sending out their letters of inquiry to my listed references. )

It's really, really hard to find experienced math teachers. Really hard. My two previous interview for math teacher both went like this:

....Sooooo, this is the's the lunch room,'s let me introduce you to the math department head...hey, when do you think you get down to district to sign a contract?

Me: well, I, uh...

You know what? never mind. Tasha - can you zip on down to district and bring back this nice lady a contract to sign? Say, do you have a TI graphing calculator? Stop by the book room on the way out and get yourself one.

But that was 8 years ago. I might have to answer questions and stuff this time.
So anyway. I guess I'm rambling. I'm really nervous about this. I don't know why. change is scary. I'll keep ya posted.



  1. Good for you - good luck.
    It's important to feel appreciated, especially when you give your employer more of your time than you give your family.

    I just got home from my third extra shift this week, a double, and was just trying to remember if anyone had even said thank you to me for working 24 extra hours in a weeks time in a salaried position, so basically I gave them an extra half+ of a week for free.

  2. It's not likely to be worse and it could be a whole lot better!

    Large districts can be difficult because they have many layers of bureaucracy to get resources but at least they have the resources. They often have options, too. Oh- and they don't have time to get all up in your bidness.

    Anyhow - good luck! Hopefully you will toss off huge frustration for a small case of nerves and a brave new world.

  3. Good thinking- you are right. Any change like that is scary. But isn't it scary to jump in the Ohio River for a 140.6 mile journey??
    You can do it. Your ironman mentality can get you through anything!!!!!

  4. Congratulations! Thank you for staying in teaching - the kids need all the good teachers they can get! I come from a family of multiple generations of teachers, so I've seen some of the struggles of the teachers and some of the long-term effects on kids that you can have. I wish you courage for the rough patches, faith that you're making a difference, and some moments of joy to offset the annoyances (and worse) of the mundane.

    And I thought I was the only one who had the switch-flip "I'm done" setting - good to know I'm not!

  5. Good for you. You've sounded pretty frustrated with your current district for as long as I've been reading your blog. Life's too short to waste working where your efforts and talents aren't appreciated. I hope Albuquerque turns out to be what you're looking for, but if not, it seems like there are a lot of other things you could do, too, that might be even more fulfilling. Good luck!

  6. Best of luck to you!!

  7. You've certainly paid your dues where you are GG. Good luck with the change :)

  8. Something to ponder:

    I just had a long and worthwhile conversation with a former boss (who I respect very much) on the merits of "going where you are wanted" with respect to career. Clearly your current district doesn't fit this bill--I wish you the best of luck finding one that does. We should all be so lucky!

  9. Change is scary but usually change is good....and not changing...well it sucks more.
    And I think the whole country has the same attitude about teachers. They are not respected like they used to be...(were they EVER -maybe in the 1800s?)
    Best of luck! And you are NEEDED...everywhere!

  10. I am so empathetic to your situation. It is hard to make a change like that. I am also a burned-out teacher, and it is very hard to imagine what next?

    I can't imagine you'd regret a change. More likely you would regret if you never tried something different.....Good luck.


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